Tag Archives: infrastructure

Melissa’s Report from the Newbie Trenches

It’s a crazy world out there for beginning bike commuters.  I remember how confusing and stressful my first couple of rides were and all I had to do was go over and down on a bike path.  After I gave Melissa custody of Smurfette last month, she planned to start bike commuting when she moved to a new apartment closer to work in the Chicago suburb of Aurora. And she did!

Makeshift bike lane - temporary detour from bike trail

Makeshift bike lane - temporary detour from bike trail

Unfortunately, the first try did not go smoothly at all. In fact, it sounded pretty awful and enough to turn off most people from bike commuting forever.

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Nashville Is (Bike) Friendly!

Nashville is known for many things: country music, Southern gentility, comfort food, and Nicole Kidman sightings. Cycling is not among these distinctions.

Tandem at Halcyon Bike Shop - Trisha and I need one of these!!

Tandem at Halcyon Bike Shop - Trisha and I need one of these!!

When people speak of bike friendly cities in the US, they speak of Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, Boulder, Davis, San Francisco, Madison, and Chicago. I am quick to extol the virtues of Chicago’s efforts to promote cycling. Does it follow that Chicago is bike friendly? Usually I think so, at least for North America, but riding in the chaotic and congested city is often stressful and occasionally scary.

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Chicago’s Tweed Ride (& My Crash)

On Saturday, the inaugural Chicago Tweed Ride took place. London and San Francisco have held such rides recently, and it’s fun to see how the different cities interpret the ride. Chicago’s a good city to carry on the tweedy fun. The ride toured Chicago’s speakeasies, stopping at a couple for food and drinks, which were needed as the ride started at 1 and ended at 7. I enjoyed riding with so many others who appreciate slow bikes and style. I did not know a soul, and had a good time meeting everyone. Without further ado, I present Chicago’s tweedy goodness.

5-3-socks

5-3-light 5-3-plaid

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Chicago's Tweed Ride (and My Crash)

On Saturday, the inaugural Chicago Tweed Ride took place. London and San Francisco have held such rides recently, and it’s fun to see how the different cities interpret the ride. Chicago’s a good city to carry on the tweedy fun. The ride toured Chicago’s speakeasies, stopping at a couple for food and drinks, which were needed as the ride started at 1 and ended at 7. I enjoyed riding with so many others who appreciate slow bikes and style. I did not know a soul, and had a good time meeting everyone. Without further ado, I present Chicago’s tweedy goodness.

5-3-socks

5-3-light 5-3-plaid

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London Cycling Infrastructure

London cycling infrastructure has some interesting ideas, but it does not come across as a coherent system. What I saw was a hodgepodge of stuff spread around the city with not much of an overall plan or connection.

For example, I saw a few of these bike signal lights. Oddly, they were in the crosswalk with the walk signal, not with the lights for the cars. Since bikes ride in regular car lanes, I’m not sure the point – anyone have insight?

Bike Signal

Bike Signal

I didn’t see a lot of bike lanes compared to Chicago, but the ones I saw were pretty special.

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Saturday in Lincoln Square

Another beautiful spring day on bicycles. We enjoyed a few hours in the Lincoln Square neighborhood, visiting the bookstore, music store, Italian restaurant, coffee shop, and running store. Cycling there makes the whole day 100 times more fun, since it’s so much faster than driving or the el train, plus it’s impossible to find a car parking spot and the el is always sorta depressing. On bikes, the journey becomes part of the day, instead of a hassle to get through.

In Lincoln Square

In Lincoln Square

This morning I put the front rack and basket on my bike (it’s been off for a while to help combat the headwinds). The basket was stuffed full and the Oma handled like a charm. Thank goodness for those rear rack straps, which can hold pretty much anything, including my new yoga mat. The front rack is rated to carry 50 lbs and the rear rack 75 lbs, so I still have a long way to go before I run into cargo problems.

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Thanks Copenhagen Cycle Chic!

What a wonderful way to start the day – seeing Let’s Go Ride a Bike on style website extraordinaire Copenhagen Cycle Chic.

dot-trisha

Trisha and I are working on Copenhagenizing Nashville and Chicago, one bike ride at a time. Using a bike for transportation is easy as pie and can be done by almost anyone – without a great level of physical fitness, death wish, fancy bikes, or expensive gear. So why don’t more Americans do it? The greatest obstacle is that most Americans simply don’t know this. We have few examples to follow.

That’s why Copenhagen Cycle Chic is so important. Images from the other side of the world work their way instantly to America and provide a radically different perspective on how to use bikes. Although the images portray the ordinary, every day lives of Copenhageners, the ideas they present to Americans are revolutionary. The more people see them, the more they understand: there is another, better way of living. And “hey city government, why aren’t you helping me use public spaces in a more peaceful and safe manner?” And “yo federal government, how about performing some legislative acrobatics to ensure that federal highway money induces states to address alternative transportation needs?” Because only when our streets are safer for cyclists – both subjectively and objectively – will any true Copenhagenizing be possible. Until then, look out for Trisha and me – we’ll be the-easy-to-spot odd birds, cycling around in dresses and high boots.

Let’s Go Ride a Bike loves you :)

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Elevated Train and Elevators

Tonight I took the Oma on the el for the first time. Bikes are allowed on the el train any time except rush hour, with a max of two bikes per car.

Waiting for the Train

Waiting for the Train

A friend and I saw Spamalot at a theatre downtown and she did not have a bike, so I rode the el home with her. [note to Spamalot - please stop singing your lame songs and stick to the Monty Python script!] Oma was frustrated and confused; she did not understand why she had to stand still and wait for 15 minutes. Luckily, the train was not crowded – she took up A LOT of room. With the kickstand down, she’s sturdy as an ox and I held onto the saddle to keep myself steady while standing up during the ride.

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Shared Lanes, Buses, and Creepy Trees

Chicago Marked Shared Lane

Chicago Marked Shared Lane

This is a random picture from my ride home, an example of a “marked shared lane” in Chicago. They put these where the road is pretty wide, but not wide enough for an actual bike lane. This sharrow is from Lincoln Avenue, which is a long diagonal street that cuts northwest from downtown. This avenue alternates between sharrows and bike lanes. The sharrows make me feel a little better and make it clear to cars that I belong. They certainly helped me feel more comfortable when I was starting out riding in traffic, an important factor for getting more people on bikes.

Uncooperative Bus

Uncooperative Bus

I took a picture of this bus with the intention of saying that cyclists should stay behind a bus at a stop light. When the light turns green, the bus will be ready to go and you don’t want to play leapfrog with a CTA driver. (This advice would not apply if you’re super fast and cooler than I, but for most people puttering around the city, it’s a good general rule.) However, as soon as I took this picture, the light turned green and the bus didn’t move and I realized that it was sitting there completely empty. So I went around it. Damn bus.

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