New cargo bike business wants to protect your windows


Scott Baermann cleans windows at Ipsento on a sunny September afternoon. 

Scott Baermann has been in the window cleaning business for 10 years, mostly in northern Indiana. He operated that business from afar when he moved to Chicago in 2006. Earlier this year he took on his friend Ryan Hoban as a partner. But the future didn’t lie in northern Indiana, it was here in Chicago.

I interviewed the Urban Street Window Works guys in August at their “office” in Ipsento Coffee House in Bucktown. This was the same office at which Scott and Ryan decided to try storefronts as a way to break into business in the city, an industry they said was dominated by “one bucket wonders”.

Most people already have a guy, and they don’t know who it is. He just comes around a few times and you pay him $7, $8 bucks. We want to develop a relationship, in how we want to separate ourselves. We want them to know our names.

Our first storefront was Ipsento, I know Tim, I asked, “Who does your windows?” Shoot me a quote and we’ll talk. Tim bought the equipment himself, “but as you can see I don’t do a good job”.

Ipsento became their first customer. A walk around the neighborhood netted them a few more customers. The pair got bikes on their radar after the threat of parking tickets raised its ugly head (fortunately they didn’t get one on an early work call). They looked at trailers on Craigslist and bought a single wheel trailer in Evanston. Ryan mentioned the benefits of using a bike for work, saying, “We can be a lot more efficient. I love riding my bikes. So this is like a dream come true, riding my bike every day.” Continue reading New cargo bike business wants to protect your windows

Grid Shots: Copenhagen cargo bikes


A woman pedals her “short john” cargo bike across the world’s busiest bike intersection

According to Mikael Colville-Anderson, there are about 40,000 cargo bikes in the municipalities of Frederiksburg, where he and his company, Copenhagenize Consulting, live, and Copenhagen, the city where I’ve been for 5 days now.

And Saturday we held the 4th annual Danish cargo bike championships, or “Svajerløb” (pronounced zvy-uhh-loob). I participated in the Team Relay race with my friend Brandon Gobel and two Danish locals, Micha and Lasse (he cofounded the Bicycle Innovation Lab here).


A woman pushes her trike across the sidewalk in a shopping neighborhood. 


One trike among many bikes parked near a Metro station and indoor public market. 


Two Bullitt bikes outside the Larry vs. Harry workshop. 


The City of Copenhagen found four families in the Vesterbro neighborhood who wanted to securely store their cargo bikes on the street in this pink container shaped like a car. Each family has a key to their separated compartments, and the door lifts up. The City plans to build more. Each takes up 1 American car parking space, or 1.5 European car parking spaces. Gobel and Colville-Anderson are on the left side of the photo. 

See more photos from my Cargo bikes in Copenhagen set. This was an unplanned edition of Grid Shots.

Cargo Bike Roll Call is an opportunity to test cool bikes and grow community


The author and his mother. Ed. note: I asked Calvin Brown to write a review of the Cargo Bike Roll Call so that I didn’t end up reviewing my own event.

Last Saturday, June 9, 2012, was Cargo Bike Roll Call (second edition), which means that I finally got to ride a cargo bike for the first time, unless “surfing” on a trailer attached to a cargo bike counts. The event is unique because cargo bikes are not something you see very often in Chicago or the United States. At the event, however, the brilliant subculture emerged and a wide spectrum of cargo bikes amassed at West Town Bikes. Scouring the web for photos and videos of the amazing possibilities and capabilities of bicycles is always worthwhile, but the event brings the foreign and unusual realm of cargo bikes home to Chicago, where a robust and growing cycle culture is starting to reshape and improve our city, but which has also not fully exploited the magic of the cargo bike. Yes, I see a lot of other folks sporting a nice red milk crate on the back of their bike, like me, but I am much more likely to see a delivery truck parked in every bike lane, than I am to see a bicycle carrying some real cargo. Continue reading Cargo Bike Roll Call is an opportunity to test cool bikes and grow community

The Grid Network is deprecated, but the links page lives on


The CTA Morgan Green/Pink Line station will open this month. Photo by Seth Anderson. 

I’ve stopped updating the Grid Network page; no new posts since mid-April appear there. I coded the function myself and it was using too many server resources to operate, slowing down the website. The Network was build on top of our Links page, so that lives on.

Here are some of the new links we’ve added:

  • Transport Nexus. A focus on transportation policy as it relates to land use. Very wonky and written by a transit agency employee.
  • Let the Midway Bloom. The author writes about transportation in the Hyde Park area, and promotes small streets as a way to revitalize neighborhoods. He also advocates for dense housing in the Midway.
  • Chicago Streetcar Renaissance. Streetcars can be used as an economic development tool. Chicago was once riddled with tram lines.
  • TRANSPORT/LAND. A Portland, Oregon-based blog about using cargo bikes for disaster relief, coffee delivery, and carrying grandkids on trikes.

What other links should we add?

Visit our different social media outlets, which offer additional ways to find new websites, photos, and videos

Ride with me on the journey to deliver beehives across the city


Three beehives are ready to go. 

On April 3, 2012, I joined Jana Kinsman (Bike-A-Bee; read our story from January) and Brandon Gobel (Chicago Cargo) to deliver three beehives on the west and south sides of Chicago. Scroll through this photo essay to join us, or watch this slideshow (22 photos, no captions).

Continue reading Ride with me on the journey to deliver beehives across the city

Chicago’s first Cargo Bike Roll Call


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.

Continue reading Chicago’s first Cargo Bike Roll Call