Bike Swap’s Biggest Crowd Yet Turns Out at New Venue

Chicago Bike Swap 2013
Attendees wait in line just minutes before the "gates" open at 10 a.m.

Saturday’s bike swap, located in the largest venue since its humble beginnings in the party room of Jak’s Tap in 2010, brought in more visitors than ever — about 1,700, according to the Active Transportation Alliance. Organizers credit several changes, including social media marketing, discounts for University of Illinois at Chicago students and staff, and new attractions. The event’s proceeds benefit Active Trans, The Chainlink, and Bike Winter.

Active Trans marketing director Ethan Spotts said the mix of improvements, along with the bigger space, helped attendance grow by a few hundred visitors compared to last year. “We did a bit more marketing this year, specifically to UIC, but I think the venue and new cool stuff like cargo bikes and bike polo helped out a lot,” he said. “There was more buzz on Twitter this year, for sure. I got a lot more emails leading up to the event about how to sell bikes in the bike corral (which was fuller than ever).”

Chicago Bike Swap 2013
Northwest Side parents sit on a panel about family cycling. Holding the mic is Kevin Womac, owner of Boulevard Bikes, who spoke about the growing number of cycling families in Logan Square.

The new venue, UIC’s physical education building on Roosevelt Road, provided more room for vendors and organizations, a presentation space on the same floor, and tons of space for cargo bikes and bike polo games.

Over 50 attendees, including parents, grandparents, and children, tried out the 14 different cargo and utility bikes in the Cargo Bike Roll Call Rodeo, which I co-managed. Every bike was loaned by one of Chicago’s expanding number of cargo bike owners. The purpose of this demonstration was to show Chicagoans what their options are when it comes to carting kids (or cucumbers).

Chicago Bike Swap 2013
Those who didn't want to ride in the Cargo Bike Roll Call Rodeo, or couldn't reach the pedals, had the option of getting carted around by me.

Members of Chicago Bike Polo played several games on a homemade court, with walls made of cardboard and orange construction barriers. The group is constantly looking for new members; open practices are every Sunday at 2 p.m. in Garfield Park – no experience and no bike necessary.

Chicago Bike Swap 2013
John talks with Streetsblog reader and commenter Lisa Curcio at our table at the bike swap. Photo by Serge Lubomudrov.

Best of all, John and I got to meet scores of Streetsblog Chicago readers and folks who were just learning about the site for the first time, who stopped by to check out our table, grab some free buttons and stickers, and sign up for a t-shirt raffle. It was great to meet many of our regular readers and commenters in person, and we look forward to hearing from new readers soon!

See all photos from this event.

  • Fantastic job with the cargo bike demos. I saw many inspired people (and happy kids :)

  • I had a blast.

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