Chicago’s first Cargo Bike Roll Call

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Monday’s Cargo Bike Roll Call at West Town Bikes, organized by my Grid Chicago co-blogger Steven Vance, went as well as could possibly been have hoped for. The event was a chance for proud cargo bike owners to show off their vehicles, for newbies to learn what cargo biking is all about and for everyone to get a chance to take these unique rides for a spin.

With a long line of parked cargo cycles occupying almost half the width of Campbell Street next to West Town, the roll call was a de facto block party (at least until a police officer asked us to move the bikes to the parkway halfway through the evening). And it was a terrific party, with booming dance music playing from West Town Bikes director Alex Wilson’s sound bike as folks hung out swapping advice on transporting children and other ungainly objects by bicycle. It’s been a while since I’ve hung out at this nonprofit bike shop and education center, and I was reminded what a great vibe this place has.

Speaking of kids, there was a great turnout of youngsters, totally appropriate at an event that was largely about how to use a bike in place of a car for household errands. The children loved riding on the vehicles, or even piloting them, and the party was much enlivened by the little ones running around and shrieking, hopped up on multiple slices of watermelon.

Steven and I would like to thank the sponsors of the bike roll for making this possible: New Belgium Brewing, Whole Foods, Copenhagen Cyclery, Blue City Cycles, J.C. Lind Bike Co., Dutch Bike Co. Chicago, Chicago Cargo, Quimby’s Bookstore and of course, West Town Bikes. And I’d like to thank Steven for all his hard work on this. Follow the official blog for more updates on this and future cargo bike events in Chicago.

Below is a run-down of some of the cool vehicles and groovy people I saw at the roll call.

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Tim Herlihy, founder of Uptown Bikes, brought an inflatable kayak on his Bikes at Work Trailer.

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Doug Hinckley lets Carl Boyd try out Doug’s Haley trike. “It’s great for carrying cargo but it gets a little tippy going around curves,” Doug says.

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Don Rutledge brought his daughter Sesame and a friend all the way from Oak Park via their battery-assisted, Chinese-made bakfiets (“box bike.”) He charges the battery with solar panels and has covered 916 miles this summer via sun power alone. Don also owns an art bike that looks like a giant cupcake which he plans to take to the Burning Man Festival next year.

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Sean Coady built his wooden cargo bike for transporting heavy projects when he was working as a metal fabricator. He says the suspension on the seat is not so much for bumps but for allow for rocking your body back and forth when pedaling and cornering. The main frame tube is a hollow 5 X 2” section which Sean sometimes uses for carrying steel rods. He carries a large jack on the back of the bike so he can lift the heavy vehicle off the ground for changing flats.

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Anika Byrley and her son Emmett and daughter Orla check out a Rhoades four-wheeler.

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A student from West Town’s Bickerbikes youth cycling program checks out a kid-sized cargo bike.

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Kara Davidson helped launch the Lincoln Park Whole Foods’ local bike delivery service, covering the area bounded by the lake, Fullerton, Damen and Division/Chicago. She can carry four grocery bags in the trailer and two in a backpack.

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Ash Lottes rolls a Madsen cargo bike. She recently installed a small tent in the back to keep her daughter warm this winter.

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The quad cycle is a rolling party in itself.

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Steven poses Fonzie-style on Sean Coady’s wooden cargo bike.

Published by

John Greenfield

John has lived in Chicago since 1989 and has worked a number of bicycle jobs,
from messenger to mechanic to managing the Chicago Department of Transportation’s
bicycle parking program, arranging the installation of over 3,700 bike racks. He writes
regularly for Time Out Chicago, Newcity, Momentum and Urban Velo magazines
and works at Boulevard Bikes in Logan Square.

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