Move It! A Guide to Getting Around Big Cities by Bike


Biking in downtown Denver.

[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.

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Can bike shop deserts be eradicated on Chicago’s South Side?


Johnny and John Stallworth at John’s Hardware & Bicycle Shop.

[This piece also runs in Urban Velo magazine.]

Pedaling down Halsted Street into Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, I smell the unmistakable aroma of Harold’s Chicken as I pass an outpost of the South Side chain whose logo features a chef chasing a rooster with a hatchet. After an SUV speeds by me booming hip-hop, I pull up to John’s Hardware & Bicycle Shop, 7350 S. Halsted, and admire the old-fashioned, hand-painted sign, featuring John Stallworth’s smiling, bearded face and his no-nonsense slogan, “If we don’t have it you don’t need it.”

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