Celebrate International Women’s day with free area bike rides March 8-11

As temperatures climb, so does biking enthusiasm. February tempted cyclists outdoors with some of the best winter cycling in years. March continues to tease.

Haul your bike in now for mechanical doctoring, or else you’ll be stuck in the bike shop queue for a while. Clubs and others are filling schedules with planned rides and events in time for consistent cycling weather.

Among them is Dawn Piech, ride organizer and Lombard founder of nonprofit Inspyrd Movement. Cyclists, male and female, can celebrate International Women's Day Friday, March 8, with numerous free Chicago-area rides March 8-11 as part of the fifth annual International Women's Day Together We Ride global cycling event.

“In 2023, we recorded over 2,000 cyclists from 40 U.S. states and 15 countries, with riders ranging up to age 89,” Piech said.

Rides intend to spread a message of diversity, equity and inclusion through movement, cycling anywhere, any distance, solo or otherwise.

The event’s global awareness and growth are primarily driven through social media, with the Together We Ride Facebook group counting over 4,000 members, many internationals.

Inspyrd Movement’s 2024 fundraising is directed toward World Bicycle Relief and Project Mobility. The former is an agency providing bicycles primarily to rural women and girls in Colombia, Kenya, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Project Mobility is a St. Charles-based nonprofit led by The Bike Rack’s Hal Honeyman. It provides specialized services, resources and equipment so children, adults and wounded veterans with disabilities can achieve freedom of mobility through adaptive cycling.

International Women's Day riders in 2023 stopped outside the home of Lombard's Ellen Martin, the first woman to vote in Illinois on April 16, 1891. Courtesy of Ralph Banasiak

Historians and suffragists

Piech and Kim Messina, Elmhurst Bicycle Club advocacy co-chair, will lead the 11 a.m. March 8 ride from Wheaton’s My Half of the Sky, a woman-owned business. Riders will pedal to Wheaton College for an Underground Railroad talk, returning to the coffee/bakery at about 1 p.m.

Accomplished local historian, author, and educator Glennette Tilley Turner will speak about the Underground Railroad in Illinois. Turner, a DuPage County Historical Society board member, received the Illinois State Historical Society's 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award last April 29. She has written several books about the Underground Railroad, as well as other Black history topics.

Born in North Carolina, Turner has resided in Wheaton since 1968, where she taught primary grades at Longfellow Elementary School, named after poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, an abolitionist who published “Poems on Slavery” in 1842. Cyclists can learn more via the Wheaton History Ride — Underground Railroad, courtesy of the Wheaton Bicyclist and Pedestrian Commission.

Glennette Tilley Turner discusses the Illinois Underground Railroad at Wheaton College as part of the Friday, March 8, International Women's Day Ride. Here, Turner accepted her Lifetime Achievement Award in April 2023 from John Hallwas, Illinois State Historical Society president, with her son Cyril, left. Courtesy of DuPage County Historical Society

On March 10, Pat Sweeney, membership and safety director for the Fox Valley Bicycle and Ski Club, coordinates a 20-mile, round-trip Fox River Trail ride. Cyclists roll out at 10 a.m. from the Batavia Riverwalk parking lot, Houston Street and Island Avenue, with a club-provided coffee/pastry stop at woman-owned Atrevete Confections in Montgomery.

Friends of Cycling in Elk Grove offers a March 10 ride starting 10:15 a.m. from the park district’s Pavilion Fitness, 1000 Wellington, and heading to Roselle’s Maple Leaf Coffee Roasters.

Lombard’s March 11 ride, led by Piech, includes stops at abolitionist Sheldon Peck’s homestead and home of lawyer suffragist Ellen Martin, the first female to vote in Illinois. The 4:30 p.m. ride starts at Lombard’s Noon Whistle Brewery.

Check appropriate websites for Chicago area IWD ride details:

  • March 8: 6 a.m., free indoor session, 445Cycling House of Watts, 3691 Darlene Court, Aurora;
  • March 9: 9:30 a.m., Trek of Highland Park, 1925 Skokie Valley Road; post-ride Pilates session from noon to 12:30 p.m.;
  • March 9: 10 a.m., Cycle Brookfield, Brookfield Village Hall, 8820 Brookfield Ave.;
  • March 10: 9:45 a.m., Morton Arboretum in Lisle;
  • March 11: 4:30 p.m., Lombard’s Noon Whistle Brewery, 800 E. Roosevelt Road.

Legislative bill tracker

Ride Illinois, a statewide nonprofit bicycle advocacy organization, recently introduced its State and Federal Bicycle Bill Tracker for Illinois residents to keep abreast of biking legislation introduced in Congress and the Illinois General Assembly.

Per Ride Illinois Executive Director Dave Simmons, the tracker links to and and automatically updates bill progress through the legislative process.

As of late February, the tracker listed six state and four federal biking-related bills addressing various issues: Paved bike trail signage, pedestrian/bikeway funding, even posthumous federal honors for African American bike racer Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor (H. R. 6672). Three involve e-bike rebates or incentives.

In the Illinois General Assembly, state Sen. Mike Simmons (D-7) reintroduced SB2015 in January, amending the Electric Vehicle Rebate Act to include e-bikes. As currently written, it provides a $400 rebate to Illinois residents purchasing an e-bike ($1,200 for low-income individuals).

HB4210, introduced by state Rep. Kam Buckner (D-26), establishes grants up to 75% of the purchase price of electric-assist cargo bikes, under certain conditions, for Illinois owners operating in counties of 3 million people or more.

In Congress, H. R. 6659, E-Bike Share Act, directs the Transportation Department to establish a grant program to facilitate electric bicycle sharing services for disadvantaged communities.

As e-bike rebates is a top legislative goal, Ride Illinois joined a group of more than 20 Illinois organizations to request inclusion of “an e-bike rebate (or incentive) program as one of the priority solutions to significantly and rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions” in Chicagoland’s Priority Climate Action Plan.

This plan was due March 1 to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by the city of Chicago, Metropolitan Mayors Caucus and Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. Other groups joining Ride Illinois for e-bike rebates included Active Transportation Alliance, Sierra Club, Metropolitan Planning Council and several suburban biking organizations.

• Join the ride. Contact Ralph Banasiak at

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