WEST TOWN — The loss of about 20 parking spaces outside the Paramount Room on Milwaukee Avenue was cause for alarm when bike lanes were installed there earlier this year, but owner Jon Young has a few ideas to get passing cyclists to stop in his eatery.
Last month, the restaurant, at 415 N. Milwaukee Ave., installed a "bike fix-it station" — better known to cyclists as a pit stop — on its northern wall. The station has all the tools that a cyclist would need to fix a bike in a hurry, including a bike rack and running air.
"The loss of the parking spaces was concerning, but we said, 'What can we do to make this an idyllic situation for us,'" Young said. "We took lemons and turned them into lemonade."
The pit stop is popular with riders and practical, which could make for good business in the long run, Young said.
Word-of-mouth initially got the pit stop noticed by cyclists, Young said, but outreach made to the Active Transportation Alliance now has the broader Milwaukee corridor interested.
"Part of their vision is that it'll be a win-win for everyone. I want to do more of a 'bike-friendly business' thing," Young said, adding that he hopes new cyclist business can make up for the losses he suffered due to the parking space removal.
Bike-friendly additions such as the pit stop "take what the city started and get it over the tipping point," said Jim Merrell of the Active Transportation Alliance.
The stretch of Milwaukee Avenue has been moving toward a "bike-friendly business district" after protected bike lanes were installed in June, Merrell said, listing a half-dozen businesses along the stretch that recently have contacted the alliance.
The Paramount Room pit stop cost less than $1,000 to set up, Young said, but he expects the investment will pay off as cyclists along the city's most frequently used bike route get used to having a free place to tune up their bikes.
The pit stop isn't the first of its kind in the city — the alliance estimates about a dozen citywide — but Young hopes his will become part of a larger route for Chicago cyclists, including Divvy users, who cruised by during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the pit stop Tuesday evening.
Marco Rayos, a Wicker Park cyclist, said the pit stop at the Paramount Room is the first one he's heard of.
"I wanna use it right now — I wanna put my bike up there and start working on it," he said. "A lot of people would love to work on their bikes but don't have the tools. This sort of thing, hopefully, is the beginning of a trend."