Gallery: Chicago Critical Mass marks 25 years (or is it 50?) by biking the Ike
Friday night drew the largest pandemic-era crowd ever to Chicago’s Daley Plaza for the 25th anniversary (or was it the 50th?) of Chicago’s monthly Critical Mass bicycle ride, in absolutely lovely weather. My ballpark estimate is that about a thousand people showed up for this installment of the protest-parade-party, which has served as a gateway to bike advocacy volunteering and careers for countess Chicagoans, including myself.
Here’s Michael Burton (a longtime friend of mine), who cofounded the monthly rides in 1997 (or was that 1972, as Burton insisted?) with Web designer Jim Redd, discussing the significance of this milestone during an in-the-saddle interview on Wacker Drive last night.
Friday’s event featured an unusual strategy for a Chicago Critical Mass ride. Typical the procession heads from the plaza to a destination in a fairly linear fashion. But Friday’s route returned to the Picasso sculpture two more times, with circuit visiting the West Loop and the Magnificent Mile before ending at 12th Street Beach. The ride was dedicated to CCM participant, monorail advocate, and erstwhile mayoral candidate Bill Wendt, who died in December 2020 at age 73.
Most notably, the last leg of the ride included an incursion on the Eisenhower Expressway and the Jane Byrne Interchange, the massive “spaghetti-bowl” Interstate exchange west of downtown. (Note that biking on Chicago expressways is illegal and extremely dangerous if attempted solo – kids don’t try this at home.) Here’s the route the ride took from Betrand Goldberg’s iconic River City Apartments to Taylor and Halsted near the University of Illinois at Chicago campus.
This was highly symbolic, since an ongoing project to expand the interchange has cost $800 million so far in taxpayer money, but it has little or no direct value for people who don’t own cars. So this action was a rare example of many car-free Chicagoans getting to use expensive infrastructure that is largely reserved for car-owners, including a curving access ramp between the Ike and the Dan Ryan Expressway that was rebuilt as part of the expansion.
Um…there goes @ChiCritMass pic.twitter.com/rVjGZrCDsN
— Bike Lane Uprising® (@bikelaneuprise) October 1, 2022
Here’s a travelogue and photo gallery of the anniversary ride. If you took part in the celebration, I hope you had as much fun as I did.