Thursday, January 12, 2012

Allison, S Halsted St & W Cermak Rd, Chicago, IL

Allison rides a Schwinn road bike she got off Craigslist

Where are you going? I'm headed north to the Bike Winter Film Festival.
Tell me more about your bike and where you got it? This is really sad, but this bike was stolen the day after this picture was taken. I got it from someone on Craigslist, actually as a replacement for the last bike that I got stolen two months ago, so I only had it for a short while. But I did put a lot into it by switching to straight bars and adding a basket, fenders, a Brooks saddle, and flat-proof tires. *sigh*

***** Follow up: Allison's bike was found by the good folks at Working Bikes when someone tried to sell it to them. They checked the Stolen Bike Registry and saw Allison's post about her missing bike.  Thankfully she had a VERY recent photo to prove the bike was hers.
Big shout out to the peeps at Chicago Stolen Bike Registry.  We are super lucky to have a stolen bike registry in Chicago started by fellow cyclists. Thank you, thank you, thank you from Bike Fancy!
Why ride? Oh man, so many reasons. Mainly: it's the most enjoyable way for me to get from a to b. I feel like other forms of transportation make me feel alienated: from myself as I become part of the crowded bus or line of traffic, and from my own experience because I'm not as directly involved in the journey. I have more freedom as a cyclist to choose my own schedule, route, and stops, and I can depend on myself to get there, instead of being at the mercy of a late train, a rise in gas prices, or an unexpected traffic jam.
What are you wearing? I'm wearing a pashmina scarf and thrifted dress & shoes. It's super weird that I can dress like this in January, this year.
Favorite ride? In Chicago I like to ride at night, when there's less traffic, and I'm free to jam really fast without being as worried about keeping a hand on the brake. My favorite ride, though, was when I lived in Santa Cruz, and part of my commute home was like 15 minutes of descent. It made the climb up there totally worth it. One part of it was on a bike path down this sort of rolling pasture surrounded by forest, and you could see the ocean. Oh man! You can see it on Google street view! ( It's even prettier when the grass isn't dormant. It's like riding through a painting.
While riding you …? In the city, I mostly try not to die. I'm frequently on busy streets because of my commute. I usually assume every car I see is going to do the stupidest thing so that when they do it, I'm ready to react. If my mind starts to wander, I usually get brought back to reality pretty quickly when I have to swerve or brake really fast to avoid a collision.
How can Chicago improve bike infrastructure or be more bike friendly?
They're already starting to do this, but I think CDOT could make it way more inconvenient to drive in Chicago, and slowly people will start to use transit, walk, and cycle as transportation. Car traffic is my #1 stressor as a cyclist, because I feel like so many drivers don't realize that they're operating a deadly weapon. I think it could have a sort of snowball effect in that if there are less cars on the road, people feel safer and cycling becomes more attractive, and if they decide take their bike instead of car, there are less cars on the road, and people feel safer, and on and on.
Any other tips? I try to have an extra bike around in case of a flat or other unexpected mechanical failure, and it can also double as a guest bike. I'm a big fan of having an extra of everything, really: gloves, lock, and helmet especially. Oh, and the best secret about biking in Chicago is: don't stop riding in the winter.


  1. First...congrats on getting your bike back. Fascinating article in the February 2012 edition of OUTSIDE about bicycle thefts.

    Anyway, I hold the same motto...expect EVERY motorist to do the STUPIDEST possible thing they could do in a car. Expect them to NEVER stop, and to NEVER see you.

  2. This is amazing! I can't believe she got her bike back! That's almost unheard of!!

  3. That festival was on Jan 2nd, and according to Chicago had a high of 30 degrees that day. Am I missing something or is this gal a bit under dressed for 30 degrees?

    1. The link goes to the 2011 was on the 8th this year.

  4. This photo was taken on Sunday when it was in the 50s! Of course now is snowing like crazy

  5. Her cute smile still reveals a child's wonder and delight. Beautiful!

  6. I love that bag - but the whole ensemble is great too!