Tag Archives: biking in Chicago

Returning to the bike after a crash

I got back on my bike last Friday.  The morning was beautiful.

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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?

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Another Friday

One week ago, I began my Friday morning at Heritage Bikes

For a quick breakfast…

With my friend Elizabeth…

Then we biked to work together…

And 10 hours later Elizabeth was picking me up from the ER and ferrying Coco and me home.  (She also happens to be the organizer of Chicago’s Ride of Silence).  Thanks, E!

Today I plan to get back on the bike for the first time.  Circumstances forced me finally to change Betty Foy’s flat tire, so I’ll be riding her.  :)

Happy Friday!

 

 

 

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Hit and Run

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:

Driver’s view:

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.

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Sunday Ride

Good morning!  To all Americans, I hope you enjoyed Thanksgiving.  :-)  And now we have to go back to work.  :-(

Traffic was light in the city during the holiday, making it the perfect time to ride a bike – as long as you manage to avoid the drunk drivers.  But I have not been on my bike in 5 days because my mom was visiting from North Carolina.  She enjoyed taking the L train.

The previous Sunday was my most recent joy ride.  My friends Sara and Glenn and I biked down the Lakefront Trail to see a movie, then back up the Trail to meet Mr. Dottie at a cozy Scottish pub - a great way to warm up after a chilly ride.

Saw the first outdoor holiday lights.

Enjoyed warm coffee drinks.

Coco and Poppy spent some quality time together.

Did you enjoy a holiday joy ride?

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Lost and Found

I’ve had the worst luck losing stuff lately – and the best luck finding it again.  Last Wednesday, I arrived at work and went to lock my bike as usual.  I reached for my u-lock…

…but instead of hanging on the rack as shown above, the lock was simply gone.  Yeesh!  I reasoned that the lock must have popped off the rack at some point during my commute and  wheeled the bike into my office for safe-keeping.  On my way home that evening, I stopped at J.C. Lind Bike Shop for a new lock.  I needed one ASAP, since I was meeting my friend Sara for dinner and a movie, and I’ve been wanting to upgrade to an Abus chain lock.

While at Jon’s shop, I also picked up a new Cat Eye front blinkie light.  My old Cat Eye also popped off my bike a couple of days ago and shattered.

Am I the only one with stuff popping off my bike left and right?  Maybe I need to secure stuff better, but part of the problem is the awful conditions of Chicago’s streets.  Potholes galore.  Well, would this … thing … pictured below even count as a pothole?

This has been there for years and I can never go around it because traffic’s always whizzing by on my left.  Right next to this monstrosity is where I found my u-lock the next morning.  A kind bicyclist, I assume, moved my lock from the street to the sidewalk – or maybe it really popped that far??

So now I am the proud owner of one bike lock too many, but I’m sure it will come in handy one day.

My u-lock is not the only thing that I lost and found that day.  I also forgot my helmet under my chair at the restaurant where I met my friend for dinner.  I didn’t realize I was missing my helmet until hours later, after a movie and drinks.  By 11 p.m., the restaurant was dark.  But as I unlocked my bike, the owner, who was about to drive away, popped out of his car and said, “You forgot your helmet, right?”   He unlocked the restaurant, went in, and appeared a couple of minutes later with my helmet.  Very kind of him!

Now let’s see if I can go a few weeks without losing anything else.  :-)

 

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A Week of Fall Outfits

Here’s an overview of my outfits last week, before setting off to bike to work in temps of 30-40 degrees.  I expect to wear these same outfits over and over again during the upcoming months.

Tuesday: Chloe trench, cashmere sweater, Celine pants, boots.

Wednesday: trench, Chloe dress, tights, boots.

Thursday: trench, cashmere sweater, wool skirt, tights, boots.

Friday: red trench, cashmere sweater, Burberry skirt, tights, flats.

(Most everything I bought used, some on clearance.)

The photos reveal a consistency in my fall dressing: cashmere, wool, tights, and leather boots.  I know I’ve said this many times before, but these materials are excellent for cold-weather cycling.  There is no reason for me to wear technical clothing.

Do you have a cold weather cycling uniform?

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Chicago’s Tweed Ride

A fun and friendly group gathered for Chicago’s Tweed Ride on Saturday.  After an unexpected thunderstorm, the weather was sunny and exceptionally warm for November.

 

After the second pub stop, I broke off the ride with a group of girlfriends for dinner at Bangers and Lace.  I love that going on a Tweed Ride naturally means hanging out with so many of my friends.  Good times.

I know Des Moines had a Tweed Ride on Saturday (looking forward to the pictures!).  Anyone else?

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Fashion Friday: Wool Boucle Suit for Bicycling

The outfit above is chic – there is no doubt about it in my mind.  But at some point stuff gets ridiculously expensive.  This week, I saw a gorgeous Chanel boucle suit at a consignment store…in my size…for almost $2,000.  Holy mother of god.  That is a lot of money for one second-hand outfit.  The shop lady kindly informed me that they have layaway – ha!  Luckily, the timeless Chanel designs have filtered down to the level where ordinary people like you and me can enjoy clothes that look kinda sorta the same.

The day after I left the consignment store, a friend at work randomly gave me a Chanel-esque wool boucle suit that no longer fits her.  So I ended up with a similar outfit for free!  Sure, it’s no Chanel, but it is a quality suit made in Canada.

Once I got to work, I traded  my winter boots for heels, removed my gloves and scarf, and viola: ready for the office.  Except I realize now that my bow was askew.  :-)

A co-worker said to me, “You biked in that?!”  Really, wool boucle and tweed are excellent for bicycling because the fabric has some give, never wrinkles, and is super cozy for fall and winter.  I’m going on the record now to say that a wool boucle skirt suit – in addition to being timelessly chic – is the best outfit for cold-weather cycling.  Who’s with me?  :-)

 

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Bonfire Tweed Ride – This Saturday

This Saturday is the 4th Annual Bonfire Tweed Ride in Chicago, starting at Four Moon Tavern at 1 p.m.  I haven’t made it to a tweed ride in a couple of years, so I’m looking forward to this one.

 

{beautiful Scottish tweed from Brora: outfit 1outfit 2}

If you’re in Chicago, come on out!  Not sure what a tweed ride outfit would be?  Check out this Tweed Time fashion inspiration.  Trisha’s last Fashion Friday outfit would work well, too!

More info on the ride here.

Anyone else tweed riding this fall?

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Indian Summer

I continue to enjoy fall the best way possible: by bicycle. These days, the lakefront trail is even more beautiful than usual.

To accompany the beauty of the season, I’ll share with you one of my favorite songs, Indian Summer, instead of a poem this time.

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Sad News from Chicago

Yesterday morning, 32-year-old attorney Neill Townsend was biking to work when a man in a Nissan Altima opened his car door into the bike lane and Neill’s path, causing him to swerve suddenly and fall under a flatbed semi truck passing to his left.  He died on the scene.  The man who opened the car door was cited for a traffic violation.  You can read more about Neill’s life and a vigil held in his memory in this Chicago Tribune story.

I mourn for Neill and his family and friends.  This sad news has shaken me, as I bike past the exact spot every day.  The bike lane lines are faded to almost nothing.  There are severe pot holes through the bike lane that force bicyclists either to swerve far out into the main traffic lane or inch closer to parked cars than is comfortable.  There is a high school where parents park in the bike lane to drop off their kids.

This exact type of collision occurred only one block over in 2008, when Clinton Miceli was doored and struck by passing traffic.  The city needs to build protected bike lanes to the right of parked cars, which would avoid collisions like this.  At the very least, it needs to keep existing and heavily used bike lanes well-striped, buffered, and free of dangerous potholes.  Drivers and passengers need to take a second to look for coming bicyclists before swinging their car doors open.   The city must do more to educate and remind drivers of this.  Bicyclist should try to avoid the door zone, but I well know that is not always possible in Chicago.  The entire bike lane where the incident occurred basically is the door zone.  Grid Chicago wrote a more detailed examination of this infrastructure problem.

Biking home from work yesterday with this tragedy fresh on my mind, I took care to bike extra far from parked cars.  Almost immediately, a driver in an SUV honked at me.  I assume he wanted me to move over to the right.  We have a long way to go in Chicago.

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A Happy October Outfit

Welcome to October!  It’s hard to believe that September is already over and fall is seriously here.  The weather in Chicago is cooling down substantially and in response I pulled out the (sometimes fingerless) gloves, cashmere, and jeans.

This is a typical fall outfit, although for now the sweater comes off at a stop light early in the ride.

I’m happy for the change in seasons – in fact, October is my favorite month!  How are you handling the transition?

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David Byrne + St. Vincent

While some in the bicycling world may think “bike advocate” when they think of David Byrne, he is also a pretty big deal in the music world.  :-)  Last night, David Byrne and St. Vincent, along with a brass band, played a sold out show at the Chicago Theatre to promote their new collaborative album, Love this Giant.  They are the epitome of cool and the show was as energetic and wonderful as their album.

After the show, I biked into the beautiful Chicago night with my friends.  Too bad David Byrne could not join us – I think he would have enjoyed himself!

In Byrne’s 2009 book Bicycle Diaries, he talks of cycling in different cities when he is on tour, so I kept my eyes peeled for him around town all day, to no avail.  But I know someone who ran into him Monday in a bike shop – he was buying a basket!  I like a man who appreciates a good bike basket.

Here is the first single from Love This Giant, Who.  Great song, awesomely weird video.  Makes me want to booty dance like David Byrne and stomp my feet like Annie Clark.

I know Trisha plans to see them play in Nashville.  Anyone else catching the tour?  I highly recommend it!

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Early Fall Fresh Air

I have been feeling road fatigue lately and the best antidote is always the fresh air of Lake Michigan and the open space of the Lakefront trail, which is once again a calm and pleasant place to ride a bike, now that the summer crowds have dispersed.

Can’t you almost feel the sunshine and crisp, early fall air?

The absolute best music for a fun and stress-free bike ride like this is Janelle Monae’s Archandroid.

Here I am, being unprepared for my camera’s self-timer once again.  :-)  I wore a skirt and cardigan over my t-shirt for work, then traded those out for shorts and kicked off my heels for the ride home.

I hope everyone is having a beautiful Monday!

Now try to listen to this song without dancing. Impossible!

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Betty Foy Lately

I’ve been riding my Rivendell Betty Foy almost exclusively all summer long.  She is so light and smooth and fast and happy.

One morning, an SUV slowed next to me and – just as I was giving it the side eye – a woman in the passenger seat called out the window, “I love your bike!”  Complimenting my bike is the quickest way to win me over and I called back with a big smile, “Thanks, it’s a Rivendell!”  Her response: “I know; I’ve never seen one in real life before.”  Viola! my arms motioned and then she was gone.

But not all has been rosy with Betty lately.  My fault, not hers!

Last week, I stopped at the grocery store on my way home to pick up a few things.  When I returned to the bike rack ten minutes later, I realized that Betty was not locked.  She was merely sitting next to the rack with the u-lock in her basket.  Yipes!  How horrible to think that she could have been swiped so easily.  (Please tell me I’m not the only one who has done this!)

The next morning, I set out on Betty only to realize quickly that her front tire was totally flat.  This was Betty’s very first flat tire ever, birth date April 2009, and also the first flat on any of my Schwalbe tires.  So sad.  :-(  I do not have a 650B tube and have been too lazy to buy one in the past week, so I have been riding Coco and Oma.  But I miss Betty, so I need to get my shit together.

Sometimes bicycling is so easy breezy and sometimes life throws hurdles in the way or you just do dumb stuff.  As with life in general, amirite?  It all evens out in the end.  :-)

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A Concept Comes To Life: People Spots

A fun concept has popped up in Chicago this summer: people spots!  These public areas, also called parklets, are created simply by reclaiming two to three on-street parking spots and setting up tables and chairs to encourage community.

I happened upon this people spot featured below while biking down Lincoln Avenue, conveniently located in front of Heritage bike shop and cafe.  This people spot will be a permanent feature, except during winter for snow plowing purposes, and you can read more about this parklet here.

What a lovely addition to my neighborhood!  I’m so happy that the Alderman and the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce are embracing the vision of a people-centered community.  Surely more of these people spots would help local businesses and property values, in addition to bringing residents together.  Cities need more of this forward-thinking and action.

Have you seen people spots popping up where you live?  Isn’t this such a fun idea?!

 

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August’s Women-Who-Bike Brunch (with kids!)

For our August brunch, the Chicago Women-Who-Bike gathered in Lincoln Park south of the zoo for a scenic picnic.

There were lots of cool ladies with cool bikes.

This month, kids were specifically invited – and enjoyed the nearby petting zoo after brunch.  Happily for them, there was plenty of grass to run around on and trees to climb.

Their moms were rocking some VERY cool multi-passenger bikes.  This Bike Friday Two’sDay Tandem is an awesome little machine.  You can read more about it on One Less Minivan.

Then there was this chic black Madsen with a heavy duty front rack.

This WorkCycles Bakfeits regularly carries three boys.  Read more about it on Chicargo Bike.

Super fun Nutcase helmets!

Taking off…

Betty Foy looked on with respect and admiration.  These women and their bikes are way badass.

If you are a woman in Chicago interested in joining the group, you are very welcome!  Email me at LGRAB@letsgorideabike.com for details.  The next brunch will be Sunday, September 9, at the Nature Museum to check out the final day of the Bikes! The Revolution exhibit.

{P.S.  There’s a great discussion going on in the comments sections of yesterday’s Bicycle Booty post – check it out and share your thoughts!}

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A Separated Bike Lane Commute

Big bicycling improvements are happening in Chicago!  I heard that the city recently installed a separated bike lane on Elston Avenue, so I went a little out of my way yesterday morning to check it out.

The  city calls the Elston bike lane “protected,” but as you can see below, plastic bollards do not provide any real protection from dump trucks.

But I am not knocking the lane at all.  I love it!  Biking down this wide industrial road with fast traffic is now easy as pie.  Bikes have their own area and cars seem to respect it.

Intersections and parking lot entrances are marked with green paint to remind drivers to watch for bicyclists.  Some stretches of the lane have car parking to the left, providing real protection from moving traffic.

Look at that wide open lane with the Sears Tower beckoning – beautiful!

After a while, the separated lane ends and turns into a buffered lane, which is also new.  Although this design forces bicyclists to watch out for opening car doors and cars pulling out of parking spaces, there is a lot of breathing room that helps bicyclists feel more comfortable.

After Elson I turned onto Kinzie Street, which has the city’s very first separated bike lane installed in the spring.  I wrote about this beautifully designed and implemented lane earlier this year.

Finally, I turned on a side street for the last few blocks to my office.  This is the only street on the route that does not have a bike lane, but it does boast the beauty that is the underside of the L train tracks.

Biking my entire commute on mostly separated bike lanes was awesome.  I’m excited for the city to create more of these safer lanes.  Mayor Emanuel recently said, “By next year I believe the city of Chicago will lead the country in protected bike lanes and dedicated bike lanes and it will be the bike friendliest city in the country.”  Sounds good to me!  (That is how a big city mayor should talk, in contrast to Toronto’s horrible mayor.)

I think an abundance of separated lanes in a city would result in a massive increase of everyday cycling – don’t you?

If you agree, PLEASE sign this petition supporting protected bike lanes!  Right now there are 2,000 something signatures; we can double that number if we spread the word!

Extras:

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A Happy Morning

Happy: A cup of freshly brewed coffee.

Happier: Biking to an early yoga class.

Happiest: Unexpectedly seeing my good friend Sara while leaving the yoga studio and biking to work together.

Here’s to becoming a morning person!

:)

 

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Winter Biking Memories

I found an old draft post from December 2010 with the working title, “New Pictures…”

Hey, look, winter!

How funny to look at these on a 90 degree day.  I thought you all might get a kick out of this.  Seems unreal.

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