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Chicago’s first protected bike lane on Kinzie St. increased ridership by 55 percent without increasing traffic congestion for cars.

The unsung heroes who are making the region better for biking

Each year, Chicago Bike Month is jam packed with bike-related activities like community rides, pop-up biking stations, and bike repair clinics.

While Active Trans organizes some of the Bike Month events during the month of May, most of the events are organized by small grassroots groups.

Even though Bike Month is long gone, we want to recognize the outstanding programs organized by our partners.

We think of these folks as the unsung heroes of local biking culture. They are making a difference on the streets of their local communities by giving people biking know-how and encouragement.

In recent years, Active Trans has been able to boost the efforts of these grassroots bike groups with a small stipend intended to help expand the scope of their Bike Month programs.

Since many of these small nonprofits are unfamiliar to our supporters, we thought this was a good opportunity to show off all the great work these groups are doing.

 

Bike Palatine Club: Bike Palatine Club is a group with a strong commitment to improving cycling conditions in Palatine and getting more people biking by hosting group rides.

For Bike Month, the group passed out bike stickers and bike helmets and sponsored an ABC-Quick Check workshop where volunteers taught youth basic bike maintenance such as tire inflation, brake checks, and chain lubrication. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the club also hosts casual rides.

 

Bike Walk Oak Park: Bike Walk Oak Park is an advocacy group that works to improve biking and walking in the near west suburb of Oak Park.

During Bike/Walk to School Day in May, Bike Walk Oak Park distributed bike stickers and safety materials to students and helped co-host several events with local schools including a bike-train and group bike ride. They are also meeting with parent/teacher school group to share their recently developed Bike Walk Oak Park District 97 Safety Report, which analyzes active transportation safety issues and makes policy and planning recommendations.

 

Boxing Out Negativity: Boxing Out Negativity is an organization that provides youth in historically disinvested neighborhoods with physical activity, mentorship, motivational discussions, and civic engagement.

During Bike Month, the group offered a Bike Out Negativity “fun ride” with a community expo featuring giveaways, hands-on activities, and information about summer youth programs.

Boxing Out Negativity is also hosting its “Street Love Ride” annual nighttime bike ride on August 19.

 

Chicago, Bike Grid Now: Chicago, Bike Grid Now is an activist organization fighting for 450 miles of streets that prioritize people walking and biking in Chicago.

Organizers held a Safe Streets Listening Session for Hyde Park, Woodlawn, and South Shore to gather thoughts, suggestions, and concerns from residents about walking, biking, transit, and driving. Feedback from community members is being shared with elected officials and used to guide the group’s future organizing efforts.

 

Chicago Bike Project: Chicago Bike Project is an outreach ministry supported by the Greek Orthodox Metropolis, headquartered at St. George in Lincoln Park. The group provides free bicycles, locks, lights, helmets, and maintenance to people in need.

As part of its Bike Month activities, volunteers repaired donated bikes that went towards unhoused individuals throughout Chicago. The event also provided volunteers with the opportunity to learn basic bike mechanic skills.

 

Cycle Brookfield: Cycle Brookfield is a group that wants to make biking more enjoyable and accessible in and around Brookfield. They advocate for bike facilities and connections to neighboring suburbs and Chicago.

One of their Bike Month events that began in May and will continue throughout the year was the First Friday Social Slow Ride, which is a family-friendly ride though Brookfield. The ride brought in 75 riders.

 

Elgin Community Bikes: Elgin Community Bikes is a non-profit whose goal is to empower recreation and transportation through community bike rides, accessible bike shops, and advocacy for safer streets.

The organization hosted three events for Bike Month, including the Full Moon Ride, the Ride of Silence, and Bike Fabulous. All the rides had a strong turnout and forged lots of good connections among the riders.

 

Envision Unlimited: Envision Unlimited advocates for the disability community by emphasizing choice, independence, and inclusion.

Their BuddyBiking program at Big Marsh Park offered an opportunity for people with disabilities to participate in the dynamic Chicago cycling scene by learning cycling skills and bike safety. Participants also had an opportunity to test ride a variety of bicycles.

 

 

Friends of Big Marsh: Friends of Big Marsh support bike park development, fundraising, and community engagement at Big Marsh Bike Park. The group offers bike rentals and hosts events such as races, parties, runs, and rides.

In May, Friends of Big Marsh hosted bike races for all ages and levels, from serious racers to a fun one-lap “ride anything you want.” Additionally, there was a bike ride to highlight the history and features of Big Marsh.

 

Illinois Medical District (IMD): The IMD is the largest medical district in North America and serves over 80,000 employees and visitors on its Chicago campus every day.

The district is currently developing its first safety plan for people walking and biking, and has been hosting a series of presentations this summer to help participants learn the ins and outs of biking on campus. You can learn more about the IMD’s safety plan and share your input at https://imdbikeped.com.

 

Lakeshore Boulevard Coalition: The Lakeshore Boulevard Coalition is a new group advocating for a reimagined North DuSable Lake Shore Drive as part of the Redefine the Drive Study.

The group organized a cookout on the lakefront and shared information with lakefront visitors about their vision. They envision increased safety for people walking and biking and reduced noise pollution while celebrating the use and beauty of our lakefront in Chicago.

 

Linné Green Team: Linné Green Team is a local group that hosted a bike safety and maintenance event at Carl Von Linné Elementary School. Staff from West Town Bikes demonstrated how to perform general bike maintenance and discussed how to stay safe while biking around the city with children.

 

Villa Park Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Transit Subcommittee: Villa Park Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Transit Subcommittee hosted multiple events this summer, including a Ride of Silence and Bike to Metra Day. During Bike to Metra Day, committee members passed out bike light sets and reflective ankle wraps to commuters.

 

Village of Broadview: The Village of Broadview kicked off Bike Month with weekly bike rides with the mayor and the community. This summer’s events included bicycle safety coloring books for youth.

Bike Month helps residents get ready for the annual Tour de Proviso, which is a community bike ride on the first Saturday in October. The ride takes place in western suburban communities of Proviso Township near Broadview. This year’s ride will tour the Village of Westchester on October 7.

 

Village of Hanover Park: The Village of Hanover Park hosts an annual COPS (Community Oriented Policing Service) Day Picnic every summer and this year marks their 25th anniversary. To help promote bicycle safety in the community, two adult and two youth bikes are raffled off for charity every year. Free bike helmets, bike locks, and safety material are also part of the event.

 

We Keep You Rollin’: We Keep You Rollin’ is a community bike and wellness group that sponsors bike safety events, repair workshops, and an annual community bike ride.

The group hosts events where community members receive free safety gear and have the chance to sign up for cycling programs.

 

Thank you to our partners!

We’d like to thank these organizations for celebrating Chicago Bike Month and doing so much great work in their individual communities.

 

 

Photos courtesy of the Friends of Big Marsh (top), Cycle Brookfield (middle), and Elgin Community Bikes (bottom).

Olivia Borowiak is an intern for the Active Transportation Alliance.

Maggie Czerwinski contributed to this blog post.