Pilsen pedaling: Irv’s Bike Shop turns forty


Art Abel, Rick Ortiz, Veronica Ortiz, Angel Carabes.

[This piece also appeared in Checkerboard City, John’s weekly transportation column in Newcity magazine, which hits the streets in print on Wednesday evenings.]

One thing I love about bicycle stores is they often double as community centers. Irv’s Bike Shop, a mom-and-pop store in Pilsen that marks its fortieth anniversary this month, is a great example. “We have a family vibe because it’s family and close friends that work here, and our customers see that,” says staffer Veronica Ortiz, whose brother-in-law Enrique “Henry” Ortiz owns the shop and husband Ricardo “Rick” Ortiz manages it. “And our shop is considered loyal to the neighborhood because we’ve been part of the community for so long.”

Original owner Irv Rout, eighty-three, grew up in Pilsen a few blocks from the store at 17th and Racine. After serving in two wars he opened a general merchandise shop with his wife Zora “Violet” Rout in the next storefront west of the present-day bike shop. In 1972 he opened the current location and began stocking bike parts. “A fellow said ‘Why don’t you sell tires and tubes,’” Irv tells me over the telephone from his home in suburban Hillside. “‘The kids will find you.’”

During the first few years he owned the bike shop, the neighborhood transitioned from mostly Czech, German and Eastern European to mostly Mexican. The Ortiz’s uncle Rafael “Ralph” Cartagena, now living in Florida, was Irv’s first employee. Victoria, Henry and Ricardo, as well as non-related staffers Arturo “Art” Abel and Augustin Toledo, grew up near the shop and liked to spend time there after school and on weekends. Back then the store also sold toys and housed a couple of arcade games. “It was a good place for the kids to hang out,” says Irv. “The mothers sent their kids there because they knew they wouldn’t get into any trouble.”

Continue reading Pilsen pedaling: Irv’s Bike Shop turns forty

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 chicagocmwc.com for more information. Continue reading Bingo fundraiser for messenger championships is tonight

The first Chicago bike shop commercial I’ve seen


I’ve had work done on my bike The Bike Lane twice. I like this commercial for their fix a flat service. It was uploaded a year ago, but someone in my Google+ feed posted it today. I know at least one other company that fixes flats where you are: one of our sponsors, Pedal To The People. Have you seen any other commercials for Chicagoland bike shops? Continue reading The first Chicago bike shop commercial I’ve seen

How to create your own online map: BatchGeocode for spreadsheets


Maps can be digital, too! The Streets for Cycling Plan 2020 process disappointingly hasn’t included online map crowdsourcing as a strategy to gather input from residents and to easily collect data digitally so that it could be more quickly collated, analyzed, and shared. Photo by Serge Lubomudrov. 

We constantly use maps on Grid Chicago, displaying photos of them, or embedding and linking to them. Here’re all the articles with embedded maps. This is the second of four tutorials on how to create your own online maps.

We use maps as a communication tool and a way to enhance our articles. I’m going to give you some basic knowledge to create your own map using online tools so that you can identify issues and solutions where you live, which you can easily share afterwards. I’ll describe four simple ways to create a map. Before that, though, I’ll describe how to choose one. Since there are four tutorials, I’m going to break them up into four articles (vote in the comments for the next tutorial I should write).

Continue reading How to create your own online map: BatchGeocode for spreadsheets

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

A Dutch bike store dies, a bicycle café is born

[flickr]photo:6207956624[/flickr]Michael Salvatore, owner of Heritage Bicycles

[This article also appears in Newcity magazine.]

Chicago just lost one of its coolest bike shops, but we’re gaining one that may be even cooler. Last week Dutch Bike Co. abruptly closed its Chicago location, only three months after relocating from Lincoln Park to Wicker Park. Founded in Seattle, the company opened its only satellite store three years ago at 651 W. Armitage in a gallery-like storefront. They offered beautiful, practical European-style city bikes by brands like WorkCycles and Linus, most costing over $1,000.

Continue reading A Dutch bike store dies, a bicycle café is born