Bicycle advocates Jane Healy, left, and Elizabeth Adamczyk speak to a crowd at GoodSpeed Cycles about cycling safety. (Nick Ulanowski/H-F Chronicle)
Education, Feature

Bicycle safety, community concern discussed at a GoodSpeed Happy Hour event

Bicycle advocates Jane Healy and Elizabeth Adamczyk spoke at GoodSpeed Bicycles to community cyclists Feb. 15 about bicycle safety, raising kids as cyclists and how parents can ride bicycles to school with their kids.

Angela Thomas, co-owner of Thomas’ Photogenic Services and the mother of a preschooler at Willow School, raised her concern about the lack of a crossing guard when her family bicycles to school.

Bicycle advocates Jane Healy, left, and Elizabeth Adamczyk spoke to a crowd about safety at GoodSpeed Cycles during Happy Hour event on Feb. 15. (Nick Ulanowski / H-F Chronicle)

The event was part of the weekly “Happy Hour” at GoodSpeed in Homewood. During the wintertime, cyclists socialize and network every Wednesday from 5 to 8 p.m. Beer and soft drinks are provided. 

Typically, Happy Hour has no speakers, but events director Steve Buchtel said he hoped this event could be the first step towards a “Bicycle School Bus” being organized in Homewood.

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“Someone at the school actively promotes the idea, biking to school,” Butchel said, explaining the idea of a Bicycle School Bus. “There are two or three defined routes to school. And riders just leave their home, ride that route, and wait for the ‘Bicycle School Bus’ to come by, which is just adults and kids riding their bikes. And they hop in as this Bicycle School Bus rolls by.”

Thomas told the speakers and the group about how her family bicycles to Willow School.

“We have to cross Riegel Road at Indian Trails Park every time and it is not safe. Cars don’t stop at the crosswalk,” Thomas said. “There’s no crossing guard. I know that the village police department is in charge of hiring the crossing guards, and I know a lot of parents have called to ask for it, and they still haven’t provided one.”

Thomas clarified that there’s a crossing guard by Willow, but they’re gone by the time the preschoolers start school 15 minutes after the rest of the students. Meaning, her family is riding to school when other parents are driving home.

“That’s a tough situation. Because you are like the salmon going up the stream with the water all flowing in the opposite direction,” said Healy, an Active Transportation Alliance board member and Chicago high school teacher, commenting on Thomas’ concern. “I would write a letter to the school board. And I would follow up by asking yourself to be put on the agenda for the next month.”

Adamczyk, a League of American Bicyclists certified League Cycling instructor, also spoke about teaching children how to ride a bike.

“Unlike with adults where one-on-one can be very helpful, with kids group settings are very effective,” Adamczyk said, adding that kids will imitate their peers as they learn. 

“I would also completely skip training wheels at all costs,” Adamczyk said, adding that learning to trust the bicycle is an important part of the early learning process.

Anne Colton’s daughter and sons are adults in their 20s, but she said she attended the event because she wanted to “be a part of the conversation and hear what people are talking about.”

“I think a lot of people think of [cycling] as just a way to go on a bike path and go on a little fun adventure for an afternoon. For us, it’s how we get around,” Colton said. “It’s really important that we work with the community to make sure we have safe bike lanes and safe ways of getting across the street. And that the infrastructure exists – whether it’s kids using it or adults.”

Colton is a candidate for the Homewood Board of Trustees in the April 4 election.

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