Sunday, October 21, 2012

12 bike maintenance tips

If you're interested in doing some of your own basic bike maintenance to maximize the reliability of your bike and spend less time dealing with problems on the road, you may want to check out this handy little feature on maintenance tips by Bicycling Magazine.  It includes a few items on basic diagnosis  of more complex problems to speed up the process when you have an issue that requires attention from your local bike shop.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

memorial/dooring education event tomorrow

As I mentioned in the previous post, a memorial and dooring education event is planned for tomorrow, Friday 10/19, at Oak and Wells - the location of the recent dooring death mentioned in that post.  This is in memory of Neill Townsend, who died on 10/5 due to dooring at that location, and Clint Miceli, who died 4 years ago 1 block away, also from dooring.

The memorial will last from 8:00 to 8:30 a.m.  We will hand out flyers about dooring.  After 8:30, there will be a Ride of Silence to the Loop in their memory, and the memory of all dooring victims.

If raising awareness of the hazards of dooring and working to improve bike safety matters to you, please consider joining in this grassroots effort if you are able.  I hope to see you there.

Wishing you safe travels.

     - Anne Alt

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

learning from a tragedy

On Friday 10/5, the Chicago cycling community lost a year round bike commuter in an entirely preventable accident.

Accidents like this should not happen, and they wouldn't if more drivers were educated about the dangers of dooring.  Other cyclists have died in the same way in recent years.  

On more than one occasion, I have been doored, or swerved to avoid being doored, and was saved from Mr. Townsend's fate by the fact that the driver who could have run me over or hit me head on was paying attention and was able to stop quickly, avoiding a potentially deadly collision.  None of those incidents would have happened at all if each of the parked drivers had looked before opening their doors.  Many cyclists I know have had similar experiences.

To put this into context, I have ridden nearly 19,000 miles over the last 15 years - most of those miles within the city of Chicago.  In that time, I've had a total of 4 accidents requiring medical attention. Three of those accidents involved dooring.  I have avoided hundreds of *potential* accidents through observant, defensive riding.  Paying attention saves lives.  I know that many of you have similar safety statistics.  It sounds like Mr. Townsend may have also had similar numbers - until 10/5.  Cycling *can* be a safe, healthy means of transportation - if we learn how to share the road safely. 

Drivers need to understand the importance of checking the side mirror EVERY TIME before opening a door into traffic, and waiting if necessary.  It's a small thing that could have a huge impact on bike safety if a lot more drivers get the message.

At the same time, cyclists could benefit from learning a few warning signs to help avoid doorings.    

* Visually scanning a line of parked cars for occupants and brake lights is a good start.  

* Brake lights give you a clue that the car is about to pull into traffic or that a door is about to open.  

* As you get closer to each car, using the car's side mirror may let you see if there's someone in the driver's seat who may open their door.  

* Using a side mirror on your bike while riding allows you to more easily see what's approaching from behind.

* If you see a door start to open into your path, loudly call out "STOP!!"

* If car windows are open and you have a bike bell, ringing it can let drivers know you're coming.  (Hey, I know that some of you will think this is totally dorky, but it works.)

If you have other dooring or other traffic safety tips to share, please feel free to respond in a comment.

A memorial and educational outreach event is being planned for this Friday morning 10/19 at the accident site.  If you are interested in participating, you can follow and participate in the planning via this Chainlink discussion.

Wishing you safe travels, wherever you're riding today.

    -- Anne Alt

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bloomingdale Trail walking tour on Sat. 10/20

Friends of the Parks and the Trust for Public Lands are presenting a walking tour of the Bloomingdale Trail on Saturday 10/20 at 9:30 a.m.  $15 members/$20 non-member/Free with a new FOTP Membership.

Pre-registration is required for the event.  Click here for the online registration form.  You can also contact Maria Dmyterko Stone to register or get more information: 312-857-2757×17 or

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Chicago police looking for hit and run driver who hit cyclist

Have you seen this hit and run driver?

celebrate Riverside

This Sunday 10/7 at 1:30, everyone is invited to attend a celebration of Riverside's new marked bike routes (scroll down to October events).  The village of Riverside would like to encourage more cyclists to visit, and they've created a few marked routes to make it easier to navigate their winding streets.  Please join them at the official launch of the new routes.

I've created a Google map with a couple of routes from Harlem Ave. to the start location (Riverside Metra station), as well as nearby dining destinations, Brookfield Zoo, etc.  If you plan to go by train, just take the Metra BNSF line from Union Station to Riverside station, and it will let you off right by the start location.

For more information on the event and the routes, click here.

As many of you discovered on this year's Four Star Bike Tour, Riverside is a lovely place to ride.  Nearby areas in Berwyn and Brookfield are quite nice, too.  I encourage you to visit, whether it's your first time or a repeat trip.  It's a beautiful way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

  -- Anne Alt