Beers Across Wisconsin: Drinking and Biking from the Mississippi to Lake Michigan


Potosi Brewing Company. All photos by Dave Schlabowske.

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

The Badger State is where I go when I want to get away from my daily grind in Chicago and leave my troubles behind. So when my old friend Dave Schlabowske recently invited me to join him on a trans-Wisconsin bike trek, I jumped at the chance.

Dave, a Milwaukeean whose brother Dean plays guitar in Chicago’s Waco Brothers, works as the director of communications for the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin. He wanted to scout out the Badger Brewing Trail, a bike route from the Mississippi River to the Lake Michigan linking several rails-to-trails bike paths and a number of breweries, part of a network of intrastate paths the bike federation hopes to implement by 2020. I’ve posted the route here.

In October, Dave rode Amtrak to Chicago to photograph our new protected bike lanes in hopes of importing the concept to Wisconsin. Early the next morning we catch a Trailways bus from the CTA Blue Line’s Cumberland stop with our boxed touring bikes to Dubuque, Iowa. After stopping at a greasy spoon to scarf down pork tenderloin sandwiches, the indigenous cuisine, we mount our steeds, cross the Mississippi back into Illinois and pedal north along the river into Wisconsin.

Continue reading Beers Across Wisconsin: Drinking and Biking from the Mississippi to Lake Michigan

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

Bloomingdale Trail public involvement process reached a milestone this week


A view of the Bloomingdale Trail at Spaulding Avenue. At least one person in the audience asked for a rail car or two remain in the new park. Photo by Colin Clinard. 

On the evening of Tuesday, October 4, 2011, I attended the final presentation from the Bloomingdale “charrette weekend” at the McCormick Tribune YMCA, 1834 N Lawndale. The charrette weekend hosted invited stakeholders and members of the public who gathered with the design team to learn about the Bloomingdale Trail history, devise the topics they cared about, and express ideas and concerns about the project. For 16 hours on Monday and Tuesday, the design team synthesized all of the conversations, contribution, and ideas into a final presentation that took about 90 minutes to examine.

What follows is a detailed description of who said what about the project. I’ve divided the article into many sections with bold text headings for easier reading. I imagine that this article will evolve as people ask me questions. Continue reading Bloomingdale Trail public involvement process reached a milestone this week

Where’s the next Bloomingdale Trail?


Looking west on the Bloomingdale Trail from approximately Leavitt and Milwaukee. The Blue Line towards O’Hare crosses here. Photo by John Tolva. 

The first public meeting for the Bloomingdale Trail, an elevated abandoned railroad line, soon to be an elevated linear park, happened last Thursday at the Congress Theater in Logan Square. This was the first meeting where members of the public got to hear from and meet the consultants the City of Chicago hired through a competitive bidding process.

The City awarded ARUP North America the contract to do Phase I engineering and Phase II design over a year after the company was selected. ARUP has nine subcontractors, several of which are based in Chicago (see page two of the FAQ). They are collectively called the “design team.”

Continue reading Where’s the next Bloomingdale Trail?