My bike locked up at Union Station

My bike locked up at Union Station

About Me

Multimodal bike commuter.

Friday, August 5, 2011

•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:


  1. hello from a fellow bike-train commuter, and congrats on the new blog! I am going to try the folding-bike, take-it-with-me route .... will see how that goes (my office moved, now I am on different lines morning and night ...) when I am not headed to the office, I am on Oma :)

  2. Hi chicagogal! Thanks for being my first commenter! I've thought about a folding bike, and even bought a used Dahon, but couldn't really make it work for my route. I see someone on the LFP commuting on a Brompton. Nice, but out of my price range. Good luck with your new commute, and let me know how the folding bike works for you. (If only we could train-bike commute on our Omas!)

  3. so wish I could put Oma on the train, but only in the Netherlands, I suppose. new Citizen Barcelona showed up yesterday, however, and is quite portable up and down the back stairs so far. and it's adorable. clearly I will be riding it today if the rain ever lets up!

  4. Congrats on the new bike! Wow, that folding bike looks great! How do you like it so far?

    My commute is ten miles each way, do you think it would work well for that distance?

  5. So today was first commuting day with the little bike - 3.5 miles down to Michigan Ave for a dr's appointment, across loop to Union Station for train to Lake Forest, and 2 miles to my office. It was very fun - bike was actually faster and easier to ride than I expected, though had to get used to 3 gears again (not so painful being Chicago). I strapped my backpack to the front rack, which was nice, my heels didn't kick anything. On and off the train, I left bike the bike unfolded - what I found is that I can't really carry it when folded, since it is not one of the tinier bikes. But for me, it is way more manageable than a normal size bike to navigate up the steep steps of the Metra trains, particularly when I have a laptop and the rest of my office strapped to my back. It was also nice to know that I could also fold it if I needed to, and fit in a cab or a friend's car.

    So a successful day with the little bike, a couple photos below. Hard to say on the ten-mile commute - I think I was going about as fast as I do on Oma, which is to say, not really that fast, but a comfortable ride. On a beautiful day the ten miles might fly by, but give it some rain or wind, and it will start to drag (though little bike does have cute fenders).

  6. That photo by the Bean is amazing! Thanks for the review, and happy riding.