Monday, March 31, 2008

shared bike program

I got this item from a local bike e-mail list. Great news!
Field Museum launches Shared Bike Program for employees
Bikes intended for meetings, errands, exercise.
Will reduce pollution and save money.

CHICAGO—The Field Museum will add to its already extensive "green" record by launching an innovative Shared Bike Program on March 31, 2008 – just in time for spring.

The Museum is already a trendsetter for employee bicycle use. It encourages employees to bicycle to work by providing showers and bike parking, including a large, secure, indoor bike-parking facility. As a result, more than 100 of the Museum's approximately 575 full-time employees bike to work on a regular basis. In fact, for the past two years the Field Museum has won the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation's Bicycle Commuter Challenge for its category (large not-for-profit organizations).

Initially, the Museum's Shared Bike Program will make three bicycles available March through November for any employee to use during daylight hours. Two of the initial three bicycles are Cannondale police bikes that were no longer needed by Museum security forces. More bicycles will be added depending on demand.

Employees may use the bikes for personal or work-related reason – whether to run an errand, attend a meeting away from the museum, or just take a spin. The Museum expects to save money with this program by reducing its expenditures for taxis, parking and messenger services.

"The Field Museum's Shared Bike Program is an ideal way to encourage more people to get on bikes," said Rob Sadowsky, executive director of the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation. "Companies that encourage their employees to ride bikes end up saving money on health-insurance costs. Plus, they get healthier, happier employees."

The Shared Bike Program is the brainchild of Robert Weiglein, exhibitions designer at the Museum. "One day last summer, I was in a taxi rushing to an appointment in the North Loop when it occurred to me that I would rather be on a bike," he said. "I also thought it would help The Field Museum be more `green'."

Weiglein submitted a proposal for the program. After it was approved, he repaired the bikes and added racks, locks and puncture-resistant tires.

Other "green" initiatives at The Field Museum include:

- Take One Step, a program that encourages Field Museum visitors to purchase shares of carbon credits to offset the greenhouse gases created by their trip to the Museum;

- Extensive solar panels on its roof;

- A Renewable Energy Vehicle that runs on filtered waste vegetable oil and travels to schools, street fairs, and other public events teaching people about renewable energy;

- Widespread use of energy-efficient fluorescent lighting;

- Extensive recycling of paper and cardboard; printer cartridges; cell phones; eye glasses; analog and digital media devices; batteries; etc.;

- A new heating system that makes ice at night when electricity rates are lower and then uses the ice to cool the building during the day.

- The Museum's "A Greener Field" committee promotes diverse conservation initiatives and offers a wide array of educational and informative programs about conservation.

The Shared Bike Programs serves The Field Museum's Mission to protect the world's flora and fauna as well as the natural habitats upon which they all depend.

The City of Chicago is reportedly considering a citywide program that would make bicycles available for use by the public at stations scattered around town. The program is modeled on similar programs around the world, including successful ones in Paris and Lyons, France. Another development that will make bicyclists feel more welcome in Chicago, particularly on the Museum Campus, is a new underpass for the Lakefront Bicycle Path where it intersects Solidarity Drive just east of The Field Museum. Construction has begun and is expected to be completed this summer.

"We are very optimistic about our Field Museum Shared Bike Program because we have gotten a lot of interest in the idea from museum employees," said Carter O'Brien, head of the Museum's A Greener Field committee. "Many employers encourage automobile driving by subsidizing the cost of parking; providing free parking for volunteers and students; reimbursing drivers for their mileage; making a fleet of cars available to employees; and/or accommodating the flow of taxis and buses. It's time for employers to consider doing more for bicycling."

"Calorie for calorie, the average human body on a bike gets something like 250 more miles per gallon than a car," said Johanna Thompson, Student Programs Administrator. "When I think about it that way, it makes me want to use a bike for as many trips as possible, especially the short jaunts."

Mission Statement:

The goals of The Field Museum Shared Bike Program are to:

-Provide an ecologically sound alternative form of employee transportation for local trips and errands;

-Enhance employee health and wellbeing by providing Field Museum staff with a no-cost, maintenance-free introduction to the benefits of cycling;

-Raise the profile of The Field Museum's green initiatives and position The Field Museum as a leader in fostering a bike-friendly culture in Chicago;

-Pursue the above goals through a highly cost-effective volunteer-driven program that re-uses existing bicycles and equipment.

Sunday, March 30, 2008



green goes mainstream

We've made some progress in making green practices more mainstream. However, when I see so many teens and twenty-somethings tossing everything into the the trash, even when recycling bins are right next to the trash, I know we've got a long way to go. This New York Times article gives some insight into how green might come to Main Street in a bigger way.

On a related note, Sprawl-Mart has changed direction somewhat, an interesting twist. Could this have a trickle-down effect on how corporations think about energy and waste? Or is Wal-Mart using this as a PR shield against those who criticize them for killing Main St. USA and emphasizing cheapness at the expense of MANY other hidden costs.

A recent New Yorker article details efforts by other corporations to reduce their carbon footprints. Lots of food for thought...

Saturday, March 29, 2008

right cause, wrong place and time

While I'm no fan of the war and generally favor speaking out against it, last week's boneheaded demonstration didn't do the anti-war cause any favors. *sigh*

Friday, March 28, 2008

street sweeping schedule

If you'd like to check it out online, click here. This year Streets & San will be using color-coded signs as follows: Monday - Blue, Tuesday - Red, Wednesday - Yellow, Thursday - Green, Friday - Orange.

Of course, color coding is irrelevant if they're putting up signs one hour before or the night before like they sometimes have in the past. If you catch 'em doing that, complain to the Streets & San office (312.744.0940) and Joe Moore's office (773.338.5796).

keep it Wrigley

If you're poetically minded, you can write a limerick for the Sun-Times "keep it Wrigley" contest. If you appreciate the idea but can't write to save your life, you can always buy a shirt to express your thoughts.

Rogers Park Garden Group this Sunday 3/30

The Rogers Park Garden Group has adopted a portion of the Rogers Park Metra stop as its 2008 Community Garden Project, focusing on the east embankment between the Greenleaf and Lunt entrances to the Metra stop.

Come on down this Sunday, March 30th at 1:00 p.m. to help clean and prepare the site. Meet at the corner of Ravenswood and Greenleaf. Volunteers are needed to remove trash, dead leaves and other debris from the embankment. Bring your gloves and rakes. Trash bags will be provided.

Whether or not you can help physically, the project also needs your financial help. The Group has gotten $2,000 in pledges so far, but that's a long way from the $15,000 goal. You can help in three ways:

1. Donate directly to the Metra Garden Project. Donations collected through the Lakeside Community Development Corp. will be passed to the Metra Garden 100% and are tax deductible. Make your checks payable to "RP Metra Community Garden," and mail them to Lakeside CDC, 1806 W. Greenleaf Ave., Chicago, IL 60626. Pledges of in-kind support can also be made via mail or e-mail. For more information, visit the web site.

2. Vote for the project at Hometown Helpers , sponsored by Hamburger Helper, which is hosting a grant giveaway. Projects that get the most comments can win a grant. Please take a few moments to click here and post a comment that may get the Metra Garden $5,000!

3. Visit the Common Cup at 1501 W. Morse Ave (at Greenview) and leave some money in the tip jar. All tip jar proceeds collected between April 15 and May 14 will benefit the Metra Garden project.

origami in space


funky Friday 6

A couple of good thoughts for Friday: True to Myself and Into the Groove

Thursday, March 27, 2008

3/29 earth hour

one hour of darkness to contemplate the difference that our choices can make.....

goofy Thursday

Here's some video silliness for your Thursday.

Project Budburst

You can help with scientific observation of plant/tree budding, flowering and leafing out. Starting now, you can note observations of budding and flowering plants in locations you see everyday. Here's the guide for the project. If you do not have regular access to plants that are on this list, you may submit observations of other species. Check out other pages on the site for more details.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

how green is your bike?

Want to find out? Take this Sierra Club quiz.

not so simple

If only the problem of healing America's racial divide were as simple as electing a black president...

While I often appreciate Eric Zorn's columns, I think he's oversimplified the problem in this one. Electing a black president would be one step towards healing. Obama's speech was another step. But these steps would be only the beginning of a dialogue, not the final word on the subject.

There is bigotry on both sides of the fence that has to be overcome. It won't be easy and it won't happen quickly. Much of the bigotry that existed back in the 1950s is still there, albeit in more subtle forms. Until we, as a nation, decide to grow and change, this will continue to hold us back.

The cultural differences between mainstream white culture and mainstream black culture are substantial and very real. Some individuals are in a position to bridge that gap. Listening to their perspectives can promote greater understanding of our differences.

After all the controversy you have heard about Barack Obama's pastor, Rev. Wright, have you taken the time to go beyond the post-9/11 sound bites shown on Fox News and seek out the context for those comments? Hearing those short snippets in context changes the message considerably.

We need to talk on a nationwide scale, not just for a day, but for as long as it takes. But talk isn't the only piece of the equation. To have a real dialogue, we also need to listen. If we only talk but do not listen, we may be under the illusion that we are making progress without actually doing so. We need to understand the context of what we are hearing, and take time to learn more if we do not yet understand.

Evanston skyscraper controversy

The new skyscraper proposed for downtown Evanston has created a lot of controversy. Here are several local articles from recent weeks: 1, 2, 3, 4.

The proposal has spawned a protest movement and been noticed in the media across the country (1, 2).

I have mixed feelings about the proposal. The design is much more attractive than most of the recent additions to Evanston's skyline. It continues the trend towards transit-oriented development in Evanston. However, I'm not so crazy about the fact that it would destroy an older low-rise building that adds a lot of character to Church Street and houses some long-established independent businesses and small offices, which would likely find the rents much too pricey when the new building is finished.

Much of the appeal of downtown Evanston is in the mix of businesses and architecture that are unique to it. Would it be improved by a new influx of franchise retailers and restaurants, replacing the independents who could no longer afford the space? Sherman and Church are already becoming glutted with a mall-like mix of franchises. The area around Fountain Square already suffers from a wind tunnel effect, which has increased with the addition of more tall buildings, making walking more of a challenge on windy days.

We'll see if this development is actually built. The rival proposal for the same location is DOA. Stay tuned...

beginning a dialogue

When Barack Obama tackled the difficult subject of our racial divide in his recent speech, the topic was already on the radar at a local high school. One more step in the right direction...

Monday, March 24, 2008

musical moment of thought

A thought-provoking song then and now: Dear God

Friday, March 21, 2008


Leonard Pitts raises some good points about the issue of experience among our current crop of presidential candidates.

funky Friday 5

live at Louisiana Music Factory - rockin' solo piano by Jon Cleary - TGIF!!!

Thursday, March 20, 2008


A Wiccan friend offers a couple of links on the nature-based origins of some of our traditions of winter fading into spring: Imbolc and Ostara (which became Easter in Christian tradition).

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

a time to heal

The racial divisions that continue to plague our country need to be healed. Too often, we are afraid to discuss this difficult subject, with friends of the same race or other races.

Barack Obama's Philadelphia speech sent the right message about this thorny issue. The speech is a long one. Please take time to listen or read the text. It's worth taking that time.

I grew up with a mixed legacy of racism. I've lived in mixed neighborhoods for most of my life, having friends and neighbors of many different nationalities and races.

My Mom's parents did not believe in racism. Their Polish family and the black family next door became like one big extended family. The grandmother of that family, still alive and kicking at 91, is like another grandmother to me. I consider her daughters to be my aunts and her son to be my uncle.

My Dad's parents were the opposite, often making bigoted comments about our n***** neighbors and being less than thrilled about visiting our neighborhood. I've always taken pride in the fact that Dad did not follow in their footsteps. In his later years, he enjoyed time volunteering at a community center in a poor black neighborhood, coaching basketball and teaching crafts.

We need to keep speaking out, tearing down the walls that divide us. We have the power as a nation to choose a path to healing. Barack Obama's words can help begin a dialogue to aid in that process. It begins with many smaller dialogues.

Each of us can talk with our family members, children's teachers, neighbors, anyone. Teachers can include the idea of healing in their lessons. Ministers, priests, rabbis, imams, and other religious leaders and teachers can promote the idea of healing. Parents and grandparents can talk with their children.

Spread a million seeds and many of them will take root. The power to heal comes from individuals choosing to help it happen.

take the test

brilliant UK ad that makes a good point about our awareness of what's going on around us on the street - this video is worth a look.

anti-war protest tonight

Tonight is the 5th anniversary Iraq war protest rally and march.

Monday, March 17, 2008

music for Moanday

Should I stay or should I go?

pet food recall - one year later

It's been one year, and not much has changed. This article discusses the situation. The FDA is seeking feedback from pet owners. Contact info is at the end of the article.

different shades of green

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

The other night I encountered an Irish family on a Loop street looking for a pub. If you're looking for a bit of Irish fare, wander on down to one of our pubs, in Evanston or further south: Tommy Nevin's, Celtic Knot, or Irish Oak, among others.

Even in Boston, the most Irish U.S. city, things are changing. Here's a bit of Boston Irish rock to celebrate the day, courtesy of Dropkick Murphys.

lemon in your drink?

You might think twice about it after watching this video – ick!

Barack Obama interview

The Trib did a lengthy interview with Barack Obama on Friday, with this edited version running in Sunday's paper. A full audio version, along with several other audio clips, is available here.

pedestrian killed in hit and run (updated)

A pedestrian was killed in a hit and run at Granville and Lakewood early yesterday morning. The driver later turned himself in and is facing charges. And there's more... The story continues to evolve.

What a sad waste of a life.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

not in Chicago

If you're not a fan of Chicago's 2016 Olympic bid, I've found the web site for you. The mascot is priceless. ;)

is this really a good idea?

This ongoing story about heparin produced by Chinese sources is scary. First China says that ensuring the safety and purity of Chinese-made pharmaceuticals is not their job. Then inspections by the FDA reveal significant quality control issues. And this is in China, where true surprise inspections by the FDA are not possible. Now it's been discovered that there is significant contamination with a substance that is chemically similar to heparin but does not act the same in the body.

The next logical question is whether this contamination is the result of a problem in manufacturing, an act of sabotage, or a substitution to reduce manufacturing cost. Follow-up stories have mentioned that China has become one of the largest sources of raw pharmaceutical ingredients, so the problem may be much bigger than heparin, which is not insignificant.

Previous problems with pet food ingredients and human foods might suggest that corporate greed may cost many of us our health if this continues.

Sounds like it's time to start making a stink about this to our U.S. Senators and Representatives, folks. Pharmaceuticals from foreign sources should be subject to the same regulations and standards as U.S.-produced items. China can't have it both ways. If they want the world's business, they have to be accountable for the quality of their products, starting now.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

healthier habitat

When you're at the garden center this spring considering which new plants to buy, keep this in mind.

My personal favorites last year were Russian sage (attracting butterflies and bees) and fuchsia (attracting hummingbirds).

cartoon comment

Today's cartoon comment is bike-related, to go with the previous post about the new Chicago ordinance: Yehuda Moon, part 1 and part 2, on surviving encounters with careless drivers. It's good to be aware of what's going on around you while you're in traffic.

will new laws make cycling safer in Chicago?

Chicago now has a new ordinance to improve bike safety in Chicago. The ordinance makes it illegal for drivers to leave less than 3 feet of space when passing cyclists, to open car doors into the path of cyclists, to turn right or left directly in front of moving cyclists, or to park in or otherwise obstruct marked bike lanes. Gapers Block ran a piece on the ordinance just before it passed.

This video illustrates how a little more attention by careless drivers can make a big difference in safety.

If you drive but don't ride a bike
, please get into the habit of checking your side mirror every time you are about to open your car door into traffic. A car door opened at the wrong time can serious injure or kill an unsuspecting cyclist. I've suffered broken bones from being doored. Please use your side mirrors to check for cyclists just as you would look for other moving vehicles, especially when you are about to turn.

If you ride, try to use side mirrors and brake lights as warning indicators that a driver may open a door in front of you. Look ahead for drivers who may turn right or left in front of you, forcing an emergency stop or evasive maneuver. Spend time observing the patterns of cab and bus movement and learn to predict when and where they will stop so you can work around them. Please use courtesy when riding. Don't go on and off the sidewalk. Ride predictably. Use turn signals. If you need to make noise to make yourself visible, do it.

To read the actual text of the ordinance, click here.

For laws like this to be effective, there should be some courtesy on both sides of the fence. Let's be safe out there and have a summer of good riding and no cycling fatalities!

Friday, March 14, 2008

funky Friday 4

Here's a two-fer from Chaka Khan: Ain't Nobody and Do you Love What You Feel - TGIF!!!!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

priceless quote of the day

This gem is from da Mare (otherwise known as King Richie), concerning bike messengers: "You have to be careful if you are reckless."

music break

Here's a silly video time out for fun - almost Friday.....

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


If you haven't discovered our contemporary ragtime piano genius Reginald Robinson, you should check out his music. He's an underappreciated local talent.

cat cafes

an interesting idea from Japan

just say no to 10.25%

If you'd like to put in your $0.02 on the pending Crook County sales tax increase, CALL 1-312 -603-6400. It only takes about 15 SECONDS to punch in your vote.

Press 1 to access the feedback on pending ordinances option and follow the directions to cast your vote.

Who wants to pay 10.25% SALES TAX? ?

Cook County is planning the increase for November. This will have a negative effect on the lives of consumers in Illinois and, obviously, on retail businesses as this will make ours the highest sales tax rate in the country.

Please call, and forward this to your friends.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

one if by land...

Energy efficient lighting comes to a Boston landmark.

a threat to the First Amendment

Kentucky Representative Tim Couch filed a bill this week to make anonymous posting online illegal. The bill would require anyone who contributes to a website to register their real name, address and e-mail address with that site. Their full name would be used anytime a comment is posted. If the bill becomes law, the website operator would have to pay if someone was allowed to post anonymously on their site. The fine would be five-hundred dollars for a first offense and one-thousand dollars for each offense after that.

While I certainly do not agree with some of the nasty stuff that is posted anonymously, I cannot support a measure like this in any form. I consider it a grave threat to free speech.

Monday, March 10, 2008

party concepts

I ran across this post online and it gave me some laughs. Hope it gives you some, too.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

real Chicago

This is hardly a comprehensive list, but it includes some goodies that may be off the beaten path for many.

expensive exercise in futility

The ongoing war in Afghanistan does not seem likely to solve any problems.

Friday, March 07, 2008

funky Friday 3

Today we've got a Level 42 two-fer: Hot Water and Something About You. The second video is not much to look at, but it's a good extended version of the song.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

hardcore commute

Here's a bike commute story from Michigan. And Bike Winter isn't over yet. If you need a few more tips for now or warmer weather, check out this link.

something different

and now a random musical diversion...

pub owner bans "Danny Boy" for month

I guess somebody really got sick of hearing this song around St. Patrick's Day.

shocking, just shocking

Unfortunately this news is not shocking. That's the problem. Business as usual, folks.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

snow is a 4-letter word

I'm definitely sick of winter. You probably are too. My friends in New Hampshire are REALLY sick of snow. Be grateful you're not in Concord. I was living there in the winter of 1995-96 and I remember the giant snow piles like this on the street corners and giant mountains of snow in parks and corners of parking lots that didn't finish melting until early summer. Be grateful that we're not having their winter.

a greener way to run a business

Here's a green business model in action.

Another example I'm seeing lately here in Chicago is the increase in restaurant food deliveries by bicycle, such as Potbelly and Jimmy John's.

not here

Things are looking up in downtown Jargowood (otherwise known as Jarvis Square - Jarvis & Greenview) and even on Morse, but not here.

Seems like any initiative to improve things has mostly been coming from landlords and business owners, not from DevCorp North or Joe Moore.

Ten years ago, there were places to eat and shop on Howard Street between Greenview and Paulina. Some new places have opened in that time, and a few of them have stayed. The Dunkin Donuts that was so popular a few years ago is gone. I'm sure the El station construction did not help their business at all. Chinalite was good for a while, but the quality of their food really fell off the cliff and then their business did too. Most of the cheap and greasy places that used to exist on this section of Howard are gone.

The Wisdom Bridge Arts project, with its worthy goals, has been frustrated in its ongoing struggle to find a permanent home and put down strong roots on Howard Street. What's it gonna take to get some positive action on Howard?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

mom rage

Don't these moms sound like a couple of fine parental examples, duking it out at Chuck E. Cheese? Sheesh!

CTA service changes on 3/30

If you ride the CTA red, purple, brown and/or yellow line, you may want to make note of service changes that will start 3/30.

an unnecessary accident

This is an update on a previous post (below). Rob Sadowsky of the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation has written an excellent letter to the CTA concerning this incident.

At approximately 2:15 p.m. on 12/31/07, Ludwika Szynalik put her bike on the rack in front of a 152 Addison bus and boarded. Video shows her sitting on the bus for about 15 minutes before her stop. Szynalik then got off the bus at Addison and Neenah and was struck and killed by the bus when she was removing her bike from the rack.

Szynalik's family is asking witnesses to the incident to come forward. Attorney Timothy Cavanagh said 59-year-old Ludwika Szynalik was removing her bike from the rack on the front of the bus when the driver suddenly accelerated and the bus dragged her more than 80 feet. Cavanagh said that if the driver had been paying attention, he would have seen her.

If you witnessed the incident, please contact the family's attorney at 312.425.1900.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

a tipping point?

If current gas prices haven't motivated you to change your driving and spending habits, would $4/gallon be the tipping point? Please leave a comment if you have thoughts on the subject.