Call the Midwife, a BBC show now broadcasting on PBS, is the story of independent young women working as midwives in 1950′s London. The portrayal of these women (the opposite of something like Grey’s Anatomy) is refreshing and I’m especially charmed by the shots of them bicycling around the city to and from jobs.
Love the bikes, love the outfits. :-)
There is even a storyline about one of the midwives learning how to ride a bike as part of the job.
Here is a fun behind the scenes look at the role of bicycling in the show.
Kirsten Dunst stars in some of my favorite films: Virgin Suicides, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Marie Antoinette, and Melancholia. I’m also a fan of her personal style. Naturally, I was excited to stumble upon these photos of her riding a bike.
Chicago now has a protected bike lane going through one of the busiest areas of downtown, the first of its kind in the central Loop district. The lane is on Dearborn, a one-way street that formerly had three travel lanes and two parking lanes. My experience bicycling on this street was always pretty scary: drivers exceeded the speed limit and constantly changed lanes with no warning and there were often conflicts with turning vehicles.
With the new protected bike lane, everything is different. Dearborn feels miraculously safe.
Dearborn now has two main travel lanes, two parking lanes, and a two-way protected bike lane. The protected bike lane is directly next to the curb, separated from car traffic by the parking lane and bollards. The two-way bike lane allows bicyclists to use Dearborn to go both north and south, while cars can go only north. Bicycle-specific stoplights are included at every intersection, next to the regular stop lights. Conflict with turning cars is now eliminated, as cars may turn left only on a green arrow. When the bicycle light is green, the car turning arrow is red and vise versa. The turning arrow is activated only when a sensor picks up the presence of a waiting car. Brilliant!
Two-way protected bike lane on Dearborn
Stop light for bicyclists and dedicated left turn arrows for drivers
The Dearborn protected bike lane opened for use on Friday. Here is a video I made of the inaugural ride. I cut out the time waiting for stop lights and increased the speed twofold. If you pay attention, you’ll see a clueless SUV driver ride in the lane for a block. The final part of the video shows the crappy bike lane after the protected bike lane ends. I hope the city extends the protected lane further in the spring.
Prior to the inaugural ride, there was a press conference. The speakers included our kick ass CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein and Mayor Emanuel. For those really interested in the wonky side, here is a video of their speeches (and you can sometimes see me in the background looking very serious).
Here is an illuminating video that Active Trans put together, showing the before and after conditions.
Hat tip to the always-excellent Grid Chicago for making me aware of these videos and for their top-notch reporting on the Dearborn lane and other Chicago developments.
I am so, so, so hopeful about all of this! All I want to do is get to work and back safely, efficiently and happily on my bicycle – finally, those in power are investing in this as a worthy goal. I look forward to more serious improvements in the spring when construction season restarts in Chicago.
PLEASE say thank you to the politicians for the Dearborn protected bike lane.
I got back on my bike last Friday. The morning was beautiful.
I felt great during the whole ride, including the bits on the street. Thank goodness for the Lakefront Trail, where I don’t have to worry about cars. I’ll be taking this route much more from now on, since my peaceful side-street route turned out to be not so peaceful.
Last night I took city streets home – a similar route as usual but avoiding the intersection – but it was too soon. I was fearful and started crying a bit for no reason as I went along. Typing that out is embarrassing, but there you have it. I’ve always been super defensive and cautious, but now I feel like I cannot trust any intersection situation no matter what. Plus, I think the night and everything felt too similar. I’m back on the Lakefront Trail today.
For anyone who’s gone through something like this, how did you feel getting back on the bike?
Well, Nashville’s bike share finally launched on Thursday. I didn’t make it to the launch (whose idea is it to have these things in the middle of the day downtown??) but I feel like being the very first person to sign up for a year’s membership gives me some street cred anyway.
Signing up for B-Cycle at the 12South Winter Warmer
On Sunday, we had a bike lunch at the very bike-friendly Kay Bob’s Grill and Ale near Vanderbilt (they volunteered to host AND they have a brand new bike rack!). Jonathan and Stephanie get points for biking all the way from East Nashville…our next brunch has got to be a little further their way. As we ate, we noted a couple of B-Cycle riders cruising down 21st—an encouraging sign for the program. Of course, the mild weather didn’t hurt: It was easily 60 degrees.
Lauren and me
Whitney, Stephanie & Jonathan
$2 beers and delicious flatbreads were had. Then we strolled down to the closest kiosk to check this whole bike-share thing out.
Nashville or Paris?
The kiosks were the simplest ones I’ve used yet. Plus, if you’re a member, you can bypass them completely and just hold your pass up to the release point and checking the bike out that way.
And unlike in London, I didn’t snag my tights/bruise myself trying to wrestle the damn bike out of the…holster, for lack of a better word.
As I said before, these are fairly heavy, sturdy, 3-speed bikes. But the seats were easy to adjust and the same bike fit all of us with ease.
They sent me a little text once I had successfully returned the bike, and I also got an email receipt detailing my activity—a nice touch.
While we were at the kiosk, a handful of people stopped to check out the bikes and ask questions about how they worked—proof that a bike share has the power to make people think about cycling as transportation. Though I wouldn’t say that 21st Ave. is my favorite street to bike on (nor is Wedgewood, for that matter, though once it turns into Blakemore it’s OK), this station is one that will really up the program’s visibility. I can see myself using it on days I don’t bike to work if I have to run a lunch errand.
If you’re in Nashville, have you used the bike share? You can join here or find more details here.
Thanks so much to everyone for your support this week! Every comment and email means a great deal to me.
I have not told anyone outside of my bicycling circle about the hit and run. I want to avoid hearing – from now until the end of time – “I can’t believe you’re still riding your bike” and “OMG be careful!!!” This would come from a place of kindness and concern, but I just don’t want to hear it. So I am very grateful for all of you and for my women-who-bike group: people who really get it.
Here are some photos from Decembers Women-Who-Bike Brunch a couple of weeks ago. Strong, fabulous women who are leading the charge and having fun doing it.
If you are in Chicago and would like to join our Women-Who-Bike brunches, please email me at LGRAB@letsgorideabike.com. If you’re not in Chicago, I encourage you to join – or start! – a local social bike group. The benefits of community cannot be understated.
To begin: I’M OKAY. But on the way home from work Friday, I was hit by a car. The driver ran a stop sign and struck me with the front left of his car. The force crumpled the front of my bike, slammed me counter-clockwise into the side of the car and then onto the pavement. The driver kept going. There were a lot of witnesses and some extremely nice people came over to help me. They called 911 and provided statements to the police that I was doing everything right. An ambulance came and brought me to the ER. I have some pain and bruises, but am otherwise okay. Coco the bike is in pretty bad shape.
Apparently, the driver of a silver/white car had swerved to the right (illegally – only one lane each direction) around another car waiting at the stop sign, barreled through the intersection, and sped even faster to escape as soon as he hit me. There was no way for me to anticipate or avoid such recklessness. That was after I stopped completely for my stop sign (four-way stop), waited for two other cars to go before proceeding, and almost made it through to the other side. Unfortunately, no one got the license plate number.
My view – car came from my right:
The police officer who took my statement at the ER said this would be passed to the major crash unit. They can check video surveillance from a city camera a block away, but I’m not expecting anything. Although this person should be thrown in jail and never drive again and I wish I could get some money for Coco, I’m really not worked up about the driver. I don’t have the energy for that kind of anger. The extreme kindness of everyone else involved – the witnesses, police, fire department EMTs, doctors, my friend who drove me to pick up my bike later – was much more powerful than one driver’s cruelty.
Of course, I will continue to bike, once I’m feeling better, although I’m sure I’ll be more anxious and I will never bike through this intersection again. Sadly, no amount of caution can protect you from a reckless driver with no regard for human life, whether you’re in a car or on a bike, but life must go on.
Tis the season: This weekend I’m going to no less than four festive events, which means I need at least four festive outfits. No spoilers on my real-life outfits, but they’ll probably involve glitter and sequins and satin and velvet and lace. Though alas, not a gold Brompton.