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Bus riders account for more than 20 percent of people using Lake Shore Drive every day while taking up a fraction of the space that cars do.

PoCampo founder Maria Boustead on bikes and bags

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Since its launch in 2009, Po Campo has been a friend and partner of Active Trans.

We’ve worked together at MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive and on other events. Plus, Active Trans members have the exclusive perk of 15 percent off all Po Campo merchandise.

Most recently, a PoCampo bag was a part of the silent auction at the Active Trans 2014 Awards Reception.

Founded by Maria Bousted (pictured) when she couldn’t find an attachable bag she could take from her bike right to the office, Po Campo has become a source for stylish and functional bike panniers and accessories.

We sat down with Boustead to talk about the successes and challenges of being a bike-friendly business and what inspires her work. 

Your website lists “Getting more people on bikes” as one of your goals. You’re an avid cyclist, but as a business owner, why is that important?

I find biking in Chicago to be so fun, liberating, relaxing, and just a great way to experience the city.

Obviously, not every ride is wonderful, but overall it's a real joy that I'd like more people to experience. I'm proud of Po Campo for designing products that crossover between being on a bike and your life off the bike, because that versatility helps people see how easy it is to integrate biking into their lifestyle.

For example, several customers have told me that they didn't know how they'd manage biking to work before they got their Po Campo bag, and sentiments like that make it feel like we're on the right track and accomplishing our goal of getting more people on bikes.

What current trend do you see influencing biking in the city?

I see a general trend towards creating products for a more active lifestyle, such as apparel designed with technical fabrics that allow for more movement as you move through your day.

While this trend isn't specifically bike-friendly, it does make it easier to integrate biking into your life because it reduces the number of times you say I can't bike today because I want to wear this.

How would Chicago benefit from a significant increase in cycling? What’s the biggest challenge that keeps us from getting there?

There's the snowball effect with bicycling, in that more people biking encourages more people to bike. The increase in people cycling makes car drivers more aware of their presence, so people do a better job of sharing the road.

The city becomes healthier because there is less pollution and more people are getting exercise. Also, streets full of bikes are a lot more pleasant than streets full of cars. What's not to love?

I moved to Chicago in 2001 and biking on the city streets in 2014 feels completely different. There are so many more people biking and more types of people biking (not just the spandex and bike messenger types), there are protected bike lanes, and Divvy…it's pretty amazing!

I congratulate Active Trans and CDOT for doing a great job in making Chicago such a great city for biking.

That said, I guess I'd say the top challenge is overcoming the common sentiment that bike infrastructure is a waste of public dollars and only benefitting the few.

With Chicago’s recent bike infrastructure improvements, have you noticed more women riding bikes?

Absolutely, and I think that we'll continue to see more and more women biking.

The oft-quoted Susan B. Anthony quote is kind of a grandiose statement yet really rings true: [Bicycling] has done more emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance.

After going global with a Divvy-ready bag that fits bike-share systems in over a dozen cities worldwide, what’s next for PoCampo?

My background is industrial design, so coming up with new products is not a problem for me!

We've got a bunch of new things coming down the pike, some simple line extensions, and some brand new products.

Right now, I'm most excited about exploring ideas in the wearable tech space and thinking about how our products could help people actively navigate their cities and become comfortable and confident in their surroundings.

Po Campo is just one of 50 plus businesses who offer perks and discounts to our members. Join today or renew to enjoy these and other benefits.

This blog post was written by Vitaliy Vladimirov, who recently served as an Active Trans membership intern. 

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