ó It may be 5 degrees below zero with the wind chill, but
Matt Barrington, 31, of North Lawndale, still bikes to work
nice to get some fresh air every morning," Barrington
said. "Once you get going, you get warm pretty
is one of a growing number of Chicago-area commuters who are
riding bikes despite snow and frigid weather, according to
cyclists, bike shop owners and Divvy numbers.
number of winter bikers has spiked in recent years due in part
to improved infrastructure, such as protected bike lanes, and
better, cheaper cold-weather equipment, cyclists and bike
dealers said. Other factors include the expansion of Divvy,
which gives commuters an alternative to using their own bikes
in the salty slush, and a mild winter last year that
encouraged people to give cold-weather biking a try.
year it exploded," said Manuel Tenorio, owner of Johnny
Sprockets bike shops. He said last yearís winter brought out
more people, and the numbers kept climbing this year despite
lower temperatures. "They want to keep going through the
winter," Tenorio said.
in the air, much like the salt gets in the air this time of
year," said Dave Glowacz, known as "Mr. Bike,"
who wrote the guide "Urban Bikersí Tricks and
Tips." "People are influenced and inspired by seeing
other people doing it."
from the Chicago Department of Transportationís Divvy
bike-share program show that December through March trips
jumped more than 200 percent to 518,286 in the winter of
2015-16 from 167,258 in the winter of 2013-14.
this is likely because the 2013-14 winter was unusually cold,
while last winter was unusually warm, and Divvy has been
expanding, department spokesman Mike Claffey noted.
trend continued this winter, which has been cold. The number
of Divvy trips taken this past December, which had
below-normal temperatures, was 93,275, lower than the December
2015 number of 121,141, but still higher than the December
totals in 2013 and 2014, which were 44,694 and 86,800,
is the peak time for biking, with just under 500,000 Divvy
trips taken each month, Claffey said.
which runs Divvy and other bike-share programs across North
America, also has seen big spikes in winter biking in New York
City and Boston, spokeswoman Dani Simons said.
are starting to make bike-share a year-round transportation
choice," she said. Simons noted that some users bike to
transit stations instead of walking. "It may be a way to
speed up your trip in cold weather."
Active Transportation Alliance, a biking and walking advocacy
group, has seen a surge in participation in its third annual
Winter Bike Challenge to 375 this year from 222 in 2015,
according to Clare McDermott, the allianceís director of
special events and marketing. The cyclist who logs the most
miles from Jan. 13 to Jan. 27 wins a "fat tire"
bike, designed for biking in snow.
helps you beat the winter blues," McDermott said when
asked why the numbers are up.
bike clubs also have reported increases in recreational winter
riding, when weather permits, said Ed Barsotti, chief programs
officer for Ride Illinois, a bike advocacy group. Slow Roll
Chicago, which promotes biking in communities of color, hosted
a ride commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Lawndale
this past Saturday.
and other bike shop owners say better equipment is helping
cyclists go year-round.
this month, Pedal & Spoke bike shop in North Aurora, Ill.,
hosted a demonstration of bikes with fat tires, which are 3 to
5 inches wide instead of the 1- to 2-inch width of traditional
bike tires, said owner Ashton Brackett. About 50 people
crowded into the shop, with most going out on a group ride
despite the bitter cold, Brackett said.
are becoming aware that it is possible to stay active during
the winter," Brackett said. He said fat tire bikes have
come down in price in recent years.
dropping in cost are good lights ó necessary for short
winter days. Brackett said the price of a 350-lumen
rechargeable bike light has dropped from $120 to about $50.
"Weíre selling more lights than ever before,"
Brackett said. "People want to be seen."
cyclists recommend tires with metal studs for icy conditions,
though these are banned by Chicago municipal code. Glowacz
said these are fine for rural Wisconsin but "heavy metal
overkill" in Chicago, since major streets are usually
cleared within 24 hours of snowfall.
winter bicyclists favor specialty gloves called "pogies"
that look like oven mitts and snap onto handlebars. Other
options are "gunner" gloves or "lobster"
gloves, which are hybrids of gloves and mittens.
experts also recommend ski goggles in extreme cold, hats or
balaclavas that fit under helmets, water-resistant shoes or
boots, and dressing in layers, though not too many because you
warm up while biking. They also recommend a
"wicking" layer close to the body, to pull away
moisture that can make you cold.
no bad weather ó thereís bad clothing," said Bryan
Finigan, manager at Kozyís Cyclery in the South Loop.
clothing includes dark clothing, Glowacz said. Bicyclists need
to be seen by motorists, who are less used to seeing them in
donít know they should have a front and rear light and not
dress in black," Glowacz said.
also need to be assertive enough to ride where itís safe,
and that may mean "taking the lane" instead of
staying to the right of traffic if thereís too much ice and
slush, Glowacz said.
takes some practice to become comfortable with that,"
Glowacz said. "But motorists generally are not going to
run you down when youíre in the middle of the lane.
Motorists hit bicyclists because they donít see them."
drawback to winter biking on the Northwest Side is that the
popular 606 trail is not cleared after snowfalls of as little
as 3 inches. Chicago Park District officials said snowplows
cannot be used on the trail because it will tear the blue
rubber running surface and the native plantings.
biking also poses an additional challenge for bike
maintenance, since brake lines can freeze and chains get
loaded with slush and salt.
Burke, executive director of the Active Transportation
Alliance, likes to use Divvys in messy weather, since he doesnít
have to take care of them. "I donít like rust," he
Bridger, 31, who recently moved back to Chicago after 10 years
in California, agrees that winter biking poses extra
challenges, but that is part of what makes his commute
interesting, just as hills make it interesting on the West
adds character to it," Bridger said. "Itís what
makes riding here unique compared to anyplace else in the
said he likes the peacefulness of winter biking. "Iím
happier when there arenít a lot more people that are doing
crazy stuff like they are in the summer," he said.
STORY CAN END HERE)
adults may be driving less, but when they do drive, they tend
to prefer cars that are new and green.
according to a new survey by Autolist.com, which offers new
and used cars online, that found millennials were 6.2 percent
more likely than Generation X buyers to want a new car, and
5.1 percent more likely to be concerned about a carís
environmental impact. Generation X buyers were more likely to
be swayed by price and reliability, the survey found.
were defined for the survey as adults from 25 to 39, while
Generation X buyers were 40 to 54.
survey found Honda Accords to be the most popular car for
Generation X buyers, while Honda Civics were most popular
among younger adults.
surveyed 3,383 adults in the last quarter of last year. The
survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percent.
has declined in popularity among young people, according to
various studies. A University of Michigan Transportation
Research Institute study last year found that adults in their
20s were about 13 percent less likely to have a driverís
license than the same age population in 1983, while adults in
their 30s were 8 percent less likely.