On September 15, during our 2020 Illinois Bike Summit, Ride Illinois awarded three individuals for their significant achievements in bicycle advocacy.
Chris Wingate was presented with the Ride Illinois Educator Award. Wingate is a driver education teacher at Neuqua Valley High School, in Naperville, and is the past president of the Illinois High School and College Driver Education Association. Wingate was president of the association when we first started our IDOT-funded $2 per student reimbursement grants to high schools for using our quiz lesson. That year and every year since, he publicized the grant opportunity to his fellow Driver Ed teachers, giving glowing testimonials. Not only does Wingate assign our quiz to his students at Neuqua Valley, but he awards students extra credit if they get their parents to complete the lesson too!
Then last year, Wingate proactively alerted us about Google Forms, with its recently-improved functionality, as a better and free platform for BikeSafetyQuiz.com. Not only has it saved Ride Illinois more than $20,000 annually, but it has allowed us to offer replicated versions in other states.
Eberhard Veit, founder and president of the McHenry County Bicycle Advocates since 2008, was presented with the Ride Illinois Initiative Award. Veit has been a persistent and respected advocacy voice in McHenry County. He has worked with government agencies and local cyclists for better road designs, the closing of trail gaps, and encouragement programs – all as a volunteer while working full-time.
An early accomplishment was getting a connecting trail built between his cul-de-sac and the next neighborhood, so that he and his neighbors could avoid a busy arterial road. Veit became involved in road project designs resulting in striped paved shoulder space for cyclists and better county policies on rumble strips. Through his efforts, the McHenry County Bicycle Advocates have collected over 2,500 signatures for Complete Streets throughout the county. Veit catalyzed the cooperation of state and local agencies to make sure that a new sidepath along US 14 in Woodstock would extend 1,200 more feet to connect to another trail. That effort helped lead to a change in IDOT policy to prevent such gaps.
Veit’s advocacy helped convince local agencies and Union Pacific to complete the last missing link of the Crystal Lake to Woodstock Trail, over a railroad crossing. In addition to all his infrastructure advocacy, Eberhard has worked on community aspects of bicycling, including starting the Bikes for the Needy program in Crystal Lake.
Maggie Czerwinski, Active Transportation Alliance advocacy manager since 2017 and Bike Walk Everytown Program coordinator, was presented with the Ride Illinois Leadership Award. Prior to working at Active Trans, she worked in key roles for some notable companies, such as Alta Planning and Design and the Alliance for Biking and Walking.
Czerwinski has developed a wealth of useful content which is available on the Bike Walk Everytown site, such as recorded webinars, downloadable resources, and a collection of success stories from around the region. Also, she was a key stakeholder in the development of the ‘Suburban Bikeways for All’ report which led to plans for improving trail connections in DuPage County. Ride Illinois truly appreciates Maggie’s friendly demeanor and genuine interest in working with communities of all sizes to enact positive change.