The Chainlink

Please don't flame me for posting this, but I am looking for help in picking a bike and learning how to ride a bike safely in the city. I am a mom and I work downtown. I would like a bike for casual riding, possibly with the ability to carry a kid or two, and maybe for commuting to work if I can get the hang of it.

I need help!

What kind of bike should I get? Not able to spend a fortune but willing to invest in a good, safe, well-built and reliable bike especially since I might be transporting children on it.

Where can I take a bike safety class on traffic rules, proper locking techniques for the city, etc?

How can I learn the best and safest route from home to work? 

Thank you! 

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That's awesome! Congrats on your new bike! I'd love to see a picture - it sounds beautiful.

Yes, I think the "buy locally" is supporting smaller businesses. That's really great. Ultimately, it is the choice of the buyer and is one of many considerations (not a requirement, no judgement). :-)

I don't know about child seats but I do recommend going to BFF Bikes for their help. They sell a lot of child seats and should be able to hook you up. 

I don't have it yet but hopefully it will look like this :) 

What a beautiful bike! Congrats!! :-)

Re: drop bars...the only case I will bring up is that on flat bars, your elbows can stick outside of the bike, but on drops, they're parallel to the bike. That can mean that it's much harder to catch your elbow on a car mirror when you don't expect it. It's definitely a risk/reward issue, but it's something to think about. I had a friend who's brother shattered his elbow catching it on a mirror after switching to flat bars. He didn't even think about it.

To each their own, but depending on how/where you ride, sometimes a smaller profile matters.

I can offer no advise about child seats...single life has big gaps in trhe learning curve, but as far as routes, well as a younger rider (ahh those were the days) my technique was to look at the most direct and work from there with an eye towards widest lanes (a decent 2 lane thurofare being better than 4 lane since in this city very often the 2 laners are wider...tho a 4 lane in a civilized area such as Irving Park Road versus Fullerton can offer room for drivers to pass with more leeway). Nowadays with bike lanes and a broadening array of trails makes the choices easier in many respects. The Chicago bike map is a fair starting point and knowing the traffic in and out of the destinations you target always can make these decisions easier.
Watching for freshly paved roadways (once finished they can be very blissful) and shortcuts via low traffic side streets when they are comfy always adds to interest and safety. The one way network can also add to safety when the streets still maintain safe width and surface condition but vigalance is always needed.
Listening to another rider can be misleading since many times you may have different needs and riding style from them. Following the advise of a cyclocross racer may make a 15mph commuter require Valium and hemmoriod creme. While many of us on Chainlink can offer sound solid advise even a seemingly similar pedaler may be looking for entirely different results in the ride.
Gee I can be absolutely lacking in definative answers...do ya think I should run for the Republican Presidential slot???
Jeff

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