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Bike Parking Respect in Chicago: McDonald’s Cycle Center

Chicago's Millennium Park hosts of one of the most incredible amenities for cyclists in the United States: McDonald's Cycle Center. So sit back and take a most excellent tour with Bike And Roll's Josh Squire, who manages the facility through an agreement with the city.

It's enough to make bike commuters in many cities drool. The center boasts state-of-the-art showering facilities, secure bicycle parking for 300, a repair station, towel service, is temperature-controlled, and features the constant presence of the Chicago Lakefront Police bike patrol, which shares the facility and maintains its bikes on site. The station is extremely popular, with 500 members at a time and a waiting list of eager riders ready to join. But even if you aren't a member you can still take advantage of the free bike parking, and mechanics are on duty to repair anyone's bikes seven days a week.

If you'd like to read more, the wikipedia entry on it is very in-depth.

[music]
Josh Squire: [0:16] Welcome to McDonalds Cycle Center in Millennium Park in Chicago. My name is Josh. I'm with Bike and Roll, and we operate the facility on behalf of the City of Chicago. This facility offers a couple of different services. The primary service that it offers is bicycle parking to commuters, people who work in the area. And they bike to work on a regular basis. We have over 500 members. When they get here, they just park their bikes in a secure facility, and then they go ahead and take a shower and use the locker rooms and change and go to work.
Brian Steele: [0:49] As the city was constructing Millennium Park, Mayor Daley saw the opportunity to incorporate a bike parking facility in that park. We knew that it would be heavily trafficked because it sits on the lakefront. It sees a lot of recreational as well as commuter traffic. So, the station was built in the northwest corner of Millennium Park at a cost of 3.1 million dollars, and since its opening in July of 2005, it's really proven extremely popular.
Josh Squire: [1:13] Come on inside. Let me show you and give you a tour. So, check this out. We actually have solar panels powering this facility. You can see it up here, the entire atrium here. And we also have these really cool, double tier racks, and they're really easy to use. They just roll out like this, and it catches the bike. And anybody could pretty much put in on there and take it off, and it just kind of catches in right over there. Then, once it's hooked up, pick it up and push it in, and you're good to go.

A lot of people coming in during the same hours, which are pretty much 7:30 to 8:30 or 9:00 before they go to work. So, you've going to have congestion in the shower. So, the more showers you put in the facility, the better.

Sarina Mitchell: [2:02] I love the shower facilities inside of the commuter station. I get to come to work, all sweaty, commute myself and I'm able to use the shower facilities. They're state of the art, all automatic flushers, automatic sinks, everything's really nice.
Josh Squire: [2:17] This is our repair shop here at the cycle center, and it's great because when you're at work, we tune up your bike. We clean it up, and then when you come back at the end of your day it's all ready to go and it's riding fine. So, it's awesome. People love the service. We also do emergency repairs for people just going up and down the lake front. We're open seven days a week. We actually share the facility with the CPD lake front bike patrol, and the Chicago police actually maintains their bikes here as well. The relationship is great. They support it. They capital investment in the facility. And they maintain here about 400 bicycles.
Kim Griesel: [2:54] The cops are pretty cool guys, when we actually get to talk to them. They're really friendly with everyone they see around, and I think it's kind of cool that they're more personable. We're around them. They're around us.
Speaker: [3:05] I get a shower, a full time locker. We've got mechanics here. We've got the police with their station here. Nobody bothers your bike, indoor parking. I ride all year round, even in the winter. I can't say enough good things about it, and the people on top of it that work here are really great.
Josh Squire: [3:19] This is a certain section of the facility that offers free parking. So, if you're a member, you get to park upstairs in the premium spot. But, if you're not a member and you want to park, you can park for free downstairs right over here.
Speaker: [3:34] This is awesome. This is the only reason I did this, actually, because I don't think our building has a place to put a bike.
Speaker: [3:41] I think it's the best thing in Chicago. It's saving my life in terms of just getting here in a positive attitude, hit the work, ready to go. I love it.
Josh Squire: [3:49] It's really the concept of like a club. You not only commute to work but also to bike pool to work, and to meet great people and have fun while doing it. Other services we offer here are bicycle rentals and tours. And that's where Bike and Roll comes into play. We offer some great, really exciting tours, guided tours on bikes and Segways. Now we also have bike rentals. We offer over 500 bikes in our fleet.

Thanks for visiting us. You're always welcome here. If you have a chance to come to Chicago again, then we want to take you on a bike ride, OK?



Clarence Eckerson, Jr. has been making fantastical transportation media in NYC since the late 1990s. He's never had a driver's license and never will.

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  • Pat

    Clarence,

    What a nice film. It was a pleasure meeting you on your visit to Chicago. What with gas prices on the rise and the weather finally breaking, the bike station is busier than ever. If I didn't have an "in" with the my friends in the repair shop, I'd be parking in the basement!

    - Pat

  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/npGREENWAY Scott Mizée

    wow... what a fantastic facility. that sounds like everything a bike station facility SHOULD be. I love the fact that it has free parking as well as the paid parking. ...the showers and repair shop--excellent. ...and that the police operate out of there? what a great idea to naturally increase the security of the place!

  • http://www.galfromdownunder.com Galfromdownunder

    Cool Clarence! Kathy Schubert of the the Chicago Cycling Club gave me a tour a couple of years ago. I remember it even had a special bike shop just for black and white bikes with flashing sirens (yep, guess who).
    If you want to see the Downunder equivalent, here's my video of the Brisbane Bicycle Cycle2City facility:
    http://www.galfromdownunder.com/movies/cycle2city
    And how did I get there?
    By sleepertrain and folding Bike Friday (like yours) of course:
    http://www.galfromdownunder.com/movies/sleepertrain

  • http://www.vsgoliath.com David Gartner

    Incorporating a police station into a bike facility...brilliant. Also, I can only hope that the next Mayor of San Francisco has as much vision and chutzpah as Chicago's Mayor Daley.

  • http://www.lhtrider.com LHT Rider

    The McDonald’s Cycle Center is another great resource to the Chicago bicycling community. Chicago has got to be one of the greatest cycling cities. I'm proud to call the Chicago area home and love riding on the lakefront as well as the many other bicycle trails available through out Chicagoland.

  • Christopher Stephens

    When can we get one in New York? Soon? Pretty please?

  • http://candiedcartel.com Mekuh

    When I move from Chicago the bike culture finally begins picking up, life sucks!

  • dave the caveman

    sweet home chicago

  • http://www.bike-locks.com/ bike locks

    It's a fantastic facility, the culture surrounding it is great. I've never heard anyone complain about it, and don't plan on it either.

  • j

    Is it self supporting, or are taxpayers footing the bill? If it can pay for itself than rock on. If not...

  • Anna

    It is a wonderful facility, but it is horribly inconvenient for most commuters. It is suitable only for tourists looking to rent a bike, or perhaps for commuters arriving from points directly north or south (via the Lake Front bike path). But anyone else in the city must ride across the entire Chicago Loop to get to the bike station. This is probably the most hazardous ride in the city during rush hour. A bike lane suddenly appears east of Michigan Ave for the last block to the Station, but every time I have gone there, the lane is blocked with tour buses. I've even seen police cars blocking the bike lane.

  • Oceaneyes87

    It's really too bad that bike and roll is owned by such a piece of shit (the bald asshole, Josh). He is rude to anyone who's ass he is not trying to kiss. This includes his employees, and customers (at times). He also likes to try and hit on all the little Miami ladies (who aren't his wife) that try and rent bikes. I hope she reads this, because it's true. Don't give him your business, he doesn't deserve it.