Revolution Finally Gets Bike Corral; CDOT Working to Streamline Process

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Revolution Brewing owner Josh Deth, left; employee Bert Velilla is drilling. Photo by John Greenfield.

Lovers of sustainable transportation and beer rejoice! As I type this, on-street bike racks are being bolted into the asphalt in front of Revolution Brewing, 2323 North Milwaukee in Logan Square. This will be Chicago’s fifth on-street bike parking corral, replacing car parking spaces with bike racks. I talked with owner Josh Deth (an old friend of mine) about the benefits of the corral for his businesses and the community, and the sometimes-challenging process of navigating the city’s bureaucracy for permits.

John Greenfield: Congratulations on finally getting your on-street bike parking corral installed. You’ve been trying to get this installed for several weeks now. What happened that you were finally able to do it?

Josh Deth: Well, it’s a partnership with the city of Chicago’s bike program and the First Ward office. Alderman Joe Moreno was really helpful. He helped get the two parking spaces moved elsewhere in the ward [since the contract with parking concessionaire Chicago Parking Meters requires the city to compensate the company for any lost meter revenue.] We had to move two parking spots – it’s a 40-foot-long bike corral, the biggest one in the city. It kind of took a while. We had to get a right-of-way permit, we had to do a use agreement with the Department of Law, we had to get insurance certificates, we had to get the design reviewed and approved, order the racks, that kind of stuff. So there were a lot of little steps involved.

JG: What was the tipping point that allowed you to move forward with installation?

JD: We got the right-of-way permit yesterday from CDOT, we got the use agreement from the law department last week, and those were the final steps.

New bike parking corral at Logan Square's Revolution Brewing
That evening, the RevBrew racks were already getting plenty of use. Photo by Steven Vance.

JG: Are you going to be adding planters?

JD: No. That’s a little bit of a sore subject. There is no city standard planter. This is like the city’s standard bike corral manufactured by Saris up in Madison, Wisconsin. In order to do planters there was a requirement to get an architect of record to make architectural drawings. That was going to cost more than the bike racks themselves. Plus, there was the cost of the planters themselves being fabricated. We ran into a lot of bureaucratic hurdles.

JG: So what do you think the corral is going to do for your business?

JD: It’s going to be great. You know, we had a bike crash occur today, just down the road a bit on Milwaukee. It was very sad. I think the woman’s going to be OK. But while we were here installing the racks there has been an endless stream of bikes. People have been coming by and saying, “Awesome,” “Congratulations,” and “That’s so cool.”

So, obviously, it’s going to allow more people to comfortably park their bikes to come into Revolution, to go to Threads Etc. [a neighboring consignment shop]. Cole [Bryson, owner of nearby Cole’s bar] came by and checked it out – he thought it was really cool. The Threads guys came by and thought it was really cool.

It’s going to encourage people to shop on the strip. There is something like two restaurants, a bar and a distillery coming in at the end of the block here, so there’s going to be a lot more activity around here. We need make room for them to be able to bike here. We’re going to have room for 20 bikes where there were two parking spots. So it’s not just for Revolution, it’s for all the neighboring businesses.

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Bike corral in front of Cafe Jumping Bean in Pilsen. Photo by John Greenfield.

As I was typing up Deth’s comments, CDOT Deputy Commissioner Scott Kubly called me with an update on his efforts to streamline the bike corral installation process. Here’s what Kubly had to say:

Once we learned about this whole process, we realized that we were treating people that wanted to put a bike corral in front of their business no differently than someone signing a $500,000 contract with the city, from the perspective of all the paperwork we were having them fill out. The city’s goal is to encourage bicycling, so we thought it was crazy that we’re making it difficult for businesses that want to help us out.

So, in the future, business owners will buy the rack and CDOT will install it. The owner will sign an agreement to maintain the corral and pay a small deposit to cover the cost of removal in case they don’t live up to the maintenance agreement. The planter stuff is a new wrinkle – I’m going to look into that as well. We’re also working with Streets and Sanitation to change the policy so that the racks wouldn’t need to be taken out during the winter. The business would shovel snow from the rack and Streets and San would plow around it.

The bottom line is, I wish I could tell Revolution Brewing this, but no other business is going to have to go through what they did to install a corral.

  • Tony, are you saying bike corrals are now available for purchase using Aldermanic menu money *because* Michelle suggested it? Either way, that’s great news!

  • eco-Aville

    So after taking this in a bit more. I realized that while this does
    streamline things it is still not a perfect system for installing bike
    corrals. This is essentially going back to the way the first corral in
    Wicker Park was installed, which is cost prohibitive to small
    businesses, small SSAs and cash strapped development organizations like
    the Andersonville Development Corporation. This is part of the reason
    Chris Gagnon and I worked to establish the system that works through
    SSA’s instead of individual businesses or the city. Granted it requires
    a use agreement, which is a huge burden, but it does make installing
    bike corrals much cheaper. Where a 5 hoop/10 bike corral through the
    city will cost close to $3,000, I am able to purchase the same corral,
    get permits, and install that corral with our own contractor for closer
    to $1500. The corral is then owned and maintained by the SSA, who is
    already in charge of streetscape maintenance and improvement, rather
    than the city. If we are investing as much money as we are in these
    corrals, we will feel a lot more comfortable owning them outright then
    having the city own them, just so we feel like we have more control over
    them.
    So I think as long as the city is not going to foot the bill
    for bike corrals, we need to at least keep both options open, the use
    agreement or donating the corral to the city. It would be great if they
    could just figure out a simpler use agreement option.

  • Thanks for the feedback on this.

  • Ha, yes, I wish that’s how it worked whenever I made a suggestion! I think they were added to the 2013 menu and I wasn’t yet aware of it.

  • Anonymous

    I usually bike to Rev Brewing, but one time had a car and wanted to buy a lb of Bridgeport coffee at Cafe Mustache on my way home…and I drove in circles for what seemed like 10 minutes and then just went home because I couldn’t find a spot. Parking needs to cost more so that drivers who need a spot can quickly find one. Parking garages make sense when the cost to park on the street is high enough to pay for the debt financing and maintenance of a parking structure…then drivers go straight to a garage and don’t clog the street looking for parking.

  • Anonymous

    Who is the “they” that is building a surface lot?

  • Masada, the Middle Eastern restaurant and nightclub that is opening across the street from the California stop, although it’s taking them forever to actually open.

  • Pet P

    I should get in the business of selling municipal traffic devices. What a moneymaker!

  • Pet P

    It works for Naperville :)

  • Pet P

    They mainly lose money because people don’t want to pay $10 to park for a half hour to run into a bookstore. They don’t mind paying $2 to park on the street, however.

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