Results for tag "peoria"

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Dinner & Bikes feeds the mind in Peoria


For a few hours on May 29, downtown Peoria, Illinois, had a vegan bookstore. And all Bike Peoria President Erik Reader had to do to make it happen was ask Elly Blue, Joshua Ploeg, Joe Biel and Aaron Cynic to add central Illinois to their 2015 Dinner & Bikes tour of the Midwest.

“If it wasn’t for Twitter, I would have never been able to connect with cyclist and author of Bikenomics, Elly Blue (@ellyblue) a few months ago,” Reader wrote on

Blue welcomed the Twitter invite. “That’s all it took. And we were able to work out the details with them. They were able to organize the kind of event that we wanted to do, and the city fit into our tour schedule this year.”

IMG_4219The format of Dinner & Bikes is simple. You walk in, linger at the long table holding bicycling-oriented t-shirts, books, booklets, stickers and pins, load up your plate, visit with your neighbors, watch videos separated by raffle ticket drawings and wander back to the table to buy whatever Portland-inspired communications strike your fancy.

It’s over all too soon.

But what you learn during the evening is that bicycle advocacy is about more than improving the infrastructure we all use; it’s about people of all backgrounds discovering the bicycle and, in turn, discovering new things about themselves and their communities.

It’s a positive message and, for the most part, a Spandex-free message, though it’s only fair to note that Spandex had at least a couple of vocal supporters among the sold-out audience in Peoria.

I asked Blue a few questions before she folded up shop at the Dream Center downtown and, the next day, headed to Chicago to catch Amtrak’s Empire Builder back to Portland.

Tell me a little about your publishing company, Microcosm.

What don’t people know about Microcosm? Microcosm is 20 years old, and it started out as a record label. I was only peripherally involved until the beginning of this year when I became a part owner and marketing person, so now it’s my full-time job, whereas before I was observing from a distance. This is my job-job.

To judge by what I read on, bicycling there is in a bit of a funk. What’s going on?

I was most involved in local bicycling issues in Portland from 2006 to 2008. At that time, there was this really exciting atmosphere that I think other cities are experiencing right now, where everything was possible, everything was changing so rapidly, and like everyone who was involved felt like they were really involved. And that reached a plateau, or even a peak.

And since then, I think there’s been this, sort of like, Portland got all this attention. It was like the number one bike city in the U.S. This cottage industry sprang up promoting how great a bike city Portland was and positive changes have continued happening, slowly, at the infrastructure level, but in terms of the movement of people, the culture of people on the streets, things really stagnated, sort of.IMG_4209

Critical Mass stopped happening, because people were, like, oh, we don’t need it any more, and that actually turned out not to be true. And the local advocacy organizations were caught up in internal drama and turmoil, and only recently things have started shifting in a more interesting direction.

I’d even say in the last month or two there’s been this like sort of coalescing, and unfortunately, it’s happened around tragic accidents. But coalescing is really heartening to see, and there are other things that are exciting. It’s not the same people who were in power the whole time. There are other groups that are doing really cool, interesting, useful stuff.

IMG_4201What’s the most hopeful thing about bicycling in general?

Communities all over the country, especially cities and smaller towns in the center of the country, are starting to get over this idea that, oh, that’s something that happened in Portland, that’s the thing they do in Portland, we could never do that here, and are starting to be, oh, we could do that better, and we could do it our way and then, they’re doing it. So that’s the most exciting thing I’ve seen.


Take me to your Reader. Erik Reader

Erik_Reader_0029-2In 2013, Erik Reader wrote about walking in Pekin, specifically walking to the grocery store–a simple task 100 years ago but more challenging in the 21st century due to consolidation in the food industry. (The fact that we call it an industry points out another change in the grocery business.) Consolidation–the loss of the corner grocery store–reduced the number of stores, increasing the distance between people and their grub.

A walkable catchment, or ‘ped shed,’ maps the area one is willing to walk to get to their destination is a good tool for looking at the reality of the situation,” he wrote in 2013. “A 1/4 mile radius equals 5 minutes and a 1/2 mile radius equals 10 minutes. Generally, once you get out of that range you’re more prone to taking something more convenient than your own two hooves.

He walked 14 minutes that day and turned that walk into a question for his readers: How far would you walk for food? It was a rhetorical question–the answer is pretty clear: Most people will walk to their car.

And today, it will take them about as long to drive to the store as one hundred years ago it took to walk–which can be discouraging if you think about it long enough.

Perhaps, say, during a walk.

Today, Reader, president of Bike Peoria, continues to exercise shank’s mare, but organizationally he’s more focused on travel by bicycle, a form of transportation with its own unique challenges. “Personally I’d rather have a walking movement and more walkable communities, but that’s not as exciting as biking. Walking number one, biking number two, bus and train three followed by driving.”

And that’s why we met at Two25 downtown to talk about bicycles and Bike Peoria, not about walking and Schnucks. The pizza was pretty good, too.

Tell me a bit about the Bike Peoria journey.

We really hesitated from making this a formal organization for such a long time because of existing membership groups trying to get people to ride bikes. Additionally, there were so many different people with such a variety of different viewpoints involved, which gave us many directions to consider.

150We think we’re filling a gap where other organizations weren’t quite tackling the advocacy side of things. So we were able to insert ourselves immediately into something that wasn’t there. But with doing that comes expectations, some fair, some otherwise, but things had to be more organized for the sake of growing the movement.

To me, it seems like there’s still that traditional consensus that things have to be organized in a manner that other people can understand for them to participate, donate, etc. And so you can answer questions like, “What does a more bike-friendly Peoria look like and what areas are you serving?” You have to be able to explain the mission and vision–aside from we all like to ride our bikes and be around other people who ride bikes.

So we took a lot of raw energy and formalized it, which is interesting with a lot of creative different minds and personalities. You have people who just want to get out and ride, people who really just want to do advocacy work, and other people who want to work on bikes.

Getting the foundation built is extremely important for sustaining success, but it’s not much fun. We’ve done a bunch of legal, financial and planning stuff behind the scenes. I’m a glutton for punishment.

962Yes, Bike Peoria now has legal non-profit status. What does that mean?

bike peoria logo smallOur non-profit status legitimizes and adds credibility to the movement, but it also allows people to donate to us and get that tax exemption, just like when you drop off a bunch of clothes at Goodwill. We are able to apply for grants for bike-related infrastructure, host events, and receive funding which will keep the wheels of progress moving.

So the focus is the city of Peoria?

For simplicity’s sake I think we have to focus on Peoria, but that’s not to say we shouldn’t care about other areas. Even from an advisory standpoint it helps to be in the mix. Some of us live in different cities and work in fields professionally that could help make changes possible.
For example, two of our board members work for the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission. Our eyes and ears are open to things going on around the region, but because there’s so few of us we have to concentrate our efforts at the moment.

What are your hopes for 2015?

A couple of well-structured events that have Bike Peoria continuing to collaborate with other organizations and get more people on their bikes for everyday purposes. A big opportunity is the Bike Peoria Co-op, and we’re trying to program that with more workshops and educational activities.

The city-wide bicycle master plan should be completed, but the biggest thing I want to see is the public works department continue to implement some of the things we’ve wished would happen. Things like bike lanes, signage and racks. Slow progress is what needs to be made. Continuing to build off each year’s progress is going to be crucial the next four to five years.

Where do you get your inspiration?

I was always riding my bike as a kid. To practice, a friend’s house or downtown where I grew up in Geneva.

However, spending a semester abroad in the Netherlands kind of shaped what I thought could be possible. It was something of a novelty to me 10 years ago, but later I recognized how the way they did things could transform how you function daily.Leeuwarden

They made a decision, in the sixties, not to be so car-reliant, and when I was living there I didn’t have a car. It was easy to walk everywhere. When we first got into town they showed us where we could rent a bike. For $25 you could rent a bike for the semester. You could ride to the bar, ride to school. It was natural.

They also had great public transportation in their bus and train systems. It made it almost effortless to not have to get into a car. There, we used a car maybe five times in five months. Here, people use the car for every little occasion, whether it’s going to the grocery store or getting your hair cut.

You live in Pekin but you’re working on Peoria. Why?

Even crazier is that I moved from Dallas to Pekin to work in Peoria. My wife is from Pekin and the transition there made sense at the time. Peoria has its issues as a post-industrial city but still has many assets. I see it as a blank canvas to work on with a lot of things. 

In Pekin I tried, but we’re not there yet. Culturally speaking that is. They’re working on Court Street right now, they have a trail going out to the east part of town. Pekin’s known for the park system, but they haven’t figured how to connect all the dots with an overriding leisure and recreational lifestyle with infrastructure that builds it into your everyday life.

So when there was activity about starting up a group like this in Peoria, I wanted to get involved. People are the ones to push policy makers to understand its importance. For me, it’s not about hating cars but simply trying to build more equitable, easy-to-get-around cities.

How can someone get involved in Bike Peoria?

We can get you plugged in to where you want to be, whether it’s planning an event, raising awareness, working on bikes or leading a ride. The public is welcome to come to our first Tuesday meet-ups where we talk business and bikes. Visit us virtually at, then email us at Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to join the conversation.




Bushwhacker CX a Cyclocross Event


On October 27th,  join us as area cyclists ride and race over the terrain at Bradley Park.  Expect to be cheered on as you ride around a 1.5 mile course across grass, sand, the Japanese bridge, and more.  You’ll start near the pavilion by the tennis and sand volleyball courts. This February’s event brought snow, mud, laughter, and cheers at Expo Gardens and now we’re ready to do the same at Laura Bradley Park.

With the success and popularity cyclocross has earned over the last few years, a group of central Illinois race directors decided to join in on the fun and start a race series. Bushwhacker jumped on board to sponsor the first event in the Peoria area.  The race is expected to have near 100 cyclists compete in four different categories. The event starts with a first timer/beginner friendly 40 minute race, followed by the 50 minute expert race, a 40 minute women’s and juniors race, and finish up with an open race for everyone to participate in. The course will offer something for everyone, easy enough for beginners, yet challenging for the faster cyclists.

Bushwhacker CX Feb 2013

What is cyclocross?

The origin of cyclocross is somewhat debated, but the Belgians claim to have started it all.  It is a form of bicycle racing requiring competitors to complete laps 1.5-2.5 miles long as many times as possible in a given amount of time.  Courses are about the width of a lane of traffic, mostly on grass, through fields and forests, and require riders to dismount over small obstacles, sand, or logs.  It is extremely spectator friendly, as crowds can line the course around fun obstacles to cheer or jeer riders as they pass.

The event will take place October 27, 2013 from 9:00am–2:00pm with races starting at 10:00am.  Beginners race for 40 minutes starting at 10am, Experts for 50 minutes at 11:00am, Women and Juniors at 12:15, and an Open Race for all classes will be held at 1:20.  Prizes will be awarded to top finishers in each class and due to the proximity to Halloween there will be a best-costume prize as well.

For additional information on the Bushwhacker CX, please visit or call Brad 309.692.4812.

Bushwacker CX Facebook Event Page


People Like Us

PBCSo you want to take your cycling to the next level? Well there’s a club for that. Have you heard of the Peoria Bicycle Club?

Peoria Bicycle Club is set up for the cyclist in the Peoria area to meet other competitive cyclist and be part of a local team recognized by USA cycling association. Our club includes cyclist male and female, and juniors from all category ranges. Our team focus’s on training for racing, with lots of resource’s available like a world class indoor training facility and USA cycling certified coach. Anyone interested in taking up their cycling fitness up a notch, this is the club for you.

Ride over and see the PCB at


Bikes Around Town

I always see this one parked behind Simantel in downtown Peoria. Just wanted to say thank you for riding to work and totally dig your bike!



Kickapoo Fat Tire Festival

The Kickapoo Fat Tire Festival is coming up on August 24-25th. If you haven’t ever taken part in it, or don’t know what it is, the festival is put on by the Kickapoo Mountain Bike Club and is a weekend of fun at the beautiful Kickapoo State Park. There is riding fun for all skill levels.


The Kickapoo Super D will take place on Saturday, August 24. For this event we will have race day registration only ($10, open 9:00 am – 11:00 am), so come early!
The race starts at 12:00 pm. We will offer an open class with cash payout.

The Kickapoo XC will take place on Sunday, August 25. We highly recommend that you save $5 by pre-registering. Simply head over to our registration page to register online, or to find our printable form.

  • Race day registration will open at 8:00 am: $35
  • Pre-registration saves you $5! Get your $30 spot by going to our registration page
  • The Novice race at 10:00 am
  • Fatbikes (>3in tires) at 10:05 am
  • Men’s Sport and Men’s Expert at 12:00 pm with a staggered start.
  • All women’s categories will begin at 12:10 am.
  • A free kid’s race, which will take place on the kid’s loop, will begin at 11:30 am.

Each class will race the following:

  • Fatbike: 1 lap
  • Novice: 1 lap
  • Sport: 2 laps
  • Expert: 3 laps

I highly suggest that you go check it out even if you don’t want to ride. For more information visit the event website here.


People Like Us

PambaWe are always trying to find like-minded people or groups who are out doing great things in the area. One group is PAMBA, the Peoria Area Mountain Biking Association.

You may not have a street riding side to you, but deep down you are a rugged trail rider at heart. That’s cool, we get it. If you don’t know about PAMBA, here’s what they’re all about:

The mission of the Peoria Area Mountain Bike Association (PAMBA) is to promote off-road bicycling through education, trail creation, trail maintenance, and social events.

PAMBA was formed in April of 2000 in order to promote and protect some of the best off-road cycling areas in the Midwest and to promote the sport of mountain biking throughout the Peoria area.

Ride over to their site today and find out more!

City Hall

Bikes Around Town

Guess where?

City Hall

Have you spotted any bikes or bikers around town? Send us some pics of bikes around town to bikepeoria [at] gmail [dot] com


How Bikes Can Save Us

We here at Bike Peoria enjoy the simplicity of riding a bike, but we also love technology. Infographics are changing the way we look at things, and they’re doing it in such an appealing way. Let’s start with this one.

Transportation alone accounts for 20% of an American family’s budget, the 2nd biggest cost after housing [STUDY]. Easily one of man’s best inventions and most underutilized inventions, the bicycle can help us Americans save: money,  lives, and ourselves from one of man’s other greatest inventions – the automobile.

This infographic puts it all into perspective that, well, just maybe, bikes can save us.



Guest Post: What Would It Take For You To Bike Peoria?

Our tires are pretty pumped about having our first Guest Post here on our blog. When it comes to creating a movement or a culture change, it’s not always about who speaks the loudest or the most often – it’s about giving people a voice who don’t normally speak out about something they’d like to see done differently. Thank you to Sondra  for taking a minute to put those thoughts down for us to share!


What Would It Take For You To Bike Peoria?

Guest Post by: Sondra Ruffner, Peoria resident


When I was first learning to ride a bike, I would excitedly wait for my Dad to come home from work so I could ask him if he could take my training wheels off. He would usually give in to my request and with a twinkle in his eye he would help me on my bike and give me a little push start. I would eagerly peddle for a minute then suddenly realize I was doing it all on my own. I would hesitate and subsequently fall over.

It’s funny to look back and think about the excitement I felt and the hope I had that I might finally be ready to ride without training wheels. Oh the freedom!

I know individuals that let nothing get in the way of their love of biking. I have seen die-hard bikers on route 40 headed north, and I have friends that have biked across the United States, but most people I know that enjoy biking are casual riders and aren’t training for a race or a cross country biking trip!

People shouldn’t feel limited and guided by these extremes: a) Extremely dedicated despite physical safety b) Extremely desperate to ride in safety so they exclusively use special designated safe trails (paved or otherwise, most often a place they need to drive to).


I know others that make the extra effort needed for them to ride to work or the supermarket and end up turning it into an integral part of their daily transportation needs. It would be rewarding to be part of a community/society that promoted being regularly out and active, over being primarily in cars rushing from one indoor spot to the next.

Peoria has potential to be very bike-friendly. It has a good grid and network of streets, several parks with trails, as well as plenty of shopping locations and places of interest to become destinations. So why don’t we see more bikes on the road? I think it revolves around the amount of time it takes to bike to a destination and the level of safety one feels while out on the road.

I have seen a few signs dictating designated bike routes and I live close to one that I have not used. I have no desire to use it mainly because it goes into University Avenue (there is no bike lane or cross walk to walk your bike across to the route – I’ve seen lots of car accidents happen there – so I believe they expect you to just dart out into 45mph traffic and hope for the best) and has you use the turn lane which will lead you into a neighborhood that essentially leads to nowhere.

My problem with this particular bike route scenario is that many motorists don’t pay attention to other cars or motorcycles (for various reasons), and they also don’t pay attention to pedestrians (where there are/aren’t sidewalks), so why would they pay attention to me slowly peddling in a regular lane? It is nice that these routes exist, but they shouldn’t be confused as our safer option when they aren’t.

If we want to ride, we should feel free to do so efficiently with motorists while also feeling a certain level of safety. I believe that bike lanes and bike parking would provide a mental and physical awareness to drivers that there are others on the road and reassure bikers that they have a place to ride and a place to lock up and park.

If Peoria had a physical place for me on some of its primary roads, I would most certainly bike more. What would it take for you to bike Peoria?


Would you like to contribute to the Bike Peoria blog? All thoughts are welcome and no, you don’t have to be a pro. Please contact us with your thoughts and ideas!


Sunday Sunny Sunday

I’m pretty sure we’re all sick of the rain around here by now, so today looks to be a great day to get out and ride. There’s a lot happening around  Peoria, so make sure if you’re going, go by bike!

Day 2 fun of Bike Summer:

  • Bike to Church – Didn’t make the early service? Join your fellow parishioners, clergy men and women in riding your bicycle to service on the holiest day of the week.
  • Where’s The Rack, Peoria? – Where’s the Rack Ride – Come out and have some fun riding bikes with friends while helping to complete the Peoria bicycle rack map! We’ll start at Terwyn Park (2219 Idaho Street) around 7 AM, and split up in teams to cover major streets in Peoria (Sterling, University, Sheridan, Knoxville, Wisconsin, & Prospect) noting locations of bicycle racks along the way. All routes will end back up at Leaves and Beans in Peoria Heights for coffee & prizes! This ride is FREE and helmets are REQUIRED to participate. We will not be returning to Terwyn Park after the ride is over, so we highly recommended you ride your bike to the start! All routes will be between 8-10 miles. Please bring a camera or camera phone with you to help document the rack locations. Notebooks will be provided if you do not have access to a camera. For questions, please contact Mike Honnold at 309-696-2591 OR

Also, there is the Market On Moss today from 9-3. If you haven’t been in years past – it’s a must do. Check out their Facebook page to find out more Market On Moss.

Send us your pictures of you around Peoria on bike! Instagram or Twitter #bikepeoria


What Would A BICYCLE Friendly Peoria Look Like?

Daniel Waite

I’ve lived in, and ridden my bike in Peoria for the past 2 years. I’ve often wondered why riding a bike here isn’t as easy as in other cities. From nearly being ran over by cars to getting yelled at – I’ve wondered, what would a bicycle friend Peoria look like?

It could be a safer and more reliable city for alternative forms of transportation while transforming the way people travel from one place to the other but it also has the power to completely transform and reincarnate a depleting economy and positively affect whole neighborhoods.

Many people in our city have developed the point of view that a bicycle is merely a toy or a tool used to help the less fortunate get around. While this has a sliver of truth, it has also propagated to encompass an image of urban cycling while members of our community who have a strong passion for cycling sit on the curb in despair.

Some would say that it isn’t fair and we have been forgotten. I call your bullshit and say its our fault as a community to have allowed this to become the current ideal and the problem we have to deal with on a daily basis. Please spare me your empathy and take a stand this time.

We can start by riding our bike. RIDE! RIDE! RIDE! Ride everywhere! Get up 20 or 30 minutes earlier in the morning so you can commute on two tires rather than four. Ride the 3 miles to the grocery store to get that gallon of milk while getting a some exercise in. We can take a stand by riding and abiding by the law that protects our basic rights as bicyclists. Ride on the right side of the road with traffic and have the proper lighting or visuals while riding at night.

Its easy and simple. The only way we are going to show motorists that we should also be on the road with them we need to actually be ON THE ROAD with them. No matter how rude or stupid some people can be we have to muscle forward and show them we mean business. Stand strong and make your presence known!

After my little motivational lecture I think its time talk more in-depth on what cycling has to offer an everyday citizen. Things you should consider while pondering your decision to ride or drive.

Cyclists on average live two years longer than non-cyclists and take 15% fewer days off work through illness. (CTC)

On the same urban route, car drivers were exposed to more airborne pollution than cyclists, despite the cyclists’ higher respiration rates. (Rank, J., et al., 2001)

The bicycle industry is estimated to support 1.1 million jobs and generate nearly $18 billion in federal, state, and local taxes. (Outdoor Industry Foundation, 2006)

Aside from these positive benefits to your health and wallet, you also have the freedom to go where you want when you want without the hassle of traffic or parking. It is a great way to move around freely with very little effect to the environment while pleasantly exploring your city and interacting with your community.

It has been proven that the more bicycle and pedestrian traffic on a street the more businesses will pro?t and this will also give them a reason to be open during non-work hours. With that happening the city can and will be a desirable place to spend an evening with your family and enjoy the amenities of a vibrant community.

Imagine a flourishing downtown Peoria on a warm summer night. Riding to the riverfront with your family and friends, enjoying some ice cream and watching a movie or live music in the park. Or being able to just cruise through the streets safely while enjoying an atmosphere full of arts, dining and events surrounding families. It’s a large but simple task. It all starts with you (:GETTING ON YOUR BIKE:)

While many people have ambivalent or cynical ways of looking at us and our views, it’s the basic fact that these are our rights and we should defend them. If you’re looking for a way to become a part of something and stand up for what you believe in then please take action and RIDE YOUR BIKE EVERYWHERE.


Bike Peoria and this site are dedicated to starting a movement to get more people on their bikes not just for recreation, but for everyday life. Follow along as we ride, write, and advocate for a more bike-friendly Peoria.