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LGRAB Summer Games – Letter to Alderman Arena & a Summer Photo

August 9, 2011

Here is my second entry for the LGRAB Summer Games!  I can’t believe they are over already.

Challenge:  write a letter advocating for bicycling infrastructure (bike lanes, bike rack, etc) to your alderman/council representative, mayor, or a local business.

I am happy to report that my ward has recently made some great improvements to our bicycling infrastructure.  I wanted to thank our alderman and to encourage future projects so I wrote this letter:

Dear Alderman John Arena,

I wanted to personally thank you for the infrastructure improvements you have made in our ward to make our streets safer and more convenient for bicyclists and pedestrians.  The freshly painted and well marked bike lanes along Lawrence Avenue and the stop sign installed on Long Avenue have made a major difference in my travel experience. The sign slows traffic enough to allow for a safe and easy merge onto Lawrence—which before the sign was installed had been extremely difficult to do. I would also like to thank you for the many bike racks that have been installed outside Jefferson Park businesses, the library and the CTA station. It is wonderful to know that you share in Mayor Emanuel’s priority of making our streets safe and pleasant for all who use them. Any and all future improvements will be deeply appreciated!

As you continue in this noble work, please take the following possible improvements into consideration. As Milwaukee Avenue is already a major thoroughfare for cyclists, a marked lane and/or shared lane demarcations through our ward and leading southeast into the Six Corners intersection could be a major asset for safe travel. I know that sections of Milwaukee already contain bicycle markings, but it would be wonderful if these were complete and clearly marked for the full portion of Milwaukee that passes through our ward. Furthermore, you may wish to look into safer ways for bicyclists to pass through the Six Corners intersection. It is quite daunting currently. I am sure that Mayor Emanuel’s work on Kedzie Avenue could serve as inspiration. Also I encourage you get in touch with the proactive and innovative folks in the Active Transport Alliance if you aren’t already. They may already have a solution in mind.

It is evident that the bicycle infrastructure improvements are already making a difference in the lives of residents. As I travel through the neighborhood I have noticed more and more senior citizen riders and families with children. I am sure that as you continue to build up the infrastructure, more people who would normally be hesitant to ride will consider it a safe and convenient way to get around.   Bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure allow people to choose more  eco-friendly transportation options  for short trips around the neighborhood. This results in less cars on the streets leading to smoother traffic, less congestion and a more neighborly environment for everyone.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this letter and for all the hard work you have done and continue you to do. I am proud to be a Jefferson Park resident and to have an Alderman who serves his community’s needs so thoroughly.

 Please keep up the great work!

Challenge:  take a picture of something along your commute that says “summer” to you, and explain why:

Well since getting laid off I haven’t done much “commuting”  per say but I do travel by bike almost everywhere.  So here is a picture I took on my way home from my writing group.

I pass by the local Cub Scout pack’s  garden for the hungry nearly every time I go out in the world.   One of the greatest parts of summer for me is fresh vegetables from the garden! Passing by the children’s garden gives me a serious salad craving.

I am proud that our neighborhood’s children are so generous with their time and that they are learning a valuable skill.  I volunteer at another garden that donates food to people with serious illnesses so I know how wonderful it feels to get your hands in the dirt and watch the plants grow from seed to fruit.

Bonus Challenges:

Group Ride:   Here I am at July’s Critical Lass!

Perform a maintenance task on your bike:  With the help of a kind fellow cyclist named Fernando, I was able to reattach my chain, adjust my back breaks, true the rear wheel and adjust the fender which was rubbing against a wheel.   I was on my way to my writing group and as I passed through Logan Square I heard a large CRUNCH and suddenly my chain was loose.  I pulled over and was able to reattach it and adjust my wheel just fine thanks to the lessons I received from one of the wonderful ladies at the Women Who Bike Brunch (Thanks again!).

Photo credit, Dottie from Lets Go Ride A Bike

But when I did a test ride, something was dragging on the wheel.  I assumed it was the rear breaks so I detached my wheel, adjusted it and tried again. But it was still wrong!  Along came Fernando who after seeing me in distress pulled over and helped me.  He noticed that the fender and the rack was loose and that was what was dragging on the wheel.  He adjusted it and voila! I was rolling again!     I didn’t take a picture of that day but boy is burned upon my memory!

Thanks Dottie.  This was a blast.  I only wish it lasted longer so I could fit in a few more challenges.  I would love to try riding a bakfiets for example!

Enjoy the rest of summer everyone!  It’s not over yet!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 20, 2011 12:26 AM

    Hey, thanks for contacting Alderman Arena. I’m also in the 45th Ward and excited we now have a bike/pedestrian friendly alderman! My partner and I cornered him at a river clean-up event the weekend before he was sworn in, and talked lots of what we’d want to help make the ward more bike and walking friendly. Clearly though, your letter was a much more professional way to get the point across!

    • aprilwriter permalink*
      August 20, 2011 12:54 AM


      I wonder if you and your partner had any influence on the fresh bike lanes on Lawrence? If so, way to go! I too am glad that Alderman Arena is pro-bike and pedestrian. I haven’t heard back from him yet about the letter but I spoke to him briefly at Jeff Fest and he seemed pretty enthusiastic. I think we need to keep up the conversation with letters and talks to make sure these infrastructure issues stay on the table. What other points did you bring up when you cornered him and have you seen any progress on them? Thanks for stopping by the blog!


  1. LGRAB Summer Games: Players and Prizes, Pt. 1 » Let's Go Ride a Bike - life on two wheels: simple. stylish. fun.

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