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Cyclists enjoy scenic views as they ride along the lakefront.

Annual bike ride takes over Lake Shore Drive this Sunday

by Katie Dzwierzynski
May 24, 2012

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For the second Sunday morning in a row, parts of Lake Shore Drive will be closed to vehicle traffic. This Sunday, though, the scenic lakefront highway won’t be empty as thousands of bicyclists fill the lanes.

Bike The Drive, sponsored by MB Financial Bank and now in its 12th year, begins Sunday at 5:30 in the morning. It lasts until 10:15 a.m., an additional half hour longer than the event has run in previous years. People can start to ride anytime before 9:30 at the Columbus Drive and Jackson Boulevard starting line. 

The ride was extended because organizers wanted to make sure that as many people as possible have the chance to participate, said Ethan Spotts, communications director for the Active Transportation Alliance..

Last year, LSD attracted a record turnout of over 22,000 bicyclists, Spotts said. Bike the Drive is on track to lure about 20,000 riders this year.

“We asked the city for an extension in our permit, and we were glad they said yes,” Spotts said.

The alliance is a non-profit group that works to improve biking, walking and public transit options in the Chicago area. Bike The Drive is the alliance's major fundraising event for the year.

Bikers can ride the entire 30-mile loop, or opt to go just north or south bound for 15 miles. Rest stops with snacks and water mark various points as well.

This will be Eric Boyd’s tenth year riding in the event. Boyd, of LaGrange Park, said it’s a family tradition that began when his three kids were young.

“There’s a beautiful lake view, you get the chance to ride on Lake Shore Drive, and it’s something healthy to do as a family,” Boyd said.

Bike The Drive provides a unique opportunity and it is one that everyone should take advantage of, according to Boyd.

“People get to see a side of the city that they rarely get a chance to see,” he said. “We sometimes need to be reminded about just how special this place is.”

Because Lake Shore Drive will be closed to vehicles during the ride, city transit will be affected. Catherine Hosinski, media representative for the CTA, said that 10 bus routes will be rerouted from 4 a.m. until about 10:45 a.m.

Northbound bus routes Nos. 6 and 14, southbound routes Nos. 10, 130, 145, 146, and147, and eastbound routes Nos. 55, 81, and 84 will all be affected.

Trains will allow as many bicycles as there as space allows from 3 a.m. to 2 p.m. After that point, regular rules will resume and only two bikes per train will be permitted, Hosinski said.

A festival will be held after the ride that features music, food, and booths with vendors of various fitness products. The festival will take place at Butler Field in Grant Park and runs from 8 a.m. to noon.

Registration is for Bike The Drive is open until the event begins. The current cost to sign up is $48 for adults who are not members of the Active Transportation Alliance, $45 for adult members, and $15 for children (under 17 years old). Those fees include a t-shirt, and breakfast is available for an additional charge. If you register the day of Bike The Drive, the cost is $58 – and you don’t get a t-shirt.

To register, visit or sign up in person on the day of the ride.