Living in an urban area constantly under development we hear calls for city officials and developers to plan for more green space. The benefits of spending time in nature are well documented; reduced stress, better sleep, and overall well-being. While building and maintaining urban parks is something we still need to advocate for, since 1915 there has been a large green area on the outer belt of Chicago known as the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Kevin Kuhn, Volunteer Program Specialist with the Forest Preserves came to the Jan. 21, 2020 meeting of the Evanston Bicycle Club to provide an update.
There is an exhibit currently at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago called The Art of the Bicycle. Bicycles were first invented 200 years ago, so over the years there is plenty of material for any bicycle exhibit. It is always interesting to see what the curators select as a focus, i.e. would it be a specific type of bike (road, mountain), classic races (Tour de France) , training (speed, ascending, descending), racing (winning, losing), types of cyclists (kids, women), equipment, style, learning to ride, or legends and champions?
The milder winter has resulted in more rain than snow for our bike rides. Even if you are not rolling out in the rain, there is a chance the skies can open up before you return home so being prepared helps you be safe and comfortable on your bike. Preparations include you, your bike, while riding, and after the ride.
If you want to be visible on the roads it helps to have a lighting system and a smart system includes both active and passive elements. In the last blog we talked about lights both at night and during the day, front, rear, on wheels, and helmets. But having passive or reflective features is a plus that multiplies your safety. If a headlight or other light source is shone upon something reflective it will shine back, they never run out of batteries, and even if a reflector is cracked or broken, it still offers some visibility. Anything that reflects as a result of a rhythmic pattern, an up and down motion of the pedals or rotation of wheels, will catch the eyes of other road users better than something static. Reflective elements are available both on the bike and on the cyclist.
Using your bicycle lights during daytime hours is a brilliant strategy for enhancing your safety while riding a bike. There are lots of distractions on the streets from the various modes of transportation (pedestrian, auto, bike, scooter) and from cell phone usage. It is common sense, and legally required, for cyclists to utilize a front light and rear reflector at night, but there are studies that say the majority of cycling crashes occur during daylight. Daytime running lights on autos have made a positive impact on traffic safety so there was a 12 month Danish study to see if safety benefits extend to biking. In the study the use of daytime lights resulted in a 19% reduction in personal injury rates—that is a 1 in 5 drop in the risk of being injured. Being “always on” is a good idea.
You may know people that love cycling. They usually show it by cycling more or encouraging others to do so. Annette Fiscelli shows her love for cycling in her business that honors the bicycle by making something beautiful from parts of a bicycle that is no longer useful and giving them new life.
Her business, Links by Annette, was established 5 years ago to create home goods and jewelry from recycled bicycle parts. She collects discarded and dirty parts from bike shops, cleans and degreases them, and uses her imagination and her newly developed skills of welding, weaving, crocheting, sewing, soldering and woodworking to make upcycled goods.
One Monday morning TIffany, a fellow office worker, came into our work area with her face scratched up. When I asked what happened she said she took a tumble off her bike while riding over the weekend. “Were you wearing a helmet?” I asked. Then there was a long pause before she said, “I was, but it flew off.”
It goes without saying there is no reason to put a helmet on your head if not secured properly. This also goes to carrying a helmet dangling from your handlebars—you might as well just leave it at home for all the good it is doing. It does not matter if you purchased a $40 or a $400 helmet, you are not protecting your head if the helmet does not fit. Here are some considerations on helmet fit:
Once you mastered the daily bicycle commute or found a group that does recreational rides to places and at a pace you enjoy, you might be ready to roll onto new adventures. There are lots of options for cycling tourism, from fully supported with a tour operator, hiring someone to make all the arrangements so you can ride on your own, or self-planned and/or self-supported, either with camping or stays in hotels and bed and breakfasts. It is s always fun to her about trips others have made so you can decide if you want to duplicate it. At the Nov. 19 Evanston Bicycle Club meeting we heard about two types of trips, one relatively near and another farther.
In 2014 Chicago was declared the second best city for biking, and in 2018 it dropped to number 6. Big changes in 4 years, so imagine what changes occurred in Chicago cycling from the turn of the last century to today! According to Chris McAuliffe, author of Cycling in Chicago, who spoke at the Nov. 13 meeting at Earth Rider, Chicago was a cycling powerhouse at the end of the 19th century.
First there was the manufacturing. More than two-thirds of all bikes manufactured in the United States were made in Chicago. It's prominence was due to its Midwest location, railroads, 2,000 miles of paved roads, a industrial and manufacturing base including over 90 bicycle manufacturers, and the entrepreneurial spirit rising from the rebuilding of the city following the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
With the days getting shorter there is less time for cycling outside when it is not dark. But the definition of “darkness” includes more than the nighttime hours—-it is when visibility is limited. That means if there is fog, overcast skies, or heavy rain it is considered darkness under the law. So even if your commute is only between sunrise and sunset, you should seriously have a lighting system on your bicycle.
Sharon Kaminecki comments on adventures in bicycling and other stories