The COVID-19 pandemic may have wheeled Brookfield's annual Bike Brookfield event off the calendar this past May, but thanks to collaborative efforts between the village and the neighborhood nonprofit bicycle advocacy group Cycle Brookfield, the wheels are once again in motion.
Brookfield is now preparing for not just a new day, but an entire week to celebrate cycling.
Since 2015, Bike Brookfield has been the village's way of bringing people together to enjoy the fun of recreational biking, learn the importance of bicycle safety and show how getting around town on two wheels can put a whole new perspective on neighborhood travel.
The event, which has become an family-favorite, typically features a kids' bike rodeo promoting bike safety and a 10K community ride -- an opportunity for both seasoned cyclists and the occasional rider to explore all Brookfield has to offer, from picturesque nature areas along the Salt Creek Trail to the business districts and tree-lined neighborhood avenues.
But for an event that draws nearly 400 people each year, organizers knew that the risks associated with large crowds and emphasis on social distancing meant the regular Bike Brookfield event couldn't take place as normally planned.
"Instead of just moving the one-day event, we said, 'We really don't want to see huge groups of people around each corner hanging out by a street sign," said Christopher Valadez, a Brookfield resident and founder/vice president of Cycle Brookfield. "We wanted to organize a truly safe event, but give people time to participate in whatever their comfort zone for cycling is."
With that in mind, the village and Cycle Brookfield reimagined the event into Bike Brookfield Week -- a multi-day, interactive and self-guided ride through Brookfield in which participants have seven days to travel to 20 designated Bike Brookfield stations set up throughout the village.
Between Aug. 1 and Aug. 7, cyclists will be able to ride their bikes through the village, stop at the various Bike Brookfield stations and scan a QR code that will reveal bike-centric information about the area around the station.
Codes will include insight into existing bike-friendly infrastructure (like designated bike lanes) and local bike servicing stations (like the new self-service bike repair station located at the Congress Park Metra stop), as well as provide an opportunity for user feedback as the village continues working to improve conditions for biking in town.
The first 200 participants to complete the entire virtual course will win a free Bike Brookfield T-shirt and be entered into a raffle to win additional prizes courtesy of local businesses. Prizes will be distributed to winners on Aug. 7.
Though this year's event looks different, Valadez says the goal remains the same: creatively promoting a bike-friendly culture through the village for residents young and old.
"Beyond the idea of safe riding, the event shows how you can pass by schools, the library, stores and wherever people get to by car and show friends and neighbors new ways to get around," he said. "It's really more of a festival than a bike ride."
As in years past, the event will include outdoor stations at popular locations including the Brookfield Village Hall, Brookfield Public Library and local businesses.
Valadez hopes Bike Brookfield Week will also spread the word about Cycle Brookfield, the nonprofit inspired by Bike Brookfield.
"We just really wanted to inspire people to get out on the streets of Brookfield and ride their bikes," Valadez said. "It shows people how they can really travel across town for recreation and exercise."
And, the event is not limited to just Brookfield residents. Valadez says event organizers hope cyclists from across the area come to Brookfield to learn about what the village is doing to make the town friendly for everyone.
"We want people to take the time and enjoy the many areas of Brookfield as much as possible," he said.
For more information on Bike Brookfield Week, including event logistics, visit Cycle Brookfield's public Facebook page.