Former Ride Illinois executive director and long-time board member, Al Sturges, decided to retire from the board upon the completion of his latest term. It’s an understatement to say that Al had a significant impact on the organization and cyclists in Illinois during the nearly 30 years he dedicated to nonprofit bike advocacy. We truly appreciate Al’s service and wish him all the best as he enjoys time with his family and friends…and many miles on his bike!
Al and his wife, Barbara, are longtime residents of Park Forest, a suburb south of Chicago. They were early members of the Folks on Spokes bike club, and each had served as president of the club. Al became involved with bike advocacy in the early 90s when Barbara was on the first League of Illinois Bicyclists (LIB) board. Al would drive Barbara to meetings because she didn’t like to drive at night.
It wasn’t long before Al became more involved with LIB. Al was LIB’s first newsletter editor from 1992-1995. Al took on the role of executive director in 1995 as a volunteer. From 1992-1999, LIB was an affiliate of the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) before becoming an independent organization in 2000. Al served as executive director until January 2000 when Ed Barsotti became LIB’s executive director and the organization’s first paid staff member.
As a result of Al’s efforts to establish a statewide bike advocacy organization in Illinois, he was recognized by the League of American Bicyclists with their Phyllis Harmon Volunteer award in the late 1990’s. Al transitioned to the president of the LIB board of directors in 2000 – a role he served faithfully until 2009. From 2009-2021, Al was an active, involved member of the Ride Illinois board.
When asked about the highlights of his tenure with LIB and Ride Illinois, Al shared the following:
Of course, there were some frustrations related to the advocacy work that Al has been so passionate about for nearly 30 years, such as:
Al shared his hopes for Ride Illinois and the future of biking for recreation and transportation in the state. He shared the following suggestions:
In preparation of this article, we contacted several people who worked closely with Al over the years. They shared the following reflections:
Al’s friendly demeanor and wealth of ideas will be missed in future board meetings. But Al knows that we’re only a phone call or email away and we hope to hear from him regularly. It would be difficult to over-state Al’s impact on cycling in Illinois! Whether you ride a bike once a year or everyday, you have benefitted from Al Sturges’ three decades of time, talent, and effort. We wish Al all the best and hope our paths cross again very soon!