Ride on Chicago Raises Funds, Awareness for PeopleForBikes

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Photo by Jamie Kripke

Ride on Chicago, led by professional cyclist Tim Johnson, will arrive in the city on Saturday, concluding a five-day, 490-mile ride that took Johnson and 24 other cyclists from Minneapolis to Chicago in an effort to raise funds and awareness for PeopleForBikes, a national nonprofit that aims to improve cycling around the country.

This year’s ride is the second Ride on Chicago, following three years of the Ride on Washington, which took participants from Boston to Washington, D.C. Johnson brought the ride to Chicago to highlight the chances the city has made in recent years in moving towards a higher level of bike friendliness.

“With different policies put in place, the Divvy bikes being implemented, a city as large and powerful as Chicago being able to turn on a dime: we thought that was a huge moment for the city and something we could talk about elsewhere in the country,” Johnson says.

The ride began as a way to bridge the gap between the cycling racing community and the cycling advocacy community, which Johnson found to be disjointed upon attending the National Bike Summit several years ago. The ride brings together participants from a wide range of backgrounds to maximize its impact.

“We try to bring different people onto the ride,” Johnson says. “[We have a] group of some pro riders and some interested non-advocates, which I think is really important, because during the week we try to turn them into advocates. Everyone has influence in some way.”

Participants ride anywhere between 80 and 120 miles per day, and though that distance looks daunting, Johnson says the group does everything possible to make the rides doable for everyone.

“We might have someone who has never been able to finish a local group ride, and we take it in a much different way,” Johnson says. “We try to get to the finish line of each day as smoothly and comfortably as possible. As long as a person can draft, we let them be surprised by how fast they can go. By the end of the week, the transformations are incredible.”

The Ride on Chicago will reach Wilmette Beach at the intersection of Lake Ave. and Michigan Ave. around 1:15 p.m., Wrigley Field at Clark and Waveland around 2 p.m., and plans to finish in Millennium Park at the Bean at approximately 3 p.m. The public is welcome to join the riders for the last few miles of the ride. To learn more, visit www.peopleforbikes.org.