Ride for Better Bikeways in Belmont-Craigin on Saturday, May 5

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On Saturday, May 5, the Northwest Side Housing Center and the Active Transportation Alliance are teaming up to host the Bike for Belmont-Craigin ride, a seven-mile spin through the Northwest Side community to highlight the need for better conditions for walking and biking in the area.

The free ride meets tomorrow at 10 a.m. at Riis Park, 6100 W. Fullerton Ave., in the Fullerton parking lot. There will be free t-shirts for the first 100 people to arrive, and a few Divvys available for residents who don’t have their own bikes.

According to Julio Rodriguez, director of community development for the housing center, the goal of the ride is to bring attention to badly faded bike lanes in the area that need restriping, such on Diversey and Narragansett avenues. The groups also want to build support for new or upgraded bikeways on roadways that were included the city’s Streets for Cycling 2020 Plan. These include the Milwaukee Avenue “Spoke Route,” “Crosstown Routes” such as Diversey and Grand avenues, and “Neighborhood Bike Routes” such as Narragansett, Long, Wrightwood, Melvina, and Kilbourn avenues.

The route map.
The route map.

“We want to help make our streets safer and more comfortable for people cycling as an alternative means of transportation,” Rodriguez said. The groups invited local aldermen Ariel Reyboyras (30th), Gilbert Villegas (36th), and Milly Santiago (31st) to join them, but due to scheduling conflicts only Santiago will be able to participate, giving a short speech before the ride.

Rodriguez said the event was inspired by the housing center’s Quality of Life Plan. One strategy in the plan is bringing Divvy stations to the neighborhood – currently this part of the Northwest Side has none. “We really have a biking desert here, and we’re also not near any CTA train lines. Even our bus service is somewhat lackluster.”

Consequently, Rodriguez said, “our community drives a lot.” It also has one of the highest crash rates in the city, as well as a high rate of obesity. “So we’re looking at how this effort could get more people to use active transportation.”

Rodriguez added that the bike route was designed to highlight local business strips. “We want people to walk and bike more and shop locally, taking advantage of it’s their back yard.”

Even if you can’t make it to tomorrow’s ride, you can still help out with the groups’ efforts by signing this online petition to show your support.

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