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May is National Bike Month, and Evanston is on the ball with plans concretely under way to install a protected bike lane on Church Street this summer and another on Davis Street in 2013. But no one in Evanston has to wait to celebrate transportation by bike.
The RoundTable spoke with Chris Mailing of Turin Bicycle, 1027 Davis St., about the store’s bike club’s plans to recognize the month. Mr. Mailing says, “We’ll have a mechanic out at the Transportation Alliance’s Bike the Drive event to make quick adjustments to people’s bikes if they need them. But Evanston people ride more than [just during] May. … Evanston has embraced biking wholeheartedly.”
Turin offers group rides for different kinds of people. They can be found at www.turinbicycle.com. Their Sunday ride, for example, is their “flagship” ride, Mr. Mailing says. At 8 a.m. participants will meet at the Other Brother coffee shop at Sherman and Grove and ride 50 or so miles, deciding together on their destination at the start of the ride, usually returning by 1 p.m.
Evanston Township High School biology teacher Dr. Beth Christiansen leads Turin’s “Betty Ride.” She says it is “to develop women riders of any age.” The morning’s destination is based on “who shows up” and starts out from Turin Bicycles at 8:30 a.m. on Sundays, though that will probably change to 7:30 a.m. as it gets warmer. Last week, she says, they went up to Fort Sheridan.
Dr. Christiansen also acts as adviser to the ETHS cycling club – the “ETHS Chain Gang”– which meets after school on Wednesdays. The students in the club are avid cyclists.
Many have ridden Bike the Drive before – riding down to Hyde Park and back. “A couple of years ago,” she says, “a couple kids competed in the Illinois State Cyclo Cross Championship at Montrose.”
Next year, she says, the team “want[s] to expand into a competitive group. There will be a cyclo-cross competition “on a course made for the event [with] a loop that cyclists have to navigate, sometimes getting off the bike to do it.”
The “first-ever competition … was held at Highland Park High School,” Dr. Christiansen says. The “Highland Park High School Training CX Rumble” was held on Dec. 20 last year outdoors in parks.
“William Pankonin … spearheaded the whole thing. ETHS took first and second place.” She adds, “James Park would be perfect.”
Suzi LaBelle, president of the Evanston Bicycling Club, says, “To us every month is ‘Bike Month.’ We have rides that go all year round, including in the winter.”
She says EBC takes part in the May 16 Ride of Silence (rideofsilence.org). Evanston is one of several places in Chicago where the ride is held yearly in support of cycling and, especially to commemorate cyclists injured or killed on the roads.
EBC says the ride begins at 7 p.m. at the Chandler Center, silently traversing Evanston and Skokie and finishing at Tommy Nevin’s Pub in Evanston. This was near where a Northwestern student was hit and injured by a Hummer H2 while crossing the intersection at 9:30 a.m. in February 2006. EBC also “typically run[s] a ‘Bike to Work’ ride … [and] sometimes works the Bike to Work meet-and-greet sessions at the Metra trains.”
She says, “We are mostly a riding club that does weigh in on some advocacy issues – like the cellphone ban now being discussed at the Evanston City Council.”
The Evanston Bike Club’s “summer” weekly rides began this year on April 7 and will continue through Nov. 2, according to the schedule posted at www.evanstonbikeclub.org. The club encourages interested parties to try out one or two of their rides that they rate for pace:
Relaxed <10 mph,
Casual 10-12 mph,
Moderate 13-15 mph
Fast 15-17 mph
Very Fast 18+ mph
Questions are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org or Evanston Bicycle Club; P.O. Box 1981; Evanston IL 60204-1981.
Melody Geraci, deputy executive director of marketing for Active Transportation Alliance (http://www.activetrans.org/ “Chicagoland’s voice for better biking, walking and transit”), says they consider National Bike to Work Week, May 14-18, more of a “kickoff” event.
Because the weather in June is usually so much better, she says, Bike to Work Week for the entire Chicago metropolitan area will be held June 9-15.
In Evanston, ATA will be holding a “pit stop” at the Davis Street Metra and el stations 6:30-8 a.m., offering bike-riding commuters free coffee and health bars and a quick bike tune-up. Information for June’s event can be found at bikecommuterchallenge.org.
Bike the Drive on May 27 is a major funding event for the Active Transportation Alliance.
The event begins at 5:30 a.m. and ATA recommends setting out before 7:30 a.m. at the latest from the only start location at Columbus Drive and Jackson Drive in downtown Chicago. Everyone must be off the Drive by 10:15 a.m. Bikethedrive.org is the go-to address for more information.
Evanston is home to both Turin Bicycle and the well-known Pony Shop, 1224 Chicago Ave. # 103, whose owner, Louis Kuhn, is the manager of its cyclocross team. Used bikes are available at The Recyclery, 7628 N Paulina, Chicago, a non-profit organization that originated in Evanston. Both Turin and The Recyclery hold maintenance classes.
Without a bike, it will be difficult to get in on the National Bike Month action.