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Help Northwestern Compete in the Bike to Work Challenge

Now is the time to get out your bikes for this year’s Bike to Work Challenge. This two-week event encourages people across the Chicago region to commute by bicycle. The Active Transportation Alliance runs the event as a means of promoting biking as a sustainable and healthy means of commuting. This year, the competition runs from Friday, June 15 through Friday, June 29. Students, faculty, and staff members can participate and help Northwestern compete against other local schools.

To participate in the challenge, sign up to join the Northwestern University team and log your rides. Every ride counts, even a short connection to public transit. You can log trips through the website or on the Bike to Work Challenge app. The app helps conveniently track your rides with GPS and earn points for the Northwestern team. Every ride you log also enters you for a chance to win prizes like Clif Bars, Kryptonite locks, and cycling caps.

During the 2017 challenge, Northwestern participants rode nearly 8,300 miles to win the challenge in the category for Chicago area in educational institutions with 2,500 to 4,999 employees. Northwestern has bested the other organizations in this category for the past two years. By biking to campus, participants will also help Northwestern achieve one of the transportation objectives identified in the University’s Strategic Sustainability Plan – to increase bike commuting by 10 percent by 2021.

To help everyone get rolling, sustainNU will host bike pit stop events where cyclists can register their bikes, purchase discounted bike locks, and get their bikes checked out by a professional bike mechanic. There will be a pit stop on the Chicago campus on Tuesday, June 19 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. outside McCormick Hall. The Evanston pit stop will take place on the Jacobs Center Plaza on Tuesday, June 26 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Staff from local bike shops will be available to assist cyclists with quick adjustments at both pit stops.

If you don’t have a bike, you can still participate in the challenge by riding a Divvy bike. An annual Divvy membership allows for an unlimited number of 30-minute trips and is available for $75 to all Wildcard holders with the Northwestern discount. Divvy also offers a 24-hour pass for $15 and a single ride option for $3.

Elizabeth Adamczyk works for University Libraries and serves as the co-chair of the sustainNU Transportation Working Group. She is a long-time cycling advocate and offered the following tips to help members of the Northwestern community get out on their bikes.

  • Getting started: If you are dusting off your bike for the first time in a while, it is always best to have a mechanic at a local bike shop check it over to make sure your bike is safe to ride.
  • Safety: Make sure your bike has a front headlight and at least a rear reflector (Illinois law requires cyclists to have both). Make sure you know how to ride your bike in traffic and use the Bike Safety Quiz to test your knowledge. Wear a properly fitting helmet in the way it is designed to be worn.
  • Navigating: To make your trip more enjoyable, take less trafficked routes. Seek out calmer neighborhood roads or bike trails.
  • Gear: Put fenders on your bike to keep the road grime off of you and your bike. Consider a pannier (a bag that attaches to a rear bike rack) or bike baskets, so you don’t have to carry everything in a backpack.
  • Clothing: While you can ride in your work clothes, it may be more comfortable to bring a change of clothes with you.
For more information on cycling, check out our Resources for Biking.