Friday, April 27, 2007

bicycle resources

Here's a bit more info to go with my earlier post on "Broken Heart."

Chicagoland Bicycle Federation (CBF) is one of our local bike advocacy organizations. They work with local municipalities to develop bicycle routes and programs, work for better bike laws, offer educational programs, run some cool events (such as Bike the Drive), work for better bike laws, helped to get Pace, CTA and Metra to allow bikes on trains and buses, etc. Their site offers many links with information on all aspects of bicycling in and around Chicago. They also produce a good Chicago metro area bike map, indicating suitability of streets for cycling.

The City of Chicago bike map page gives an online bike map of the city. Here's the Rogers Park portion of that map. The bike map page also has many links, including info on safe cycling, bike theft prevention, and how to request a city bike rack.

The League of Illinois Bicyclists (LIB) is our statewide bicycle advocacy organization. They work throughout the state of Illinois for better bike laws and safer roads for cycling. Their site is a good place to check out what bike-related legislation is pending. There are a few important bills under consideration right now.

Local bike clubs can be a cool way to learn your way around the city and suburbs, meet fun people, and cool places to eat. Chicago Cycling Club and Evanston Bike Club each have a wide variety of rides. For bigger, "anything goes" rides, check out Chicago Critical Mass and Evanston Critical Mass. Cycling Sisters offers rides and events aimed at women. This is only a small selection of the organizations and events available in the Chicago area.

If you think cycling is too dangerous, you may want to read this resource page, which debunks some myths and gives some good facts. One old custom that is not safe for cyclists (especially in city traffic) is riding the wrong way against traffic. I see it all too often, especially on Clark and other major streets. Drivers are not expecting traffic coming at them in their lane. Other cyclists are not expecting it, especially in bike lanes that are specifically marked as one way. If you are going head-on towards approaching traffic in your lane, any impact is more likely to be fatal because the impact force of two vehicles colliding head-on is greater compared to one vehicle striking another from behind (basic physics). Drivers pulling out of parking spaces are much less likely to see you. Turning drivers coming from cross streets or parking lots are less likely to see you. Please ride in the direction of traffic and make the street safer for you and for other cyclists.

If you make yourself visible (lights and reflectors), use a side mirror to monitor traffic approaching from the rear, stop at red lights, stop (or yield) at stop signs, and avoid riding erratically, you can enjoy many accident-free miles in the city. I've ridden over 10,000 miles in the city since I moved back here in 1997 and have had only a few significant accidents. Many friends have similar experiences. Bicycles are a great way to shop, go to parties, commute, get exercise, enjoy the scenery, go out to dinner, and do many other things. And it's not just for summer anymore.

What? You say you don't have a bike, or yours just got stolen? Here's a local bike shop directory. Buy a good lock and register your bike with the Chicago Police Dept. A helmet is a good investment to protect your head. Get out and ride!

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