Tour de North End doubles attendance in second year — organizer gives thanks

Buddah Barrios celebrates winning the Fat Tire Cruiser Bike in front of more than 500 cyclists. (Photo provided)

By Zak Rotello
Olympic Tavern Co-Owner and Tour de North End Organizer

My throat is sore.

My feet hurt.

But I’m smiling a lot today, because our second Tour de North End bike festival was another overwhelming success.

Last Saturday, July 14, more than 500 people joined us in Rockford’s North End neighborhood to promote safe cycling, sharing the road and having fun.

I hope the coverage of our event will encourage everyone to review the rules of the road, put the cell phone away, and pay attention while driving. It shouldn’t take a tragic accident to bring attention to bike safety.

Too often, cyclists use the wrong lane, drive the wrong way on the road, or fail to use helmets and bike lights. Conversely, many motorists aren’t aware that cyclists are legally allowed on the roadway, and that they must give at least 3 feet when passing.

So many people deserve thanks for their help in making this event a huge success — all the North End businesses and sponsors, Rockford Ald. John Beck, R-12, Chris Tanner at New Belgium Brewing, Robb Sinks and the crew at Kegel’s Bicycle, Planet Bike bicycle accessories, Gary McIntyre at RMAP, the Rockford Police Department and my very supportive and helpful family. Most importantly, I’d like to thank all the riders — it’s really you who make this event so incredible.

I truly believe Rockford’s North End is a great place to live, and I can’t describe how proud I am with the growth of a project that began as a simple bike ride. I hope everyone got some exercise, learned a little about bike safety, and got a small sample of the great places and people who make up our neighborhood.

Cheers to you, Rockford.

Ride safely.

Zak Rotello

From the July 18-24, 2012, issue

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