ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Almost a week after a 61-year-old bicyclist was left in critical condition after a hit and run, Rockford bicyclists will raise more awareness on rules of the road during a festival this weekend.
It will be the 12th Annual “Tour De North End. It is all about raising awareness and showing support local businesses.
“In celebration of all the businesses in the North End neighborhood, a reason to get some new people over to our neighborhood and bike around, because I think we have one of the most bike friendly neighborhoods in town,” said Zak Rotello, organizer of ‘Tour De North End.’
The bike festival and block party has showcased the community’s interest in biking for over a decade by connecting cyclists with local businesses. Dozens of vendors will line the city’s North End, open for bikers to go check out.
Each rider will receive a passport to collect stamps from the surrounding shops. The more stamps collected, the better the odds residents have of winning the festival’s grand prize; a new bike.
Bike safety is an increasingly important issue to the Rockford community.
“When they register at the front desk, they’re are going to get a League of Illinois Bicyclists ‘Rules of the Road,’ that is one of the big things that we push all day. While we do have a mixed-use bike path, walking path on the west side of the road, linking together all the north made businesses, some people choose to ride on the road, which is legal,” Rotello said. “We just encourage drivers to give the cyclists three feet, we encourage the cyclists to learn the rules of the road and follow the rules of the road. So, it’s just one of those things that we can do a little bit of goodwill and kind of promote safe cycling in our neighborhood.”
Rotello hopes that the festival encourages the city to become more bike friendly.
“Use this as a way to kind of encourage other people to talk to their alderman and their elected officials and say, ‘Hey, we’d like to connect more of those bike paths, we’d like to connect more of those paths throughout the city,’ so if you want to get to the East Side, you can do that on two wheels,” Rotello said.
Residents do not have to participate in the bike ride to join in on the fun. All are welcome to go to the event for the music, food and to visit vendors.
The “Tour De North End” will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. this Saturday. More information can be found on the event’s Facebook page.