Friday, September 30, 2011

Bundle Up for Open Streets this Saturday- A Weekend Family Ride

The Open Streets website has a lot more information.
The Active Transportation Alliance and the Loop Alliance are aligning this weekend and opening State Street for five whole blocks of car free fun. This is very exciting and worth bundling up to come and enjoy. Open Streets. Check out the link. My favorite things on the map are the construction playground and scavenger hunt. The map is here.

Dutch Bike Chicago As Dead As A Matjes

As we idled past the site of Dutch Bike Chicago today we noticed that it was empty. Totally empty.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Rain Can't Stop the New Bike Lanes

We went to the Bike the 25th Ward ride.

It was gray and drizzling a little today as we headed out. There was a good turnout nonetheless and the Mexican hot cocoa and fruit at the meeting point provided everyone a nice warm jolt of energy. The T-shirts were a nice bright yellow this year. Everyone signed up for bike info with Active Transportation and other groups. Raúl from Working Bikes brought his pedal powered record player for fun, though it played "Purple Rain." 

The ride was fun. We zipped through Pilsen up Blue Island and Racine to Taylor, across and down to Chinatown via the bridge on 18th. Many people chose to skip the wet, slippery gratings (there are no plates on the bridge) and went for the sidewalk, including several of the important folks. It's safer to be safe. We returned to Harrison Park via Cermak and through smaller streets in Pilsen. Our kids enjoyed zipping forward to the police car in front and back to us but one of them got upset on the slippery bridge and bailed out into our cargo bike sag wagon. Many thanks to the other riders who were incredibly kind to our middle guy furiously pedaling along at the end of the pack.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Come Bike the 25th Ward with Gabe Klein and Alderman Solis this Sunday! Check out the soon to be Protected Lane on 18th Street.

We live in the 25th Ward and there are some very exciting things coming up in our corner of the city this fall. There will be a new protected lane on 18th Street ( Clinton to Clark). This Sunday Alderman Solis will host a five mile ward ride celebrating this new lane and the culture of the ward itself. The 25th includes Chinatown, Pilsen, Little Village, the University and old Italian neighborhoods along Taylor Street. You don't have to live in the ward to enjoy this ride. Come on over from wherever your neighborhood might be!

We are excited that Alderman Solis has taken such huge steps this year to grow cycling throughout the ward. He has learned so much and the new lane signals this incredible change in our ward.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Rolling Orange

We had the chance recently to visit Rolling Orange Bikes in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, NYC. They have a big, bright space full of De Fietsfabriek, Onderwater, Gazelle, Batavus and Golden Lion bikes, with a few bits and pieces of other things. Kids' bikes, cargo bikes, classic Omafiets, wheelchair and preschool cargo bikes, even a bike garage for your apartment building. They were very friendly and patient with our many questions (and the kids frantically exploring the biggest bikes).  If you are far from Chicago but closer to New York, this shop is worth a look. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Revised "About Cargobikes" Page

Hi. We just finished revising our cargo bike introduction page. Have a look if you'd like. Send comments if you have anything that needs review or any suggestions. Thanks!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fall Morning Pannier

We had our windy chill this morning as we rode to school. It was time to bring the windbreakers even though it was so sunny and bright. Our post about dressing for the blustery mix of fall weather from last year says exactly what we like to bring in our panniers on these autumn days. It's very detailed and I'd suggest a look if you seek a solid explanation of what our kids wear at each age, from just not a baby on up, during mixed fall and early winter weather.  It also explains where we get clothing and how we take care of things so they will last. Lastly we touch on the difference between dressing a child who is pedaling -- like on the tandem or on their own bike -- and a child dressed to sit in the wind on the bike.

Today if I had packed right, my pannier would have held a windbreaker for each kid. I would have put each kid in a nice medium weight wool or polyester layer as well, as it got pretty cold in the wind. We actually left with a mix of heavy wool and hooded poly layers over long sleeves on, and a not so perfect mix of extra in the bag. I definitely could have packed more wind breaking layers!

We did not break out the under hats and gorgeous matching neck warmers that Erin made us over at Kozie Prery, but they are coming out this weekend for morning rides. (Peek for pictures of the hats and cowls that I should be able to put up at the end of the weekend, or check out their etsy shop at the link. They were worth every penny!) I will probably be breaking out the light gloves to at least keep in the pannier just in case.

Hope we see you out riding one of these beautiful mornings.

p.s. Check out our interview with Nick Wilson of Rapid Transit on the Chicago Parents Ride On page. I started doing interviews for the page in January and that is when we spoke. It's been a bit of a trick figuring out how to post them but now Blogger is upgraded to do it and we decided to go with audio. Our first talk is a pinch long, but Nick is a very experienced family rider and has lots of interesting things to say. Stay tuned as we get some other families up on the same page.

Many other family bike blogs also talk to other families about riding, which is very exciting and always fun to read! Two to seek out are Mamafiets and Simplybike.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mayor's Bike Meeting and .... A Total Streets Approach to Creating Better Neighborhood Riding Conditions for Children in Chicago

Parents in Chicago who wish to use bikes as transportation with their independent young riders are thwarted at every turn. Dangerous traffic uneducated about our youngest cyclists, terrible road conditions, lack of infrastructure for bikes, poorly marked and vulnerable bike lanes. All these factors add up to using public transportation or the car instead of a bicycle in most cases when families are often traveling less than two miles to reach school, shopping, parks libraries or museums.

How can we rectify this as a city? I'm sick of telling my sons they can't ride the four miles to school each morning they can easily pedal in no time because it just isn't safe period.

Today Pedestrian Observations published a critique of rails to trails conversion in the U.S. and separated infrastructure overseas. As a huge fan of well designed separated lanes and road calming here in Chicago I was particularly interested in the comment left by a Dutch reader describing how they use a variety of methods to create better cycling opportunities in Holland. I was interested as always in the mix used in other places both in the U.S. and abroad  and it is part of my solution to riding with children here in Chicago. The comment will be published at the bottom of the post so you can read it too.

Here's my prescription for Chicago.
Let's infrastructure "bomb" one or two neighborhoods here in Chicago in the next year to create cycling forward zones. We could target four-five schools, two CPL libraries, shopping and parks to create pathways that reach these key places designed specifically for the 8-80 rider. The infrastructure for cyclists could and should be a mix of traffic calming and separated lanes in a mix of styles. This would not be ward specific but cycling user specific designed to increase ridership to these most used places for families. Studying the families that use other kinds of transportation to get to school as is being done in Mr. Colon's ward could give some of the information needed to begin laying out lanes.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cargo Cycles Take Over West Town Bikes

The Cargo Bike “Roll Call” was held this evening at West Town Bikes and pretty well attended by cargo bike aficionados and a few others. Nobody called the roll, and Cetma and Bakfiets were absent. It was an opportunity to meet people and ride fun odd bikes including many of West Town’s Alex Wilson’s small wheeled, heavy load carrying custom or rebuilt bikes (many a little like the Kemper Lorri).

There was a Rhoades car quadricycle and a steampunk homebuilt wood and iron contraption with huge Fat Frank tires.
Babboe City
Bikes at Work trailers
The Babboe City box bike, several Madsens and Xtracycles, a Winther trike, a Human Powered Machines Long Haul box bike, a Christiania trike, several Yuba Mundos, a JC Lind trike, our Onderwater tandem and Haley trike, a Bullitt delivery bike, and a set of Bikes at Work and homemade trailers with boats on them all made an appearance and most were ridden by everyone who wanted to.
Whole Foods delivered some yummy things with a bike trailer. A guy with a Chinese made Fietsfabriek-trike-copy with electric drive that was entirely covered with gray fake fur came by too with a small child balanced on top. Jon Lind was there but Copenhagen, Dutch Bike, and other dealers weren’t. Most people didn’t wear helmets.


A lot of people liked our Onderwater Tandemtransporter, and rode it with two grownups though it's better with kids on the little seats. Nobody wanted to get off.  Though nobody currently stocks them in Chicago Jon Lind has said he would be willing to add one or a few as a special order to one of his regular shipments if given enough lead time. I think after riding many of the others it is one that is worth considering strongly.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Cargo Bike Rally is Monday 6-9 PM

* we got an update from Ash this morning that the snacks and finger food should be pretty kid friendly! J.

Come to West Town Bikes between 6-9 pm Monday 9/12 for a chance to see and try out
several picnic (and other cargo) carrying options. We will try to be there with a few of the
bikes from this blog for you to check out. And if you miss it why not come to Kidical
Mass next time, where a lot of other cargo and kid carriers will be glad to talk with you.

There will be beer and wine and finger food (which means: pack some dinner
and kid snacks). We'll bring some bike books for kids to enjoy.
Here's the link to more info about the event.

The address again:

West Town Bikes/Ciclo Urbano
2459 W. Division St.
Chicago, IL 60622

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fewer Cargobike Options in Chicago

EDIT 9/30/11:
Dutch Bike Chicago is out of business.

I recently noticed that the website for Dutch Bike Co has eliminated new cargo bikes, the only ones they carried, from the online catalog, both in Seattle and Chicago. They have a 2009 left online. When I dropped by the store, they had their orange and red advertising Bakfiets but that was it. Had they sold out of all their stock? Were they going to get more? What about all the people who ask me about the Bakfiets - do I have to send them on a trip to Amsterdam or recommend a Madsen? Even after chatting with them, much remains a mystery.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Cargo Bike Roll Call Next Week September 12 from 6-9p.m.

It's been a busy few weeks here and we are doing more riding than writing. We wanted to put a little note up about the Cargo Bike "Roll Call" at West Town Bikes next week. There will be lots of different kinds of carrying bikes there and it will be a good place to visit with other riders of every kind about carrying things on your bike.
It's at the dinner hour and the food options aren't quite set yet so we'd suggest packing a little dinner  and snacks if you are loading up the kids.
We will be there with some combination of bikes to share and look forward to seeing how everyone stays on two wheels too. Come ride some bikes and have some fun!