Bike shop Wheel & Sprocket opens first Illinois location in downtown Evanston

Wisconsin-based bicycle store Wheel & Sprocket opened its first Illinois branch in downtown Evanston on Thursday.

Jia You/Daily Senior Staffer

Wisconsin-based bicycle store Wheel & Sprocket opened its first Illinois branch in downtown Evanston on Thursday.

Jia You, City Editor

Northwestern students and Evanston residents can now get their bikes fixed on their way downtown.

Wisconsin-based bicycle shop Wheel & Sprocket opened its first Illinois branch Wednesday, replacing the bike store Ten 27 Cycles, which closed in December.

Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and Ald. Donald Wilson (4th) attended the opening ceremony Wednesday afternoon at 1027 Davis St. The event attracted about 30 people.

“I think you made the right decision,” Tisdahl said to owner Chris Kegel before cutting the ribbon.

Kegel, a national cycling advocate who has met President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush, said he was “super pleased” with the new store and expects the shop to cater to a variety of customers, from enthusiasts to commuters and families.

“Biking is for everyone,” he said.

The shop was expanded to feature a fit studio for high-end bikes as well as a community repair station outside, said Chris Mailing, who owned Ten 27 Cycles and is now a manager at the new shop. It will also continue a collaboration plan with the NU Triathlon Club, offering a series of skill clinics to members and the general public starting next month.

Shortly after the opening ceremony, Jim Maiworm, the city’s streets and sanitation superintendent, presented the city’s plan to construct a protected bike lane on Davis Street in October. A similar project was implemented on Church Street last summer as part of a streetscape project aimed at improving bike access in the city.

Wilson said the bike shop fits into city initiatives to encourage bicycle riding, a process he described as “an evolution over time.”

“It’s great to have a new business in Evanston,” Wilson said. “If you need work done, if you need a bike, whatever, it’s convenient.”

The city plans to add another protected bike lane on Dodge Avenue as well, Wilson said.

“We want to make sure the kids at Evanston Township High School can ride safely to the lakefront,” he said.

These improvements all stem from a city-wide Bike Plan Implementation Project, a multi-departmental effort started in 2007 to help encourage bike riding in the city.

They also form part of the Evanston150 project, a community initiative to select ten big ideas to celebrate Evanston’s 150th anniversary this year, said Dan Mennemeyer, an Evanston150 committee member. Based on city-wide votes, the project committee has formed a Walk ‘N Roll Evanston subgroup to make the city more sustainable.

“For years, the biking in Evanston has been fragmented in different parts of town,” Mennemeyer said. “Connecting the whole town is still a challenge, and I think the city is doing a good job addressing that challenge.”

In October, five months after the Church Street bike lane was completed, Evanston received a “Bicycle Friendly Community” recognition from the League of American Bicyclists.

Kegel said city efforts to encourage cycling could help address a number of problems, such as congestion and pollution.

“It’s a simple solution to many complex issues,” he said.