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[This article was commissioned by SRAM Corporation, a bike components manufacture headquartered in Chicago, for their Urban Products catalogue.]
This is an amazing time to be an urban bicycle commuter in the United States. According to the American Community Survey, over the last decade the percentage of citizens who frequently pedal to work rose 63% in the 70 largest cities. Sure, even U.S. cycling Meccas like Portland, Oregon, only have a fraction of the mode share of Northern European towns like Amsterdam and Copenhagen. But stateside cycling is definitely on a roll, and we seem to be approaching critical mass.
There are lots of reasons for this bike boom. In gridlocked cities, bicycling is often the fastest, most efficient way to get around. It’s a great way to add physical activity to your routine without having to spend extra time and money at a gym. In a sluggish economy with rising gas prices, not having to spend cash at the pump or on parking is definitely a plus. Cycling instead of driving is an easy way to help out the environment. And, last but not least, navigating a metropolis by bike can be incredibly fun.
But not everybody feels comfortable cycling in a big city. That’s why towns from cost to coast are investing in new infrastructure to make riding safer, more convenient and more enjoyable, from off-street paths and on-street bike lanes, to parking racks and commuter stations that provide secure places to stash your ride at the end of the trip.
Updated: Eben Weiss will be on a bike ride from TATI Cycles in Hyde Park to Cellar and 57th Street Books in Lakeview on March 29, 2012. Details are here.
Lots of books have commercials, but they’re often for books by Stephen King, Sue Grafton, or some other soon-to-be national best seller. This is the first commercial I’ve seen for a book about cycling. Thanks to BikePortland for the tip.
The book is The Enlightened Cyclist, by BikeSnobNYC, or Eben Weiss, the most sharp-tongued (and spot-on) bike blogger in America. The book will be released in March, but you can pre-order it on Amazon.
Eben Weiss singing books in Seattle by Gene Bisbee.
See earlier: A Chicago bike shop posts a commercial for its fix a flat on the fly service.
Christensen, left, with bike racing great Christian Vande Velde – photo by Bike_Ema
For many Grid Chicago readers, George Christensen needs no introduction. A longtime Chicago bike messenger, George is one of Chicago’s best-traveled bicyclists, having toured dozens of countries on two wheels. A movie buff, he attends many of the world’s great film fests as well, and every year he rides the entire Tour de France route. You can read about his amazing adventures on the blog George the Cyclist. When I asked Christensen to write a guest post for Grid Chicago he offered the following review of On Bicycles (New World Library 2011), a new anthology by Amy Walker, to which local author Greg Borzo and I contributed chapters.
I only read up to page 102 in Tom Vanderbilt’s “Traffic: Why we drive the way we do (and what it says about us)” before I had to return it to the Chicago Public Library. And since it was overdue I didn’t have the chance to renew it. I liked the book so much and I was underlining and making notes in a public book so I decided to buy it.
The Logan Square Library has a bike rack within 10 feet of the door. If there was an Oscars for bike parking, it’d win the equivalent of Best Picture.
My normal reading fare consists of spy novels and non-fiction, and science fiction by Isaac Asimov, William Dietz, and William Gibson. But this year I’m changing that up. Join me in my reading of transportation books!
Photo of cycling on the Lakefront Trail by Mike Travis.
We’re trying to grow the number of people who “like” Grid Chicago on Facebook, a good place to publish our stories and engage readers. It’s an additional outlet for posting photos and timely information like events and construction updates. So we’re holding a contest where you can win two books: