Tag Archives: Chicago

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?!

 

Tagged , , , , , ,

Pedal Pushers

Before I started cycling, I never thought about the name “pedal pusher” for pants in a literal way. But now it comes to me – duh, this style is named pedal pushers because they are made for pushing pedals!  The cuffs are short enough that there is no risk the getting caught in the chain or crank while bicycling.

Since I started bicycling daily, I almost entirely stopped wearing pants in favor of skirts and dresses to avoid having to secure pants cuffs, but lately I’ve been wanting to wear outfits built around pants.  Pedal pushers are a good solution.

This is the only pair of pedal pushers I have, tending to avoid them as not the most flattering length, but I think I’ll keep my eyes out for more.  They are just too convenient and fun for bicycling.  I really don’t know why I never thought of them much before.  :-)

What do you think – are you a fan of pedal pushers?

Tagged , , , , , ,

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!}

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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!

:)

 

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Summer Night Rides

Most of my end-of-the-day rides this summer have been in the late evening or night.   There are so many fun events in Chicago right now, I rarely go straight home after work.  Such was the case last night, when my friend Chika and I biked home at 11 pm after a wonderful outdoor concert by the Grant Park Orchestra.

Pritzker Pavilion in Millenium Park

Frozen Planet with a live orchestra

Chika and her Linus on the Lakefront Trail

Betty Foy sans rear light

Biking later in the evening is wonderfully refreshing.  I avoid evening rush hour: the hottest, most polluted, and busiest time of day.

Unfortunately, my rear light (held on by an old rubber band) fell off while I was going through a big intersection and broke into three pieces. The intersection was too dangerous to attempt retrieval, so now I need to buy a new light and actually attach it properly.  Luckily, my new Po Campo pannier has a huge reflector on the back, but I find a red rear blinkie light to be a necessity, in addition to a reflector.

Does anyone else find themselves biking home later this summer, either to beat the heat or as a result of other activities?  Make sure you have good front and rear lights!

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Blues Brothers in Wrigley Field

On Friday,  I saw a special outdoor showing of Blues Brothers at Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs.  This was my first time watching the iconic Chicago movie and there was no better opportunity to do so, as the setting was dramatic and the audience was absolutely enthusiastic.  Although the temperature reached a high of 100 degrees that day, I was happy to take my seat in the bleachers, knowing the sun would soon set.

The ride to Wrigley Field was quick and there was ample bike parking right outside the stadium.  We were glad to avoid the expensive nightmare that is car parking.

Chika on the left also biked there, from several miles away.  I thought she took the L train, judging by her miraculously fresh appearance, complete with a skirt and pearls.  Sara on the right simply walked to the stadium.

Here is my favorite bit of the movie:

Elwood: It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, a half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses.

Jake: Hit it.

Speaking of wearing sunglasses in the dark, just before the movie began, we in the audience broke the Guinness Book record for the most people wearing sunglasses in the dark at once. Yes, apparently, there is a Guinness Book record for pretty much everything!

This was one of those perfect Chicago nights that make me so happy to live and bike in this city.

Tagged , , , , ,

Paris Opera Ballet Picnic

{Our Roll Models series will return next Tuesday, after the holiday.  In its place today is a little story about a beautiful night out in Chicago.  Have a great Independence Day, Americans!}

On Wednesday, I enjoyed a free showing of the ballet Giselle, performed by the Paris Opera Ballet, in Chicago’s amazing Millennium Park.  The performance was a live telecast from a nearby theatre and the acoustics in the pavilion were wonderful.

The advantage of seeing a ballet on the lawn instead of in the theatre is laying out a picnic blanket and enjoying some wine and cheese in the fresh air.

A picnic is more fun when shared, so I gathered together my friends Sara and Jerry, Gigi and Chika, Maria and Seth (and Glenn, not pictured :-).

As the sun set in time for the second act, and the 90 degree heat lifted, the pavilion took on a magical feel, with shining city lights all around.

The group of us biked home together up the Lakefront Trail under the night sky.  A beautiful end to a beautiful night.  Jumping on the L train just would not have been right.  :)

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

A Long Summer Evening

I love how getting home at the end of the day can become extraordinary simply by bicycling with friends.  After this week’s Tuesdays on the Terrace event at the Museum of Contemporary Art, I biked home along the lakefront with my friends Sara and Holly.  At 8:30, the sun was setting, creating beautiful colors in both the sky and water.  Sara had the idea to stop along the way and venture to the edge of a pier for a beautiful view of the city.

Sara with her blue Pashley Poppy:

Holly with her green vintage bike:

Me with my Rivendell Betty Foy:

We took a bunch of photos and engaged in some general silliness:

Sara said she felt like it was one of those long summer nights of childhood, when the streetlights have come on but you’re not ready to go home home and go inside yet.

I totally knew what she was talking about.    Riding bikes with friends on a late summer evening is the best.


Do you ever get that feeling?

{p.s. Have you read about Grant Petersen’s visit to Nashville yet?  I want to read his book for the title alone – Just Ride!}

Tagged , , , , , ,

Neighborhood Buffered Bike Lane

Another new buffered bike lane has been installed in Chicago, this one in my neighborhood along the business district.  Notice that with this lane the buffer zone is next to parked cars, while with the lane heading into downtown, the buffer zone is next to moving traffic.  Even with the buffer, cyclists still need to bike in the outer portion of the bike lane to avoid opening car doors.

There is a buffered lane on the other side of the street, too, and visually the bike lanes make up a big portion of the roadway.  This street has always been very bike-friendly with slow and light traffic, but the new buffered bike lanes make it even more so.  I consider this low-hanging fruit for CDOT, so while I am happy to see the improvement, I anxiously await improvements where they are most needed – on major routes.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Tuesdays on the Terrace

Have I mentioned that summers in Chicago are the best?  ‘Cause they are!

Last week, I went to the Museum of Contemporary Art for Tuesdays on the Terrace, a free event with admission to the exhibits and the back garden, where a jazz band entertained and people enjoyed fresh grilled food and drinks.  I lounged on a blanket with my friends Chika and Linda, enjoying the outside ambiance.

The museum is right by Lake Michigan and Chika walked me to the lakefront trail at the end of the evening.  Coco is a bit too big for her, but I think they make a lovely pair.

I enjoyed my bike ride home in the evening, totally content.  Bicycling with the fresh air and sunset and skyline is the best way to end a Tuesday.  Certainly better than a usual mid-week bike commute.

I plan to go to as many Tuesdays on the Terrace events as possible this summer.  After all, the event is free!  ;)  No reason not to take advantage of all the culture Chicago offers.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Summer 2012 Jerk Season

The good side of biking Chicago

Welcome to Jerk Season aka summer!

On Saturday, I set off on my bike, in a great mood, to the theater to watch Moonrise Kingdom.  I was biking on a busy but reasonable two-lane street, outside of the door zone, three feet from parked cars.  Suddenly, from far behind me I heard a honk, then two more as the car came closer.  HONK!  HOOONK!  HOOOOOOONK!  The car passed me extremely closely, as the driver screeched out the open window, “MOVE OUT OF MY FUCKING WAY, BITCH!!!”

I maintained my line and did not react at all.  About 30 yards later, I passed her and the many cars stopped in traffic in front of her, soon arriving at my destination.

The experience was unpleasant – obviously, like any sane person, I would prefer not to be assaulted while traveling – but I have to remember that there are always awful people in the world, whether I am driving or bicycling.  I had to deal with her for only a few seconds, while she is trapped in her own anger always.  It would have been nice if a police officer had magically been around to pull her over, but such is life.

Now I can add “bitch” to the list, along with “retard,” “asshole,”  and “moron,” drivers have yelled at me for no reason.  Not too bad, in four years of daily Chicago bicycling, but I prefer bicycling in the winter, when drivers keep their windows closed and I cannot hear their crazed screeching.

Tagged , , , , ,

Comparing Routes on Bike to Work Day

Chicago’s Bike to Work Week took place last week, with Friday as the grand finale “Bike to Work Day” and a big rally downtown.  I had an early meeting and could not attend.  I simply celebrated by … biking to work.  Imagine that.

Biking to work

The day was a little special, incidentally, because I met up with my friend Elizabeth for the morning ride to work.  We took the most direct, major route, which is not so bad in the morning.  There was plenty of opportunity for chatting.

Elizabeth in the morning

In the evening, Mr. Dottie happened to be leaving work the same time as me, a rare occurrence, so we met up for bike home together.

Mr. Dottie in the evening

I made him take my quiet side street route and he thought it was more stressful than the busy-but-direct route.  He reasoned that all he had to do on the busy route was stay straight and stop for stoplights, while on the twisty side street route, there was a lot of turning, plus potential car conflicts at every block in the form of four-way-stop intersections.  I can see where he’s coming from – cars have a tendency to “not see” bikes at those intersections – but I am more stressed by what I cannot control on the busy route: cars barreling behind me at a fast speed and parked car doors flinging open.

Interesting to consider the choices through someone else’s perspective.  What kind of situation do you think is more stressful?

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Symphony in the Park

There is so much to do – for free! – in Chicago during the summer.  I try to do as much as possible, since culture is the reason I choose to live in the city.

Last Wednesday, my friend Chika and I attended the opening night of the Grant Park Orchestra, a free outdoor symphony in downtown Chicago’s architecturally stunning Pritzker Pavilion.  The pavilion lawn spreads out under the sky, perfect for enjoying a picnic in the fresh evening air.

Of course, I biked to work that day, so I biked to the concert after work.  The shopping bag on my rack held picnic supplies.

The fresh air, music, and company made for a lovely evening.  Bicycling home into the late sunset was the perfect end to the night and – as usual – half the fun.

I really cannot think of a better way to spend a Wednesday evening in the city.  And all for free, except the optional cost of wine and cheese.

The next free Grant Park Orchestra performance is Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony this Wednesday.

How are you enjoying the summer on your bike?

Tagged , , , ,

October’s Brunch and the Urban Adventure League

Today I developed a long-forgotten roll of B&W film and discovered the pictures from October’s women-who-bike brunch.  If anyone was wondering why I never blogged about October’s brunch, that’s why.

Enjoy.  :)

At this brunch we had special guests from Portland: April and Shawn from the Urban Adventure League.  They were at the end of a long bike tour that took them from Portland through Vancouver, Montana, Minnesota and finally Chicago.  Shawn is also the writer of the comic Ten Foot Rule, among other publications.

The women-who-bike group makes special exceptions for men who are visiting from out of town, especially if they biked.  :)

Tagged , , , ,

Urban Gardening by Bike

I am a city girl, but sometimes I complain about not having a yard and google Asheville farmhouses.  A classic “grass is greener” situation.  In reality, I have never displayed a green thumb and barely use my only outdoor space, a small wooden balcony.  Admitting this to myself, I decided to embrace what I have fully, instead of uselessly dreaming of what I do not have.  The result is my new urban garden!  My south-facing balcony gets strong direct sunlight for most of the day and finding plants that thrive in such an environment was easy.

On Saturday, I biked to my neighborhood garden center (Fertile, for locals) and loaded up on flowers: roses, begonias, daisies, and a window box for mounting.

To transport the plants, I simply zip-tied to my front rack a wine crate that Mr. Dottie found in our alley (free!).  This served the purpose splendidly.  The plants were packed in enough that they did not jostle or fall over.

Back at my condo, I transferred the flowers to bigger pots with more soil.  Lucky for me, I snapped up several terra-cotta pots that my neighbor left in the basement when she moved (free!).  These were a big score, as transporting heavy pots would have been difficult.

I learned via gardening blogs that I need some larger material at the bottom of my pots, below the soil, to help with drainage and avoid root rot.  I had enough wine corks for the first pot, but then I was at a loss and not up for another trip to the store.  Mr. Dottie came up with a plan to collect rocks from under nearby L tracks, which sounded kinda gross, but after only a few handfuls each – and after picking out the broken glass – we were set (free!).  :)

On Sunday, I returned to the garden center for herbs and vegetables.  Same bike set up as before.  I got sage, rosemary, basil, thyme, tomatoes, and banana peppers!

 Mr. D stuffed another flower box in his pannier.

Then we got back to work potting.  Getting my hands in the dirt – like a kid again – was fun, even though the dirt came from a bag.  (I was able to buy organic potting soil from the nearby grocery store, allowing me to walk home carrying the bags and avoid loading the bike up.)

Now I have a real live urban garden – complete with herbs, veggies, and flowers.  Once I prove to myself that I can keep these guys alive, I plan to go back for more.  And I’m working on some seedlings (green beans, catnip, flowers) that hopefully will join the rest of the gang outside soon.

As a final touch, I scored two barely-used patio arm chairs from Craigslist, which the seller delivered for a small extra fee.

I could not be more excited about my tiny urban garden!  Now I can sit outside and enjoy my personal oasis.  :)

Plus, I’ve already roasted a chicken using my own herbs – delish!

Does anyone else have an urban garden?  Or do you have an actual yard with an actual garden??  I’d love to hear stories and tips.

{Two helpful blogs I used as resources: Urban Organic Gardener  and Life on the Balcony.}

Tagged , , , , ,

May’s Women-Who-Bike Brunch

Last Sunday, the Chicago Women-who-bike gathered for our monthly brunch at Revolution Brewing in Logan Square.  This meant we got to enjoy their signature beermosa.  :)

Overall, our group size was about 30 people, all at one long table.  Special thanks to our excellent waitress, Jessica, for taking such good care of us.

Molly and her husband Piet joined us while visiting Chicago from Ann Arbor, Michigan.  You may remember both of them from their Summer Games participation and especially Molly from her 2010 Roll Models profile. 

After brunch, we spent time outside – as always – talking about bikes.  I like how April strapped her Kate Spade bag to her front rack.

Alison took Jen’s bakfiets for a spin.  Love the look on her face.  :)

But she soon went back to her own cute orange ride.

The day was a little rainy and I saw lots of different rain coats.  I particularly like this teal one!

Jenny showed how casually stylish a skirt with sneakers can look.

And Megan wore cool red sneakers!

Saya and Laurie, her friend visiting from Boston, struck a pose for me.  :)

This is only a small sampling of the great group of women who came out.

If you’re a woman and in Chicago and you bike (or simply want to learn more about biking!), email me at LGRAB@letsgorideabike.com to be added to the list.  Our next brunch will be Sunday, June 3rd – a picnic on the lakefront.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

May’s Critical Lass Ride

I missed the past couple of Critical Lass rides, so I was happy to catch up with the group for May’s ride.  Coolest bicycling group in Chicago, for sure, including a couple of baby-bicyclists.  We started in Roscoe Village and enjoyed a leisurely ride through Lakeview and Lincoln Park, ending at a Mexican restaurant for margaritas.

Many thanks to our fearless leader Ash, pictured first below.

We got rained on a little during the ride, but hail and lightening waited until we were safely at the restaurant and finished by the time we departed for our rides home.  The goddesses were on our side.

Join or keep up with Chicago’s Critical Lass Rides on Facebook.

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Chicago’s Culture by Bike

During Trisha’s recent visit, our time at the Nature Museum was only the beginning of our day enjoying Chicago’s culture by bike.  After saying goodbye to the birds and butterflies, we continued riding south along the Lakefront Trail to downtown.  Our destination was the Art Institute, Chicago’s great art museum.

During previous visits, we’d already seen the famous impressionists and modernists.  This time we enjoyed the exhibits featuring beautiful textiles, furniture, photography, miniature rooms, sculptureChagall’s windows, and O’Keefe’s Sky Above Clouds.

After a few hours, our minds began to turn from art to relaxing.  We met up with Sara and her new pastel blue Pashley Poppy that she bought from Boulevard Bikes.  After commuting daily on a Jamis Commuter for a long time, she certainly deserved the upgrade!

The three of us (san Poppy) went to Rooftop at the Wit for drinks.

The drinks were overpriced and the atmosphere a little obnoxious, but the views of downtown were cool.

After drinks and dinner, we added Mr. Dottie to our group and headed to Goodman Theatre to see The Iceman Cometh, starring Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy.  The play was interesting to think about afterward and also very long, 4.5 hours.

We ended up biking back home together through the relatively empty city streets at midnight.  In my opinion, the best way to end a full and engaging day.

Wherever you live, remember to take the time to explore and enjoy your area’s culture.

Tagged , , , , , ,

A Day at the Nature Museum

Last week, Trisha visited Chicago for her birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!).  We were together again!

We biked down the lakefront and stopped by the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

Coco and Oma got to be together, too, outside of the garage for once.

While there, we enjoyed a high-quality exhibit, called Bikes! The Green Revolution, that happens to be at the Nature Museum until September 9.

There was a display of cool vintage bikes.

Art work with the theme “bike monsters.”

Photo ops with a penny-farthing, which we were all over once the children got out of our way.

And a photo exhibit of modern cycling style, featuring portraits by Bike Fancy’s Martha Williams.  (Look, there’s me!)

Next, we stopped by the butterfly house, but the many fluttering things disconcerted Trisha a bit too much.

So we rested a bit.  :)

We finished our visit in the gardens, a lovely respite from the city.

Where we listened to highly entertaining bird calls in the bird sanctuary.

 Finally, we got back on our bikes to continue our day downtown.
Another lovely day on bikes in Chicago. Plus Trisha, which makes the day 100x better!  :)
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 45 other followers