Chicago, Bike Grid Now’s Halsted Bike Bus provides a safe, fun ride downtown

The Bike Bus rolls towards Fullerton Avenue in Lincoln Park. Photo via CBGN
The Bike Bus rolls towards Fullerton Avenue in Lincoln Park. Photo via CBGN

The  Halsted Bike Bus, which debuted Wednesday morning, organized by Chicago, Bike Grid Now, was a fairly simple concept. CBGN, which is advocating for a network of bike-priority streets and leads weekly Bike Jam rides, led dozens of cyclists downtown during the AM rush, not unlike taking a bus to work.

Flier for the event.
Flier for the event.

The ride started at Broadway/Halsted/Grace at 7:25 a.m., picking up “passengers” along the way , and ending at Sawada Coffee, 112 S. Green Street (half a block west of Halsted) around 8:30. From there, participants headed to their offices, further south, or to the lakefront. the group traveled at about 10 mph.

The Bike Bus passes under a Metra bridge. Photo via CBGN
The Bike Bus passes under a Metra bridge. Photo via CBGN

“The demand for safe bike infrastructure is undeniable,” said CBGN cofounder Rony Islam. “Whenever there is a safe place for people to bike, the number of Chicagoans who come out is tremendous. We see that along the lakefront, during our Bike Jams, and now at our first Bike Bus. Many of the participants didn’t even need to commute to the Loop or lived out of the way from Halsted, but we created a safe place for them to bike and they showed up anyway.”

“The Bike Bus was fantastic!” said co-organizer Sam Wight. “When we initially sent out an interest form, about 20 people signed up. Today, we had over 40 people join us, including commuters who ran into the Bike Bus and pedestrians who cheered us on. It was the safest I’ve ever felt riding down Halsted.”

Said Bike Bus co-organizer Sammy Schneider, “I take this exact commute via Halsted to get to my office multiple times a week. It was an absolute joy to be able to share the love of bike-commuting with my neighbors and build community in the process. People were so excited to do it again and were inquiring about some other routes we could do.”

“This was the most fun and safest bike commute I’ve had in my entire life,” rider Molly Fleck raved.

According to CBGN, someone who saw the Bike Bus from the CTA’s #8 Halsted bus said, “I wish I took it because the bus took me 40 minutes and it wasn’t as fun.”

CBGN’s Rony Islam says that since the group organized the Bike Bus, people from across Chicago and the country have been asking for bike grids in their communities.

The Bike Bus rolls into the West Loop. Photo via CBGN
The Bike Bus rolls into the West Loop. Photo via CBGN

“It’s frustrating and disappointing that [the Chicago Department of Transportation, the Illinois Department of Transportation], our mayor, alders, and everyone else involved in designing and building our streets, are unable to step up to the needs and wants of their constituents. If our city had people-first infrastructure, safe biking could be the norm, not something that requires activists to organize.”

Chicago, Bike Grid Now is planning another Bike Bus run for next week – follow their Twitter and Facebook accounts for details.

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