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Decades of research shows that expanding roads doesn’t provide lasting congestion relief. More lanes means more traffic.

The value of volunteering

Within a month of moving to Chicago in 2007, the MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive was the first event I participated in my new city. Seven years later I was behind the scenes as the Active Trans volunteer coordinator, organizing hundreds of volunteers that make this event possible./

If we are doing our jobs right, many of the jobs volunteers do go un-noticed by participants. Hundreds of volunteers help set up the event, hauling 60 water coolers, thousands of t-shirts, dozens of mega-phones and eight very tippy cases of mini-muffins.

The morning of the event, volunteers arrive at 4 a.m. to start setting up tables of bananas. During the event, volunteers reunite lost children with their families and rescue people whose bikes break down along the course.

At the end of the event, we had tireless volunteers who helped load three trucks headed back to the office or to an agency that accepted our donations of left-over food.

IndependentSector.org estimates the worth of volunteer time in each state. According to my back-of-a-napkin estimate for 550 volunteers working about 6 hours each (although some do a lot more), our volunteers donated the equivalent of $76,000 dollars of work to Active Trans. Remarkable, isn’t it?

In addition to enlisting volunteer help from individuals, we also rely on support from more than a dozen volunteer groups from nonprofits around the city. These groups — many of them very small, community-based nonprofits — do an outstanding job. Many return year after year. We are fortunate to have these groups as friends and supporters.

I have a long list of all-star volunteer groups and individual volunteers given to me from my fellow staff. Unfortunately, I was only able to meet a small fraction of the volunteers during the event, but I am looking forward to meeting more as the year progresses and our other events bring together more of you — our supporters and volunteers.

Huge thanks to everyone who volunteered for MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive.

And if you’re interested in volunteering at a future Active Trans event, please email Becca@activetrans.org for more information.

Pictured are just of few of the hundreds of volunteers that help with MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive every year.