Business of biking is booming: Rides, education and repair workshops popping up in the suburbs
You know biking is booming if entities as disparate as libraries, body shops, barbecue places and even political elections are involved.
The June 6 Bicycle Retailer and Industry News seems to confirm my own bike shop observations: The U.S. imported 4.7 million bikes in 2022's first quarter valued at $565 million, up 52% from one year earlier and 143% over 2020's first quarter when the pandemic disrupted supply chains.
Totals for 2021's second half were also impressive, with the third quarter showing imported bikes worth $571 million.
But biking and political elections -- what?
Secretary of State Voter Guide
Three nonpartisan nonprofits submitted transportation questions to the six Secretary of State primary candidates, the statewide official responsible for driver education services and testing, Illinois' Rules of the Road and traffic safety initiatives. In short, the official directly affecting cyclists, pedestrians and motorists.
Regardless of your politics, you can read their responses in the 2022 Sustainable Transportation Voter Guide developed by Ride Illinois, Active Transportation Alliance and the Metropolitan Planning Council.
One question pertains to the current illegality of riders rolling through a stop sign vs. completely stopping. Commonly called "Idaho stop," it's been legal there since 1982. Cyclists can continue rolling after first slowing down at a stop sign and if no other traffic is present.
Similar legislation -- HB4276 -- sponsored by State Rep. Janet Yang Rohr (D) was killed in an Illinois House committee this past February.
Body Shop, BBQ for Bikes
Anastassia and Kevin Strine, Round Lake Area Bicycle Club (RLABC) founders, organized their fourth annual "Build a Bike Workshop" June 6 and 8 at Collision Solution Auto Body Repair in Hainesville. Sixteen teens each earned a free, refurbished bike after learning how to repair it themselves.
Abandoned bikes collected from various Lake County law enforcement agencies received new life as employment and education transportation for local youth.
"Our workshop brings together a sense of community while helping Round Lake area residents," Anastassia said. "It gets police involved in a positive way with our youth, and gives young men and women hands-on mechanical skills fixing bikes."
Started in 2018, the workshop fills Collision Solutions body shop with tools, used bikes and related parts for two evenings after business hours, from 6-8:30. Everything is stored away until the second session two days later. Why two evenings?
At stake is more than just bike repair. Besides the teens learning about bikes and components, bike safety is emphasized. After introductions, Kevin Strine reviewed traffic safety, rules of the road and being conspicuous while cycling.
"I get greatly upset when I see people not wearing brightly colored clothes," Anastassia said.
Still, more important, she added, "Our goal is to promote the teens' independence and confidence. Bikes enable them to get to work in downtown Round Lake Beach or attend College of Lake County in Grayslake without depending on others."
A second session is also necessary since specific parts may need to be located. Cindy Dorgan, who took over running B&G Cyclery from dad Bob Hagen, confirmed that required components are supplied free, some cannibalized from other used bikes.
With repairs completed the second evening, Strine again highlighted safety tips and distributed workshop completion certificates. Before taking home their newly repaired bikes, participants enjoyed a meal courtesy of Gurnee's Mission BBQ in Gurnee.
Bicycle Friendly Schaumburg
Celebrating its annual bike month in June with two events, Schaumburg demonstrates why it continues to earn Bicycle Friendly Community status from the League of American Bicyclist (bronze level since 2003), the first in Illinois to achieve this status.
Schaumburg boasts 90 miles of bike paths, trails or routes, 1,000 bike parking rack and locker spaces, and bicycle racks on village trolleys, among other biking features.
The first of Schaumburg's biking events was its June 5 Fahrrad Tour -- Bicycle Route Tour -- von Schaumburg. According to Sophie Ali, Schaumburg Park District communications specialist, 126 people registered for the 5-mile ride before enjoying free lunch and refreshments, courtesy of the park district.
June's second event, the fourth annual Business Bike Classic, encourages Schaumburg businesses to compete for most cycling mileage by company employees. Seventeen four-rider teams competed.
For three years running, Team Classic Cycling of Zurich North America has earned the traveling trophy, plus bragging rights, logging almost 3,600 miles in 2021. Different mileage brackets were added this year to "level the playing field and give other riders an opportunity to place in the competition," according to Allison Albrecht, Schaumburg's director of communications and outreach.
Library Repair Café
Schaumburg Township District Library hosted 40 at its first Library Repair Café June 25, with basic bicycle repair among several offerings. Adult Program Coordinator Matt Binder said, "We're hoping to run this every few months."
The next session is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 10.
Mike Geigel, an owner of Streamwood's Never Ending Cycles bike shop, helped patrons learn basic maintenance on bikes they brought in for repair. Mikie Swier, member of several bike clubs, explained the free Bike Safety Quiz that Ride Illinois makes available to adults, youth and motorists. Swier is a Regional Action Team volunteer for Ride Illinois, the statewide nonprofit bike advocacy organization.
Repair Cafe, a worldwide movement originating in 2009 in Amsterdam, draws on experienced volunteers passing on their fix-it knowledge to others. Repair possibilities are open-ended: small appliances, electronic devices, furniture, toys, garments, etc.
Nearly 2,400 cafes exist globally, encouraging a sustainability mindset to repair, not discard.
• Join the ride. Contact Ralph Banasiak at email@example.com.