CHICAGO — Last year, Alton Peterson and Shai Garcia set out on a two-person, two-wheeled mission — to explore Chicago on a bike, while working to expand accessibility and visibility.
Peterson and Garcia are co-founders of Cruise Chicago, a Queer, Trans/Non-Binary, and BIPOC-led organization that explores the city and region behind the power of the pedal.
“We’re biking on the historic Chicago boulevard system, Peterson told WGN’s Sean Lewis. “[They’re] some really great parts of the city.”
Since starting in 2022, Cruise Chicago has grown exponentially, now numbering in the hundreds. Past rides for the biker club have taken cruisers to Navy Pier, the Baha’i Temple in Wilmette and other areas, opening eyes and understanding.
“We are very, very inclusive. We have riders of all experience levels, all ages, all parts of our community,” Peterson said. “We’re just really focused on building and growing and expanding our group.”
The last ride of the season — dubbed the ‘Victory Lap’ — took place Saturday. The ride starts at AIDS Garden Chicago and travels about 25 miles from Lakeview to Bronzeville and Pilsen and back to the Garden.
This year, the ride also doubled as a fundraiser for the Test Positive Aware Network, or TPA, in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood.
“The money raised today will go to support many of our programs which include a needle exchange,” said Lorraine Hayes, from TPAN. “We also offer case management; we offer mental health services … HIV care, treatment.”
A new comradery formed, in a community that’s evolved into doing good on their last ride of the season.
The end of the path may be for now, but there continues to be a reason to ride in the future.