As Bicycle Riding Continues to Increase in Popularity, CDOT Expands “Learn to Ride” Program Offering Free Bike-Riding Classes for Adults
Chicago’s SAFE (Streets Are for Everybody) Ambassadors Lead the Education Effort to Encourage Adults to Ride a Bike, a Safe, Socially-Distanced Form of Transportation
Mike Claffey 312.744.0707 | Michael.Claffey@cityofchicago.org
Susan Hofer 312.742.2006 | Susan.Hofer@cityofchicago.org
CHICAGO – The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced that in response to the growing interest in bicycle riding, it is expanding its “Learn to Ride” educational program for adults by adding more opportunities through an advanced level course, and also launching a new feature that will help adults “Learn to Commute.” This year’s first “Learn to Ride” class will be held June 1, and the public can sign up now for free classes taught by CDOT’s Streets Are For Everybody (SAFE) Ambassadors that are scheduled at three locations through the end of August.
“With the growth of our 350-mile plus bikeway network and the ongoing citywide expansion of Divvy, there’s never been a better time to pick up bike riding in Chicago,” said CDOT Commissioner Gia Biagi. “CDOT’s ‘Learn to Ride’ program presents a perfect opportunity for folks who have never ridden a bike before - as well as those who haven’t ridden in long time - to learn basic bike-riding skills and safety tips from the experts. And this year, we’ve added a new twist, ‘Learn to Commute.’ We urge anyone who is interested to sign up now because these classes usually fill up quickly.”
The growth in interest in bike-riding in the last year is attributed in part to the COVID-19 pandemic that has caused the public to seek out safe and socially-distanced forms of transportation and recreation.
CDOT and its bikeshare system Divvy last year launched a citywide expansion, starting on the far South Side in 2020, and extending to the Southwest and Northwest Sides in 2021. The expansion included the introduction of 3,500 new e-bikes last year, with another 3,500 coming in 2021. CDOT added 29 miles of new bikeways in 2020, about half of them in the Divvy expansion areas. CDOT is finalizing installation plans for 2021 but expects to complete about 40 miles of new bikeways in the year.
These free bicycle riding classes, which are funded through Divvy sponsorship revenue from the City’s bikeshare partner Lyft, are offered to anyone 16-years-old or over at three locations on the West Side starting on June 1. The two-hour class allows pre-registered participants to learn how to position themselves when riding in the bike lane, how to plan the safest routes before going on a ride, signaling and more. The course is designed to provide a better understanding of how to use a bike to get around Chicago.
Following are the dates, times and locations of the 2021 “Learn to Ride” classes:
- Tuesdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Divvy Station at 300 N Central Park Ave at Garfield Park Conservatory:
- June 1,8,15,22,29
- July 6,13,20,27
- August 3,10,17,24,31
- Thursdays, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., meeting at the Divvy Station located at 500 N. Sacramento Blvd. next to the Greater West Town Training Partnership:
- June 3,10,17,24
- July 1,8,15,22,29
- August 5,12,19,26
- Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon, at 1401 S. Sacramento Dr. at Douglass (Anna and Frederick) Park:
- June 5,19
- July 3,17,31
- August 14,28
- Saturday morning from 10 a.m. to noon, meeting at the Divvy Station at 500 N. Sacramento Blvd. next to the Greater West Town Training Partnership:
- June 12,26
- July 10,24
- August 7,21
For individuals 16 and older, who have successfully completed a “Learn to Ride” class and are looking to build confidence riding on the streets of Chicago, CDOT will be offering “Advanced Learn to Ride” classes at Seward Park at 375 W. Elm Street on the following dates:
- June 12,26; July 10,24; August 7,21 - from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
In addition to “Learn to Ride” and “Advanced Learn to Ride”, CDOT is piloting a new class called “Learn to Commute.” It is for participants who have successfully completed “Advanced Learn to Ride” and are looking to gain experience in bike commuting, especially during times of heavier traffic. It will offer guided rides of five to seven miles from five different locations on the South, West and North Sides ending at the Daley Center. This course will focus more on riding during the morning rush. Sign-up for “Learn to Commute” will open this summer.
Free use of a Divvy bike is offered to participants, although they can also use their own bikes for all courses. Reservations are required and granted on a first-come, first-serve basis for all courses. There are three ways to make a reservation: complete this Google registration form; send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org; or leave a voicemail at 312-736-2534.
All “Learn to Ride” classes are taught by CDOT’s SAFE Ambassadors, who are biking and safety experts, using bikes provided by CDOT’s Divvy bike share program. The classes are designed to help adults who have never ridden a bike, or haven’t ridden recently, to feel safe and comfortable riding a Divvy or any bike.
To ensure the safety of all, CDC guidelines will be adhered to. SAFE instructors will be wearing face masks and practicing social distancing. Participants will be strongly encouraged to wear a mask and hand sanitizer will be available.
Adult participants who have pre-registered for the two-hour classes will receive a free helmet, subject to availability. The classes are also open to children with a guardian if space is available, however, children under 16 are required to bring their own bike. Interested participants under 5 feet 3 inches are strongly encouraged to bring their own bike, as Divvy bikes are most comfortable for riders 5’3” and taller.
For more information about the SAFE Ambassadors and details about “Learn to Ride,” Click here.