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.
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.