May is the perfect time to dust off your bikes and hit the road
Higher pump prices plus warmer weather can reshape one's transportation thinking. May delivers just the calendar kick to opt for a bike-healthy way of commuting, running errands and satisfying other transportation needs.
Since 1956, the League of American Bicyclists has promoted May as National Bike Month, moving to build a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone.
Whether it's National Ride a Bike Day (which was May 1), the 40th annual Arlington Heights Bicycle Club Bike Swap (May 14), Chicago Bike Week (May 16-22), or Glenview Clergy Association's Bike to Worship Weekend (May 20-22), it's time to get your bike out and come "along for the ride."
Bike to School Day
Students joined the fun May 4 with national Bike to School Day. Late April revealed 17 Chicago area communities registered for the 11th annual event, with more than 35 schools riding statewide.
Other youth bike events are scheduled as well, such as the Kiwanis Kids Safety Bike Clinic from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. May 14 at Highland Park High School north parking lot. Highland Park/Highwood Kiwanis presents rules of the road, bicycle etiquette, and traffic safety lessons. Helmets, bikes and registration are required. Visit firstname.lastname@example.org.
The city of Warrenville and Warrenville Park District will host the 16th annual Bike Rodeo from 9-11:30 a.m. May 14. This free, family-friendly event will take place outside City Hall. Helmeted participants test biking skills on the multistation rodeo course.
While Recycled Cycling Bike Shop safety-checks bikes, Northwestern Medicine demonstrates safely fitted helmets. Residents can also donate gently used bikes to Chicago's Working Bikes.
Bring your used bikes
Six other suburbs collect used bikes, some part of broader May recycling events, all benefiting Working Bikes. State Rep. Tom Morrison sponsors an event from noon to 3 p.m. Friday, May 6, at Palatine's Christ the King Lutheran Church. Other collection events include Glencoe (May 14), Itasca, Woodridge and Wilmette (May 7), the latter at Gillson Beach parking lot from 9-11 a.m. Villa Park hosts its Spring Sweep May 21.
Board Vice President Phil Kaplan said Working Bikes is donating 200 of its refurbished bikes to Chicago families leading up to the Bike Out Negativity community ride May 21 in North Lawndale and Little Village.
Even more city and county officials are proclaiming National Bike Month in their localities than in 2021. Cook County Commissioner Scott Britton is again introducing a resolution at the May 12 board meeting.
Barrington, Bartlett, Broadview, Brookfield, Highland Park, Niles, Northbrook, Palatine, Park Ridge, River Forest and Warrenville are also issuing proclamations. Schaumburg schedules its monthlong biking activities in June.
Besides her Broadview proclamation, Mayor Katrina Thompson kicks off her annual "Walk/Bike with the Mayor" schedule. Weekly Saturday rides, May 21-Oct. 1, roll out at 9 a.m. from 14th Street and 17th Avenue. Sunday 7 a.m. walks begin at the 17th Avenue Walgreens.
Thompson will be in great shape for the third annual Tour de Proviso ride Oct. 3, which she and Maywood Trustee Miguel Jones initiated. Seven village mayors rode the 2021 tour.
Even public libraries are straddling the saddle. National Bike Month displays in Highland Park, Palatine and Rolling Meadows encourage patrons to check out both "armchair" and outdoor biking. Bike Palatine Club leads weekly 6:30 p.m. rides from the library on Thursdays starting May 12 for casual 10-mile slow rolls.
Chicago Bike Month
Clare McDermott, managing director of Marketing and Special Events for the Active Transportation Alliance, reports Chicago Bike Week is now Chicago Bike Month, presented by FK Law, "with both virtual and live events, including co-hosted discussions by Active Trans and Ride Illinois on the upcoming elections and a vision for Illinois' sustainable transportation platform."
More details are at activetrans.org/bikeweek.
"Bike Month also highlights Chicago's Ride of Silence May 18, honoring those injured or killed while riding," McDermott adds.
"Learn more about Chicago's bike-focused community groups that are creating and maintaining a biking culture in their neighborhoods while improving quality of life for all."
Several suburbs also host the 20th annual worldwide Ride of Silence.
Smart Cycling classes
Smart Cycling classes, led by LAB certified instructors, are scheduled in Highland Park and Palatine. Both adult classes include pre-ride safety checks, in-person instruction, on-bike handling skills and practice riding safely in traffic.
Located at Highland Park City Hall, the May 14 course is co-sponsored by LAB and the city. To register, contact bikeonMay14@gmail.com.
The Bike Palatine Club class June 4 is held in Room A238 at Harper College in Palatine. It includes hands-on bike skills taught in a nearby parking lot. Details are at LAB's Illinois Smart Cycling Courses.
In addition, bike clubs and other organizations host rides that start up every May. The 2022 Ride Guide, published by Ride Illinois, lists nine rides in May and early June, from Pedalpalooza in Crystal Lake (May 21-22) to St. Charles Project Mobility's Everybody Rides fundraiser (June 5).
The third annual International Women's Day (IWD) Together We Ride event March 5-8 attracted more than 1,100 participants in 28 states and 13 countries, promoting women's equality.
Event organizer Dawn Piech, long-distance rider and Randonneurs USA board member, said, "This bike movement, celebrating the 111th anniversary of International Women's Day, pledges to challenge inequity, call out bias, question stereotypes and address all forms of gender inequality."
Volunteer supporters included Alison Bock, Adina Crawford, Kim Messina, Kelli Morgan, MaryEllen Reedy and Sheri Rosenbaum.
In addition, Wauconda's Side Lot Brewery brewed a special "Together We Ride Pilsner," donating money from each pour to a WINGS women's shelter, raising more than $300, according to owner Phil Castello.
• Join the ride. Contact Ralph Banasiak at email@example.com.