This morning I woke up at 2:30 AM so I could take the train downtown to check in for the Bike the Drive. This is an event that I participated in last year as a rider, but today I volunteered as a Course Marshal. Even though I did not have to be at my station until 5 AM, check in time was 3:45 AM.
As I left my home, the local bar was just closing and I biked past many of the exiting patrons. When I arrived in the loop I stopped to pick up some coffee and got to the check in booth at Jackson & Columbus where I received a walkie talkie and volunteer t-shirt. I grabbed some water, topped of my coffee and arrived at my station at Monroe & Michigan about 4:15 AM.
The Bike the Drive is a fund raiser for the Active Transportation Alliance that involves closing Lake Shore Drive to vehicular traffic and allowing bicyclists on to bike from the loop to either the north or south ends of LSD or both legs. The Chicago Police are responsible for closing entrances and giving the organizers the all clear signal.
My station was on a street corner that was closed to vehicular traffic, but open to pedestrians and bicyclists. The intersection was managed by the City of Chicago Traffic Management Authority, and I worked with them to permit authorized vehicles admittance. Some of the vendors at the after festival had access for deliveries.
Only a handful of cars & trucks passed the barricades, but thousands of bikers rode or walked past during my shift from 4:30 to 10 AM. It started as a cool morning, but by 8 AM it got to be almost 90 and by 10 AM the temps were over 90 degrees and I was glad to head off.
After I dropped of my radio I stopped at the festival to get a complimentary pancake breakfast and a few bananas. There was a band playing, but I decided to head home and go back to bed.
It was interesting seeing all the bikes and I enjoyed working with the TMA staff who really had their work cut out for them. I’ll definitely consider volunteering next year, but may choose a location closer to home or pick a later shift!