Apparently no one told the Evanston Bicycle Club that a major parade would kick off at noon today in downtown Waukegan just as the bulk of 2,100 cyclists would be pedaling by in the 26th annual North Shore Century ride on a picture-perfect Sunday.

Cyclists gather outside the ETHS field house before departure.

But club officials, aided by a cadre of volunteer amateur radio operators in a small room off the Evanston Township High School Field House, quickly turned a potential disaster into a minor headache as they routed the riders around Waukegan’s annual Hispanic American “Fiestas Patrias” Parade on the final sector of a 100-mile roundtrip ride from Evanston to Kenosha, WI, and back. An optional shortcut from Gurnee to Waukegan was available for those who wanted a shorter 70-mile trip.

Clear skies, low humidity, and mild temperatures attracted a record number of cyclists for the annual benefit that helps the club raise more than $25,000 that they donate to youth groups and advocacy programs aimed at making the world safer, healthier, and enjoyable for bicyclists. Last year, some 1,800 registered for the event, while this year’s unofficial final total was 2,163, according to a club officer.

Some cyclists complained of being ticketed in Kenosha for running stop signs and in Lake Forest for riding three abreast. On one stretch, broken glass was reported on the roadway. Otherwise, there were a few flat tires and at least one incident of two cyclists colliding, with only minor scrapes or bruises reported.

About 20 members of the North Shore Radio Club handled communications for the event. Four of the hams manned the Central Command, while the rest were stationed at the five rest stops and in seven support vehicles.

Volunteer ham radio operators at Central Command.

Disabled riders would phone the Central Command, which would radio instructions to nearby support vehicles that would give the cyclists a hand and even a ride to the nearest rest stop, if necessary, where refreshments and repair facilities were available. The support vehicles were equipped with tracking radios (also supplied by the hams) that posted their locations on maps displayed on laptop computers at Central Command.

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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  1. How ironic, because last

    How ironic, because last weekend no one told me that while driving, I would be inconvenienced by over 100 bicyclists as they took over the roadway and disregarded traffic laws. It’s frustrating isn’t it?

  2. Riding three abreast

    I am happy that cyclists got ticked in Lake Forest for riding three abreast. Cyclists are obligated to follow the rules of the road when cycling on the road. Cars are not allowed to travel three abreast in one lane. Cyclists shouldn’t be either. 

    1. Cars travel three abreast on

      Cars travel three abreast on every occasion that provides sufficient space (Edens Hwy?).  If you have not noticed, 3 bikes require less space than a single car. 

      Bikes try very hard to coexist with car traffic (even though they have the moral high-ground in terms of pollution, exercise, etc.) .  When they are in small numbers, bikes try to avoid being obstructive to their fellow road-users.  When they are enjoying a big Sunday event, it would be nice if the police used their powers to help enable and protect cyclists, not harrass them. 

      1. Every summer, I ride as many

        Every summer, I ride as many organized rides as possible. However, I get annoyed by big groups that are riding 3 abreast, sometimes even more. I rode the 62 mile route in the North Shore Century and at various points I rode behind large groups that did not obey any law and were incredibly rude, spilling over more than 2 lanes of the road, running red lights. You’d announce "car back" and nobody would move to the right, when basic etiquette demands that you go single file and allow cars to go through safely.

        Such behavior endangers all other cyclists — it is hard to go pass these large groups. Besides, once you provoke rage in a driver, he/she will treat all cyclists the same. In short, it’s agood thing people were ticketed for riding three abreast.

  3. If bicyclists can be scofflaws, so can car drivers!

     I suggest the next time a person driving a car comes to a Stop sign that he/she looks both was really quick and goes through it.  Same thing with a red traffic light.  Also, when a driver goes to make a left turn at the Stop sign, he/she should just put out their arm and indicate the way their turning and just make the turn w/out stopping at the stop sign – same thing for a red traffic light.

    I wonder how long drivers would get away with it.

    So some of the poor babies got ticketed for breaking the law … isn’t that just a terrible shame … why should they have to obey traffic laws … talk about entitlement!! 

    The only way the road is going to be safer for bicyclists is when they learn how to obey the laws.

  4. Drivers justifcation for acting superior and being, well stupid

    Is this the best level of discussion you guys can come up with?  You deem another’s action inconvienent or inappropriate and you tar a whole group with it and use it to justify your own poor behaivor.  Kind of childish.

    The issue of who’s worse, motorists who break the law or cyclists, is that a cyclist that hits a car pretty much NEVER kills the driver or passengers, yet the reverse is too often the case.

    Thus you cannot treat, nor complain as deeply about the errant cyclists that breaks the law. They rarely kill even a pedestrian, though it does happen, much less inflict any kind of injury whatsoever on a motorist.

    The trouble is the drivers, and the law needs to get re-written to the effect that if you hit a pedestrian or cyclist, you are automatically assumed to be at fault, by virtue of an inability to control your vehicle.

    We could go round and round trading the little stories inconsequential about who is worse.  The point is drivers (and most cyclist are drivers too) carry the greater burden as their vehicles impose the greatest risk to other users of the right of way.

  5. Let’s share the road!

    Wow; a lot of discontent here.  This is really a great event from which many benefit.  I know that EBC strongly encourages following all rules of the road for safety for motor traffic, pedestrians and cyclists. 

  6. Bikes vs Cars

    I’m a cyclist and a car owner and I firmly believe that riding 3 abreast should never be done.  I hope the police issue tickets every time they see this occurring.  I don’t even think it’s that safe to ride two abreast.  Whoever thinks cyclists should stop at stop signs obviously has never ridden a bike much farther than around the block.  It totally breaks your momentum to stop, and if you stop at every sign, the ride would take much more effort and be much less enjoyable.  How much energy does it take for a car’s driver to put his/her foot on the brake?  A bike can stop on a dime.  A car can’t.  A car running a stop sign has a couple thousand pounds of metal moving at about 20 miles per hour.  As a comparison, most cyclists can’t even maintain that speed unless they are going down hill.  A cyclist and his/her bike only weigh about 200 pounds or less.

    Those of you who think the cyclists are in your way when you see them on the road should remember this – we don’t want to be in your way.  We don’t feel safe when we’re in your way.  We’re only there because the road is poorly designed and there is no other place for us.  Don’t tell me to ride on the sidewalk.  That’s even more dangerous for the cyclist.  It is impossible to get around on a bike without getting in the way of automobile traffic.  If you want to get bikes out of your way, talk to your congressman about road design that accomodates all modes of transportation.

  7. A parade of Bicycles vs. parade of Hispanics vs. parade of cars

    A parade of Hispanic musicians and revelers, ten abreast, filled the street, inconveniencing a parade of 2200 cyclists who were riding 100 miles– mostly in small groups that occasionally clustered more than two abreast within a single lane, inconvenienced a few motorists who drove as many abreast as the lanes allowed.  

    A group of cyclists is a different beast.  It has different physics and sociology than:  a parade, a train, a single cyclist, a car, a group of cars ( e.g. funeral procession, or leaving a concert /game), or a garbage-truck emptying bins, etc.  Normally we tolerate different types of road use, realizing that parades and garbage-trucks drive slowly and erratically, trains aren’t expected to stop for road crossings, mail and UPS trucks must often double-park to deliver xmas gifts.  Tolerate and allow others to achieve their goals or enjoy their sport. 

    The cops helped the traffic cope with the parade but they chose to ambush the cyclists for riding in groups.  That probably ruined a beautiful day for a number of cyclists.  (Many cyclists would say that one of their favorite things about large charity events is the riding in groups.)   You can best hear rock-music on head-phones but many get extra enjoyment from the outdoor concert scene. 

    Long Bike rides don’t demand that the police close the roads (with the exception of "Bike-the-Drive")  -like parades, marathon runs, and construction.  Cyclists prefer to allow motorists to drive among them (hopefully, with care and consideration) rather than demanding that roads be exclusively reserved for them. 

    Police should attempt to protect the cyclists (and help the cars coexist with them) not harrass them for being good cyclists. 


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