Saturday, March 31, 2012

"Bikes! The Green Revolution" at the Notebaert

Flash! We've heard that the news is out on the new exhibit at the Notebaert Nature Museum: Bikes! the Green Revolution.

We have been excited about the exhibit since since early in the winter when Martha Williams, who is the great photographer behind Bike Fancy (link on our sidebar), let us know she was working with the museum by sharing some of her photographs with the curators.

How great, because we love the way that Martha pictures bike life here in Chicago and hoped the infectious feeling of her blog would infuse the exhibit. Seems this might be the case as the guys at Grid got a sneak peek and much of Martha's work is included.  Looks like the exhibit should be great fun.

Click to the sidebar on the Grid Network for their take. Know that a kid at the exhibit will not be a transportation journalist and may have a totally different take on the exhibit, of course! If your read us much you know that we have already covered the ride to the museum. Don't forget extra clothes for anyone who might spend time in the river and waterways exhibit! Splash!

The Notebaert Website

Looking at what else is going on at the museum might color which day a family might choose to visit! Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays have plenty of excitement at the Notebeart these days. If you are hoping to avoid a crowd other days might be good....

Thursdays are free for Illinois residents! Hooray.

Fridays and Saturdays feature nature movies for kids from the International Children's Film Fest (you'll need tickets):

Weekday Screenings at 9:45 & 11:45 a.m. Friday April 13Weekend Screenings at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. & 1:30 p.m.  April 28, May 12, June 16, July 21 & August 25
Sundays during the exhibit, a cute bike drop in is happening called "Garnish your Gears," and Green City Market is in residence (until the farmers give up on being inside while the weather is so good).  The market could take care of the snacks ($$$) and there are always great snacks — but bring cash!

Rumor has it that Kidical Mass is hoping to do a ride along to the museum but you need to check the Chicago Kidical Mass page to check up on that.

Recopied below are our food and bathroom tips from last winter along with favorite routes. 

Happy April! 

Routes and Suggestions for Eating, Coffee etc. from our older posts:

From Humboldt Park or Logan Square going west I try to take little streets and eventually reach Belden or Webster streets going east. From Bucktown I follow Cortland or Webster and go north on Racine to Belden, which is quiet and all stop signs and lights from just west of De Paul all the way to the lake. Once at the Lake just turn north and coast up to the Nature Museum. The Belmont bus also runs east with room for two bikes or as many people as you can fit, and it stops right in front of the museum.

From Hyde Park (south) or Rogers Park (north) there’s the Lakefront Path. The LFP can be challenging in winter for family riding, but it isn't bad now except for construction areas.

From the West Loop I would take Peoria to Lake, cut along Wacker by the river on the sidewalk, and then go north on Wabash all the way to the Gold Coast. I cut east to State from Wabash as it disappears just by the Sofitel, then walk / ride State or the sidewalk on Astor or Lakeshore through the Gold Coast to Lincoln Park. I ride in the park past the zoo and up to Fullerton and the Nature Museum. This route is mostly a quiet path through a busy area.

There are lots of good places for an emergency bathroom stop heading both east and north on these rides and of course the museum has plenty of bathrooms.

Goodies at Bake.
Bake is good but hard to see 
without a big sign. It's on the north 
side of North Ave near the Handlebar.
Coming from the west, we stop early in the ride at Bake on 2246 W North Ave,  Floriole Bakery on 1220 W Webster, a quick jog from Belden, or Sweet Mandy B’s next door.  Coming from the north, Bittersweet Bakery is at 1114 W Belmont. Baked goods and hot chocolate are great there but Kickstand Coffee has better coffee if you must have it. It’s a crowded trafficy ride east to Kickstand from Bittersweet for about seven blocks. I wouldn't take Belmont the whole way east to the museum - a side street would be better. Not sure which.

The Red Hen Bakery on 500 W Diversey (just north of the park/museum and about two blocks west of the giant Goethe statue) does breakfast, coffee and sandwiches. North Pond Cafe has fancy brunch on Sundays but it’s too fancy for kids! 

These places take care of a morning treat, but for later I’d pack lunch and a snack too.  Bike parking is good at the Museum or along the park that surrounds it. You can bring your unsorted recycling to the bin out front. Don’t forget to bring some crumbs for the ducks and geese and walk around North Pond, which has one of the best views of the city and a playground. What could be more fun? 

You'll see us there!

Monday, March 26, 2012

From Sidewalks to Streets

To learn to ride the street or take the sidewalk? Which is best for your kid in the city?  If you are like many parents we know who ride in Chicago it's usually a little bit of both — even on one ride.  Vehicular cycling advocates (and many traffic laws) say that bikes are just like cars and cyclists should always take the lane just like a car, but that logic (if it even makes sense for anyone) really falls apart when the cyclist is 3 years old on a balance bike. Sometimes the road makes sense, sometimes it doesn't.

We hear two questions most often when asked about sidewalks and streets: 
 "If I'm the grown up should I ride on the sidewalk with my kids, or follow them in the street?"
Usually we trail our smallest kids from the street, if they are on the sidewalk. Unfortunately, although this is the legal way to do it in many places including Chicago, this can be nerve wracking as you monitor your swerving young rider from afar, shout, and try to pay attention to your own traffic so you won't get hit yourself. We often get up onto deserted sidewalks to ride along, especially when crossing bridges (with their child-tempting views of water and non-childproofed girder fencing). 

In many cases, then, depending on the location, walk/riding your bike behind your child on the sidewalk might be the safest solution for everyone. You'd be surprised how many sidewalks in the city are empty most of the day and we feel perfectly fine taking advantage of them. Of course, we are going at kid speed, roughly walking speed in most cases, and the pedestrians always have the right of way. We pull aside to let them by if there is any question. We stop at the alleys and most driveways as if they were real streets.

If the smaller ones of us aren't riding their own bikes, we ride like normal grownups in the street most of the time.

 "If we are riding on the street, should I be in front of my kid or behind?"
We always put our kids about 10 feet/3 meters in front of us and a little to the right when we ride on the street. We can watch them as they go, anticipate traffic coming from behind, help avoid bothering pedestrians in the sidewalk, and check in on how close to cars they are riding, to avoid the door zone. A kid behind you could be exposed to dangerous traffic you don't see. With your children in front you can much more easily talk to them encouragingly to keep them concentrating on the work of riding safely.

The question we don't hear so much is "How do you move safely between the sidewalk and street?" 
It's another really important thing to pay attention to as your kids take turns and make crossings, though we don't hear as many questions about it.  This is the most dangerous part of sidewalk use for everyone. Crossings are the site of many pedestrian and bike traffic accidents.

As we have said before, like nobody expects the Spanish inquisition, no driver in Chicago imagines a child out on a bike, ever. Also, kids on bikes are short and hard to see, even if they have a flag.  We tell our guys to remember that they are really invisible when we are out on bikes — but they have the power to stay safe and take good care of themselves too. 

Taking a little time out to teach your new biking kids to use crossings well and to move from or to the sidewalk to the street thoughtfully can reap huge safety benefits. Plus it can be really fun.

We like to start off by pretending to stop and get off the sidewalk at "intersections" in a relaxed car free place like a park or at a university campus, and then we move on to slow careful coaching at real intersections. The pretending can be extra fun if you put a toy traffic cone, bandanna or something at the edge of a little sidewalk intersection and make it a game to stop before the object on the ground.  We don't encourage a fast crazy stop but rather a mellow, slow approach. You can "race" to see who can be the slowest stopper at the toy. Last kid wins. 

With all the pretend intersection stops and starts at UIC and the park, our kids (hopefully!) won't roll into the street without a complete stop.  Our guys are coached to try to stop way before the edge of the street — maybe 6 feet/2 meters, so they really will be able to stop without drifting into traffic and so drivers don't think they are going to keep moving. 

university campus with great fake car free 
intersections (and real pedestrians) to practice with
Once we are confident our wobbly riders are solid stoppers, we look for a quiet intersection in a residential area and take to the sidewalk. Out on the real street kids can observe how cars move and understand how small riders are hidden from traffic by parked cars and other vehicles. For example, drivers in cars turning left will often not see a child on a bike on the corner who is hidden by parked cars or by traffic moving the opposite way on the street. Drivers of cars turning either direction do not anticipate us moving off the sidewalk and into the road, and can also easily hit us.

Practicing on real streets is better without much traffic. We've been using 
these ugly but cheap and easily noticed vests from Ikea a lot lately 
with one particular rider in our family.
We encourage the kids to stay stopped on the sidewalk until they have checked out the traffic and looked around to see where the stop signs are. 

Before they cross we ask them to make eye contact with every single driver at the intersection so they know that everyone is anticipating their move into the street. This is important because sometimes one driver will stop, wave them across, and other drivers whiz by or keep going. Even if there is a walk sign we encourage the guys to wait sometimes for the next one so that they can check out the traffic —  car drivers are not expecting them to move right across and may not see them right away. Waiting for a fresh light gives them a chance to scope out the intersection and make a good choice about getting across.

Many times our kids will get off their bikes and walk across, especially if we have a tired kid who is struggling with the bike a bit.

We do a lot of crossing practice together, asking questions about how they think the cars might move, watching traffic to see how the lights change and how cars make turns from the point of view of trying to get across.  (This doesn't mean our small people always make perfect choices at crossings, of course — be ready to grab somebody if they make a bad choice!)
what's under that drain?
If our kids want to move from sidewalk to street between intersections we encourage them basically not to. Ever. Coming out between parked cars into the street in Chicago is very risky and we try to teach them to stick it out and head to the corner unless there is a closed off sidewalk or construction to contend with

So is it better to ride on the street with your kid? Ride on the sidewalk? We think you should do what you think makes the most sense. It really isn't either or. You probably have a gut feeling what you want to do and it is usually right. (p.s. if you think you are the first parent to ride the sidewalk, bike loaded with your kid, following another child along definitely aren't!) If it's safe, take the street, and if it isn't, on to the sidewalk. 
Just keep riding!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Spirit of '76

Not last month's Critical Mass. It's a bikeway on the Magnificent Mile about 1976, looking north toward the Wrigley Building. Are you one of these people?
Photo from the 1976 Schwinn Bicycle Company catalog, page 7.

Original caption:
"Many cities, like Chicago, provide extensive well marked bike routes.  Here, cyclists ride along the Magnificent Mile, Michigan Avenue. It’s one of the many streets comprising Chicago’s Bikeway network. Thousands of club cyclists take advantage of the city’s scenic spots .  .  .  .  for fun and recreation as well as commuting to the job."
The bike paths, protected lanes, and neighborhood greenways that are being planned by the Chicago Department of Transportation these days — Streets for Cycling — promise a great step into the future... but that was exactly what similar plans looked like they were promising back in the late 1960s and 1970s, and everyone is still waiting. 

For today's cycling improvements to be realized it's more important than you might think for YOU to keep pushing for them. There is a list of some things you can do at the end of this post. If there is a dedicated, vocal group of bicycling voters like you pressing for change, maybe inertia or other priorities won't be able to distract the city government's attention, and bicycling can become a sensible form of transportation for everybody.

The Chicago Schwinns from 1976 are all still rolling.
Check out the bicentennial paint job!
This is a 24" Varsity, all original but reflectors.
In the 1970s, the Daley administration, according to a couple of widely-plagiarized sentences that are nearly identical on every web source I saw, greatly expanded the small bikeway system to incorporate a full-length Lakefront Path, and by the middle of the decade they had even closed off a lane each on Clark and Dearborn streets for bicycle commuters. What happened to that, I wonder? 

I'm not sure if the Bikeways were generally simply painted lanes, or closed off streets like in the photo above. Please write a comment if you can tell us more about the 1970s and 80s cycling infrastructure in Chicago.

Of course, remember there was a major oil shock and gas mileage (MPG!) was a more important consideration than now. That and other factors led to the bike boom of the 70's. With millions of bikes sold, more bikes than cars in some years, bicycling was getting a lot of attention there for awhile.

You can compare the old and new bikeway/neighborhood greenway plans. Here's a link to the 1967 Guidelines for a Comprehensive Bicycle Route System document from the city Department of Development and Planning. Compare it to the new plan on the same website — while some objectives have been achieved, like the bike path over the Chicago River at the lakefront, we still have less of a bikeway system than they seem to have envisioned back then. 

While another oil shock probably isn't something to wish for, the costs of widespread car commuting in Chicagoland are becoming worse every year, including environmental and economic costs and wasted time. We'd love to see today's Chicago build a bike (and public transit) network that achieves and surpasses the goals of the past, making cycling a safe, uncomplicated, obvious first choice for any citizen planning a trip across town. I'd love to see that without enraging automobile drivers — a divided, well planned bike system could allow everyone to get where they are going without inconveniencing other travelers much, and it would be safer for everyone.

Those bicyclists in the photo are 36 years older now, and they're still waiting for the bicycle friendly city they were promised. There's no reason for you to wait as long as they have. 

You can still be a patriot even if it isn't 1976. Start your own revolution, cut out the middleman. If your alderman is planning changes in your ward, call and offer support. Make time for the Streets for Cycling public meetings this spring (we carry Grid Network in the sidebar so you can click it and check the meeting times), look into helping Walk Bike Transit, or join or start a ward bicycle committee like Bike Walk Lincoln Park. Please do whatever you can to support new bicycle lanes and greenways for your neighborhood and Chicago as a whole. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Tale of Three Viaducts


Through UIC and south to Pilsen under the viaduct.
This short one on Morgan, like the one on Peoria, has good pavement and room, nearly no traffic.
Most are safer on the sidewalk, long, dark and drippy, but these are not bad in the lane.

     No safe bike lane - onto the sidewalk at Cermak then under
                                                                 the Dan Ryan and the Cermak viaduct to Chinatown. It
 dynamo lights in the daytime                   has traffic and dips so we take the sidewalk there too.

                            It's fun to watch the boats on the river      

Dinner in Chinatown Square     
                                                        (Goodbye Happy Chef)

Cermak bridge. The tugboat's gone. With no bridge plates and fast traffic it's onto the sidewalk again.

The viaduct ahead on Peoria leads to the former wholesale grocery markets. Where we used to bike through trucks, oily puddles and noise now it's all families. Peoria has crumbling pavement but there's nearly no traffic - it and a little jog on Morgan make a great bike route all the way up to Lake Street. Another good one is Loomis.

Chicago at night from UIC 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Blinky Blinky Little Star - Kids' Bike Lighting

Few parents think first of tricking out their children's bikes with lights. Here in America, cycling with lights, while a best practice, is still optional. It shouldn't be. 

Just reflectors
Lights and vest
Lights on

Can you find the kid on the bike? What if it were a rainy night?
Click on the pictures to see them in more detail.

Creating good riding habits is part of growing a young rider. Like learning to brush twice a day, using lights on your bike is central to good health. Day and night, lights front and back on even a child's bike provide essential visibility so that drivers of other vehicles on the road can see you better, and of course at night they are key to actually seeing where you are going.  They help you see and be seen. 

Mounting good lights on your child's bike can be cheap or expensive but it's a terrific habit to begin from the earliest days of your child on his or her own rig. (Obviously we think you should have lights front and back on your kid carrying bike -- see our dynamo lighting post for more information about lights on grownup bikes). So herewith a quick primer on lighting your child's bike from soup to nuts. 

Your kids are smaller and less predictable than you — they need better lights than you do yourself!

Visibility, maintenance and cost are the three most important factors to look at when choosing lights for your kids' bike.  

  • Visibility both day and night increases your child's protection on the road or sidewalk because it raises the chance that a car driver will notice your smaller than average height rider. Car drivers in Chicago-- and in most American cities -- are not really expecting to see a child out on a bike. Brighter lights create better visibility and better light in the dark when your child needs the street lit for the trip home from whatever fun kept you out late. A high visibility vest is icing on the cake.
  • Maintenance can make the difference between your lights working when you need them and a mad rummage through the garage while you get late for the birthday party frantically looking for batteries or a bulb to fill in the dead lamp. We prefer lights with next to no maintenance. This includes the need to remove the lamp to prevent theft, need for adjustment and need for replacement parts like bulbs.
  • Cost. More expensive lights may require less maintenance over time and be much brighter, stretching out the initial investment for the light versus needing to replace lamps or batteries more often. They can be shifted from bike to bike as your child grows to help soften the blow of that first purchase. On the other hand, cheaper lights are much better than no lights at all, and some, like old generator lamps, can be quite good.

The little blinky is on and nearly facing the camera.
These things are next to useless when the batteries
start to wear down, like this one. This flashlight
seems about as bright as the generator LED lights.
The lights themselves
You can get little blinky lights, some of which look like toys or characters, and stick them on your kid’s bike. This may be the most popular option, cheap and easy and fun, but even with new (expensive replacement) button batteries those lights don’t attract much attention in traffic. They seem bright in your hand, but in traffic they are not very bright except in one narrow direction and they get dimmer and dimmer as the batteries wear. And people, especially kids, forget to turn them off, so they wear out quickly. The blinking light may seem to attract some attention, but as a driver it’s hard to exactly place a blinking light in space, if you even see the feeble flashes. Drivers have trouble determining the distance to the bike. It’s hard to trust your child’s safety to one of these. We don’t use them much, though sometimes they are handy on the back of a helmet or bag in a pinch because they are lightweight and much better than nothing. The kids like to play with them.
     Visibility: 3 of 10 [10 is good] (narrow angle, not very bright, even when turned on)
     Maintenance: 2 of 10 (need expensive batteries changed often, need to be taken off locked bike)
     Cost: 9 of 10 (about $5 - $15 each)

big battery light with new batteries, from the side

Bright if you look at the right angle, but not if you don't
There are bigger battery lights like you might put on your grown up commuter bike. We use these on some of our kids’ bikes, since they clip or screw on easily to nearly any size bike, or occasionally on the back of a helmet. Usually they feature bigger batteries and lamps so they’re brighter but heavier than the little lights. However, like the little blinkies, they will wear out if left on and most (not all) have a limited angle where they are seen well. We think they work better if constantly on instead of blinking. Like the little ones, they are easy to steal or lose. The rechargeable ones — some even use USB to charge — cost a lot of money but can run out and need charging, get stolen, or be lost, so we go for ones that take AA batteries, which we change frequently. 
     Visibility: 6 of 10 (depends on angle and age of batteries, must be turned on)
     Maintenance: 3 of 10 (need cheap easily available batteries changed often, 
                need to be taken off bike when locked)
     Cost: 5 of 10 ($15 to $30 each for AA or AAA batteries, much more for rechargeables)

It's bright when it's going.
Old fashioned generator lights don’t get dimmer if you leave them on and they are cheap. They are always on the bike and ready to go, but they can drag on the wheel, they’re not bright enough to see well in daytime, and their bulbs burn out eventually. They and their parts have become hard to find. We find them in the rummage bins at Working Bikes for about $15 for the set of generator, front and back lamps in usable condition. If you stop moving they stop lighting, so they aren’t great at nighttime intersections. We use these on our kids' bikes and they are a pretty good option, but we’ve often thought that there must be something better.
     Visibility: 6 of 10 (great except when bike is stopped, always available)
     Maintenance: 4 of 10 (occasional bulb changes once installed, but sometimes needs adjustment of tire dynamo angle due to hum and drag)

     Cost: 10 of 10 (entire old system costs about $15 in Chicago at used shops - Working Bikes selection is in the picture.)

This one has spoke lights
and a $28 LED standlight.
It's the one in the top pictures.
Newer LED generator lights are the something that’s better. They burn brightly and last forever. They are especially better with a dynamo hub since it doesn’t create noticeable drag like a tire dynamo, though the expense keeps us from putting one on our kids’ bikes. The lights can also work with a tire wall or rim generator, some of which are quiet and don’t drag much. These lights, like the older ones, are always there. Recent LED lights are easily visible over a wide angle, even in daylight. Many have a standlight that stays lit at intersections. Some even have a brake light feature. Installation is more work than just sticking that blinky on, but it is paid off with brighter, more reliable light without maintenance.
     Visibility: 9 of 10  (pretty much as good as you could expect, 
               stay lit at intersections, always on or available)
     Maintenance: 10 of 10 (nothing to change once it's installed as long 
               as it's not damaged, assuming a hub dynamo... With an old 
               tire dynamo that needs adjustment, maybe 7-8 of 10)
     Cost: 4 of 10 (front $35 and back $25 minimum, plus generator or 
               hub dynamo, $5 to $100 and up)

parts from old to new, and zip ties, just to show the variety.
You need only one white, one red, and one dynamo.

drill the fender with the wheel off
or you'll pop the tire

We recently upgraded to high quality LED standlight generator lamps on the front and back of our kids’ bikes, making sure they are aimed to be seen well without blinding drivers. (cost $40 to $75 per bike) As the kids grow and move to bigger bikes we've moved the lights too, reinstalling them on the new bike. They should last up through high school, we think. We have been using old generators (five bucks from Working Bikes like those in the pictures) to power them, and the drag isn’t as bad as you’d think when they're set up well. Look at our dynamo lighting post for more information about installing them and links to suppliers.


4/14: we recently had to fix up a grown up bike that had an old fashioned incandescent light running on a wheel dynamo, and we bought one of the newer (2012) LED lights, a LYT T Senso Plus from B&M with Licht24 daytime lighting. The idea is that at night, the light is pointed down at the road and cuts off higher so it doesn't blind oncoming traffic, like a car headlight or the LED lights we list above, but in the daytime the lamp switches to four bright LEDs pointed higher so traffic sees you. It sounded like a gimmick and it adds $20 to the price but it was what was available quickly so we bought it. And guess what? It really works well - surprisingly well. This is definitely something to consider for your kid's bike if you plan to buy a new headlamp.

On kind of the same note, when you set up your kid's lights, please try to make them visible without blinding oncoming traffic. Some of these new lights (mostly ones for mountain biking I guess) are really bright but don't cut off the beam.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Make Your Own Spoke Cards And Photos from the Bike Swap

see the contact paper around the unfinished card?
Kids made homemade spoke cards by decorating cards with stamps, glitter and pastels, then they were sealed in contact paper. You slide them between your wheel spokes and they spin happily as you ride.

Heat laminating might work better than contact paper (except maybe for the glitter) but we had neither electric power nor enough time to supervise the potential burns. 
To make your own, have 8-1/2 by 11 inch (or A4) 110 lb heavy card stock cut into sixths (or smaller if you are going to use them on small kids' bikes) at the office supply store. Gather stamps and ink pads, pastels, markers or anything else you can think of. Decorate the cards and seal them inside the clear contact paper with some edge overlap. We found contact paper at our office supply mega store. They may have it at the hardware store as well.

Lots of families stopped by and it was very fun. Many thanks to Active Transportation Alliance and Bike Winter for welcoming us to give it a try. Bionic bike mom Jane Healy- leader of Cal-Sag cycles- and her amazing daughters were our partners at the table. Jane shared her stupendous collection of bike stamps (there must be 80 of them) with us all- including a much-coveted Edward Gorey stamp with two kids flying on a bike.

We had a do-it-yourself how to make a balance bike display, and a few people put together spoke noisemakers from plastic picnic plates or cardstock and zip ties, like at our bike party.

The family riding presentation was great. There were plenty of very cute babies there. It won't be long before the babies are out riding the neighborhood greenways and protected lanes coming to Chicago. They'll be the first generation of Chicagoans to grow up with safe sheltered spaces for children to use their bikes as transportation. I can't wait. 

The swap itself went well downstairs, with plenty of interesting stuff and lots of people saying, "You should have been here a few minutes ago; I just sold a guy a bucket of the best stuff for $5!" One bike in the Bike Corral, for $20, was a Bridgestone Disney Princess bike with a roller brake and Japanese stickers all over it. There was a Rivendell Bleriot and a RRB and a bunch of Waterford Treks and titanium frames and, and... but no cargo bikes and no tandems. Only 2 kid seats, and they were pretty standard. 

You should try to make it next year! 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Come to the Bike Swap today!

Are you looking for bicycle-related bargains and camaraderie this weekend? Maybe you didn't think so, but it's worth dropping by the Chicago Bike Swap, at the Pulaski Park fieldhouse on Blackhawk just northeast of Division/Ashland/Milwaukee, today, March 3, 2012, from 10am to 5pm. We take our kids and they have lots of fun for a much longer time than you'd think.

There will be a chat at 11 a.m. to learn about family riding. We'll be hosting a family craft table upstairs on the second floor where you and your kids can make decorative spoke cards starting at about noon on until 2 pm. As for goodies to buy, last year we found tons of great stuff, like $60 tires for $5 and piles of odd bits and pieces, there are often bike-themed arts and crafts, and they have a bunch of interesting bikes to admire, buy, or swap. People will be available to talk about any aspect of bicycles or riding them in the city, and we'll try to bring along some of our cargo bikes and things for you to check out.

Considering the crowds, it isn't a bad idea to bring or plan your lunch ahead (edit: they did have food and drinks from Goose Island there, the lines today were short).  It's also handy to bring small bill cash since many vendors can't take any other kind of money and the ATMs aren't that close to the Pulaski fieldhouse.

If you are stuck for lunch one nearby option you might not usually consider is Podhalanka, an unlikely looking Polish lunchroom with plant grow lights in the windows, delicious homemade soups and Polish standards on Division between Milwaukee and Ashland. The woman who runs it always spoils our children with attention and red hibiscus Kompot to drink, and you can hear the kitchen staff (usually the waitress/owner) bashing the fresh schnitzel flat after you order it. It isn't a very expansive vegetarian option but there are potato pancakes, meatless pierogis and salads. There are tacos on Ashland at La Pasadita's three restaurants, and Lovely is a bakery and coffee shop just south on Milwaukee with good morning snacks, some lunch options, and adequate coffee. Bucktown/Wicker Park is just a few bicycle minutes west, with many more choices including Cumin, which has many veggie and some meaty Nepali/Indian dishes in a buffet, and Buzz coffee on Damen.

Here's the Chainlink description of the swap:
Spend your Saturday with hundreds of other cyclists from across Chicagoland at the Chicago Bike Swap!
Shop for parts for your bikes, great gear or stop by our bike corral, to get a new bike or “swap” your old one (for $5/bike)!  We’ll also have great informative presentations, bike games, delicious lunch for sale and hot coffee.
Admission is $5 at the door for Active Trans members, $10 for non-members.  No need to purchase tickets in advance.  
Here's the map:

Maybe see you there!