Author

27 posts

An Intro From Brent Baker

Hey There!

My name is Brent Baker and I’m the new president of Bike Peoria! Just look how serious I look in that photo, if you were wondering, that’s what it takes to be president; also, owning five bikes. But for real, I couldn’t be more excited to serve in this role.

My Bike Peoria story began in the Spring of 2014 when I purchased a $50 bike on Craigslist, a 1974 Raleigh Sprite (which could now be yours). I hadn’t owned a bike in over 10 years and I was eager to get back into it. I had heard a bit about Bike Peoria and Bike Peoria Co-op (then in it’s infancy) from friends and decided to go check it out.

I showed up one day at Bike Peoria Co-op and got some guidance on how to fix a brake that had exploded off my bike and fell in love with the place. I started showing up more, tearing apart stuff on my bike, helping out around the shop, learning by doing, and before I knew it, I was hosting my own open hours (which I still operate every Saturday).

I also started attending Bike Peoria monthly meetups, I became a member, began volunteering to coordinate events, to post stuff on Craigslist, to represent the organization at public events, and wouldn’t you know it, I ended up as president.

All this to say, two years ago, I was just remembering how to ride a bike. In these two short years, this organization has introduced me to so many incredible people that are now fast friends. Thanks to Dan Waite, Tim Beeney, Jordan Blimbaum,  the number of founders still involved, and outgoing president Erik Reader,  for getting Bike Peoria off the ground. I’m proud to have the privilege to serve as president for the next two years and help this organization become the best it can be!

Biking, for me, is more than a hobby or a recreational outlet, it represents socioeconomic equity, having the power to change how our cities work and to challenge the established practices of how we interact with our built environment; okay, it’s also just fun as shit to ride around on a bike. Feel free to shoot me an email or text if you’d like to chat further about how you can get involved or if you just want to learn more about Bike Peoria.

Brent Baker
brentthevolunteer@gmail.com
309.696.4733

147 views

BUSHWACKER CX

TAKE on BRADLEY PARK by BICYCLE at

Bushwhacker CX a Cyclocross Event

bushwacker

On October 27th,  join us as area cyclists ride and race over the terrain at Bradley Park.  Expect to be cheered on as you ride around a 1.5 mile course across grass, sand, the Japanese bridge, and more.  You’ll start near the pavilion by the tennis and sand volleyball courts. This February’s event brought snow, mud, laughter, and cheers at Expo Gardens and now we’re ready to do the same at Laura Bradley Park.

With the success and popularity cyclocross has earned over the last few years, a group of central Illinois race directors decided to join in on the fun and start a race series. Bushwhacker jumped on board to sponsor the first event in the Peoria area.  The race is expected to have near 100 cyclists compete in four different categories. The event starts with a first timer/beginner friendly 40 minute race, followed by the 50 minute expert race, a 40 minute women’s and juniors race, and finish up with an open race for everyone to participate in. The course will offer something for everyone, easy enough for beginners, yet challenging for the faster cyclists.

Bushwhacker CX Feb 2013

What is cyclocross?

The origin of cyclocross is somewhat debated, but the Belgians claim to have started it all.  It is a form of bicycle racing requiring competitors to complete laps 1.5-2.5 miles long as many times as possible in a given amount of time.  Courses are about the width of a lane of traffic, mostly on grass, through fields and forests, and require riders to dismount over small obstacles, sand, or logs.  It is extremely spectator friendly, as crowds can line the course around fun obstacles to cheer or jeer riders as they pass.

The event will take place October 27, 2013 from 9:00am–2:00pm with races starting at 10:00am.  Beginners race for 40 minutes starting at 10am, Experts for 50 minutes at 11:00am, Women and Juniors at 12:15, and an Open Race for all classes will be held at 1:20.  Prizes will be awarded to top finishers in each class and due to the proximity to Halloween there will be a best-costume prize as well.

For additional information on the Bushwhacker CX, please visit www.bushwhacker.com/ or call Brad 309.692.4812.

Bushwacker CX Facebook Event Page

94 views

Main Street Makes A Statement

There was a buzz on the bluff last night. A public forum was held at Bradley University’s Westlake Hall regarding the proposal of making the intersection of Main and University streets in Peoria more pedestrian friendly. It seems there has been a push in the recent months of making things more walkable, bikeable, and more equitable for people who are moving around town sans auto.

westlake

What spurred this conversation is more of a happy accident than a true, dedicated effort to make things better for pedestrians [Water Main Break]. Either way, take what you can get. It was a full house of concerned neighbors, business owners, and people who are tired of Peoria being stuck in the proverbial four-wheeled rut. Local officials, engineers, and public administrators filled in the rest of the crowd.

Crowd

It became clear from the start, that the public’s input was not only appreciated but much-needed. The intersection today is pretty dangerous, and almost completely favors the car as you can see on the Google map view.

main-university

Just looking at the curbs, they are rounded, which if you think about it, makes it quicker and easier for you to make a turn. The faster you do that, the faster you can hit someone on foot or on bike. The sidewalks are compromised, and there are no bike lanes to speak of. When thinking of how to “fix” this intersection, the best way is to bring everyone into the room and see how they actually use this space.

To better conceptualize the intersection for people, there were 3 options of proposed options. Making things difficult is that these three options are all different in their concepts and thus, you force people to love it or hate it (see roundabout discussion).

Option 1

Option 2

Option 3

To me, this meeting was a breath of fresh air. Mike Rogers, the new Public Works Director and new to town, brought up old plans like the Heart of Peoria Plan and even the Walkable West Bluff Campaign. By old, we’re talking 10 years ago, but still are extremely relevant to last night’s conversation These efforts were to create a vibrant atmosphere that encouraged walkability, bikeability, and to induce neighborhood regeneration by reducing auto-dependency and increased human interaction.

Mike

Over the past 2 years, the revival happening  on Main Street cannot go unnoticed. It has seen a revival, in part, due to adding on-street parking which as traffic school teaches us, actually slows down traffic and gives businesses parking for its patrons. We’re so trained at wanting to go fast and breeze through wherever we are driving to or through, that we don’t want anything to get in the way. As a whole, what high-speed traffic had done to Main Street, and Peoria in general, was remove the desire for anyone to get out of their car.

As one commentor put it:

We want Main Street to be a destination that people come to and spend time, enjoy it – not just drive through it.

Which is very true. Somewhere in our history, 50 or 60 years ago, we stopped creating places people want to go and spend time at. We have built our streets and buildings to be high capacity, high speed ways to get people in and out – usually at the lowest cost. This oldie, but goodie TEDTalk by James Kunstler spells this out very clearly.

Main Street has that ability to be a place that people care about. They already do judging by the turnout last night. People showed up literally and figuratively to say so. The comments made were awesome. Even without a roundabout pamphlet professing safety, we know we want things to be safe. When we show them images with people, trees, flowers and texture they get excited. Show them a car sewer and the mood goes down.

Let’s make not only this intersection great for people, but the entire street and the neighborhoods that they serve. It’s easy and what it takes is to put cars in their place. Pedestrians, bikers, buses, delivery trucks, then cars. I will guarantee you that this area will continue to revitalize and that there will be more and more activity in this part of town. It will set the precedent for other areas around town that are going to have the same conversation. Within a short amount of time, Peoria can rebuild around its people, not their cars.

For more coverage on last night’s meeting view the links below:

Peoria Journal Star

WMBD 31

WCBU 89.9

WEEK/WHOI

Thank you to everyone who came out and shared their thoughts!

111 views

The Chain Link: Streetsblog

streetsblog.net

You can’t be pro-biking and pro-city without checking out Streetsblog. Streetsblog is a daily news source connecting people to information about sustainable transportation and livable communities.

Since 2006, Streetsblog has covered the movement to transform our cities by reducing dependence on private automobiles and improving conditions for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders. Our reporters have broken important stories about transit funding, pedestrian safety, and bicycle policy from day one. And our writing makes arcane topics like parking prices and induced traffic accessible to a broad audience.

Oh, and you can find Bike Peoria on the network of blogs.

 

39 views

People Like Us

PBCSo you want to take your cycling to the next level? Well there’s a club for that. Have you heard of the Peoria Bicycle Club?

Peoria Bicycle Club is set up for the cyclist in the Peoria area to meet other competitive cyclist and be part of a local team recognized by USA cycling association. Our club includes cyclist male and female, and juniors from all category ranges. Our team focus’s on training for racing, with lots of resource’s available like a world class indoor training facility and USA cycling certified coach. Anyone interested in taking up their cycling fitness up a notch, this is the club for you.

Ride over and see the PCB at PeoriaBicycleClub.com

27 views

Bikes Around Town

I always see this one parked behind Simantel in downtown Peoria. Just wanted to say thank you for riding to work and totally dig your bike!

Simantel

88 views

Product Spotlight: Russell’s Cycle & Fitness

RussellsLogoWebRussell’s Cycling & Fitness was established with the aim of promoting a fun and healthy lifestyle through cycling. The mission was to create a welcoming environment where our customers are viewed as close friends.

In August of 1977, Russell’s Cycle World Incorporated was established in Washington, Illinois. It was started in Everett Russell’s garage by his son, Joe Russell. In 1980 the business moved into the building at 308 North Main in Washington and remained there until November of 1994 when it moved for the second time into its present location at #10 Valley Forge Plaza. It now occupies what was the Valley Forge Cinema. This is the most recent, but far from the last chapter in our history.

The bicycle and fitness industries have changed enormously since we began. That usually means a business has to change also. We will never forget how we began. Russell’s Cycle and Fitness began with a passion for bikes, and has grown to a passion for fitness and the outdoors. We never could have come this far without customers who share those same desires. No matter what changes, that fact will always remain the same.

Since our beginning we have seen many exciting changes both in the industry as well as within our own store. Over the years we have occupied three different locations, and in 2007 we proudly became a Giant Retail Partner, but we haven’t forgotten our core beliefs:

HELP OUR CUSTOMERS LEAD BETTER, HEALTHIER LIVES AND TREAT THEM AS OUR FRIENDS.

As we continue our journey to provide you, our customer, the best options for your cycling and fitness needs our passion for cycling, fitness, and the outdoors has only grown deeper. Just like our relationships with you, our customers. Without your loyal support we would not be here today. Thank you for sharing in our dream! This is far from the last chapter in our history and we truly hope you will join us on the ride!

Thank you again! See you on the road!

Joe & Cheryl Russell

Visit Russell’s today online at russellsfitness.com or stop by the store at:

Russell’s Cycling & Fitness Center in Washington, IL
10 Valley Forge Plaza
Washington, IL 61571
Get Directions | Email

309.444.2098
Hours: M & F 9-8, T-Th 9-6, Sat 9-4, Closed Sun
140 views

Kickapoo Fat Tire Festival

The Kickapoo Fat Tire Festival is coming up on August 24-25th. If you haven’t ever taken part in it, or don’t know what it is, the festival is put on by the Kickapoo Mountain Bike Club and is a weekend of fun at the beautiful Kickapoo State Park. There is riding fun for all skill levels.

KMBCFTF

The Kickapoo Super D will take place on Saturday, August 24. For this event we will have race day registration only ($10, open 9:00 am – 11:00 am), so come early!
The race starts at 12:00 pm. We will offer an open class with cash payout.

The Kickapoo XC will take place on Sunday, August 25. We highly recommend that you save $5 by pre-registering. Simply head over to our registration page to register online, or to find our printable form.

  • Race day registration will open at 8:00 am: $35
  • Pre-registration saves you $5! Get your $30 spot by going to our registration page
  • The Novice race at 10:00 am
  • Fatbikes (>3in tires) at 10:05 am
  • Men’s Sport and Men’s Expert at 12:00 pm with a staggered start.
  • All women’s categories will begin at 12:10 am.
  • A free kid’s race, which will take place on the kid’s loop, will begin at 11:30 am.

Each class will race the following:

  • Fatbike: 1 lap
  • Novice: 1 lap
  • Sport: 2 laps
  • Expert: 3 laps

I highly suggest that you go check it out even if you don’t want to ride. For more information visit the event website here.

89 views

Why I Ride

Erik Bike

Post by: Erik Reader, President, Reader Area Development

I have been waiting for the right time to drop my own post on the Bike Peoria site for a while. It’s not that I haven’t had the words, I just haven’t had the time. But isn’t that the age old excuse. For those of you who are unfamiliar, I usually do my blogging over at Reader Area Development dot com. Sure, that’s some shameless self-promotion for myself, but what the hell, I’m an administrator on this site as well.

Like most, I grew up riding my bike around the neighborhood after school just to be outside playing. That evolved into riding to school, downtown, to baseball practice, a friend’s house, or wherever my legs could motor me. Somewhere around that pivotal age of 15-16 it became clear that it wasn’t cool to ride a bike. As we all know, the most exciting thing for every high-schooler is getting their driver’s license.

I remember my parents telling me that I would have to get a job in order to afford a car. So at the ripe old age of 14 I got my first real job – at McDonald’s. Yep… first you have to be humbled before you can be cool apparently. Needless to say, I saved up enough to buy a 1990 Chevy Beretta. How I kept the ladies at bay was a mystery, it just naturally happened.

At a time with $0.88/gallon gasoline (1998), I made my way to the bowling alley, movie theater, cross town to friends houses, to school and a few side trips my parents don’t need to know about. That was all fine and dandy, but I still had to work here and there to afford my new-found responsibility. With no other obligations to my name, this wasn’t a huge drag, but the real sticker shock would occur in the 15 years since.

The cost itself wasn’t just in the form of driving from A to B, it was everything else it represented. Gas, car insurance, maintenance, the occasional ding or scratch, countless hours staring through a pane of glass, and the hours working a job I hated to afford it all. I grew up outside of Chicago in the far western suburbs and that meant LOTS of driving. Want to go to a baseball game? Drive. Need a job? Drive across the ‘burbs. Thinking about visiting friends? More driving…. you get the picture.

In college, I had an opportunity to study abroad in the Netherlands. Leeuwarden, a northerly city of 90,000 people exposed me to a different culture that has taken years to decipher what I really learned. The Dutch are widely regarded for their over-the-top biking culture. I didn’t really “get it” until my semester abroad started.

Amsterdam

We were told that we would probably want to rent a bike. The few Americans in the group looked at each other like it was a joke or something. Even me, I hadn’t ridden anywhere on a regular basis for several years didn’t understand it. We have cars … duh?  All kidding aside, they were serious. The best way to get around town is by bike. The town, which is hundreds of years old, is perfectly laid out for it. No bike? Well, walking is just as easy. Riding to the bar as a 21-year-old was probably the most freeing feeling you could imagine. You mean I can go do something stupid and follow it up with something responsible afterward? No shit…

Unless you’ve been, I have a real hard time of putting it into words and trying to explain it. That’s the reason why downtown Leeuwarden remains as my website header. To serve as a reminder that this other place exists.

Leeuwarden

After my tour abroad ended, it was back to Geneva, where that quaint, charming downtown existed but the biking culture didn’t. I was dying to bring back what I thought to be a slice of heaven back with me.  No one else felt the same. My excitement to ride faded as my jobs would take me here, there, and everywhere by car. It got to the point where I was filling up for gas twice a week. It became a repetitive and vicious cycle. I’d seen my Dad fall into it, and I knew it was killing him too. Spending hours in a car everyday isn’t healthy for you. That’s a no-brainer. So why do we get stuck in the proverbial rut?

We somehow accept this as our reality. We know in order to find work, we must drive. In order to find food, we must drive. In order to live, we must drive. After a year of life on the road, my then girlfriend, now wife, Danielle and I moved to Dallas, Texas. A change of scenery was interesting, and it provided the initial stimulation we needed. But something still seemed off. Gone were the Main Street’s and downtown’s of Illinois I was used too. Everything is bigger in Texas, even their big-box stores which dominated the landscape. Six-lane residential thoroughfares were the norm. Big hair. Big trucks. Big stereotypes. We enjoyed our stay, but after 5 years it was high time to head out.

Before we did, I came across a little biking movement that was taking over a south Dallas neighborhood. The Oak Cliff neighborhood was quickly becoming the “bike part of town.” I was curious, as I hadn’t heard of such a thing. Bike Friendly Oak Cliff, was one of those things that I needed to see at just the right time. “Ok, so there are people who have thought the same thing as me and feel the same way…” This wasn’t about racing, an extreme off-road excursion or loading up the bike for leisurely stroll at a park. This was about riding your bike for day-to-day things. I get that.

When we left Dallas for Peoria, I decided I’d like to take a slice of what I thought was a great citizen-led movement with me. We moved to Pekin, which admittedly, isn’t the biking capital of the world. I would talk about the Dutch, Dallas, and what I thought could be a bike movement in Central Illinois. The only thing more out of the ordinary than seeing someone without a DUI riding their bike in Pekin, is someone talking about “Bike Friendliness.”

Behind Bars

Back to the subject of stereotypes. The same freedom, liberation, and mobility I felt in Leeuwarden could and should be applied in Pekin, Peoria, or anywhere for that matter. Why is it that people think you must have done something wrong to be riding a bike in broad daylight wearing anything but lycra? To be fair, there are a good amount of those riding with some legal troubles, yes, but that’s why it is imperative for low-income, low-educated towns like Pekin to adopt a new transportation strategy. One that is equitable for all of its citizens. And for those who don’t want to hear my previous statement, I’m sorry, the 2010 Census blew your cover [DATA].

Whether you’re young or old, need affordable transportation, wanting to stay fit, or wanting to exercise your right not to drive, you should have that opportunity. So that is why, when a fate meeting with some other like-minded individuals early this spring brought us to the table looking to create a “biking movement” I jumped at the chance.

Erik & Danielle

My ride last night finally knocked loose what I was looking to write. I ride as much as I can right now. I wish it could be more, but you know, I have to drive to Peoria for a job. I am in meetings on opposite sides of town. I am renovating a house after all of that and need to carry random odds and ends around. I have seen more people out there who are curious. Those are the people who will help shape the future of Peoria. Having only lived here for two and a half years, I see an area that is dying for a breath of fresh air. We, as everyday, ordinary people can give that to the area we call home – one bike ride at a time.

For more of Erik’s musings, check out his blog at readerareadevelopment.com, follow him on Twitter @RADincorporated and Like ReaderAreaDevelopment on Facebook.

Want to be featured in Bike Peoria’s Why I Ride section? Email us at bikepeoria@gmail.com

 

92 views

The Chain Link: The League Of American Bicyclists

Under links we like, we have to start with the one that has been working the hardest to make biking in American cities a reality – The League of American Bicyclists

The League of American Bicyclists

Amongst all of the things they do, the League promotes bike-friendly communities across America. What is that exactly?

Bicycle Friendly Communities

Bicycling is more than a practical, cost-effective solution to many municipal challenges. It’s an opportunity to make your community a vibrant destination for residents and visitors — a place where people don’t just live and work, but thrive.

For more information, please check out The League of American Bicyclist website here.

9 views

People Like Us

PambaWe are always trying to find like-minded people or groups who are out doing great things in the area. One group is PAMBA, the Peoria Area Mountain Biking Association.

You may not have a street riding side to you, but deep down you are a rugged trail rider at heart. That’s cool, we get it. If you don’t know about PAMBA, here’s what they’re all about:

The mission of the Peoria Area Mountain Bike Association (PAMBA) is to promote off-road bicycling through education, trail creation, trail maintenance, and social events.

PAMBA was formed in April of 2000 in order to promote and protect some of the best off-road cycling areas in the Midwest and to promote the sport of mountain biking throughout the Peoria area.

Ride over to their site today PAMBAMTB.org and find out more!

13 views
City Hall

Bikes Around Town

Guess where?

City Hall

Have you spotted any bikes or bikers around town? Send us some pics of bikes around town to bikepeoria [at] gmail [dot] com

44 views