My bike locked up at Union Station

My bike locked up at Union Station

About Me

Multimodal bike commuter.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


I'm nearing the end of my two-week vacation, so not a lot of multimodal commuting going on for me right now. But I am getting to ride my excellent Oma most every day, and it has been a joy.

But Sunday, I headed to the garage set on pedaling over to the Jefferson Park Farmers Market to meet my honey who was there, with her bakfiets doing chair massage. As soon a I unlocked my Oma, I saw something quite wrong: the front tire was flat. I pumped up the tire just in case, but within a few seconds could tell it was not going to hold air. I called Yvonne and told her I wouldn't be able to meet her. I toyed with walking Oma down to our blue line stop but couldn't bear the thought of carrying it down the stairs twice (once at our stop, and then again at the Damen stop--since neither stop has an elevator).

After Yvonne arrived home, we decided to load Oma in the back of the Baja and head to Dutch Bike Chicago. Strangely Yvonne noticed her commuter bike also had a flat, so we ended up loading both bikes in the back of the Baja and headed off to Dutch Bike.

I love my bike but the one thing that I'd improve are the grips which get super slippery in a rain storm or on hot sweaty days. I'd been eyeing the handsome PDW Dapper Dan Ergo grips for sometime, and used this as my excuse to splurge and get them.

Let me tell you they are so worth it. The leather is soft like buttah and feels great. They look wonderful on the bike and make me happy each time I ride. Well worth the investment!

Now, can you imagine how fantastic my bike will look when I trade up from my milk crate and get my Bates Crate in a few weeks?! How lucky can one girl be?

Monday, August 22, 2011

New bike lane on Northwest Highway!

Hey fellow Northwest siders! We spend many a Sunday riding from our house in the Six Corners/Portage Park area to Edison Park to pick up our nephew up for a weekly ritual that has come to be known as "Auntie Day!" We usually pick him up, then head to the Leaning Tower Y to swim, and then to either the Edgebrook or Park Ridge Starbucks for post-swimming snacks.

We've experimented with the best, quickest, safest-seeming bike routes, but routinely come back to Northwest Highway. Northwest Highway has been under construction for much of the summer and they are finally completing most of the work--which means we will be able to cycle on a smooth newly paved road.

That enough was cause to be happy, but imagine my delight when we started to notice the road being marked up for what certainly looked like a bike lane. And lo and behold: Northwest Highway between Nagle and Devon now has a bike lane. It would be better, of course, if it were a protected lane, and/or if it ran the full length of Northwest Highway. But hey, it's a start!

Here's a photo of the work in progress:

Friday, August 19, 2011

Winner Winner Chicken (Tofu?) Dinner!

How exciting to wake up on my first day of vacation, which was also my Oma-versary (one year anniversary of my Dutch bike), to find that my honey and I both had our entries into the LGRAB Summer Games 2011 highlighted on their site!

But wait, the news gets even more exciting! I was randomly selected as one of the day's winners and am slated to receive this absolutely gorgeous, handmade bike crate!

Oma is going to look even more fabulous with this beauty on front! Thanks Trisha and Dottie! I promise to take and post lots of pictures of Oma with the new crate!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

•test ride a different type of bike than you normally ride (road bike, mountain bike, etc.)

And now, the final piece for my entry into the LGRAB Summer Games 2011--test ride a different sort of bike than you normally ride.

My two primary rides are my WorkCycles Oma (which stays at home and doesn't get ridden nearly as often as I like), and a Trek mountain bike I use for commuting. I've had the Trek bike all-kinds-of modified to make it feel more upright and comfortable for commuting (upright handlebars, fender, rack for carrying items). And although my partner Yvonne has had a WorkCycle Bakfiets for a year now (we each purchased our Dutch Bikes from the fantastic Dutch Bike Chicago), I am embarrassed to admit that I never even tried to ride it. That is, until yesterday!

Here are two quick videos of me starting out in the alley, and then returning after riding around the neighborhood on it. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to get used to it. While I'm not yet ready to haul our nephew in it, or a massage table, or hundreds of pounds of topsoil the way Yvonne has, I will start working my way up to some of that impressive hauling on the bakfiets!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

•take a picture of something along your commute that says “summer” to you, and explain why

I love riding the LFP south to work. There's alway something new to see, hear, smell, experience. And that's especially true in the summer. I was riding south one morning, rounding the bend just north of McCormick Place when I saw a large group of cyclists, walkers, and runners stopped. There were police cars blocking the path. It turns out President Obama was leaving his Hyde Park home. He had traveled by motorcade to Soldier Field and then boarded Marine One. We were told we'd have to stay put until his helicopter was in the air. Of course, there were a bunch of helicopters since you never really know which one the President is on.

This first picture shows people waiting for the helicopters to take off.

The next pictures show one of the helicopters flying right over us! I don't care how jaded you are, there is something pretty darn exciting about having the President's helicopter take off right over head!

I emailed my partner and my boss to let them know what was happening, and why I'd likely be late for work. As my partner said, "Best excuse ever for being late!" I'm only sorry I wasn't able to capture the SWAT team members, dressed in black from head to toe, on top of McCormick Place! What an exciting morning.

Friday, August 5, 2011

•perform a maintenance task on your bike

Since I park my bike either at Union Station, or at work, it rarely spends any time at home. This means I would have to go out of my way during my commute to try to find a bike pump when my tires were feeling low.

After a few years of that foolishness, I splurged and purchased a bike pump that now lives in my office. This makes it easy for me to keep my tires properly inflated (or at least have no excuse for the times my tire pressure is low).

I'm now known as the person who keeps the bike pump in her office by students and colleagues alike. And I'm happy to loan my pump to fellow bike riders who can fill up their tires here at work. Here's a picture of my trusty bike, in my office as I prepare to give my tires a bit of air.

•write a letter advocating for bicycling infrastructure

Since I live on the northwest side and work in Hyde Park, I take the Metra train from the Mayfair stop in the mornings to Union Station. From there, I ride my bike (which I keep locked up at a bike rack outside of Union Station) south on Canal to Roosevelt. Roosevelt east to the Lake Front Path. Then the glorious LFP to Hyde Park and the UChicago where I work.

Metra is only the tiniest bit bike friendly, but the times you can bring a bike on the train are so limited, that it's impossible for me to bring my bike on the train in the morning and make it in to work during traditional working hours. So I keep my bike either parked outside of Union Station. I'm not wild about that arrangement, and fear theft and vandalism. So far I have been "lucky" in that I have only had my tires punctured once, but my bike hasn't been stolen...yet.

(My bike locked up at Union Station)

I have Pinhead locking skewers on my wheels and saddle and a sturdy kryptonite lock which has seemed to do the trick so far.

So my first item for the Summer Games was to write Metra suggesting three things to make things easier for multi-modal bike commuters.

1. Adding channels on the sides of station's stairs to make rolling bikes up and down the stairs easier.

2. Creating indoor bike racks at Union Station. They seem to have lots of unused space on the Clinton side of the building that I think is used for employee parking. It seems to me they could easily add a few bike racks there without giving up too much space.

3. Consider increasing the times bike can travel on trains or better yet, create bike trains like other commuter rail lines in other cities have. That would be ideal.

I mailed the letter 7/29/2011 and have yet to hear from anyone. Here's a copy of the letter: