The Chicago Perimeter Ride: a century for all


Exploring this historic Pullman railcar factory on the Far South Side. All photos by Andrew Bedno.

For the past decade John has led the Chicago Perimeter Ride, a roughly hundred-mile pedal around the approximate edge of the city, visiting historic sites and wacky commercial architecture. This year he handed over the reins to David Gebhardt, who did an excellent job planning and leading the ride, with dozens of people participating over the course of the long day. Andrew Willoughby, a car-free Chicagoan who moved here from Oklahoma two years ago for “the music, architecture and freedom to ride a bike everywhere,” provided the following write-up. Andrew tweets at @willowbeehive.

I had no idea what to expect. I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous. Biking a hundred miles in a day did not seem like an easy thing to do. There was a reason I had never attempted it before: I’m not a professional, I just bike to work every day and around town. Yet, there I was, watching Buckingham Fountain thrust its first drops of water into the air as I waited with fifty other riders, many who were attempting their first century too.

Continue reading The Chicago Perimeter Ride: a century for all

Talking transportation with 7th Ward Alderman Sandi Jackson


Moving forward with our projectto interview all 50 Chicago aldermen about their views on sustainable transportation, I recently met with 7th Ward Alderman and Committeeman Sandi Jackson at her office, 7123 S. Yates, directly across from a Metra station. Her district includes parts of the South Shore, South Chicago, and Calumet Heights communities on the Southeast Side.

After defeating incumbent Darcel Beavers in 2007, Sandi took her place in Chicago’s influential Jackson family dynasty. Her husband is Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., representing Illinois’ 2nd district, which includes the 7th Ward, and her father-in-law is civil rights activist and former presidential candidate Jesse Jackson Sr. As alderman, Sandi has been a strong supporter of the proposal to redevelop the former U.S. Steel plant site, located on the lakefront between 79th and 92nd. The proposed housing and retail development, called Lakeside, would include the Chicago Velo Campus indoor velodrome and multisport complex.

We discussed her commuting habits, the importance of providing multiple transportation options to Lakeside residents, and why she’s excited about the velo campus idea. We also talked about why she’s supporting the city’s Streets for Cycling and bike sharing projects, as well as her own plans to encourage positive pedestrian activity on the ward’s business strips by hiring security guards to patrol the areas.

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An update on the Chicago Velo Campus at the Illinois Cycling Association awards


Emanuele Bianchi

Although I try to keep track of everything that’s going on in Chicago’s burgeoning bicycle scene, racing is one facet that I’m not so familiar with, but I’m definitely interested in learning more. For example, I’m not sure I had ever heard of the Illinois Cycling Association (ICA) before I attended their 4th annual awards ceremony on Saturday, having read about the event on the Chainlink.

The ICA is a federation of local bike clubs and promoters that are registered with USA Cycling, which promotes racing on a national level. The association’s goal is to raise the level of competitive cycling in Illinois, a state not yet known as a bike racing Mecca due to its mostly pancake-flat topography. This may change in the future if ICA member Emanuele Bianchi achieves his dream of building the world’s best indoor velodrome, the $40 million Chicago Velo Campus, on the city’s Southeast Side. I interviewed Bianchi about the project last fall.

Continue reading An update on the Chicago Velo Campus at the Illinois Cycling Association awards

An update on the Chicago Velo Campus from Emanuele Bianchi


Bianchi coaches Robert, a teen who lives near the temporary velodrome – photo courtesy of Chicago Velo Campus

Last winter I wrote about the Chicago Velo Campus proposal for a Newcity cover story. The organizers were originally hoping to build a $45 million multisport complex, featuring a velodrome stadium nearly as large as the United Center, by 2013 on the former site of U. S. Steel’s South Works mill, a hump of land on the lakefront between 79th and 92nd.

Although they recently changed their target for construction to 2014, and even that may be an optimistic deadline for this ambitious project, much has already been accomplished. This summer volunteers installed a 166-meter temporary velodrome, made of marine-grade plywood, and an indoor space called the Lakeside Velo Works, containing a bike workshop, indoor training area, bike storage and office space, on U.S. Steel land at 8615 S. Burley.

Continue reading An update on the Chicago Velo Campus from Emanuele Bianchi

Bicycling in Chicago, a view from the south side – part 2


People bike during the Perimeter Ride on Doty Avenue, near 103rd Street and Stony Island Avenue. These street conditions are described below in “Bridging the gaps”. Photo by Eric Rogers. 

In Part 1, I examined some of the challenges for cyclists on the south side. It is estimated that approximately 60% of potential cyclists don’t feel safe on city streets, so they ride mostly on very quiet neighborhood streets, or use cars to transport their bikes to paths miles from where they live – if they ride at all. Let’s take a look at who’s riding now and what can be done to get more of Chicago rolling.

Who’s riding now?

Within bike friendly neighborhood areas such as Beverly and Morgan Park, I see a wide range of people riding: children (with and without their parents), teens, senior citizens, and adults of all ages.  Between neighborhoods, where street conditions are usually more challenging, the riders I see are mostly male and relatively fearless.  I don’t have much female company when I’m riding streets like Vincennes Avenue, Torrence Avenue, or 103rd Street. Continue reading Bicycling in Chicago, a view from the south side – part 2