Women helping women

Women Bike Chicago had its first mentor/mentee meet-up on Saturday, May 31 at the Formal Gardens in Humboldt Park.  Despite street closures all around, transit issues, and an organized walk/run in the park, a bright and enthusiastic group of women gathered to start the process of helping women be more comfortable riding bikes in Chicago.  We came from Bronzeville, Hyde Park, Logan Square, Belmont-Cragin, Lakeview, River North, Humboldt Park, West Town, and Wicker Park for about an hour and a half of learning about ABC Quick Check, bike fit, lighting, riding in traffic, making turns, riding on multi-use paths, locking securely, and what to wear. 

There were lots of really good questions and interesting exchanges of experiences. We could not believe that we ran out of time before even getting on our bikes!  All agreed that we will meet again in June to get some on bike work in, and, we hope, a little riding.  Anyone already on our e-mail distribution will be asked to participate in choosing the next date even if you were not able to be there this past Saturday.

Not on our list but interested in joining us as a mentee or a mentor?  Please contact us at womenbikechicagomentors@gmail.com  We will make sure you are in the loop for choosing our next date.

June--Women's Bike Month

Divvy has declared June Women's Bike Month! And why not?  We have had two glorious days in a row, Bike the Drive was a roaring success, and there were lots of women and families out enjoying the ride.  Let's continue the trend--ride your bike to work, to the store, with your families, for fun.

Join other women who ride bikes on Sunday, June 8 at 11:30 for a pot luck brunch on the Great Lawn at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.  There are bike racks around the lawn.  Bring a blanket and a brunchy thing to share, and enjoy great conversation.  Children are welcome, and I have heard there will be virgin Mimosas for them (and anyone else who wants one.)

BFF Bikes at 2113 W. Armitage is having a Bike Maintenance clinic on June 2 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. They are also hosting a Commuter Clinic on Friday, June 13 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. to kick of Bike to Work Week.  Maybe you will find a ride buddy there.

We will be working on a fun ride for later in June.  Watch this space!  Happy cycling!

Not Quite Comfortable Riding in the City?

Women Bike Chicago is ready to launch its program to match women who want help riding for transportation and fun with more experienced women cyclists.  Learn to be a more confident rider, to choose a route that is comfortable for you, and to feel safe riding in traffic.  And meet some really cool women who love riding bikes!  We are starting at the end of May.

E-mail womenbikechicagomentors@gmail.com to sign up or for more information.

Our DDD Wrap-Up

Hi all! Intern Lucy here. Our second annual Day of Dialogue and Demonstration was two Saturdays ago and it was the best! I’m here to wrap it all up for you, for those who were attendance as well as those who couldn’t make it this year.

It was a beautiful day at Dvorak Park in lovely Pilsen. We could have not asked for a better spring day or a more appropriate venue for our event. Outside was our bike corral, where ladies stopped by all day to check out bikes from vendors including Legacy Frameworks as well as share rides on their own bikes. Ladies also helped one another with basic bike maintenance and discussed care of bikes as well as cargo bike options (for heavy loads — and kids!). It was a treat to get to try out many different types of bikes, especially for those of us with just one main ride.

Keynote speaker Angela Ford kicked off the day with a great talk about what being a cyclist means to her. She began her talk by reminiscing, “Like many of us, I abandoned bike riding at the age of 16 when I got my driver’s license.” She went on to discuss her journey rediscovering biking as not only a way to get around but a way to live a more sustainable lifestyle. As the CEO of her own sustainability consulting firm, her bike is now a very important part of her life.

Angela asked all of us to leave the event with three groups of friends who we would take on a bike ride, to spread the wealth of knowledge we learned during the day with a new crew of people. I reflected on my own community of bicycling, which I want to expand to a larger circle of friends. With summer fast approaching, I am excited to recruit my friends, family and coworkers to ride all summer long with me.

Throughout the day, we had six workshops. The first workshop I attended was Commuting, orchestrated by Anne and Veronica. One of the key points of this discussion was public transit, and how to configure taking a bike on public transportation to accommodate the various needs of a busy schedule. Anne and Veronica were very thorough in their explanations of bike rules on the CTA and Metra, and there was no other workshop I attended that day where quite so many thoughtful questions were answered with just as much thoughtfulness. It was a success.

A highlight of the day was Anne and Eboni’s workshop, “How To Plan a Ride.” After briefly discussing routes and safety, we split up into two groups to plan hypothetical group rides. The first group opted for a lengthy route along the upcoming bike path, The 606, which consisted of a hilly terrain and an informal architecture tour of the industry in the area. My group planned a more casual ride; about 5 miles of biking and 4 stops at ice cream and sweets shops made up this “Sweets and Treats” excursion. Both have merit and both would be very easy to plan in realty — so stay tuned! Everyone was a fan of this interactive planning dialogue. No better way to conceptualize a bike ride than actually planning one.

The last workshop I had the privilege to attend was Julie and Samantha’s “Biking Safety, Comfort and Style.” They discussed bike clothing at length and addressed concerns about bike comfort on all different types of bikes. I learned everything I never knew I needed to know about layering while biking.

The icing on top of the day was the raffle that concluded our festivities, and there were plenty of prizes to go around. Highlights included a year-long Divvy membership and several pairs of mountain biking shoes donated by Beverly Bikes.

I was inspired by how many women attended who have been long-time riders. As a young person who commutes almost solely by bicycle, I think of myself doing that because I have multiple jobs and it is a cheap and fast way for me to get around Chicago. However, seeing women who have established lives and even families ride their bikes daily puts the importance of biking into perspective for me.


Thank you to all who attended Women Bike Chicago’s 2014 Day of Dialogue and Demonstration. The event has grown so much in just one year, and we cannot wait to see where next year takes us! Happy biking, and happy spring to all!

Great Job on the Weather

Although for a while it looked like we would be visited by thunderstorms, it turned into a marvelous weather day.  Thanks to all who joined us on Saturday, April 12 at Dvorak Park. You must have used your woman power to hold off the storms.

So many people made the day possible.  Special thanks to our presenters:

Angela Ford
Vanessa Buccella
Anne Alt
Veronica Joyner
Eboni Hawkins
Joanne McSweeney
Marlene Paez
Justyna Frank
Julie Hochstadter
Samantha Arnold

Kudos to our intern extraordinaire, Lucy Freccia for keeping everything on track.

To the volunteers who womaned the registration table, the bike corral, and the child care--we could not have done it without you.

Did you have a chance to try Divvy for the first time?  Thank you Divvy for giving us that opportunity.

Thanks to everyone who brought their own bikes so that others could test ride them.  And if you loved one of the bikes so generously loaned by BFF BikesLegacy FrameworksOn the Route, or Rapid Transit Cycles, talk to them!  They will all be happy to help you find the bike that YOU want.

Don't forget our other contributors:  Active Transportation AllianceHardboiled Coffee Company, REI Lincoln ParkBeverly BikesKozie Prery CapsPo Campo BagsJeni's Splendid Ice CreamFreeman Kevenides Law FirmWomen and Children First book shopCaribou CoffeeThe ChainlinkTurin Bicycle in Chicago.

Finally,  Melissa Manak wrote a wonderful article about the day for Streetsblog.  We could not have said it better ourselves.

Stay tuned for more information about the Women Bike Chicago mentoring program and Women Bike Chicago rides throughout the season.  It is starting to look like spring!

Women Bike Chicago supporters are legion!

Update on items in the drawing:

Three $25 gift certificates from On The Route
Complimentary registration for Active Transportation Alliance MB Financial Bike the Drive
A gift bag including a mug and coffee from Hardboiled Coffee Company in Beverly

Dvorak Park is an absolutely great space--inside and out!  Join us for interesting presentations, great women in attendance, and opportunities to test ride an incredible variety of bikes.  

Friends won't let friends miss this event! 

Prizes! and an overview of the day of dialogue and demonstrations

Here are some of the really generous folks and businesses that have donated to our free drawing:

A  Divvy annual membership!
Registration for two people for  REI Lincoln Park Outdoor School Classes
Bike shoes from Beverly Bike
A cycling cap from Kozy Prery
A $25 gift card from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams
A gift bag (coffee and other goodies) from Hardboiled Coffee Company
A CTA umbrella, 5 pedometers and a water bottle from Active Transportation Alliance
Swag from BFF Bikes and On the Route Bicycles and Freeman Kevenides Law Firm
A bag for  your bike from Po Campo

Watch this space for announcements of more!

And here’s the schedule:

9:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.             Registration    

9:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.           Opening presentation by Angela Ford  

10:15 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.         Commuting by bike    OR     Cultural differences in biking

11:15 a.m. to 12:00 noon        What you need to know when you visit a bike shop
                                                            OR
                                               How to plan a group ride or form a riding group

12:15 p.m. to 1:00 p.m            Recreational side of biking
                                                            OR
                                               Comfort, style, and safety on the bike

1:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.             Drawing

From 10:00 a.m. to about 12:30 p.m., three moms who ride with their children will be available in the child care area to answer your questions about how to have fun and ride safely with the kids.

All day, Divvy will have representatives and bikes outside.  You can get the answer to all questions Divvy, and also try one of the bikes for free! 

Plus there will be all kinds of bikes outside for test riding—hybrid bikes, road bikes, touring bikes, cargo bikes.

Think you might want to be part of an all-female bike mentoring program?  Look for the Women Bike Chicago volunteers with a name tag that says “ask me about the WBC mentoring program."

There is more!  Join us!