Spring means it's time to plan your next bike adventures
With 2021 snowfall at 40-plus inches, outdoor biking seemed a distant dream just days ago. Across the region, however, bike advocates, planners and organizers generate hope for us eager two-wheelers with coming attractions online soon.
Hosted by the Active Transportation Alliance, Suburban Action Week Feb. 15-19 brought together speakers promising an exciting year ahead, likely to sustain last year's biking boom. Clubs and other groups are also planning activities.
Transportation plans and projects
Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways is conducting a yearlong community outreach, including three surveys and three open houses, to guide development of its new bike plan. The first bike survey, open until April 2, asks how riders normally use their bikes and how the pandemic affected that use.
Transportation planner Benet Haller encourages non-Cook County residents to take the survey as well since the bike plan "will be relevant to residents of other counties nearby." Final version of the plan is expected in spring 2022.
Take the survey at cookcountybikeplan.mysocialpinpoint.com.
In McHenry County, the Council of Mayors began partnering last fall with the McHenry County Division of Transportation to develop a master bicycle and pedestrian plan. Last undertaken in 1996, this new plan, based on the McHenry County Connection project (www.mchenrycountyconnection.com), will collect information on existing trail facilities, bicycle paths, pedestrian facilities, and roadway and transit networks.
A public survey and open meeting were conducted this winter, with a second public meeting scheduled for this summer. The project's timeline suggests a final plan expected in August.
In Lake County, a major project is currently under way connecting Ethel's Woods and Raven Glen forest preserves along the Millennium Trail. Tunnel work under Route 45 broke ground last November, with an expected fall 2021 completion.
Troy Simpson, Kane County Division of Transportation Bike and Pedestrian coordinator, reported that the Aurora Transportation Center bridge will complete this summer. Plagued by shutdown-related delays, the 900-foot curved bike and pedestrian span across the Fox River will connect Fox Valley Park District bike paths on each side.
Jackie Forbes, council director of Kane/Kendall Council of Mayors, noted that the new Raymond Street tunnel under the Union Pacific Railroad near South Elgin will also open this summer. Located on the Fox River's east side, the tunnel replaces a bridge closed in 2008 damaged by flooding.
In Streamwood, the village seeks input on a bike trail and bridge project to connect an existing trail west of Sutton Road with a new trail along Poplar Creek. Part of Streamwood's 2018 Comprehensive Plan, the new bridge will span Route 59, connecting both sides of the village. The bridge/bike trail survey is open until March 12 for public comments. Visit teska.survey.fm/streamwood-il-59-bridge-bike-trail-project.
Donuts and QR codes
North Aurora's Pedal & Spoke Ltd. bike shop is hosting the Pastry-Bike-Pastry Ride March 27-28, ditching its normal one-day mass start and after-party for safer social distancing.
Routes of 50, 65 or 100 miles will lead riders through various terrain, including gravel, dirt, swamp and pavement -- 60/40 split of unpaved vs. paved, with a higher ratio the longer the route.
Registration is open until March 22 with no "day-of" option. Checkpoints will be sweet stops featuring doughnuts from a local family-owned bakery, "but with more tongs, gloves, and masks," per the sponsor.
A portion of the proceeds, along with the remaining doughnuts, benefit a local homeless shelter. Racing aficionados will note wordplay on the famous Paris-Brest-Paris bike event in France. For information, visit www.bikereg.com/pastry-bike-pastry-100-2021.
Ride Illinois, the statewide, nonprofit bike advocacy organization, hosts its Grand Illinois Bike Tour June 13-18 and still has open spots for its loop tour of Madison County trails, east of St. Louis. Total tour ranges from 200-375 miles, with daily distance options to suit one's abilities. The loop route covers quiet rural roads and 140 miles of bike trails, almost all asphalt, along former railroad corridors.
Registrations are 100% refundable through May 12 for COVID-19 or other reasons. Fee includes two daily meals, route markings, cue sheets, luggage transport, rest stop refreshments, T-shirt and overnight camping fees. A limited hotel option is available for an additional cost. A "go/no-go" decision on GIBT will be made by April.
Cycle Brookfield (cyclebrookfield.com) members are planning several events. Their "First Friday Slow Rolls" start April 2. These are family-friendly 10K rides (6.2 miles) socially paced where no one gets left behind.
Per Terri Rivera, they also plan a safety check in early May for free bike inspections and minor repairs.
Brookfield riders will then be ready for "Bike Brookfield," usually held the third Saturday in May. "Bike Brookfield Week" kicks off in summer, an interactive Monday-Friday ride.
Member Chris Valadez said, "Stations with QR codes are mounted at different sites or businesses providing information relating to bikes while directing riders to the next station."
Cargo bikers deliver groceries in shutdown
Deloris Lucas, organizer of We Keep You Rollin', a bike and wellness group in Chicago's Riverdale neighborhood, is fundraising for two electric cargo bikes to deliver food, household supplies and PPE during the shutdown.
WKYR received the bikes last July and has already served more than 50 families for 14 weeks in the Riverdale community, primarily seniors and families without cars.
The WKYR's GoFundMe page shows more than $2,700 raised toward the $5,000 bill for the two (discounted) bikes by April 1.
Besides serving their community, members are already planning their sixth annual WKYR "Legacy" Bike Ride & Wellness Pop Up on July 31.
• Join the ride. Reach Ralph Banasiak at email@example.com.