Ride IllinoisRide Illinois
February 03, 2022

Ride Illinois Community Update

In early 2021, we introduced the Ride Illinois Community and invited everyone who rides a bike in Illinois to embrace this movement. You were asked to commit to biking often for recreation and transportation. More importantly, our shared challenge was (and is) to connect with and advocate for Illinois residents who ride a bike for recreation and/or transportation – regardless of age, race, ability, sex, gender or socio-economic status. This outreach is an important focus for our statewide, nonprofit advocacy organization because more adults and children riding bikes increases the safety of all cyclists.

Through this article, we’re sharing an update on our efforts to build community in Illinois centered on the humble bicycle. Be sure to follow #rideILcommunity on social media!

Expanding the Community

Ride Illinois was established in 1992 as the League of Illinois Bicyclists and we’re celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2022. Over the past 30 years, our organization has been successful in our education and advocacy efforts. We’ve held successful events, such as the Illinois Bike Summit, and fundraiser rides, such as the Grand Illinois Bike Tour. In addition, we’ve benefited from the financial support of thousands of bicyclists to keep the lights on, for which we are truly grateful.

The reality is that Ride Illinois members are predominantly middle aged or retired, recreational or touring bicyclists. This is, in part, due to the perception of biking in the U.S. as a sport and that a bicycle is a toy and nothing more – but we digress.

As an organization, one of our goals is to appeal to a wider demographic: people who ride a bike for transportation – by choice or out of necessity, college students who use their bike as a means of getting around campus, folks who enjoy riding on single track on their mountain bike or fat bike, and the kids – we can’t forget about the kids! Ride Illinois is working to become a more diverse and inclusive organization that represents and advocates for all people who ride bikes in Illinois. If you agree with this vision, please become a member of our organization to support our work.

Go By Bike

The best way to experience a city, town, community, or neighborhood is on a bike – hands down! All of your senses are engaged and you’re actively in the community, not traveling through, like when you’re in a car. The sights, the smells, the sounds, the people – that’s what makes pedaling around by bike memorable and meaningful. We encourage you to make a concerted effort to visit different places by bike…and these places don’t need to be far from home. Forget about your average speed, watts, distance, or any other statistic that has caused you to drift away from the pure joy you felt on your first bike ride! Just hop on your bike, look around, wave to people, and just wander. You won’t regret it!

“Forget about your average speed, watts, distance, or any other statistic that has caused you to drift away from the pure joy you felt on your first bike ride!”

Attend a Community Ride

There is plenty to enjoy on a solo bike ride. We all need to escape with our own thoughts on occasion. But, if you really want to feel energized, participate in a casual, family-friendly bike ride. More and more community bike rides are popping up in Illinois because they’re fun for all ages, they offer physical activity, and they bring neighbors and others together for a shared purpose. Better yet, attend a ride led by people of a different race or faith or idea. We can’t think of a better way to discuss our differences and gain understanding than while on a bike ride!

Community bike rides are also opportunities for elected officials, municipal staff, community leaders, organizations, police officers, teachers, local celebrities, and more to meet and spend time together.

Out and About with Ride Illinois

Ride Illinois enjoys being present at and participating in community bike rides. We also offer assistance with the planning process, should you need some help getting started.

Below are a few examples of past outreach efforts from 2021 that centered on community bike rides:

  • Ride with D45: Ride Illinois helped to plan and participated in this event with School District 45 in Villa Park. Over 200 students, parents, and teachers enjoyed a 3-mile bike ride along the Prairie Path and returned for a picnic lunch.
  • Street Love Ride: for the second year in a row, we were on the planning committee for this special event on the west side of Chicago organized by Equiticity and Boxing Out Negativity. In addition to vendors, entertainment, and refreshments, attendees enjoyed a slow roll around the North Lawndale and Little Village communities. This is an annual ride for peace on Chicago’s West side. The 2022 Street Love Ride will take place on Saturday, August 20.
  • Bicycle Pilgrimage: Ride Illinois teamed up with pastor of the Multi-Ethnic Church of Mt. Greenwood with a request to help plan a bike ride for peace. We jumped at the chance to plan this ride! We led a group of 17 individuals on a ride to Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Palos Park. There, we enjoyed a wonderful meal and prayer for world peace before pedaling back to Mt. Greenwood on a steamy 95° July day! The 2022 Bicycle Pilgrimage will take place on Saturday, July 23 and all are invited to participate!
  • We Keep You Rollin’ Legacy Bike Ride: We Keep You Rollin’ helps create a more livable, sustainable and vibrant community in the Riverdale community on Chicago’s south side. This annual community ride is organized and led by Ms. Delores Lucas. Ride Illinois was thrilled to participate in the ride and learn about the history of the area, such as Graue Mill which was a stop on the Underground Railroad.
  • 2021 Let’s Ride, Illinois!: 22 communities participated in last year’s inaugural event by organizing casual bike rides for their neighbors to enjoy. Learn more about the fun rides associated with our event and view photos by visiting rideillinois.org/events/lets-ride-illinois-2021.

Our 2022 Let’s Ride, Illinois event will be taking place from September 9-18. You might as well add that to your calendar now! Our goal is to have over 40 community rides associated with this year’s event. We’ll be sharing additional details soon, including our Community Bike Ride Organizer Toolkit. Contact us at community@rideillinois.org with questions about 2022 Let’s Ride, Illinois!

Plan a Ride in Your Community

There are many benefits that result from a community bike ride. Those benefits may differ by community, but strengthened bonds between neighbors is an almost guaranteed result.

Ride Illinois is excited to be involved with many community-focused events in 2022! If you have a community-focused ride or event that you’d like us to know about and possibly attend, please share the details via email to community@rideillinois.org. We’re happy to list the ride on our Ride, Advocacy, and Education calendar so others can learn about it.

Keep in mind that all good ideas originate with one person. Maybe that person is you! If you’d like to plan a community bike ride, but need some guidance or just don’t know where to start, we’d be happy to help. Send us an email at community@rideillinois.org or call 630-216-9282.