In a matter of days, life as we know it has been turned on end. Businesses are temporarily shuttered, cities are eerily quiet, and that look of concern on the face of passersby adds to the uncertainty that you are feeling. Most of us have not encountered something on the scale of a global pandemic before. The coronavirus outbreak will have a lasting impact, but there will be some positive changes as a result of this emergency. Over just the week, people seem a bit friendlier! Some even go out of their way to say hello. These are simple, but important steps to becoming a kinder, more compassionate society.
Ride Illinois was founded in 1992 with a goal of making biking better in Illinois. We work diligently to make Illinois roads safer for cyclists, fight for additional funding for trails, and we developed our free, online quiz – www.bikesafetyquiz.com – to educate motorists and cyclists on ways to safely share the road. Over the past 30 years, cycling in America has devolved into a sport – a “weekend-warrior” activity that doesn’t appeal to the average person. How did the most efficient method of transportation ever invented become so exclusive?
Let’s change the perception of cycling from a sport to basic, everyday transportation. It’s time for the simple, unassuming bicycle to gain some much-deserved respect! Imagine your community with residents of all ages pedaling to work, school, church, the post office, the library, etc. This might sound like a Norman Rockwell painting, but it’s not just an unattainable idyllic image – it’s a real possibility in a post-coronavirus society!
Simply put, it’s time to get back on your bike!
Ride Illinois invites you to embark on this journey towards positive change. This journey will improve your overall health, make your community more vibrant, and will be the silver lining to this otherwise bleak situation. It doesn’t matter if you’re fat or skinny; black, brown, or white; rich or poor; a high school dropout or a PhD. And it certainly doesn’t matter what kind of bike you have or what you wear. Just get on that bike! (For your safety, please follow the Rules of the Road, be predictable, and be courteous to those you encounter along the way.)
Governor Pritzker’s executive order includes cycling is an acceptable activity while you’re sheltered in place – and the benefits outweigh the risks. Ride Illinois advises that you ride solo until public health officials give the all clear. If your bike needs some TLC, bring it to your local bike shop since they are open for business. But call ahead since many shops have limited hours at this time.
Ride Illinois will continue to advocate for those that ride for sport. But it’s in society’s best interest that we focus on the “common” cyclist – the mom who rides to a soccer game with her kids, the senior citizen that pedals meet a friend for coffee, the young girl whose world is ever-expanding as she and her friends explore their neighborhood on by bike, and so on.
All Illinois residents are invited to commit to their bicycle, especially for short trips. Before leaving the house, ask “can I bike there?” You’ll be surprised at how often the answer is ‘yes’. This evolution of transportation can be one positive change that results from this pandemic. Join Ride Illinois on this journey to a more sustainable, equitable, and livable society. And be sure to enjoy the ride!
With hope for the future,