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City's Online Bike Community in Need of a Tune Up

By Patty Wetli | December 27, 2012 4:05pm

CHICAGO — The Chainlink, Chicago's online cycling community, admits it needs a tune up.

The website is raising money for a whole-scale revamp. Donations can net you some decent bike-related swag.

The highest-level contributor, at $2,500, claims a personal bike ride and lunch with Gabe Klein, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation. Imagine tooling around the city talking transit with Chicago's top road warrior and maybe putting in a word about the potholes on your street.

But you can get swag for smaller donations: $150 gets you a Chainlink jersey, while $25 gets you a t-shirt.

The Chainlink launched in 2008 as a place for Chicago's cyclists to share information about events, gear and routes. Popular topics in the discussion forum include stolen bikes (what to do?) and the city's plans for protected bike lanes (talk to Klein).

The site has since grown to 8,000 members and founder Julie Hochstadter, who runs The Chainlink in her spare time, recently conducted a survey to find out what changes users would like made.

Requests included better mobile functionality, info on weather and road conditions and improved event and search capabilities.

To fund those enhancements and ensure The Chainlink's ongoing operations, Hochstadter launched an Indiegogo campaign. Although as of Thursday she had already surpassed her goal of raising $15,000, you can still donate between now and Monday.

The revamped site is set to launch in May.