(page 3 of 5)
Josh Deth, Bike advocate
The Young Activist
In 1997, Josh Deth joined a small crowd of bicyclists and anarchists who wanted to organize a regular Critical Mass-a parade to promote bicycling as a pleasant and pollution-free form of transportation. Almost a decade later, Deth, now 32, can usually be found leading the monthly event-even in subzero temperatures. An undeclared leader in Chicago’s growing cycling community, he co-owns The Handlebar, a Wicker Park bar and grill where bicyclists congregate. This group of die-hards has helped rally for bike lanes and create a tight-knit social network that eschews any reliance on cars. As a result, Chicago is the largest city-by far-to be designated “bicycle friendly” by the League of American Bicyclists. “Biking is an easy step you can take to change your life,” Deth says.
Noticing the three miles of unused railway that run east along Bloomingdale Avenue from Logan Square to Wicker Park, Deth is now working to convert the stretch into an elevated bike path and garden. More than 30 local organizations and civic officials have signed on, signaling Deth has come a long way from the early days with anarchists and other activists. “You jump to the end result,” he says. “Everyone agrees on the goal-which is to get people out of their cars and to ride all year long.”