The Chainlink

Article, "Who Bikes in Chicago? It’s Not Just Privileged Urbanites"

Bike commuters are over-represented among people who make $10,000 to $25,000, as well as people who make more than $75k. This matches up with findings from the Active Transportation Alliance, using older but more fine-grained data.

http://www.chicagomag.com/city-life/November-2015/Who-Bikes-in-Chic...

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It's a great article (gotta love Whet Moser), but the data has a blind spot - where are kids in this calculus? 


I don't know a single kid who didn't ride a bike while they were growing up in Chicago.  That's no exaggeration, in the 70s and 80s at least, *everyone* had a bike (they were crappy Huffy and other mass-produced models, but they were bikes).

Some of us even rode bikes to school long before the advent of bike lanes, I remember riding at least periodically from 6th - 8th grade.  The real question IMO is why kids in the City stopped/stop riding bikes once they are old enough to drive.


I think part of it is the independence a car offers - not to mention the fact teenagers can't really make out in the back of a bike - but there's also some social undertones there as well.  Cars were seen as a rite of passage towards adulthood, bikes were viewed as more like stepping stones.  The big exception was the lakefront, nothing beat a bike for freedom in terms of affordability and access, and it was safer than the street in terms of avoiding cops enforcing curfew.

We've come a long way past that, cycling is now clearly hipper across the board.  I think public transportation has also come a long way thanks to the reduction of uncertainty due to bus and train tracker apps.

It will be interesting to see how the kids with parents who have embraced cycling as a lifestyle behave as they age as a demographic.  So much progress!  

I live near Gordon Tech, Lane Tech, and Horner Park and I see teens on fixies all the time. It makes me happy even if they sometimes ride the way you'd expect teenagers to ride. 

In the late evening, tons of teenagers on single-speeds and fixies hang out up on the Bloomingdale Trail. Lots of lights on the wheels/spokes themselves. Much cooler than hanging out in the McDonald's parking lot like when/where I was a teenager.

I live close to Nicholas Senn high school and I see a lot of them riding to school in the morning.

Majority of the boys ride fixies, many of the girls ride city bike types with pannier racks.

I think the data is only for adults, or maybe 16+ and commutes to work.

You're right, the headline is just IMO a glaring misrepresentation of cycling in the City.  As numerous folks are sharing, there are plenty of teenagers biking the streets.  I think we'd all like them to feel comfortable staying there for the long haul.

Thanks for posting this Gene. I'm setting up a meeting with my alderman about bike lanes on Archer and I've been a bit apprehensive about approaching him as a privileged urbanite. There is overwhelming evidence on Archer itself that most of the riders are not old white guys, but having data to back it up will make for a more compelling argument than my anecdotal testimony. 

I wish more Chainlinkers would meet with their Aldermen to improve cycling conditions in their ward. Thanks for doing this, Tony.

Took a long time - mostly it was me procrastinating and forgetting. But I finally got around to meeting with Alderman Cardenas tonight at his ward office. I was fairly well prepared to make the case in the face of opposition, but I was not prepared for what happened. The alderman said that Archer was the most logical place for bike lanes in the ward since it goes right downtown. This is absolutely true. He further said that he "rides all the time" and that he supported bike lanes on Archer. Seems like good news all around.

He said the obstacle at this time was budgetary.

Bravo, Tony. 

My Alderman rides regularly, also. Most Aldermen are approachable, accessable and more than willing to listen to constituent concerns. That is how they stay in touch and familiar with the needs of their wards. Just approach them in a calm manner and with a reasonable presentation, and the discussion can work wonders. It is your ward as well as his/hers.

If bike count traffic counts were to be done along Archer, which intersections would make the most sense to you?  Archer & Halsted seems like a logical one to me, since it could record traffic approaching on both streets.  Which other locations would you consider to be high priorities?

Archer and Halsted is a good one, but Archer already has bike lanes there (at least where they have not been replaced by parking!). If in fact, the best we can hope for is an incremental extension of the bike lanes out to Harlem, (rather than doing it all at once), then I'd focus on the large intersections west of the existing bike lane, so, in this order:

1. Ashland (Archer is six #@#% lanes on each side of this disaster of an intersection!)

2. Damen

3. Western

Thanks Anne!

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