07 March 2008

Cartographic inaccuracies!

Nuts, here I've spent the past three or so years gushing about the Chicago Bike Map and leaving unsolicited copies on uncounted coffee tables (what? no, I'm not a bicycling "evangelist," where did you get that idea?), when all of a sudden a comment in Hyde Park Progress alerts me to the fact that it might not be nearly as accurate as it is precise:

"As a tangent, there's a sign pointing cyclists up the wrong way on Hyde Park at this intersection with 57th. Does this make sense to anyone at all?"

It's a discussion on the super-intersection of 57th St., Stony Island Ave., and Lake Park Ave., so I'm pretty sure he means Lake Park. Besides, it's 57th Drive, not 57th Street, that intersects South Hyde Park Boulevard. (And don't get me started on South Hyde Park and East Hyde Park Boulevards. There are various boneheaded historical reasons why Chicago's lovely grid system all but explodes in this neighborhood.)

Anyway, 57th is one-way eastbound under the Illinois Central viaduct between Lake Park and Stony Island, while Lake Park is one-way southbound between 56th and 57th, smooshed between the railroad embankment and an alley that everyone uses as a sidewalk when it's not underwater. (I can only guess that the urban planners who designed this were extremely hungover at the time, because it doesn't make any sense otherwise.) This stretch of Lake Park is not one where a bicyclist would be wise to flout the law and go the wrong way because aside from the fact that it's illegal and annoys the hell out of everyone, this street is very narrow and gets a fairly steady stream of traffic. If there is indeed a bike route sign at 57th directing cyclists north, I can't say I've ever noticed it; I learned the hard way never to try going against traffic there long before those signs went up.

But let's take a look at the bike map:

Hmm. I'm very disappointed.
*The off-street path along 57th St., Cornell, and 57th Dr. to the underpass at 57th to the lakefront is unmarked.
*Lake Park Ave. is not marked as a one-way street between 56th and 57th, as unidirectional bike routes are supposed to be. Eep!
*The bike shop symbols are in the wrong places. One apparently failed to migrate to its new location, and one is duplicated at both the old and new locations. And yet Tati was faithfully added at 55th and Hyde Park Blvd. How puzzling.
*There is no indication whatsoever of just how awesome Tati is. I haven't been there myself yet, but I've heard it on good authority from everyone who is downright flabbergasted that I haven't been to Tati yet that it is, in fact, completely awesome. (If it makes you feel any better, I haven't been to Hyde Park Produce yet, either. I blame, among other things, the fact that my natural circadian rhythm is notoriously backwards.)

Anyway, if you're wide awake and in Hyde Park when Tati is open, you should stop by, say hi, and ask if "TATI" is actually an acronym. (I'm an editor; I fret about such things.) And if you think about it, ask if he has any of those big rubber bands that keep the spokes from poking the inner tube, and then let me know what the highly technical name for that is so I don't feel like a total idiot when I finally get my clueless bum over there. First impressions last, and I'm kind of afraid the guys at the other two non-Blackstone bike shops in Hyde Park might still recognize me. *hides*


At 07 March, 2008 13:41, Blogger Eric Allix Rogers said...

I really hope they make 57th a two-way there. It would un-fuck-up that whole area. After a quarter spent living at 57th and Stony, I now go out of my way to avoid biking through there. And if I'm riding in a car giving directions, as happens occasionally, I can never remember what to do around there, so I always make people drive way around it.

They should at least stick some arrows on that map, though. Sheesh.

I have also not been to Tati. Or Blackstone. I may think about hiring one of them relatively soon to remove all the gunk from my gears and chain, and replace it with White Lightning of some sort. That stuff looks really cool, if you ignore the fact that their website has sound.

At 07 March, 2008 13:43, Blogger Dingbat said...

Tati is as wonderful as you've heard, though, perhaps, different. It's named after Jacques Tati, French moviemaker. But the shop's sign and, if you will, logo, is in all caps, and people seem to like it that way.

The stuff that goes twixt rim and tube is rim tape: I've had better luck with cloth tape than rubbery ones; you may, too. Tati will have some, but he's closed thist

At 07 March, 2008 13:59, Blogger David Johnsen said...

You should e-mail Dennis McClendon at Chicago CartoGraphics with any map corrections. His company does the city bike map, the CBF map, and the CTA map, among others.

To cover the spoke ends on your wheels, you're talking about rim tape. Better wheels use tape, but often cheaper wheels use a big rubberband.

At 07 March, 2008 14:13, Blogger David Johnsen said...

TATI is not an acronym. Go here and click "Readme" at the top of the page. Then go to Google for more.

At 07 March, 2008 14:50, Blogger J/tati said...

Hi Jennifer,

The shop is closed for a few more days, but... I can leave a roll or two at the bottom of the staircase for you if you tell me what type of rim it's for. Dingbat refers to the French Velox cotton tape, which is the de facto standard in high quality stuff. David links to the German Schwalbe tape, which is also very good, and blue, and plastic. I stock both. But I think you will enjoy the tactile benefits of the Velox a bit more. One day I can tell you about the history of Velox, which is all wrapped up with protectionist economic policies of French cotton farmers...

Oh, and since I am not an editor, TATI is not an acronym. It is in caps for no other reason than Tati just doesn't look as good. Sorry!


At 07 March, 2008 14:57, Blogger Jennifer said...

EAR: Beware; I've heard conflicting reports about wax lube. More specifically, someone at Village Cycle Center sold me some while extolling its virtues, and then about half a year later someone else at Village Cycle Center took one look at my chain, saw me holding a new bottle of White Lightning wax lube that I had intended to purchase, and then cried "What the heck are you doing?!?!" I was sold instead the stuff I have now (what is it again?), which smells awful and drips everywhere but seems otherwise much better than the wax lube. I have since received no chiding comments about how I treat my chain, so I figure I must be doing it right these days. Anyway, the moral is, be sure you ask how to use anything before you buy it.

DB and DJ: That makes sense; I have a cheap bike made from cheap parts. Alas! Now I feel like I'm not cool enough to go anywhere near Tati and Avenger should just slink back whence it came. Oh, not again...

At 07 March, 2008 15:05, Blogger J/tati said...

Just a warning on white lightning (and really all "dry" chain lubes) -- the stuff will work fine in Chicago summers, but not so much in the winter due to the cold. The wax tends to harden and chip off immediate in low temperatures. Considering how much more expensive it is than wet lubes... tough to recommend.

However, if you like the idea of a waxed chain, this is actually an old fashioned method of winter/all season drivetrain lubrication. It's messy and time consuming, but delivers stunning results. You can DIY or have a shop do it. I gave a clinic on the subject last summer and will probably repeat the class a couple of times this year due to the response.

By the way, to kind of link the lube topic back to your "green bike" topic, TATI will be dropping pre-packaged bicycle-related chemicals (lubes, greases, polishes, degreasers, cleaners) and opting for bulk dispensing instead, so you can either (a) bring in your old bottles for a refill or (b) better yet, use a cool glass apothecary jar... the degreaser and chain lube also happen to be 100% biodegradable.

And Jennifer, if you saw the bike I actually ride around Hyde Park, you wouldn't think Avenger unworthy. (I literally found it in metal scrap heap on 60th) Don't be tricked by the website. The shop really isn't swanky in the slightest.

At 07 March, 2008 18:27, Blogger Eric Allix Rogers said...

Ooh, thanks for the advice! I kind of wondered how it would perform in winter. I should probably just leave well enough alone, and deal with occasional grease smudges on my pants.


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