In an unique interview with The Maroon, Dean of the Faculty John Boyer discusses his love of biking and shares his favourite bike routes in Chicago.
Some know him as a Civilizations professor; others, as a researcher who has devoted years to the research of contemporary European historical past. Many know him because the Dean of the Faculty, a place he has held for 31 years. Maybe John Boyer’s most iconic position, nevertheless, is that of a bike owner.
In an unique interview with The Maroon, Boyer detailed how he started biking 70 years in the past, on the age of six. Boyer grew up within the South Facet of Chicago, and credit the terrain as one of many causes he fell in love with biking. “Chicago is a good metropolis for biking as a result of it’s flat,” he joked. “I assume after I got here to the College, the pure factor was to get a motorbike, and one other bike, and one other bike.”
Whereas Boyer’s childhood bike has since rusted, he at present has three bikes: a lightweight one for the summer season, a sturdier one for the winter, and one he retains in case of emergencies. Although Boyer doesn’t title his bikes, he does extol their reliability. “The most effective factor is to have a great, sturdy bike you can change quite than a motorbike that’s so costly that you understand it’s important to treasure it and preserve it without end,” he defined.
Day by day, Boyer rides his bike from his dwelling on 57th Avenue and Blackstone Avenue to his workplace in Harper Library, turning a 15-minute stroll right into a three-minute bike trip.
Biking additionally has different perks in addition to effectivity, in response to Boyer. “It’s a handy approach of getting round Hyde Park with out contributing to the noise air pollution and air air pollution. [Bike riding] additionally prices nothing when it comes to insurance coverage; you might want life insurance coverage, however not auto insurance coverage,” he stated.
Boyer highlighted the worth of biking over different types of transportation. “There are fascinating neighborhoods the place you possibly can really get to know the folks by being on a motorbike. It’s completely different than being in a automotive or a bus, the place you’re disconnected,” he defined.
Chicago’s climate within the wintertime may dissuade many cyclists, however not Boyer, who will bike in nearly any situations. “I at all times joke that wherever a CTA bus can go, I can go within the winter as a result of the CTA does a reasonably good job of clearing the area,” he stated. “So long as you possibly can see the pavement and you’ll really feel the crunch of the salt underneath your wheels, you’re in all probability okay.” The one situations wherein Boyer refuses to trip is when he sees black ice on the streets. “Black ice is a no-go. There are individuals who do it, however I don’t wish to find yourself in an orthopedic ward,” he stated.
Twice a yr, Boyer shares his love of biking with the larger UChicago neighborhood. Alongside political science professor Mark Hansen, Boyer leads a motorbike tour via numerous places round Chicago. He adopted the thought 20 years in the past from sociology professor Terry Clark, who took his graduate college students on an identical biking path. Chicago Research orchestrates the occasion, throughout which Hansen and Boyer take the group to the South Loop, via the College of Illinois Chicago’s campus, west to the Hull Home, and again via Bronzeville. Within the spring, the journey focuses on the South Facet, with the group biking right down to the Indiana border.
When trying to find locations to take college students throughout biking journeys, Boyer turns to his historian background. “[Chicago] is an enormous metropolis with a deep historical past. There are a number of fascinating locations to go, locations that you simply may not consider at first.”
One such place is the St. Michael the Archangel Roman Catholic Church, situated at East 83rd Avenue and South South Shore Drive. The church, which opened in 1909, exemplifies the Polish Cathedral type and has a wealthy historical past. “The individuals who constructed [the church] had been members of the Polish neighborhood. You may have a look at photos of the monumental church, however seeing it in particular person, you’ll go inside and see the aspirations of this neighborhood of individuals working in a metal mill who bought the cash to construct this nice church for the neighborhood,” Boyer detailed. “It’s a really highly effective factor to have college students expertise.”
However Boyer additionally underscored the good thing about biking with no set plan. “I oftentimes will likely be driving alongside and see one thing that instantly clicks in my thoughts, like ‘That’s a well-known constructing,’ or ‘That’s a well-known set of condominium buildings, or a well-known restaurant, or a well-known church or synagogue,’” he stated. “And there’s a sort of serendipity issue, as a result of as you’re driving alongside, you don’t know what’s simply over the horizon.”
For these seeking to discover South Facet neighborhoods through bike, Boyer recommends utilizing Hansen’s guide The Metropolis in a Backyard, which gives a historic information to Hyde Park and Kenwood.
When it comes to his most valued bike routes, Boyer awards the trip from his dwelling to his workplace as his best choice. Nonetheless, he acknowledged that rides on the Lakefront Path, particularly throughout sundown, maintain a particular place in his coronary heart. “I bear in mind the primary time I rode my bike right down to Museum Campus… I bear in mind it was within the fall and nightfall and the solar was simply setting. I used to be standing at Adler [Planetarium] and looking out on the lakefront, the great thing about the sunshine from the harbor and the magnificent skyscrapers within the setting solar. I nonetheless bear in mind pondering, ‘Wow, what a treasure it’s to dwell in a metropolis like this,’” Boyer shared. “I solely bought there as a result of I used to be driving my bike.”
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