Active Transportation Alliance initiative makes sure area youth can ride in fundraiser

With a new feature, Active Transportation Alliance's major fundraiser, Fifth Third Bike the Drive, rolls for the 21st time from 6:30-10:30 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 3, with more than 16,000 cyclists dominating Chicago's vehicle-free DuSable Lake Shore Drive.

Thanks to Divvy, Chicago's bike-share system since 2013, 200 youths younger than 18 who can't afford registration fees will ride free. A new youth scholarship program is available for underserved Chicago and suburban youth until Aug. 18 via the Youth Scholarship Application.

Youth must have a bike, helmet and chaperoning adult, whose registration fee is also covered (normal registration fees are $18 for youth ages 17 and younger and $65-$84 for adults). Divvy provides free rentals for 16- to 17-year-olds without bikes. Additionally, Divvy is an event festival sponsor, running 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Grant Park's Butler Field along Columbus Drive.

For at least six years, Divvy has partnered with Active Trans in various community efforts, said Johntuanay Johnson, regional marketing manager for Lyft, which operates the bike-share system.

“When we heard about sponsorship, we were eager to move forward,” Johnson said.

Recognizing the disadvantages of historically marginalized communities, Lyft wants “a space for youth to enjoy biking, not worrying about barriers like cost,” Johnson adds. “We're looking for more ways to involve youth.”

Events Manager Brittany Gillespie notes Active Trans has offered complimentary registrations over 10 years, unpublicized and funded internally.

“It resulted from our long-standing advocacy efforts and community group contacts. The more we got to know various neighborhoods and local groups, the more we realized not everyone has the means to cover registration.

“This year we reached out for sponsors and thought Divvy would be a perfect match,” Gillespie said. “In the past, free youth registrations included 80-150 participants.”

Active Trans is a membership-based, nonprofit advocacy organization working to improve conditions for walking, biking and public transit throughout the Chicago area. For a $5 ride discount, enter “Streets5” on Active Trans' online registration at

Funding suburban creativity

Active Trans returned the fundraising favor in May, awarding $150-$250 stipends to seven suburban biking groups for creative National Bike Month celebrations.

Broadview village President Katrina Thompson supplied bike safety coloring books to kids and a Hula-Hoop walk, enhancing her May 27 “Move with the Mayor” event. Village police registered bikes before the one-hour Salt Creek ride.

Riders of all ages join Cycle Brookfield's first Friday of the month slow roll ride June 2. Courtesy of Cycle Brookfield

Per Cycle Brookfield volunteer Terri Rivera, monthly first Friday slow rolls “used some funds to provide bike lights to kids without them, plus snacks post-ride to encourage attendance and fellowship.”

Upward of 100 riders bike monthly. Funds also supported Bike Brookfield's annual weeklong, self-guided tour with signs and QR codes. This year's “Then and Now” highlighted historic village sites - a former dairy farm, opera house and Olympic-size pool.

Elgin celebrated National Bike Month with six free community rides, plus distribution of over 40 free bikes refurbished by nonprofit Elgin Community Bikes, headed by Parker Thompson. The stipend helped purchase components/accessories for repairs.

Elgin's "Bike Fabulous" cyclists rolled in style this past May from Festival Park. From left are Sandra Dávila, Eric Lauderdale, Joel Zink, Armando Perez, Adam Lauderdale and Parker Thompson. Courtesy of Parker Thompson

“Bike Fabulous” ride

Elgin cyclists donned evening wear May 25 for the five-mile “Bike Fabulous” outing, a fall 2022 idea.

“Having just purchased a new suit for my brother's wedding last summer, I was an enthusiastic advocate for a ride themed on looking as fabulous as it feels when riding a bike,” Thompson said.

Hanover Park Police social worker Tricia Rossi applied Active Trans funds to offset costs of four bikes raffled for charity at the village's annual COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) Day Picnic July 21.

“What started out as a small neighborhood picnic has grown into a huge event, a fun, informative community policing initiative,” where, says Rossi, “we introduce residents to our police officers and community partners, featuring free food and fun activities for the whole family.”

Bike raffles have highlighted COPS Day for 25 years. Winners also receive new locks and helmets, emphasizing safety/security. Proceeds this year supported Heroes Family Fund of the Illinois Public Pension Fund Association, offering financial help to families of injured/fallen first responders.

Bike Walk Oak Park's board member Sylvia Schweri reports its May 5 Bike/Walk to School Day applied funds for bike stickers and promotional printing.

BWOP worked with Oak Park Elementary School District 97, encouraging active transportation to school that day, plus co-hosting events like the Brooks Middle School, Holmes Elementary, and Grace Lutheran School “Bike Train,” and morning celebrations at Whittier and Longfellow Elementary.

Bike Palatine Club volunteers John Guilfoil (green shirt) and John Delaney (black shirt) tune up bikes at the "ABC" workshop co-hosted by Partners for Our Communities. Courtesy of Mikie Swier

Palatine ABC Workshop Bike stickers enhanced Bike Palatine Club's third “ABC” mini-workshop (air, brakes, chain) June 1 for underserved youth. Besides offering bike maintenance basics, volunteers distributed 12 gently used/refurbished bikes ahead of time through event co-host Partners for Our Communities. Bike to School Day students next May will also enjoy the stickers.

Palatine Park District personnel, Palatine Police and ICompete staff helped the youth and their families kick off a safe biking summer, with Palatine Rotary Club funding the raffle of 16 youth helmets and 10 cable locks.

President Tom Lucas, Fifth Third Bike the Drive rider and volunteer, believes in Active Trans, viewing his club's mission of making Palatine a bike-friendly community aligns closely with theirs.

Robert Wagner, former Villa Park trustee and current Bike, Pedestrian and Transit subcommittee member, purchased reflective wrist and ankle wraps, plus inexpensive headlight/taillight sets for bike commuters at special Bike-to-Metra days June 7-8.

“We greeted commuters with coffee, doughnuts and conversation about a Rail Grade Crossing Separation Feasibility Study the village is undertaking,” Wagner said.

“I can't say enough about the level of support that Active Transportation Alliance provided us ever since they helped us with our 2018 Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan.”

Join the ride. Contact Ralph Banasiak at

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