Monday, January 30, 2012

Veronica, 1100 block of N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL

Veronica rides a single speed Cannondale Capo named Ninja that she I got at Kozy's Cycler

I am totally obsessed with Veronica's Loeffler Randall rain booties.

What are you wearing:
Loeffler Randall rain booties, the best shoes ever for biking in Chicago's gray months. Unlike a lot of boots, they're slim enough to fit easily into toe cages and they're made of rubber so street grime isn't an issue. I picked up these tights last time I was in NYC at Uniqlo. They're part of the brand's Heattech line and are super warm without being thick. I'm mad I only bought one pair. Uniqlo can't come to Chicago soon enough! In the winter when I'm not biking, I'm walking. I need a coat that I won't overheat or feel constricted in. This one is from Nau and it's the closest you'll find to a sleek version of the default puffy parka. It's micro down so there's no waddling around looking like Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. The dress was a gift (but it's from Anthropologie), and my helmet is a Bern

Make/model color of your bike, and where you got it?
A single speed Cannondale Capo that I got at Kozy Cyclery a few years ago. I call him Ninja. He's very light and fast, an ideal city bike. Unfortunately, he's not the ideal type of bike for this time of year, but we've had such an abnormally warm winter that I decided to just say screw it and ride unless there's snow on the ground. 
Where are you going?
I'm going to work in River North.
Why ride?
I ride because I'm impatient. Why wait at a bus stop for 20 minutes to go two miles when you can hop on your bike and be there in 10 minutes? It's efficient. I hate wasting time. And it's a great way to see the city. If you're not out walking, running or riding, you're missing out on discovering all the hidden secrets of the city. 
Favorite ride?I love the West Loop/Fulton Market area. It's quiet but distinctively urban and every time I ride through I discover a new interesting building or tucked away business I'd never noticed before. The downside is the streets are pretty chewed up. I got three flats in a month riding around back there. 
While riding you…?Make to-do lists in my head and enjoy the scenery. 

How can Chicago improve bike infrastructure or make Chicago more bike friendly?
I think Chicago is an extremely bike friendly city, but the roads themselves could do with more maintenance. No one likes riding on pothole and loose gravel covered streets. There should also be more bike racks and a better public bike share program. Anyone in any area of the city should be able to walk out of a train station and leave on a share bike. 
And other cool, funny tips, shout outs or stories?
Bike in heels often, wear a helmet always. People need to get over their "I'm-not-wearing-a-helmet" crap. This is the third largest city in the U.S., shut up and put it on. No one looks good in them, let's look bad in them together. 

**** Check out Veronica's super cool music blog

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

whitney, 2100 South Union Ave, Chicago,IL

whitney rides an early eighties burgundy and gold Raleigh road bike

What are you wearing? A thrifted coat I recently discovered wasn't actually waterprooof, some ridiculous purple spandex leggins I got from the H&M clearance section a few years ago, a wooly sweater, hand-me-down mini skirt that's short enough to ride easy in but better than wearing just spandex off the bike, fleecy cyling cap & neckscarf I made myself and LAKE cycling boots. I bought these shoes last Autumn and  for the first time in five winters my feet were actually warm during my long commute. They've totally changed how I feel about winter in Chicago. The company is run out of Evanston, IL and they've been making cycling shoes (and only cycling shoes) since the 80s. They know what they're doing and they know how cold this town can get. They may be the most expensive article of clothing I've ever owned, but I would have paid twice that for how warm they keep me. Wet or cold feet can really ruin everything.
Tell me about your bike, and where you got it? This lil' pack mule is a burgundy and gold Raleigh from the early eighties. She's steel & sturdy & been through a lot. I originally bought her from "Nearly New" bike shop on Halsted in 2008, but she's had a bunch of rebuilds, wrecks, and reincarnations since then.  At this point she's mostly my winter beater. I just got these handle bars installed at the uptown Johnny Sprockets for the winter. Upright riding seems to work so much better in the slush that Chicago becomes ones the snows hit.  Unless it's really gross out -- for those "oops-we-haven't-salted-your-neighborhood-yet" days I have a banana seat kiddie bike I like to ride - its so much closer to the ground that inevitable black ice wipe outs are easier to giggle through.
Why ride? It's the most incredible way to experience a city. You're going a little slower... you're seeing everything... Your senses are sharpened as you're focused on staying alive... and each neighborhood comes to shine and smell and feel different --  the chocolate aromas downtown, the doughy bread cloud over Augusta at Kedzie, the sweet mulch smell of Sacramento as you come over the pond in Humboldt Park... The view of the skyline as you hit the top of the Diversey bridge... You can't really get these things on the bus or train or in a car. Also, the camaraderie! Being not the only crazy person on your bike in a downpour or in the snow is an incredible rush. Making conversation at a stoplight, or saying good morning as you pass someone (or get passed!), stopping to offer tools or swap stories if you see another cyclist walking their flatted bike -- these are things you miss out on in the aloof fortresses that are automobiles. Also ... the days that I don't ride I sort of feel like I never actually wake up.
Favorite ride? Any time I can get someone else to ride on my tandem with me is a great ride, especially if there is some sort of musical instrument involved. But if I'm by myself, I'd have to say either the funky narrow bridge over the river at Wilson... or the huge empty boulevards down by my house... in Garfield Park there's rarely any car traffic on the side streets and when there is they're pretty nice to you... the streets are well maintained and the houses are old and massive and beautiful and I swear there's a new little garden or community farm popping up every month. Though I do also really like the views of the city from Elston -- both Elston and Grand are great for riding toward downtown -- there's almost no pedestrian traffic, no cars making really bad decisions while trying to find parking, and there's no bus to contend with... basically I just absolutely hate riding on Milwaukee more than anything.
While riding you …? signal, watch for taxis, try not to piss off pedestrians, dream about hitting certain cars with my sling shot, smile at other cyclists, plot to take over the world.
How can Chicago improve bike infrastructure or make Chicago more bike friendly? I know this is going to sound extremely far fetched, but I would love to see whole streets taken away from cars and given over to cycling. In Portland the city planers are pretty great about making certain side streets much too slow for an automobile (with round-abouts, four way stops, etc) in order to keep cars on the main through-ways and let bikes have the littler ones. It's brilliant. Can you imagine if Damen or Jackson or Augusta,  or ANY streets were bikes-only arteries? Or if we could just get the Bloomingdale Trail built? I'd go miles out of my way on my commute JUST TO HAVE A CHUNK OF IT BE CAR-FREE.
But really, I do think Chicago is one of the better big cities for cycling. It's crazy flat and easy to navigate and I think a significant percentage of drivers here have ridden a bike at one time in their lives (or at least know what a "bicycle" is -- which is more than I can say for LA, where I am from). If we could just force everyone who lives here to ride a bike to work for one week in the summer I think every driver and pedestrian would be a ton better about being nice to cyclists all year round.
Until these sorts of lofty dreams come to life it's really up to us (especially us ladies), to convince everyone we know that riding bikes is totally rad, completely doable, tons of fun, and lets you eat everything you want all of the time. Because having people join us out there on the streets, creating converts for our cause, is really the best thing we could possibly hope for. Hand-me-downs help -- giving away your old winter jackets or cycling shorts or rain slickers or still-working parts to newer cyclist friends really helps them get more comfortable out there. I know, it helped me. I'm excited to return the favor any chance I get.
And other cool, funny tips or stories? Wool, wool, wool. It will save your winter ass. I can't tell you how much i wish someone had told me this earlier. And it sure doesn't stink after one ride like all that other expensive synthetic stuff on the market. And its like $2 a sweater at Villiage Discount. There's simply nothing else like it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tiffany, S Halsted St & W 21st Pl, Chicago, IL

Tiffany rides a pink De Fietsfabriek Oma from J.C.Lind Bike Co. called Pinky Tuscadero

What are you wearing?  
My favorite oversized sunnies for this glorious, sun-drenched January day, a black wool coat made by Hoss Intropia, a Spanish label I adore, my favorite AG skinny jeans and my trusty Frye engineer boots. I should mention I usually wear my Bern helmet as well - but I ran out the door this morning and forgot it.
Make/model color of your bike, and where you got it?
My baby is a pink De Fietsfabriek Oma from J.C.Lind Bike Co (back when his shop was called De Fietsfabriek USA). My dream bike was an amazing gift from my boyfriend, who surprised me with it for my birthday two years ago. I thought he was at work and I was sitting outside having lunch with a girlfriend (who was in on the surprise) and he randomly came walking up with it. The first thing out of my mouth was “Why do you have that bike?” I was speechless and I cried. Her name is Pinky Tuscadero because she’s one tough bitch. One day while out riding, some dude yelled to me “Hey Pinky Tuscadero” and it stuck. It’s the perfect name for my pretty pink tank of a bike. When I wear my leather jacket she becomes Leather Tuscadero. Yeah, I’m a total dork.
Why ride?
I’ve had a bike since I was a little girl, and I can’t think of many times in my life I haven’t had one or two or five bikes at a time. It’s simply the best way to get around. When I travel, I always rent a bike when I can. I've ridden in Beijing, Brussels, Paris, Lido (a small sandbar/island off Venice), Rome, Buenos Aires, NYC, Napa Valley and Amsterdam (which is my favorite city ever - did I mention my boyfriend is Dutch?).
Favorite ride?
I’m a summer girl - so I love riding to the beach and up and down the lakefront on hot summer days.
While riding you …?
Take in the scenery, think about things I need to do and watch out for crazy drivers.
How can Chicago improve bike infrastructure or make Chicago more bike friendly?
It seems simple enough – everyone on the road should be kind to one another and respect each other. I think it would be a great learning experience if ALL car drivers had to ride a bike and all bike riders had to drive a car for a few days. Sometimes it’s good to see things from another perspective.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Cheyenne, 900 Block of W Nelson St, Chicago, IL

Cheyenne rides a Firmstrong Urban Man Aluminum Single-Speed from

Where are you going?
I'm heading up to my apartment to warm up with some hot chocolate.
What are you wearing?
Brown Marc New York ankle length jacket, navy blue Gap bootcut pants, light brown Deena & Ozzy wedges, Staring at Stars blue and cream white knit hat
Make/model color of your bike, and where you got it?
It's a Firmstrong Urban Man Aluminum Single Speed and I got it online at, original name right?
Why ride?
I have two legs, so why not? The weather has been, well was, acting nice and I rather ride my bike than commute on CTA any day!
Favorite ride?
If you got an hour to kill, taking the beach front trail all the way up to Foster and all the way downtown during the summer time.
While riding you …?
Play the air drums on my handles to the music I'm jamming out to.
How can Chicago improve bike infrastructure or make Chicago more bike friendly?
It'd be nice if streets were wider so bikers don't have to fight for room between traffic and parked cars.
And other cool, funny tips or stories?
If you're riding in wedges/heels with 4' or more make sure you adjust your bike seat, otherwise your thighs are going to get quite the workout haha

Thursday, January 12, 2012

First real snow!

This was the scene in Chicago leaving my photo shoot this evening.  I'm sure most commuters are home by now, but ride safe anyways!

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.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Carrie, S Halsted St & W 21st Pl, Chicago, IL

Carrie rides a creme Linus Dutchi 8 that she got it at Dutch Bikes

Where are you going? Meeting for brunch with a bunch of other lady bike nerds, which rules. 
Tell me more about your bike and where you got it? It's a cream Linus Dutchi 8. I got it at Dutch Bikes, which sadly closed recently.
Why ride? It's fun and it feels good, and I almost never get stuck in traffic.
What are you wearing?  I made this skirt, my sweater is vintage, thrifted, the Jacket is thrifted, but I think it's Gap. Boots are Fluevog.
Favorite ride? I love riding the lakefront path on fall mornings when it's relatively empty, and taking quiet side streets late at night.
While riding you …? Look at stuff. A bike, especially an upright bike, gives you a great vantage point from which to take in the city.
How can Chicago improve bike infrastructure or make Chicago more bike friendly? At the City level, I like the protected bike lanes, and would love to see some bike boulevards. But one of the things I love about Chicago is what ordinarily people do to make it easier to bike in Chicago, year round, like Bike Winter and all the social cycling groups.
Any other tips? Winter biking is a really good excuse to wear legwarmers!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Maritiza, Millennium Park, Chicago, IL

I ran into Maritiza at Millennium park, riding a public share bike from Chicago B Cycle .  She spoke mostly Spanish and was visiting family in Chicago for the holidays.  She loved riding around the park and downtown, but thought the rental rate was a little expensive. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Bike Fancy- Year in review

So I put my camera away for the week, and I have been locked away at Bike Fancy headquarters analyzing a years worth of data from my interviews with Chicago cyclists.  I focused on the question "How can Chicago improve bike infrastructure or make Chicago more bike friendly?  
Below are the results.  Thanks to Steve Vance from The Grid for his statistician's guidance.
22% said– More courtesy/awareness from both drivers and cyclists
19% said– Build more bike lanes
14% said– Fix potholes and resurface the roads
13% said– Build divided bike lanes, car-free streets, and other cycling infrastructure
12% said– More education for drivers and cyclists
5% said–  Harsher penalties for drivers that break the law
5% said– "Other" responses like more bike cops, criteriums, Bloomingdale trail completion
4% said– Greater bicycle ridership
3% said– More bike parking
3% said– A more bike friendly CTA 

These comments are from 73  people I interviewed, and have been divided into 10 topics. There were 94 total comments made.

The Detailed results
More courtesy and awareness by both drivers and cyclists
"Well, I really think that we could be a more bike friendly city when we (drivers, pedestrians, and other bikers) learn to be respectful and considerate of everyone around us.  that would be a good start...." Erica, 1700 Block of N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL.

Build more bike lanes
"Chicago streets need clearly defined bike lanes so bikers can feel safe and drivers can watch where they're going."  Ruby, 2500 Block of North Kedzie, Chicago, IL

Fix Pot Holes and resurface roads

Build divided bike lanes and car-free streets
"I think that separated bike lanes are nice (and would catch us up with several more bikeable European cities), but I'm a fan of less infrastructure and more restriction. I think we can do better with a network of bicycle priority or even completely car-free streets through the neighborhoods sometimes known as "bike boulevards." Another thing I fantasized about when I bike-commuted to the Loop every day is a $5 per private car tax to drive into the Loop during week day business hours. It could be earmarked for transit or bike funding, and would make downtown a lot more bike and pedestrian friendly."  Lisa and Elsa, N Oakley Ave & W Palmer St, Chicago, IL

More education
"Teach children in school biking etiquette."  Maria, S State St & E Madison St, Chicago, IL

Harsher penalities 
"I think a few HARSH examples need to be made of people who "door" bikers.  There are so many people that don’t understand how dangerous it is to not pay attention while parking and will not pay attention until there is something being threatened."  Terry, N Milwaukee Ave & W North Ave, Chicago, IL

"More cycling police officers. I really appreciate seeing cops on bikes in Chicago; not only does it make the cops more sympathetic to the plight of city cyclists, but I think it also makes drivers more cautious and aware (because no one wants to side-swipe or door a cop)."  Cara, 1800 Block of N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL

Greater bicycle ridership
"Personally, I think that Chicago has a pretty good biking system.  There is the lakefront path that travels the entire north/south axis of the city and a lot of streets have that bike lane.  I think it is a matter of helping people realize how fun it is to bike!  I just finished a book called "The 90 Day Solution:  How to Save the World in 90 Days"  where I offer suggestions (such as biking) that encourage people to engage in activities that are not only healthy, but good for the earth as well.  Hopefully, it will help to get more bikers on the road!Tanya, S State & Madison St, Chicago, IL

More Bike Parking

"More bike parking.  Get drivers to respect bike lanes, no matter how many."  Kathy with Suzy Schnauzer, Webester and Racine, Chicago, IL

More bike-friendly CTA

"I tried to take it on the L the other day - not pleasant.  So, making it easier to fit bikes on public transit for when you just can't bike it (but hope to a little later in the day)."  Kallie, N State St & E Illinois St, Chicago, IL