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Cycling Fri Apr 30 2010

Byrne and Bahati; Fair Weather Rules

This is exciting news. Former-Talking Head and urban cycling advocate (and author) David Byrne is coming to Chicago to present a forum "Cities, Bicycles and the Future of Getting Around" on Friday, June 18 at 7:30 p.m. at Daley Plaza (50 W. Washington). Tickets are required -- information is all available here. Byrne will come together with cycling advocates and civic leaders to discuss the bike's role in the city and how cycling can improve community relations and urban ties. The event is co-presented by Goose Island 312 and 93XRT and is part of the Chicago Bike to Work Rally.

Ouch-Bahati Foundation Pro Cycling Team racer Rahsaan Bahati will be in Chicagoland May 10 for a benefit dinner for the Bahati Foundation. The Bahati Foundation is a mentoring and education organization for Southern California youth, with a focus on promoting after-school and summer activities and attempting to present opportunites for youth beyond the corruptions of crime, drugs, and gangs. It's a noble cause very worthy of support. The dinner will be held at EJ's Place (10027 Skokie Blvd., Skokie). The informational flyer is here.

Finally, finally, the weather's mostly cracked. I know there will be some hearts broken when it inexplicably snows in May, but let's go on and cheer that Spring has finally made it. With that, everyone's dusted off the bikes and are rolling around the city. It's inspiring and great to see -- besides the CTA, which is itself losing its ground, there's no better way of getting around the city than by bike. The more cyclists out there, the better.

That said, for some reason, cyclists really need to be cognizant that riding a bike is an inherently dangerous and potentially lethal activity, to crib the disclaimer-speak. Also, cyclists have every right as a car to the roadway, but that means the rules of the road apply as well.

Such, as it were, I'll present a few guidelines to start the season off right:

1. If you're seriously training for the Chicago Triathlon, or you're a competitive/fast fitness rider, refrain from doing your bike workouts on the lake front path north of the aquarium between 4-8 p.m. First, you're not going to get in a good workout with all the stopping and slowing. Second, you're presenting a major hazard to all the other path users. Third, it's annoying and frustrating. The LFP is one of the great resources in this city and cyclists, from national champions to casual riders, use it and love it. But riding the path requires some sense. Those national champions and racer-types are out early in the morning from 5-8 a.m. or later evening when there are no strollers or jogging squads taking up the lanes. There's no excuse for trying to set a personal best from Navy Pier to Belmont on your time-trial bike on a sunny warm afternoon. It's dangerous to all.

2. Running red lights. Yes, everyone does it, but it's just a really, really bad idea. It annoys drivers, is pretty durn hazardous, and doesn't do much to improve cycling advocacy. Us cyclists expect full use of the road, that means we have to follow the laws as well. If you're going to run a red light, just use common sense: blasting through the Crotch or Cortland and Ashland is asking for a serious mangling. The number of people who have been carted away in an ambulance from those intersections after getting hit is staggering. Oh, and get some lights.

3. Learn to lock up your bike. With warm weather comes bike thieves; already Craigslist is full of sad tales of machines stolen in just a minute's time. This guide explains it all.

Expect more curmudgeonly ranting as the season goes on.

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