Aug 3, 2008

Getting Started

The idea for this group was formed by Bruce Rosenzweig and Jay Fried after their Aug 3, 2008 accident which was on a typical and pleasant Sunday Velo Club Roubaix (VCR) ride that wound its way around Northern Cook and Southern Lake County when in Barrington Hills they were struck by a hit-and-run driver in a pickup truck pulling a horse trailer. Though badly injured, and some surgeries later, they are fortunately both still with us. It could have been much worse and has been worse for many folks cycling lately. Also fortunately this was the first time since VCR was formed in 1981 that there were a vehicle/bicycle contact accident on a club ride. So we are very grateful for that. But no doubt it is getting tougher out there with more and more people on the same roads every year and national newspapers reported lots of bike/car incidents summer and fall of 2008. For example, locally the discussion heated up in the Daily Herald a follow-up column about Barrington Hills, ironically both before the accident.

Bruce called a meeting a few days later on August 12 at his house while he was still pretty doped up from the crash and not walking much, so take note if you want to start something like this it probably helps to be a bit off your rocker. Ironically that same night we got a call during the meeting of a crash that had just occurred. On the Tuesday night Alberto’s ride Brendan and some others had gone done on St. Mary’s Road from a collision by a hit and run driver.

The next a meeting was held at Jay Fried’s house and folks from Chicago Bicycle Federation (now called Active Transportation Alliance) were invited to talk about how they do bicycle advocacy. We got excited when we heard about what those folks have accomplished over the years and especially what they have done recently in the west and south suburbs. So we decided to enlist their help for advocacy in our area here in the Northern Suburbs and Lake County. Some folks mostly VCR’s past-president Daryl Kunz, went about putting an invite list together and contacting all the other clubs and the bike shops and any other interested parties to come together and join forces and get behind the Chicagoland Bike Federation to get some advocacy done around here.

Way back I did some cycling around Oregon and you could tell things were better there. In 1971 Oregon implemented a roadway policy that took into consideration cycling and already by the late 70’s it was way more bike-friendly there then it still is around here. We learned from the experts at Active Trans that if we could get public policy improved for cycling we could make lasting changes that would make cycling safer and more enjoyable for all of us, whether you are out for a fast recreational ride with VCR or another racing type club, or commuting to the work, or for your kids riding around town or school. This is the idea behind the national Complete Streets movement. A Complete Streets policy requires that in all stages from planning though construction and maintenance, all users of the road must be considered, and that includes cyclists, pedestrians and transit users. This helps level the playing field among all roadway users. And now thanks to Illinois cycling advocates, in 2007 Illinois adopted a Complete Street policy which applies to state routes (not county or local). Please join us and participate to help improve cycling in our area!

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