Thanks for another wonderful Tour de North End!

This past weekend (July 6), more than 500 bicyclists joined us at Tour de North End to promote safe riding, and they helped us raise more than $1,000 for a cycling charity. 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 enjoyed the great weather, learned the rules of the road, and got a sample of the great places and people that make up our neighborhood. We’ve elected to work with the Rockford Park District to use the donated money to install a permanent bike repair station along the bike path. These tamper-resistant service stations have all the tools that cyclists need to make simple repairs like changing a flat, or brake adjustments.

But we have a lot more work to do if we want to increase awareness and make our streets safer for bikes. Our elected officials need to make bike lanes and safety a higher priority, and our citizens need to hold them accountable. The next time you’re driving your car, and you’re upset that there’s a slow-moving cyclist in front of you, remember that it’s someone’s mother, child or brother. It shouldn’t take a tragic accident for us to pay attention to bike safety.

Every year, I see a few online commenters (usually anonymous) who suggest that, since I work at a “watering hole,” hosting a bicycle safety event is a bad idea. My response is always this: if there were someone else promoting bike safety in town, I wouldn’t feel obligated. But I don’t see the local media outlets running stories about how to bike safely with traffic. I don’t see police officers writing tickets for drivers who pass within 3 feet of a cyclist. I don’t see our local politicians rushing to create Public Service Announcements encouraging drivers and cyclists to share the road. I’m proud of what I do for a living, and I’m even more proud that we, as private businesses, are doing something positive for cyclists, for our neighborhood and our city.

Many people are responsible for making the TDNE a continued success — all the North End businesses and sponsors, Ald. John Beck, Chris Tanner at New Belgium Brewing, Robb Sinks and the crew at Kegel’s Bicycle Shop, and my very helpful family. Most importantly, I’d like to thank all the riders — it’s really you who make this event so incredible.

Cheers, and I hope to see you out soon on two wheels.

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

From the July 17-23, 2013, issue

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