West Town and Lakeview launch Bike-Friendly Business Districts

By Marianna Foral, Active Trans Campaign Intern

This week, Active Trans is partnering with the West Town and Lakeview Chambers of Commerce to launch Bike-Friendly Business Districts in their communities. The districts are the first of their kind in Chicago and intend to encourage cycling as part of their neighborhood identities through new discount programs for customers who arrive by bike and a number of bike-focused events.

Bike Friendly Business Districts are commercial zones where local business owners, community groups and residents actively promote biking in their neighborhood through special promotions, public events, and improving conditions for cycling. The Bike Friendly Business District model has flourished in cities like Long Beach, CA and New York, and it makes sense.

“Slower speeds increase the visibility of storefronts, helping to convert passers-by into loyal customers,” notes Kace Wakem, program manager at the West Town Chamber of Commerce. Studies also show that although customers who arrive by bike spend less per trip, they will visit more frequently and spend more per month than customers in cars.

West Town and Lakeview already have a thriving bicycle culture. The Milwaukee Avenue protected “Spoke Route” through West Town and the Lakefront Trail through Lakeview are two of the heaviest bike-trafficked roads of their kind in the country. With the city investing in safer bikeways and the Divvy bikeshare initiative, more and more people are using bicycles in their daily lives and local businesses recognize an opportunity to benefit.

Fittingly, West Town and Lakeview Bike Friendly Business Districts are kicking off during Chicago’s Bike Week, which starts June 13 and runs through June 20. In addition to the commitment of over 60 businesses participating in the neighborhood discount program, there will also be a number of events s in each neighborhood.

Saturday June 14
Lakeview: Schubas Bike Bash, at 3159 N Southport, 12-4PM: Kick off Bike Week with bike tune-ups, demos, raffle prizes and workshops, as well as BBQ and music. https://www.facebook.com/events/766557963388350/

Monday, June 16
Lakeview: On the Route Bicycles Commuter Pit Stop, at Lincoln and Barry, 6:30-9AM, with support from Whole Foods: Stop for free coffee, giveaways and bike mechanic. www.bikefriendlylakeview.com

Tuesday, June 17
Lakeview: Heritage Bicycles Commuter Pit Stop at Lincoln and Wellington, 6:30-9AM, with support from Whole Foods: Stop for free coffee, giveaways and bike mechanic. www.bikefriendlylakeview.com

West Town: Paramount Room, After Work Happy Hour and Pit Stop at 415 N. Milwaukee, 4-8PM, featuring: 20% Off Food and a $4 Craft Beer Pints all night, cyclist networking, presentations from a bike advocacy group, bike maintenance demos, and complimentary passed hors d'ouevres

Wednesday, June 18
West Town: Frontier, “Bikes Stunts and Oysters” at 1072 N. Milwaukee 4-9PM, Patio Happy Hour Oyster Boil featuring: $12 Boiled Dozens and $1 Raw Oysters, $5 Half Acre Family Tall Boys, and BMX Demos from Let's Roast Bike Shop starting at 6pm

Thursday, June 19
West Town: Duran European Sandwiches, “Brake for Breakfast” at 516 N. Milwaukee, 7-10AM, $3 for choice of bagel and smear and La Colombe coffee, or a made-to-order bagel sandwich with coffee for $5

Friday, June 20
West Town: Ancien Cycles, 6-9PM Live Music, Beer, Free Burgers & Pho-Style Soup

Find participating businesses in both neighborhoods and links to each community's webpage at our Bike Friendly Business District homepage.

 

Mark your calendar: More Bike Commuter Challenge (June 13-20) events announced!

Between the City of Chicago’s Bike Week Events and our Bike Commuter Challenge events, there are plenty of opportunities for you to have fun on two wheels.

Looking for something to do on your bike commute to or from work?

We’ve got some morning celebrations for you to stop by and fuel up with a free Clif Bar and a cup of Dark Matter coffee, get your bike checked out and open or renew your Active Transportation Alliance membership.

Whether you’re a Chicagoan or a suburbanite, we’ve also got some great evening celebrations that will allow you to meet with fellow bike commuters over some discounted food and Revolution Brewery beer. Check out our morning and evening celebrations here.

Are you going to be anywhere near downtown?

The city of Chicago has some great bike-centered events lined up including a showing of Rushmore in Millenium Park, a two-hour bike tour of the Near North side, an instructor-led and DJ-accompanied evening outdoor spin class under Cloud Gate and more! Click here for further details.

Not registered for the Bike Commuter Challenge yet?

Go to http://www.bikecommuterchallenge.org/ to join the challenge and get all the info you need to get going on two wheels. Biking one part of your commute to or from work for one day counts! Just be sure to log all your bike trips before June 30.

Did you know we’re throwing a party?

We’ll be celebrating with team leaders and winning teams on Tuesday July 22 at DIRTT. Save the date!
Stay tuned for upcoming announcements here, at www.bikecommuterchallenge.org, as well as on our Twitter and Facebook feeds.

Bronzeville Bike Builder — creating the next generation of people who bike

The TAG Foundation, a non-profit committed to the health and wellness of local residents, had a mission – distribute 500 bicycles to youth in Bronzeville.

So on a recent Saturday, the foundation’s goal was accomplished with the help of Working Bikes (which supplied the bikes), local Bronzeville biking organizations, social agencies, schools, faith-based institutions and Active Trans.

For the bike distribution event, dubbed the Bronzeville Bike Builder, children ages 13 and under lined up outside of Wendell Philips High School starting at 7:30 a.m., waiting for their opportunity to pick out a bike.

“These bikes are not only for the smartest or the poorest or the most politically connected children of the community,” said Angela Ford, TAG Foundation executive director. “They are for the most passionate children interested in riding a bicycle.”

At 9 a.m., when the doors opened, children and parents received a Chicago Bicycle Map and a bike safety guide and then participated in a bike safety class. Wendell Philips Academy High School students explained the rules of the road and taught children how to use hand-signals while riding and how to conduct an ABC (air-break-chain) quick check.

After the training, Children entered rooms filled with hundreds of refurbished bikes of all colors and styles. Children shopped for the bike that called out their name.

Working Bikes staff and other volunteers helped adjust seats and handlebars and passed out helmets and U-locks. Before children could take their new bikes home, the final step was completing a cycling course in the high school parking lot led by the Chicago Bicycle Ambassadors.

“It was one of the best events I’ve had the fortune to be a part of,” said Charlie Short, CDOT’s Bike Safety and Education Manager. “Angela did a great job not only in putting the event together, but getting people that supported the mission. I worked with 7 young people who volunteered their Saturday to help kids not only ride better, but in some cases, ride for the first time.”

By the afternoon, 500 children in Bronzeville had earned their own bicycle.

The TAG Foundation’s goal is to distribute 500 children’s bikes in different Chicago neighborhoods, at least once a year. If you have an old child’s bike sitting in storage that you would like to pass along for the next generation of bicyclists, visit http://www.tagbikebuilder.com/

“I’m glad to see the city move towards encouraging more bicycling,” said Ford. “I am still friends with most of the children from my youth. As we all turn 50 this year, we still laugh at all of the adventures we had with our bikes. Those bonds and memories will last to the end of our days! I wanted to help a new generation create the same lasting memories. It is my firm belief, one is never unhappy on a bicycle.”

The Bike Commuter Challenge (June 13-20) is coming and we want you (yes, you) to participate!

Join the friendly competition – workplace against workplace – to see which workplace team has the most employees biking to or from work. This challenge is for newbies and experts alike, and we’ll provide the tools to get you rolling. If you’ve been waiting to try it out, this is the time to bike to work!

Have you seen our new Bike Commuter Challenge video? Check it out:

Biking in Chicagoland is easy! No, really!! Check out our handy Everyday Biking Guide for everything you need to know about getting to or from work safely and comfortably. Also be sure to check out the Celebrations happening before and after work during the Bike Commuter Challenge.

Team Leader T-Shirt

Are you ready? Sign up for the Bike Commuter Challenge here.

Would you like to be the one that leads your Bike Commuter Challenge team to victory? Participants who sign up for the Bike Commuter Challenge as a team leader get a free t-shirt! Check it out:

Did you know Team Leaders also get a free water bottle cage for their bike? It’s true! We’ll also give you all the tools you need to get your office going on two wheels. Team Leader toolkits are available for pick up now.

So what are you waiting for? Sign Up Today!

Stay tuned for upcoming announcements here, at www.bikecommuterchallenge.org, as well as on our Twitter and Facebook feeds, for further info including our line-up great Bike Commuter Challenge events!

Registration for the 2014 Bike Commuter Challenge is now open!

Now in its 23rd year, Active Transportation Alliance’s annual Bike Commuter Challenge, taking place June 13-20, is open for registration!

Like last year, you will be able to track your bike commuting trips, view your and your team’s stats (miles biked, CO2 saved and calories burned), find resources on how to bike safely and comfortably, download helpful team leader tools and more!

So join the friendly competition – workplace against workplace – to see which workplace team has the most employees biking to or from work. This competition is for newbies and experts alike, and we’ll provide the tools to get you rolling. If you’ve been waiting to try it out, this is the time to bike to work!

Sign Up Now!

Stay tuned for upcoming announcements here, at www.bikecommuterchallenge.org, as well as our Twitter and Facebook feeds, for Team Leader tools and our line-up great Bike Commuter Challenge events! SIGN UP TODAY!

Bike to School Day a success in District 15

This is a guest blog post by Ralph Banasiak, an eighth-grade math teacher in Community Consolidated School District 15.

Student bike riders in the northwest suburbs of Chicago embraced Bike to School Day in a big way on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. More than 500 students from one junior high and five elementary schools in Community Consolidated District 15 rode their bikes to school through Palatine, Rolling Meadows and Hoffman Estates.

The Bike Palatine Club (BPC) sponsored the Bike to School Day initiative, conducting a bike raffle and two workshops in the weeks leading up to the event.

Workshops included an ABC (air, brakes and chain) clinic, screening of a traffic safety video and a bicycle safety evaluation with a Palatine police officer. Every elementary student who rode to school received a bike sticker courtesy of the club.

Mikes Bike Shop in Palatine and the Palatine Park District also chipped in to make Bike to School Day a success. Mikes provided Palatine’s Winston Campus Junior High with a bike and several discounted bike accessories for its school-wide raffle, as well as free water bottles for Winston riders.

The Palatine Park District delivered and assembled additional bike racks for each school in order to accommodate the hundreds of extra bikes.

“A special shout-out is in order to the Palatine Park District for its assistance with the additional racks it provided,” said Kevin Keehn, a retired District 15 teacher and BPC vice-president. “None of the schools were set up to handle so many extra bikes on Bike to School Day.”

For more information on the Bike Palatine Club, visit www.bikepalatine.com.
 

Ride on Chicago: riding across the Midwest for safer cycling

“This is the bike ride for better biking,” writes author and Chicago native Tom Vanderbilt in this piece for Outside magazine. The ride in question is the “Ride on Chicago,” a five-day, 485-mile bike ride that began in Kansas City, Missouri yesterday and ends in Chicago’s Millennium Park on Monday, June 2. 

 Jamie KripkeThe ride will raise money for People for Bikes, a Boulder, Colorado-based nonprofit that aims to improve cycling conditions in communities across America. The 20 or so riders will meet with local officials, cyclists and cycling advocates along the route in order to raise awareness of safe cycling. 

The ride, now in its fourth year, traditionally took place on the East Coast. This year, however, professional cyclist and founder Tim Johnson brought it to the Midwest in order to celebrate recent advances in safe cycling, such as the Divvy program and Chicago’s growing network of protected bike lanes.

Just over 20 cyclists will be participating in the ride, including Vanderbilt, professional road racing cyclist Christian Vande Velde and Kickstarter co-founder Charles Adler. Active Trans Executive Director Ron Burke will be joining the ride on the final leg of the journey.

Everyone is welcome to join the cyclists for the last 10 miles into Chicago or to meet them along their route, information about which may be found at https://www.facebook.com/events/649211461816184/. Those interested can also donate to the ride at http://www.peopleforbikes.org/pages/ride-on-chicago.

 

 

Take Evanston’s bike plan survey to support next-generation bike facilities, oppose bike bans

Evanston is moving forward with an exciting update to their bike plan, and they are asking people who live, work or visit to weigh in on a new survey.

We’re thrilled to see Evanston leading the way on bringing next-generation bike facilities to the Chicago suburbs. The draft plan includes "comfort corridors" that would create low-stress routes for people riding bikes throughout the city.

Ideas like these are on the cutting edge of bike planning for suburban communities.

While most of the survey questions are about making streets safer and more bike-friendly, we are concerned that the new survey includes questions about possibly banning bikes on certain roads, including key destinations like retail corridors.

Tell Evanston to scrap the ban idea and stay with its current approach of developing comfortable biking routes that connect key destinations, so people don’t need to bike on high stress streets.

Take the survey.

Don’t become a dooring statistic

Until relatively recently, no real data existed on the number of doorings occurring in the city of Chicago or state of Illinois. As a result, we could only make a guess about the seriousness of the problem.

Then progress occurred in 2008 when the city of Chicago passed an ordinance that addressed dooring a cyclist. This meant officers would begin generating better statistics.

And in 2011 Active Trans won a legislative victory by convincing the Illinois Department of Transportation to begin counting doorings as crashes and begin tracking them.

And last summer, Chicago City Council increased the fine for someone who causes a dooring crash to $1,000.

Another victory occurred when the city of Chicago started requiring all taxis to install stickers on their passenger windows asking their fares to look for cyclists and pedestrians when exiting (see sticker graphic right).

Now we know that 1 out of 5 of Chicago's bicycle crashes occur when someone opens a car doors in the path of a person biking.

There are a number of precautions people biking can take to avoid getting doored. The most important strategy is to avoid the “door zone” as much as possible.

Avoiding the door zone — the area within 4 feet of a car — means riding on the far left side of the bike lane, closer to moving traffic than you may initially be comfortable with.

But as long as the roadway is wide enough and you are riding visibly and predictably in a straight line, the dangers associated with drivers passing too closely are manageable and far less than those of being doored.

If there isn’t enough room to ride four feet from parked cars and still provide passing motorists with the minimum 3 feet of required safe passing distance, it may be safer to move to the center of the lane (“take the lane”) for a brief period to prevent unsafe passing.

If this is only necessary for short distances, and doesn’t create undue delays for motorists, or if you’re travelling at the same speed as traffic, riding in the travel lane is often safer than riding in the “no man’s land” between the travel lane and the door zone.

If you do find it necessary to take the lane for long stretches in order to avoid the door zone and prevent unsafe passing, holding up faster moving traffic in the process, consider an alternate route with calmer traffic.

Also, be on the lookout for doors opening to your left. Whenever passing a line of cars stopped in traffic to your left, keep in mind that passengers may exit midblock, creating another door zone to your left.

If you find yourself trapped between door zones with stopped traffic on the left, parked autos on the right, slow down and proceed with caution while covering your brake. The few extra seconds it may cost you will be worth it in the end.

Our new bike education program will get kids rolling

This month marks the launch of a new Active Trans pilot program, Bikes on Wheels. The gist of the program is this: Active Trans loans a 20-foot trailer, 30 single-speed children’s bicycles, helmets and the necessary bike maintenance tools to a community, free of charge, for a year. Oak Park is the first community to participate in the program.

Earlier today, dozens of students at Whittier Elementary School in Oak Park made use of the new bikes while learning bicycling skills like using hand signals, helmet use and basic handling skills like starting, stopping and turning.

Active Trans hopes to bring the trailer to eight Oak Park schools during the course of this year’s program – six schools in the spring and another two in the fall. In the summer, when children will not be in class, the Oak Park Park District will have use of the bicycles for summer camps.

Oak Park Police officers were at the Whittier Elementary bike education event to help direct students through the skills course and reinforce the messages of safe cycling. Also on hand at the kickoff event were representatives from the Oak Park School District, the Oak Park village offices, the Oak Park Cycling Club and Oak Park Park District.

“We’re really pleased to see the kids on the bikes learning safety skills,” said Lisa Schwartz, Oak Park School District Curriculum Director. “This fits very well with the school district’s wellness initiatives.”

Though the trailer will move on to the next community after a year is up, our hope is that the program will create a chain reaction in its participants, inspiring them to purchase their own fleet of bikes for community use. Oak Park has already applied for a state grant for this purpose.

The bikes were purchased thanks to donations from a variety of sources, including the Specialized bicycle company.

At the moment, only communities that have previously worked with Active Trans are in the running to take part in Bikes on Wheels, which requires collaboration between park districts, school districts and Active Trans staff, as well as local businesses and organizations such as bicycle clubs.

But any enthusiastic community has the potential to be in the running, so contact Active Trans if you’re interested in Bikes on Wheels in your town. Contact education@activetrans.org for more information.

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