Last Saturday’s kickoff ride – photo by Daris Jasper
[This piece appeared in print in Checkerboard City, John’s weekly transportation column in Newcity magazine, which hits the streets on Wednesday evenings.]
All Chicagoans should have a chance to reap the benefits of urban biking: cheap, convenient transportation, improved physical and mental health, and good times with friends and family. The proliferation of nonprofit bicycle shops and youth education programs, along with the rising popularity of fixies among inner-city teens, is starting to broaden the demographics of cycling here. But the local bike scene still doesn’t reflect our city’s ethnic and economic diversity. Eboni Senai Hawkins, 34, wants to change that. She recently launched the Chicago chapter of Red Bike and Green, a nationwide group that promotes bicycling in the black community.
Continue reading Bike and proud: Red Bike and Green promotes cycling to African Americans
[This piece also appeared in “Checkerboard City,” John’s weekly transportation column which appears in print in Newcity magazine, hitting the streets on Wednesday nights.]
Chicago’s Madison Street, named for the chief author of the U.S. Constitution, runs through the most expensive real estate in town as well as some of the most underserved neighborhoods. As the city’s north-south bifurcating street, it forms the Mason-Dixon Line between the North Side and the South Side. Over the years I’ve hiked the entire lengths of several Chicago thoroughfares in search of fascinating sights and interesting people, so it was only a matter of time until I walked Madison, a relatively short street at eight miles, but dense with landmarks.
Continue reading Walking Madison Street
Cast members from “EL Stories” – all photos courtesy of Waltzing Mechanics
This piece also ran in “Checkerboard City,” John’s sustainable transportation column in Newcity magazine, which hits the streets on Wednesday evenings.
Driving isolates you from the outside world, but walking, biking and especially public transit encourage interaction with strangers, which can lead to some unforgettable encounters. The performance piece “EL Stories,” based on real tales from CTA commuters recorded by Waltzing Mechanics theater company, capitalizes on this.
“The Chicago ‘L’ is a shared, communal space that hundreds of thousands of people come together and inhabit every day,” says cast member Eleni Pappageorge. “When you bring that many people from that many places into one space a lot can happen. Some of the smallest, most mundane events on the train can make beautiful stories, but you wouldn’t notice them with your iPod on.”
Continue reading To ‘L’ and back: a performance piece celebrates the CTA
This is the first article published in “Checkerboard City,” John’s new column about sustainable transportation that will run in print in every issue of Newcity magazine, which hits the streets on Wednesday evenings.
“Bikers of Chicago unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains.”
—Suggested manifesto for Comrade Cycles
First there was Atomix Café, with its giant mural of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, then Revolution Brewing, with a red star logo and tap handles shaped like upraised fists. By opening Chicago’s newest communist-themed enterprise, the three worker-owners behind Comrade Cycles hope to make their Marx on the local bike scene.
Continue reading Pedaling revolution: Comrade Cycles seizes the means of production