Velodrome Updates for Immediate Distribution
UPDATE: $350 pledged as of 1:30pm today; $1900 to go.
UPDATE: $450 pledged & donated as of 2:30pm today; $1800 to go.
UPDATE: $825 pledged & donated as of 3:30pm today; $1425 to go.
UPDATE: $1150 pledged & donated as of 5:00pm today; $1100 to go.
I love my adopted home: Chicago. I can’t say I like everything about this location and the world knows we have our local problems, but opportunities and teamwork found in the midwest are unique and various communities here often work together to realize a better future.
If your time is limited, please skip to the final few sentences below…
Cyclists here have been enjoying expanding amenities- lots of bike lanes, the 606/Bloomingdale Trail, more press about bicycle use, a strong local advocacy group, lots of organized public rides… For the “sporting cyclist”- inner-city teams have been growing, there are more opportunities to race, the Ed Rudolph Velodrome in Northbrook is one of the best in the country, the Chi-Cross Cup is awesome on many levels, the Garden has gotten big and we have the Big Marsh MTB park opening soon.
These things aren’t easy to achieve and shouldn’t be taken for granted. We almost lost the Northbrook Velodrome 14 years ago when the costs/benefit of completely repaving it was on the table. The Cross Cup wouldn’t have been possible without local racers negotiating with the Park District; years before the Parks had closed down racing because of “parking in the grass”. The Garden would have been re-developed a few years ago if it weren’t for dirt riders and jumpers taking a stand. Big Marsh didn’t come out of nowhere either. Somewhat related- see what the Kenosha Velodrome is going through right now.
My point is that we’re always fighting a struggle to improve our situation here at home and that’s how it needs to be, to insure future local benefits for ourselves, our families, our friends and those millions of people we don’t know but who still matter for our society’s fabric.
Politics is in the news a lot recently but let’s not fool ourselves- the government can’t help with all of society’s problems and we do have a lot of power to make things happen in our city. Settling for the “safe bets” will only get us so far and we have in front of us the opportunity to make or break the velodrome in South Chicago.
Velodrome racing is a small sport with about 100 (my guess) active, licensed racers (beginner to the top) living inside the city of Chicago. One thing to keep in mind- trying to draw volunteers and funds from the pool of existing track racers is asking a lot, especially considering they’re already supporting one facility 35 miles from SCV.
If it’s a small sport, why should the public support it? And hasn’t the South Side already had a chance to embrace it (built in 2011) and they passed on it? We should be careful not to reinforce cyclical, self-fulfilling “backward movement”. An “odd”, small sport takes longer to establish in a new geographical place and there are no established best practices for “getting your community to embrace velodromes”. However- once the facility takes hold, it’s not unreasonable to imagine the racing community growing exponentially and with more demand- adding more facilities to the city and suburbs down the road.
Some say that the velodrome isn’t working now because of aspects of it’s beginnings. That’s not a valid stance when considering a reasonable approach to humanity and time. Let me be clear- all of us can find faults when scrutinizing others, especially if it’s regarding things in the past and the other perspective isn’t represented fairly. We have the power to work toward the objectives we hold important for our city’s future and we shouldn’t expect anything less of ourselves.
The initial reason this track was built was as a hold-over until a $45M multi-use facility could be backed and this was following Chicago’s failed bid for the 2016 Olympics (which would have brought a similar velodrome). The Chicago Velo Campus fundraising didn’t have the momentum to reach their goals and they pulled out late 2014. CVC’s objective wasn’t to run and maintain a small velodrome so it’s reasonable that they’re not involved anymore. Though the small velodrome was originally intended to be replaced- CVC’s absence meant the track was going to be removed and that’s when SCVA formed (now IRS 501c3) with the intention to save the track and make it publicly accessible. Getting the track here- no one risked more than Emanuele Bianchi (no relation to the bike co.) who made a lot of sacrifices and redirected much of his personal time to the velodrome’s needs. He gave Chicago a big gift with the velodrome’s presence; I can’t thank him enough. Others have brought temporary velodromes to the city (John Vandevelde most recently) but it’s been generations since we’ve had one (in the city) that’s made a big impact.
This isn’t an opportunity that presents itself often. And with inner city velodromes currently being a “one or none” situation- the choice should be clear: the South Chicago Velodrome should be saved.
This local effort is facing a “point of no return” before this week is over. Most of us agree that saving a public bicycle facility on Chicago’s South Side can benefit numerous communities in this great city. Having one less velodrome in the city isn’t something anyone is working toward but there’s one immediate hump that needs to be crossed in order to carry on after Friday June 10- we’re about $2250 short of the insurance installment (scheduled cancellation Saturday).
Assuming the insurance is covered by Friday night- surface repairs will commence next week and the track should be fully rideable in a few days. This is the final insurance payment before the land lease gets re-negotiated, during which we hope to secure a more reasonable insurance requirement.
Some new people are getting involved in the effort, some overhead costs will hopefully be reduced soon and things are almost set to start riding.
Please donate today, share news of this need and consider volunteering soon.
The fastest and most efficient way to donate is through QuickPay from Chase Bank- addressed to “firstname.lastname@example.org”, followed by Paypal payments to “email@example.com” (~3% overhead and 1-3 days) and at gofundme.com/SoChgoVelodrome (~8% overhead and next day deposit). Checks and cash can be sent to South Chicago Velodrome Association, 1310 N. Clybourn Ave., Chicago, IL 60610 and local pick ups can be arranged. Payments toward this insurance payment must be made by end of business day Friday June 10.
Thanks for reading and contributing to the collective effort.
There is more to expand upon with today’s post including my low involvement the last few months and SCVA’s need to have more people in leadership positions. For now- let’s do what we can to encourage positive change.
reach me any time- 872-588-7282 (Luv-SCVA)