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.

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