The Calhoun County, Illinois Board of Commissioners passed a new Bicycle Ordinance in April 2022.
Trailnet has been mapping beautiful bike routes through Calhoun County for 16 years. Calhoun is the third-least-populous county in the state of Illinois—a peninsula nestled between the Mississippi and Illinois rivers just North of St. Charles County, where scenic country roads wind through local peach orchards, past small towns, and along the river. In other words, Calhoun County is a cyclist’s dream.
Unfortunately, our most recent ride through the area—the 2021 Ride The Rivers Century last October—brought to light some of the county’s long-time struggles accomodating large events. When nearly 500 people on bicycles (equal to over 1/10 of the county’s population) rode off of a small ferry and onto county roads, some residents were overwhelmed.
When Trailnet caught wind of county residents’ grievances, we immediately reached out to representatives from the Calhoun County Board of Commissioners to open a dialog and try to make things right.
Trailnet Rides Director Matt Hartman attended an initial council meeting on February 25, 2022. Since then, Trailnet staff have remained engaged in conversations with Calhoun County to make sure that cyclists and residents can operate safely and in a manner that is mutually beneficial for years to come.
“Prior to our meetings, Calhoun County didn’t have any established event permitting or application processes. The County Board knew this was something they were lacking so we [Trailnet and Mike Weiss from Big Shark] offered to help define and establish some guidelines to assist them in creating one of their own,” said Hartman
When we plan our rides, we work with cities and municipalities across the region to make sure we acquire necessary permits, collaborate with police and fire districts on our routes, create full safety plans, and track riders from start to finish via our TraQ Central app. Rides through Calhoun County should be no different. But with a small Sheriff’s department and a fully volunteer-based emergency medical staff, they do not have the capacity to provide the resources some other counties can.
Additionally, in order to ride through this picturesque area, we have to send our riders down narrow roads with no markings, and as local constituents pointed out, we are often riding during their harvest—the busiest time of year in farming communities. Together we discussed how to keep our riders safe in these unique conditions.
“The point of this ordinance is not to try to push riders away,” said Keisha Morris from the State’s Attorney’s Office. “It is intended to foster these relationships, improve communication, and make sure the community is well-prepared when large rides come through.”
Below you’ll find the most recent copy of the Bicycle Ordinance of Calhoun County, Illinois. Though we contributed our expertise to the drafting process, this final ordinance was written and ultimately passed by the Calhoun County Board of Commissioners in partnership with the State’s Attorney’s office.
“The new ordinance and permit process fulfill the requests of Calhoun County community leaders and allow more seamless communication between themselves and outside event organizers,” said Hartman.
With this partnership and these guidelines now in place, we look forward to more scenic rides through this gem of the St. Louis region!
For information or questions regarding the Calhoun County Bicycle Ordinance, contact Keisha Morris at the IL State’s Attorney’s office. email@example.com or 618-576-9013
Trailnet’s initial group of 12 Walk Bike Ambassadors are now trained advocates! Their day-long training on January 23 featured a variety of activities and speakers, including St. Louis Alderman Christine Ingrassia and St. Louis County Councilor Pat Dolan, who provided their views on effective advocacy. Richard VonGlahn of Missouri Jobs With Justice presented a two-hour “empowerment training,” outlining key elements of organizing people and campaigns.
The Ambassadors are developing their plans for the year, which will focus on at least one of Trailnet’s priority campaign issues. They will work in their respective communities to build relationships with key leaders and organize residents who are supportive of Trailnet’s work.
Bicycle Fun Club (BFC) Rides and Events: great volunteers assist before each ride by helping staff set up tables and tents, sell tickets, work registration, sell memberships, hand out maps and refreshments, answer general questions, and clean up. BFC volunteers ride free at the close of registration AND receive a free ride voucher for a regularly priced BFC ride of their choice!
Trailnet’s Bike Expo includes a variety of vendors to peruse for the latest bike programs, events, groups, gear, and trinkets. Check out the list below! Vendor booths are still available, register today.
Trailnet’s 10th Ride the Rivers Century was another outstanding success. More than 480 participants admired the scenic confluence of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers at the new event location in beautiful Pere Marquette State Park. We had 46 amazing volunteers help assemble ride packets, set up registration, welcome riders at rest stops all along the route, and assist with teardown.
Set-up began before sunrise at the Marina Pavilion where riders picked up their packets and sipped hot chocolate and coffee supplied by Mississippi Mud Coffee Roasters. Morning temperatures were in the upper 50s but the sky was clear and the sun was bright.
With the new location, riders boarded the Brussels Ferry in the first mile and traversed the challenging hills of Calhoun County. The new location also offered a metric century option that crossed the eastern section of St. Charles County and rejoined the full “traditional” century after crossing the Clark Bridge into Alton, Illinois.
At the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, riders enjoyed buffet-style lunch and entertainment provided by Big Chief and the Smoke Signals. Riders faced their biggest challenge of the day along the Mississippi River Road – a 20mph headwind. This obstacle entitled riders to bragging rights at the finish and a much-deserved celebration.
At the after-party, hungry riders were in for a treat. Riders enjoyed a fresh fish dinner courtesy of master fish fryer Joe Beck. Beer was provided by Morgan Street Brewery and Noe & Diekemper entertained with live music. Dropping their wristband tabs in bins at each of the four rest stops, riders listened as winners were announced for prizes (two $100 gift certificates and two $125 entries to the Southern Illinois Fat Tire Festival) from our shop sponsor Bike Surgeon. As dusk approached, the day wrapped up welcoming the final riders to the party.
About 400 cyclists lucked out with a beautiful day for a bike ride. The temperature started off in the low 50s with clear blue skies and no wind. As a pre-ride warm-up, cyclists enjoyed Mississippi Mud coffee brewed and provided by Sacred Grounds in Edwardsville. Biking on roads that were once part of old Highway 66 and on sections of the Madison County Trails, cyclists viewed many original iconic Route 66 buildings. Cyclists on the long route had the opportunity to visit the Mother Jones Monument and a rest stop at the historic Soulsby’s Shell Station in Mount Olive. After the ride, the annual Route 66 Festival was just a short walk away in the Edwardsville City Park.