Footprints coach Mary Lynn parked her first dog today at the Homewood Farmers Market.

Footprints coaches are valet parking bikes at events all over the Southland, including Farmers Markets like Homewood's and bunches of others. This Friday, June 26 Footprints coaches will valet park bikes at the HF Park District's Starry Nights concert, a Doo Whop Spectacular. Just check the ActiveTrans calendar for the Footprints event listing.

Don't think you can ride to your local events, stores, schools and churches? Why, that's what Footprints is for, to help you make that one local trip per week without your car. Sign up at

Train the kids, teach the parents

MAN was it freakin' hot today. But WOW did families turn out for the HF Bike Rodeo. Hosted by Homewood Church and HF Park District, Homewood & Flossmoor Police Departments, and Active Transportation Alliance. More than 120 kids came through, ALL got educated on helmet fit & basic bike handling skills and I think, better yet, so did their parents. I trained the helmet-fitting volunteers, and I can tell you you'll never, ever ride pass any of them with an ill-fitted helmet. Byron's Cycling's trials team did stunt riding demos, Aurelio's and DQ fed everyone.

Volunteers from the the Homewood Church, police departments, park district turned out big time. But indulge me as I call out a particular volunteer, ActiveTrans member Nancy Walsh. Nancy is a Homewood resident, and is a stalwart champion for better bicycling and our right to the streets. If you're local, she's the petite woman riding with good form down 183rd St., one of our streets that intimidates most bike riders. She spent four hours with us today in that stinky, stupefying heat, helping me loan bikes out to kids who came without a ride.

We had a great day. Pictures are here.

Parent learning helmet fit

New Goroo website!

Have you seen RTA's new Goroo trip planner? Check it out and let us know what you think!

Racing Lessons: The Criterium

From our racing expert. Check out our new racing site!

While most cycling fans are familiar with road racing through Le Tour de France or the Giro d’Italia, there are other forms of road racing besides the point-to-point 100 plus mile events found in the Grand Tours of European cycling.


In the United States, such point-to-point road racing, especially as part of a stage race, is exceedingly rare.  The largeness of the country, the far more intrinsic car-culture, and cycling’s much smaller-following here are the reasons for this. 

As such, The Criterium is the most common event experienced by American competitive cyclists.  The Criterium race format is a short loop, typically between a half-mile and a mile, on a completely closed course.  Being confined to a small, cordoned-off area, the entire event can accommodate a full-slate of racing categories, providing a full day's entertainment to racers and spectators alike.

Criteriums are raced in laps, and generally last for a predefined length of time, such as “45 minutes plus one lap.”  They can be of all shapes and terrains: completely flat or hilly, an easy circle or a technical 8-corner course which requires laser focus.  The one commonality to all criteriums is that each event is an extremely intense effort for all participants from the moment the whistle is blown until the final, all-out, eye-bulging, teeth-gritting sprint. 

Photo by Luke SeemanThe short-lap format, and prime laps (pronounced "preem" – which are cash, prize, or point laps announced by a bell in the middle of a race) ensure a hot pace until the finish.

When watching a criterium, be on the lookout for large teams and solo riders alike.  Teams will be using tactics to keep a chosen rider in prime position to contest the primes or the finish, and the solo rider will be looking to take advantage of these manuveurs; which include:

The Block – impeding the chase of a breakaway group if their teammate is in it

The Attack – going hard off the front of the group to either get away into a break or force the group chase, spreading out the field and allowing their riders to move up, and tiring out opponents

The Leadout – towing a rider (maybe the solo opponent, inadvertently) at high speed in their draft (so he or she uses less energy) to within 300 or so meters to the line, about a far as most strong riders can keep up an all-out sprint to try and win the race.

Be sure to check the Active Trans Event Calendar for upcoming local racing events.

The Weekend's Local Line Up - 6/20 - 21

Two somewhat local options are on tap for local racing this weekend:

  • Cobb Park Criterium in Kanakee, IL and the
  • Fox River Grove Cycling Challenge

Previews and registration information at

Soldier Field Cycling Success

The inaugual Soldier Field Cycling Series debuted to rave reviews on Wednesday night, June 17, in the south parking lot of the venerable Chicago icon.

Racing began at 4:30 with Junior categories, followed by Women's Cat 4s, then the 1/2/3 combined field. Next were the Men's combined 4/5 field (which was sold out at 75 riders), and ending with the Men's combined 1/2/3 race.

All the races started on time and the thrilling action was enjoyed by all who attended and raced.  Full results are posted on the event's website, photos on

If you sat this one out to see what would happen, expect fuller fields at race #2 on July 1st, so be sure to preregister.  Day-of licenses are available at the registration table, or 2009 USCF lisences are still worth the $65 should you get in more than six races this year.  There are plenty of opportunities to make it worth your while.

Happy racing!


Lakefront Trail Events 6/19-21

It has taken some time this year to obtain the list of permitted events that may affect your use of the Lakefront Trail. I apologize for the delay. I will attempt to post a list of events every week. Please check this blog for that weekly update.

Friday, June 19th - No permitted events reported

Saturday, June 20th - Take Steps for Crohn's and Colitis, Grant Park-Great Lawn SF, 5:30-8:30 p.m.

Save A Life Wellness Walk, Run and Bike Picnic, Jackson Park-South of Parking lot, 8:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

19th Annual Chicago Pro Am (1 of 3), North Ave. Beach, 7:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.

Men's Fitness Ultimate Athlete 2009, North Ave Beach, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

Nike Run Club, Lincoln Park, 6:00-9:00 a.m.

Hunger Walk, Lincoln Park-Grove 16, 8:00 a.m.-Noon

Summerfest 5K 'Phat Run', Lincoln Park-Diversey Harbor, 8:30-10:00 a.m.

Sunday, June 21st - No permitted events reported

The Feng Shui of the Secretary of State

TC O'Rourke shared this story the other day on a list serve.  I thought it would be great to share it with our blog readers (with thanks to TC for allowing us to reprint).

Yesterday, I renewed my drivers license.  It had expired in Nov. 2006 and I'd probably not driven in the 6 months proceeding, so I'm gonna claim 3 full years without having been behind the wheel.  Not a bad run.

During my visit there was the obligatory wait in the wrong line.  There were text-messaging employees of marginal intelligence. (One asked for my license, then told me she couldn't accept it, because it was expired.)  The Feng Shui of the place was all jived up; at one point I wandered into a break room.

But these annoyances did not compare to the road test.

Upon climbing into the vehicle, my tester immediately began to poke at the dash, trying activate the air-conditioning.  When it was running full blast, I attempted to close the windows and she cried out as if I were sealing her tomb.  "STOP!!" she yelled.  "I need to hear the sirens."  I briefly imagined the test was to include eluding the police.

My tester had all the patience of a 6 year old.  "The speed limit here is 30 not 20" she snapped at one point.  Since it wasn't posted, I'd decided to play it safe;  regardless, I don't recall any minimum and, not to toot my own car-horn, I have recently been tested on road laws.

"Now pull up" my tester barked at each intersection, before we'd even come to a stop.  I began to wonder if her orders were code for "Look: I don't care if you come to a complete and full stop behind the stop bar, let's just get this over-- Jeopardy is on."  But then I envisioned it all as some sort of trap.  "Do you think you can break the law just because your passenger says so?" she'd say, failing me.  It would be devious, but I wasn't taking any chances.

Finally, as we approached the facility on Elston I stopped behind a left turning pickup, at which point she let our a loud, frustrated sigh.  We sat a few seconds and she began to fidget.  "Uh-ho" I thought, suddenly realizing why each oncoming car had a little orange flag.

"You can go around" she said pointing to the *bike lane*.

This statement was made without her usual curtness, almost softly, under her breath.  Yeah, she knew.

I began to sweat.  "I don't think..."  I literally bit my tongue.  My mind raced generating replies that would send the conversation on a downward spiral. 

I wasn't going to lecture her on the law.  I wasn't going to say I didn't mind the delay. 

And I sure as hell wasn't going to drive in the fucking bike lane during my road test.

She knew and I knew and then she knew I knew.  It was only a matter of time before she knew I knew she knew and each further knowing would get uglier.

"I think..." but no other words followed.  Time stood still.  I cocked my head an pointed in the general direction of the bike lane.  I had nothing.

Then, by some miracle, the last of the mourners passed and the pickup completed his turn. 

I took my right foot off the brake pedal and applied it to the gas pedal, hands at 10 and 2.  She resumed her impatient cattiness as I piloted the vehicle through carefully arranged cones in the parking lot.  I don't look bad in the photo.

Good grief, it's no wonder motorists don't respect bike lanes.


Footprints - and beer - draws a crowd it turns out

Oh my, is there bike love in the Southland, enough to turn gray skies to blue. We killed a quarter barrel of beer and ate everything Flossmoor Station, our Bike After Work co-host, could throw at us. Bike club turnout included Folks on Spokes, Oak Lawn Bike Psychos, Major Taylor Chicago Cycling Club, South Chicago Wheelmen, and Chicago Cycling Meetup. Deputy chief of police Jim Gannon dropped by, as did the Village of Tinley Park's planning staff and South Chicago Wheelmen president Steve Feehery, comuunications director of the Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureua Bob Lukens, the National Park Service's Diane Banta, and Active Trans staff Carolyn Helmke, Katie Tulley, and Matthew Griffen.

ActiveTrans's Footprints coaches had a field day, collecting dozens of surveys from folks wanting to make just one trip a week some other way than driving. And Friends of the Calumet-Sag Trail sold more than 50 raffle tickets toward matching $260,000 in federal funds to build the Calumet-Sag Trail. Plus we killed a quarter barrel of Flossmoor Station's Zephyr Golden Ale and trays of wings and other happy hour food.

Find the pictures here!

REI unveils new bike app for iPhone

This just in from REI:


"I’m writing as an employee of REI to give a heads-up to bike commuters all over Chicago about a new, free bike-commuting application we just announced for iPhones. If you have a second-generation iPhone (with GPS capability), we suggest you check it out and download it!


With the goal of getting more people on bikes and fewer people visiting the gas pump, REI’s new application helps you track, view, and share your bicycling experiences. Whether it’s a daily commute, or a long training ride with friends, the customizable App allows you to view your bicycling progress including location, average speed, distance, elevation, compass heading, time elapsed and calories burned. Additionally, you can pinpoint your location, save bicycle mileage, upload geotagged photos to document the ride (or share with friends), measure gas savings as well as individual CO2 offset.


We hope it will be a great tool for everyone who’s already pedaling to work and a great inspiration for more people to leave their cars behind. We’d enjoy hearing about your experience and reading your comments on this post to let us know how this App works for you. We’re always interested to make new and better tools to boost bicycling and we’d appreciate your thoughts and insights on how to do this."





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