Bicycling advocacy - like politics - is local.
If you’re into the Chicago cycling scene in any way, shape, or form, you should include The Chainlink and Grid Chicago on your daily reading list. Fan them on Facebook. Follow them on Twitter. Add your two cents to the daily discussions.
The Chainlink truly is “of the people, by the people, and for the people” – when those people are cyclists, that is. It is an online forum that shares information among city cyclists for the mutual benefit of all involved. Discussion topics run the gamut from gear recommendations to riding tips, rants on driver behavior to suggestions for improving our cycling infrastructure. On any given day, it is the pulse of Chicago’s cycling community.
The Chainlink is also an excellent source for finding local cycling events. Its Featured Rides and Events page lets you know what’s going on every day of the week. Whether you’re searching for a fun weekend ride, looking for ways to get more involved with local causes, or have an event of your own to promote, the Chainlink should be your first click when you go online.
Julie Hochstadter, director of the Chainlink, is working on bringing the online experience up to today’s higher tech standards with a site overhaul and the addition of a mobile application. An indiegogo fundraising page has been set up to accept contributions that will go toward a whole host of improvements to the virtual clubhouse of Chicago's cycling community. If you value the information the Chainlink provides – like I do – please consider making a donation.
Grid Chicago is the source for sustainable transportation news in Chicago.
Steven Vance and John Greenfield have put together a site that not only reports the latest news about public transit and active transportation – it delves deeper into these sometimes controversial issues and discusses the effect policy decisions will have on cyclists, pedestrians, and CTA patrons.
Recent posts include a feature on Rahm’s CTA fare increase, problems with the city’s bikeways, the controversy over granting driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, and the diversity challenges facing Chicago’s new bike share program. On a lighter note, there’s a story about John’s recent microbrew bike tour across Wisconsin (something I’ve also covered here).
Grid Chicago’s Twitter feed serves as one of my primary sources for Chicago cycling news. My recent post, Does Wearing a Bike Helmet Discourage Anyone from Riding a Bike, was inspired by a discussion started on Grid’s Facebook fan page. I can count on Steven and John to keep me properly engaged in the issues that matter most to area cyclists.
A Final Word on Local Advocacy
Bicycling advocacy can take many forms. We have our own Active Transportation Alliance to define, prioritize, and direct the needs of pedestrians and cyclists throughout the Chicago area. We also have Trails for Illinois to help us get new recreational trails built and keep our existing paths maintained. Both can use your donations of time and money.
If time and money are in short supply, you can still contribute by sharing your opinion on a host of cycling issues that pop up daily. I may create the headline and layout the argument, but you're always welcome to add your voice to the discussion in the comments section. To make this easier, I've switched to Facebook comments to give you the opportunity to draw your friends into our polite debates.
A recent post I wrote lamenting the tragic deaths of two local cyclists spurred one such lively discussion with very differing opinions. Next week, I will be devoting three days to a guest post by Portland cyclist John Brooking to offer alternative solutions to two common problems - dooring and the right-hook. This is the perfect opportunity for you to get involved and share your thoughts.
All bicycling advocacy is local. Get involved!
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Keep riding and be safe!