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Campaign Raleigh: Ald. Rodriguez-Sanchez hosts a bike ride as a political fundraiser

4:52 PM CDT on September 20, 2021

The ride heads east on Montrose at Albany. Photo: Imelda March

Thanks to Twitter user akaMisterJayEm for the title suggestion. -JG

A trend we'd like to see: fewer Chicago politicians raising money through fancy galas, and more doing it via community bike rides.

On Sunday Democratic Socialist alderwoman Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez (33rd) held her second annual event dubbed "Bike with Rossana" in order "to raise funds to support our work in the ward, in city hall and across Chicago." Participants were invited to cycle or walk for up to two hours along a figure 8-shaped route through the Northwest Side district, which includes parts of Albany Park, Avondale, Irving Park, and Ravenswood Manor. There was a suggested donation of $50 per person, including a t-shirt and lunch.

The route.
The route. Click to enlarge.

The ride gathered at the 33rd Ward Working Families office, 3248 W. Montrose Ave. on Sunday morning. The weather was great, with sunshine and a nice breeze. Before the ride, volunteers reviewed hand signals the ride leaders would use to communicate with the participants.

Rodriguez-Sanchez took some time to welcome everyone and provide a pep talk. The alderwoman later told me that, in addition to raising funds, the purpose of the ride was to help community members get to know each other, and to showcase new bike facilities in the area, including the recently completed 312 RiverRun trail system and dashed bike lanes on Montrose Avenue.

Rodriguez-Sanchez addresses the crowd. Photo: Imelda March
Rodriguez-Sanchez addresses the crowd. The ride t-shirt featured a rose, a symbol of the Democratic Socialists of America. Photo: Imelda March

In my conversation with Rodriguez-Sanchez, I noted that it is sometimes difficult for constituents to find out about projects that will affect them. She said most alders submit a list of infrastructure improvements they would like in their wards to the Chicago Department of Transportation. In turn, CDOT provides the City Council member a list of the projects that have been approved for their district.

Asked why some communities have better cycling infrastructure than others, Rodriguez-Sanchez explained that, while alders have the power to block bike projects in their wards, on the other hand, they can't dictate to the transportation department exactly what kind of bike facilities get installed. In addition, since all wards get the same amount of discretionary "menu" money for infrastructure, $1.3 million, that cash is spread thinner in less dense, geographically larger districts with more miles of streets.

The ride takes off. Photo: Imelda March
The ride takes off. Photo: Imelda March

Most of the event participants seemed to live in the 33rd ward. However, a rider named Erin said he traveled from the neighboring 47th Ward to support Rodriguez-Sanchez because he likes her leadership. Oboi Reed, founder of the mobility justice nonprofit Equiticity, also rode from his home in North Lawndale to attend.

After the ride took off from the 33rd Ward Working Families offices, it rolled east on Montrose Avenue towards Horner Park and then took park paths to the brand-new underbridge below Irving Park Road that was the last link in the 312 RiverRun. There was a happy, celebratory vibe – pretty different than what you'd experience at a typical aldermanic fundraiser golf outing.

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