Photo: Brett Mohr
By John Greenfield
“On State Street, that great street, I just want to say
They do things they don’t do on Broadway”
—“Chicago (That Toddlin’ Town)” by Fred Fisher
The question is, can Chicago do on State Street what New York City already does successfully, not on Broadway but on Park Avenue; what San Francisco does on Grant Avenue; and what Bogotá, Colombia, does on Calle 11?
After two previous attempts, the Active Transportation Alliance hopes Saturday’s car-free event on State Street will finally convince City Hall to embrace the ciclovia concept.
Born in Bogotá, the “ciclovia” (Spanish for “bike path”) concept closes streets to motorized traffic, creating safe spaces for citizens to bicycle, jog, stroll, play and mingle, encouraging healthy recreation and social interaction. Ciclovias are now popular around the world, and most of America’s bike-friendly major cities are holding successful events, but the model still hasn’t gained a foothold in Chicago. Read the rest of this entry »
By John Greenfield
Dottie Brackett is the Martha Stewart of the Chicago bike scene. Often spotted cruising the streets on her stately black Dutch bike or sprightly robin’s egg blue Rivendell, elegantly dressed in a skirt and heels, she belies the notion that urban cycling is only for sweaty guys in Lycra or skinny jeans. Since early 2009 her blog “Let’s Go Ride a Bike” (LGRAB) has shown thousands of people in Chicago and beyond how easy it is to use a bicycle for transportation and look good doing it. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo: John Greenfield
The other day I was pedaling with friends under azure skies to Evanston’s Blind Faith Cafe when I was reminded of an old political fight. We were riding on the North Shore Channel Trail, a scenic, nearly car-free route from Albany Park to Evanston, when we came to the notorious gap in the path just north of Peterson. The trail ended abruptly, so we spun north on Kedzie a few blocks, turned west and rode on hectic Devon Street across the channel, then turned north to continue on the bike path into Lincolnwood.
If it weren’t for opposition from former 50th Ward Alderman Berny Stone, we would have been able to instead make a car-free transition to the section of the trail west of the channel via a bike-pedestrian bridge. Read the rest of this entry »
“If Tour de Fat was a drug,” an attendee to the cycling festival says on its Facebook page, “I’d say it was the same chemical compounds released in your brain and euphoric experience that we know as love.”
Those interested in the way beer, free music and bicycle riding can stimulate that particular feeling would do well to check out the upcoming Chicago leg of the Tour de Fat, which comes to Chicago this Saturday. Centered around a costumed bike parade, the festival, which is hosted by the Colorado-based New Belgium Brewing Company, will have an emphasis upon sustainability. The Car-for-Bike program allows one pre-chosen Chicago citizen to trade in their polluting car for an eleven-speed handcrafted bicycle for one year. Performing acts this year are appropriately eclectic, including vaudeville comedy act The Daredevil Chicken Club, psychedelic blue-grass band The Dovekins, and self-described “circus punk marching band” Mucca Pazza. Seventies rock mainstay Free Energy headlines the stage. (Michael Gillis)
The Tour de Fat is in Chicago on July 16. Registration for the bike parade begins at 9am, with the parade itself being at 10am at Palmer Square, North Kedzie Avenue and West Palmer Square. Performances continue at Palmer Square from 11am to 4pm.
Every day, thousands of people bicycle to work via the Lakefront Trail spanning Chicago’s beautiful lakefront parks and connecting neighborhoods from Edgewater to Hyde Park with the Loop.
As part of its role to promote bicycling, walking and public transit over environmentally costly and sedentary forms of travel, Chicago’s Active Transportation Alliance has been monitoring conditions on the Lakefront Trail for years. Active Trans issues regular blog posts on major obstructions and ongoing detours on the trail, receives complaints and notices from commuters and works directly with the Chicago Park District to resolve issues as quickly as possible.
Now Active Trans proposes to expand their ongoing conservatorship of the Lakefront Trail with a new reporting system that allows commuters to instantly update trail conditions via Twitter. Commuters using the trail need only tweet their update and include the hashtag #CHILFT in order for it to appear instantly in Active Trans Lakefront Trail twitter feed, which will be displayed, along with blogs and other relevant media, at www.activetrans.org/lakefront. Read the rest of this entry »
By John Greenfield
Imagine yourself watching—better yet, competing in—a breakneck bicycle race on a gleaming indoor track at the Chicago Velo Campus sports district. It is a freezing winter night outside but sweat pours off the chiseled, Lycra-clad riders as they whiz by and zip around the sloped turns on sleek fixed-gear bikes. The crowd goes wild.
Emanuele Bianchi, businessman, racer and president of the low-profit limited liability corporation Chicago Velo Campus L3C, is working hard to make this vision a reality. The sports district would include a stadium nearly as large as the United Center housing the velodrome (bike racing arena) and many other sports facilities, plus outdoor BMX, mountain bike and cyclocross tracks, at an estimated total cost of $40 to $45 million.
Bianchi, no relation to the Bianchi bicycle company, and his partners want to build the velo campus on the former site of U.S. Steel South Works, a hunk of land on the lakefront between 79th and 92nd Streets. They hope it will be the centerpiece of Lakeside, an ambitious new 500-acre community proposed for the site by real estate developer McCaffery Interests, in partnership with the steel company, which still owns the land. Read the rest of this entry »
Once again, Newcity ends its year with lists that compile the best, mostly, of the year that was, in the arts, the city, pop culture and the slightly offbeat, more than seventy in all. See you in 2011!
The Top 5 of Everything 2010: City Life and Pop Culture
Top 5 People Who Passed Away That You Thought Were Already Dead
Art Linkletter, 97, TV-show host and ad-lib interviewer (“Kids Say the Darndest Things”)
Mitch Miller, 99, recording artist and 1960s TV-show host (“Sing Along with Mitch; follow the bouncing ball”)
Patricia Neal, 84, Oscar-winning actress (“Hud,” “The Day the Earth Stood Still”)
Teddy Pendergrass, 59, R&B soul singer (severely paralyzed in 1982)
Art Clokey, 88, animator (creator of “Gumby”)
—Sarah Louise Klose
Top 5 Sports Moments That Make You Say “Huh?”
Blackhawks nab Stanley Cup, dismantle championship team
Cubs attendance dips in 2010, ticket prices rise in 2011
Wrigley Field hosts Northwestern vs. Illinois football, only one end zone used for both teams
Evan Lysacek wins Olympic gold medal, loses “Dancing with the Stars”
LeBron James teases Cavs, runs with Bulls and takes the Heat
—Sarah Louise Klose
Read the rest of this entry »
It’s a frigid Friday night and forty bicyclists have convened on Polish Triangle, aka Bum Island, the three-sided plaza at Division/Ashland/Milwaukee, populated by homeless guys and a hotdog vendor, and carpeted with pigeon droppings. It’s a bigger crowd than usual for the Wicker Park Critical Mass, one of several “mini masses” on the first Friday of the month, that also take place in Pilsen, Evanston and Oak Park. A female cyclist dressed as Santa passes out fleece balaclavas, while a dude on a recumbent in a spiky orange motorcycle helmet puffs on a pipe. Then a young couple, Aaron and Katie, ride up to the plaza and stand before the group, in front of the Nelson Algren Fountain. Aaron presents a small red box to his surprised girlfriend and drops to one knee as five of his helmeted pals unfurl signs reading “KATIE / WILL YOU / MARRY / ME ?” She runs forward and kisses him passionately as the crowd erupts with cheers, honking bike horns and ringing bells. After passing around bottles of bubbly, the mass of bicyclists saddle up and pedal off into the sunset. (John Greenfield)
On a balmy Wednesday morning, bike racks outside the Thompson Center are clogged with cycles. The drum-shaped building is nicknamed the “Tom Tom” by messengers who chill in the plaza while waiting for work. But today a cleaner-cut crowd has pedaled here in suits and skirts for the ThinkBike symposium, “a Dutch boost to Chicago’s bike-ability.” Naturally, the collection of cycles includes elegant Dutch city bikes and hardworking bakfiets (“box bike”) cargo vehicles.
The workshops, sponsored by the Dutch Consulate General and Active Transportation Alliance, bring bike-transportation specialists from the Netherlands together with their Chicago counterparts to brainstorm ways to make our city the Amsterdam of the Midwest. Rather than legalizing pot and prostitution, the goal is to bump our city’s measly one-percent bicycle mode share closer to the utopian standards of Holland, where twenty-seven percent of all trips are made on two wheels, and there are more cycles than citizens. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s the grand opening for Greenline Wheels, an “eco-happy” bike and electric car rental and tour center in Oak Park, and the land of Wright and Hemingway looks like an active transportation utopia. Just south of the futuristic Harlem CTA stop, Marion Street is closed for the block party. A dude in a Hawaiian shirt tows kids on a pedicab, a cop rolls a Segway, folks check out a PT Cruiser-like electric buggy and a pair of cheerleaders pedals a tandem. The new venture hopes to lure visitors out to the western ‘burbs to explore architectural and historical gems, while providing locals with green transportation options. Co-owner Mary Jo Schuler tells the crowd the shop is officially designated as an LC3 “low-profit” business, a new model in Illinois. After local bigwigs cut the green ribbon in front of a phalanx of shiny new rental bikes, dozens of folks parade around the block on various non-noxious vehicles. Afterwards, Schuler explains why she started this new business, “The village of Oak Park continues to get more congested with cars and instead of whining I wanted to do something about it.” (John Greenfield)
Greenline Wheels, 105 South Marion, Oak Park, (708)725-7170, greenlinewheels.com.