Some of my favorite new sustainable transportation stuff of 2012


Jana Kinsman of Bike-A-Bee.

Newcity magazine recently invited me to highlight some of my favorite aspects of the local sustainable transportation scene for their Best of Chicago issue. Here’s what I selected:

Best bike-centric Kickstarter campaign


Jana Kinsman’s pedal-powered apiculture service has generated quite a buzz. Last winter Kinsman, a graphic designer and illustrator with the all-female collective Quite Strong, used the “crowdfunding” website to raise $8,646 for beekeeping equipment and packages of bees, plus a bicycle trailer to transport the gear. She now maintains hives at community gardens and urban farms all over town, such as Eden Place, a nature education center at 43rd Place and Shield Avenue in the underserved Fuller Park community. The hives help pollinate nearby plants and serve as educational tools for neighborhood kids. It’s a honey of a project!

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Delivering the goods: Chicago hosts a global bike messenger rally


[This article also appears on the environmental website Grist.orgView more photos on the Flickr group.]

Under cobalt skies last Sunday, I’m standing atop the man-made sled hill next to Chicago’s Soldier Field football stadium. To the north are the gleaming skyscrapers of the Loop business district, as well the pummeling beats of the Lollapalooza fest. To the east, ocean-like Lake Michigan is filled with bobbing sailboats. To the south, hundreds of bicycle couriers are gathered in a huge parking lot for the finals of the 20th annual Cycle Messenger World Championships, the ultimate test of two-wheeled delivery prowess.

It’s been a long, alcohol-fueled week of events celebrating the courier lifestyle, including on-street “alleycat” races, a film night, track racing and the Messenger Prom, with cyclists dolled up in cocktail dresses and pastel tuxes. Many pundits predicted that bike couriers would go the way of the Pony Express, rendered obsolete by digital technology. It’s true that email and online file sharing have cut into business since the salad days of the 1990s. But the crowd of messengers, who’ve come from as far away as Guatemala, Japan, and Australia, suggests that as cities grow more congested there may always be a place for fast, efficient, environmentally friendly bike delivery.

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Watch the new commercial for bike messenger championships

Thanks to Brandon Gobel for tipping us to this commercial about Chicagoan Christina Peck prepping for the Cycle Messenger World Championships which will go down at Soldier Field on August 4-5, 2012.


Watch it on YouTube.


A scene from the race in Tokyo, Japan, in 2009. Photo by pistbiker. 

Bingo fundraiser for messenger championships is tonight


Flyer for tonight’s event. 

The soon-to-be opened Comrade Cycles at 1908 W Chicago Ave is hosting a Bingo Night fundraiser tonight, Saturday, February 25, 2012, at 7 PM.

This event will feature bingo calling, prizes of all kinds, good music, Old Style beer, Upton’s tamales and a rousing good time. Additionally, all the money will benefit throwing the 20th annual CMWC. This year, Chicago will host the 20th cycle messenger world championship, a celebration of messengers and urban cyclists, coming to you August 3 – 5 at Soldier Field for both racing and spectating. Check out for more information. Continue reading Bingo fundraiser for messenger championships is tonight

Long hours, low pay, but lots of love – for bike messenging


Michael Malone, photographed by Alex Weaver

Ed. note: This article was contributed by Alex E. Weaver, a grad student at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. The piece also appears on the Medill Reports website. Alex covers transportation issues facing Chicago commuters, with a focus on cycling and car culture.

It’s not every day that practitioners of a low-paying, service industry profession become fodder for major motion picture action thrillers or speak of their daily routine in terms of pride, competition and creativity. Then again, Chicago’s bike messengers are not your everyday delivery service. “Bike messengers get attention because there is something very romantic about the job,” said Jeffrey Kidder, a former bike messenger who has studied them. “It’s fast-paced, it’s physical, and it’s risky.”

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) last estimated that 300 bike messengers are operating in the city, completing more than 1.1 million deliveries annually. And while those numbers may have declined since the recession and the advent of e-mail, Chicago’s streets are still teeming with these daredevil bikers – third only, industry veterans say, to New York and Washington, D.C.

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Augie Montes on plans for 2012 messenger championships in Chicago


[Photos by Christopher Dilts. This piece also runs on Momentum.]

Every year hundreds of bike couriers from around the globe descend on a different city for the Cycle Messenger World Championships, with races, arts events and parties celebrating one of the toughest, most enjoyable jobs around. This year the 19th annual worlds take place in Warsaw on July 27-31; next year Chicago does the honors.

Augie Montes, an eleven-year veteran of the delivery biz who spearheaded the 2008 North American Cycle Courier Championships (NACCC) in Chicago, talked with me about the recent championships in Tokyo and Panajachel, Guatemala, and filled us in on the Windy City’s plans for hosting the worlds in 2012.

Continue reading Augie Montes on plans for 2012 messenger championships in Chicago