In the past Illinois' statewide bicycle advocacy organization Ride Illinois has kept a lower profile than its Chicagoland counterpart the Active Transportation Alliance. But Ride Illinois is hoping to pump up its influence and impact throughout the Prairie State via four new Regional Action Teams.
The group is optimistic that this strategy will attract new individual and corporate members, expand their educational efforts, and raise additional funding for current and future programs. Volunteers with the RATs will help out with advocacy, education, and outreach.
The Regional Action Teams are based on county boundaries:
The four regions were chosen based on Ride Illinois’ experience in the area, proximity to cities and universities, and physical geography. The group may tweak the regional boundaries or subdivide the territories into more regions in the future.
The Regional Action Team members will be responsible for representing, doing outreach to, and collecting input from people who bike in their respective territories. Here are the focus areas for the RATs, according to Ride Illinois:
Encourage Illinois residents of all ages and abilities, across racial and socioeconomic lines, to bike more for recreation and transportation.
Educate cyclists and motorists on how to safely share the road by promoting the group's BikeSafetyQuiz and other educational materials.
Suggest improvements to roads, trails, and infrastructure based on knowledge and experience.
Represent Ride Illinois at community events and collect input regarding challenges and opportunities to improve cycling for recreation and transportation in the region.
Increase Ride Illinois membership (individual and corporate) to fund additional programs that align with the Ride Illinois mission.
Assist Ride Illinois with event planning and fundraising.
Ride Illinois is hoping to recruit teams of four to eight Regional Action Team members for each of the four regions, ideally reflecting the demographics of the areas, in terms of age, gender, race/ethnicity, ability, and income. "Diverse, collaborative, energetic teams will result in better outcomes from this state-wide program," the group states. The RAT members will work with current Ride Illinois board members in each of the regions, and a chair of each action team will facilitate meetings and provide updates for the quarterly Ride Illinois board meetings.
The advocacy group will be funding the Regional Action Teams' activities through its annual budget, but it's also looking for companies to help fund the advocacy work.
Recruiting 16-32 Regional Action Team members across the state from diverse backgrounds to pitch in and help on a volunteer basis may be a challenge, so feel free to help spread the word about this initiative through your networks and on social media. After all, the stronger Illinois' advocacy organization is, the better biking will be in all parts of the Land of Lincoln, including right here in Chicago.
In addition to editing Streetsblog Chicago, John writes about transportation and other topics for additional local publications. A Chicagoan since 1989, he enjoys exploring the city on foot, bike, bus, and 'L' train.