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Commuter profile: Karin Evans
Active Trans member Karin Evans has been biking to work in Chicago's Western Suburbs for nearly five years. She loves using Metra and riding the Illinois Prairie Path as part of her commute. As we approach Bike to Work Week (June 8-14), we wanted to share some of Evans' advice for would-be commuters.
What’s your commute like?
I live in Oak Park and teach at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn. I can get to my office in an hour. I take a train from Oak Park to Glen Ellyn, and then ride a few miles to campus. In the afternoon, usually I ride 12 miles to Berkeley and catch the train there.
What’s your favorite part?
I love the Prairie Path through Villa Park. It’s a greenway with tall trees, and runs between small streets of sweet little houses.
Is boarding Metra difficult with a bike? Any special tips you might have for others thinking bringing a bike on Metra?
It was hard at first. I started with a heavy hybrid bike, and I am short. I had to get the hang of lifting my bike into the train vestibule.
Now I have a lighter touring bike with smaller wheels, and it’s much easier. I have never fallen or dropped the bike. If you can load your bike on an automobile and get it up and down stairs, you’ll be fine.
After entering the train car to the left, the main bike area is right inside, where the seats fold up. If people are seated there, smile and explain that’s where you are required to stow your bike. If that area is already full of bikes, there is a smaller area ahead on the left where the seats fold up the same way.
Bring a bungee cord. Set your bike against the folded seats and look for the bar underneath. Hook one end of your bungee around the bar and the other around your frame. If bikes are there already, carefully lay your bike against them and secure with your bungee. Keep pedals away from spokes.
I like to sit near my bike. Other riders may need to slide your bike out of their way, attach their bungee cord to your frame, etc. Be ready to lend a hand. Often riders compare notes on who’s getting off first and layer the bikes accordingly.
How do you get yourself motivated to commute on days you might feel less enthusiastic about it?
By getting ready the night before. If my pannier is packed and ready to go, and my bike clothes are laid out, my lame excuses are overwhelmed.
Does rain deter you? Any special tips for keeping dry and comfortable?
If it’s messy in the morning, that’s a deterrent because I don’t have anywhere to shower. It doesn’t matter if I get wet on the way home. I carry raingear with me all the time, and I don’t mind riding in the rain, but I do try to avoid riding in big storms, especially with high winds.
What do you look for in a good bike commuting route?
Keeping away from traffic. People looking down at their phones are the scariest drivers. I like the Prairie Path between Bellwood and Glen Ellyn. The drivers in those towns are accustomed to cyclists crossing their streets. I also like Madison Street between Harlem and 25th Avenue — it’s wide, recently paved and drivers are considerate.
What’s the most important piece of advice you would like to pass along to a would-be bike commuter?
Bike commuting is a whole mindset. Plan everything you can; be prepared ahead of time. Always pump up your tires the night before.
Sign up your workplace for the Bike Commuter Challenge during Bike to Work Week, June 8-14.
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