Frequently Asked Questions


What are the most important details I should know about the event?

Three most important details you need to know: 

1. The event takes place on Sunday, May 24. And the sooner you register the more money you’ll save:

>> Save $7 until noon February 2, 2015 (save $2 extra with a coupon code from an MB Financial Bank center)

>> Save $5 on all registration deals until noon on March 2, 2015

>> Save $2 on all registration deals until noon on March 23, 2015

>> Standard base price for all registration deals March 23 - May 5, 2015

>> $5 Late Registration Fee begins at noon on May 5, 2015

>> Last day to register and have rider materials mailed to you—May 10, 2015

>> $63 Day-of Fee on Sunday, May 24 (T-shirt not guaranteed)        

2. Your packet of rider materials will be mailed to you if you register between Jan. 23 and May 10. If you register after May 10, you must go to a packet pickup location to receive your rider materials.

3. All riders must display their rider number, helmet number and wristband while participating in the ride (these items are contained in the ride packet). Displaying these items shows you are a paid participant, allows access to rest stops along the route, and will later allow you to find professional photos of yourself.  Refer to your included ride guide for more information on how to display your rider numbers.


Can I volunteer?


MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive relies on volunteers before, during, and after the event. Your skills, from data entry to working as a course marshal to helping with teardown, will help the event be the best it can be. We will work with you to find the most rewarding use for your talents and limited time.

Visit the volunteer page or contact our volunteer coordinator Carmen at 312.216-0489 or email 



Do I get anything special if I’m an Active Trans member?


You get a $5 discount on your event registration. Not a member? You can add a membership to your registration.

Stop by the Active Transportation Alliance tent at the post-ride festival, we’d love to meet you. We’ll have special goodies to thank you for your continued support, and news on recent victories for biking, walking and transit. 

Will Metra allow bikes?

Yes. A number of Metra lines will get you and your bike downtown for the event. Check with Metra for schedules. You can also bring your bike on CTA buses and trains

Why should I pay when I can just ride on the Lakefront Trail?

Thanks for asking! There are several reasons.

• MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive is a fundraiser that benefits the Active Transportation Alliance’s work to improve biking, walking and transit. Your registration allows us to continue our fight to make walking, biking and transit safe and easy.

• Lake Shore Drive is usually crammed with cars, but during this event, the historic road is transformed into a tranquil bicycling utopia. Come enjoy the camaraderie and connect with a larger community of bicyclists.

• Lake Shore Drive is built higher than the Lakefront Trail, giving you stunning views of the lakefront that can only be appreciated from a bike, and an unparalleled view of Chicago’s world-famous skyline. 

What charity does MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive benefit?

Event proceeds benefit Active Trans!

The Active Transportation Alliance is a nonprofit, 501(c)3. Proceeds benefit our work to improve biking, walking and transit. New this year is the option to fundraise for Active Trans; this is an optional opportunity to get a richer experience from this ride. 

If you declined this opportunity when you signed up but changed your mind, let us know at

Can I participate in MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive with inline skates?

No. For the safety of all participants, inline skates, quad roller skates and Trikkes are not allowed.

I don’t have a bike. What should I do?

MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive participants are eligible for bike rental discounts! Click here to find out more.

Why should I become a member of the Active Transportation Alliance?

Members are the momentum we need to build a movement around biking, walking and transit. We envision a region where there are half as many crashes—because half the population gets around on foot, by bike and on transit. You want safer streets and more bike lanes and trails. We need members to make that happen!

As an Active Trans member, you receive the Chicagoland Bike Map, discounts at local businesses and events, and we’ll keep you informed and engaged through our newsletters and volunteer opportunities. Join by registering for MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive with a package option that includes membership and save 15% on the event and membership.


What does the registration fee go toward?

All proceeds from MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive support the Active Transportation Alliance’s work to make the region better for biking, walking and transit. 86 cents out of every dollar raised goes directly back into advocacy efforts that make your community a better place for biking and walking. We have been making bicycling better in Chicagoland for nearly 30 years. Learn more about our mission and work.

Your fee also pays for the event’s costs. The event’s costs include permits and food, route closures and police barricades, toilets and tents—and countless other items. We wouldn’t be able to produce this event if your registration fee didn’t offset those costs.

How do I register?

See our sign up page for more information on registering.

Is the event accessible to everyone?

Yes, anyone and everyone! The MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive is for cyclists of every kind, age and ability. We want to ensure your participation. If you have a special need and we’ll need to make arrangements for you, please contact Katie at 312.216.0471.

If your barrier to enjoying this event is the expense of paying, visit to learn about our scholarship program.

Do I become an Active Trans member when I register?

No, but if you’re not a member, we sure wish you would join! You can choose a registration option with membership that allows you to save  when registering for the event and joining or renewing. Learn about the many benefits of membership here!

I’m having trouble registering online.

If you have trouble signing up online, please contact Katie Leisner, Events Registration Manager at or through the event hotline at 312.216.0488.

I would rather not register online. What should I do?

We strongly encourage you to register online, but we do have a paper registration form. Download this form and have it into our office by Monday, May 4, 2015. 

You can also visit any packet pickup location to register and receive ride materials on the spot but  you will incur a $5 processing and $5 late fee. 

How do I know my registration was received?

When you submit your registration online, a confirmation screen will appear. You will receive an email confirmation entitled "Thank You for Registering for MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive." Other adults for whose registration you paid will receive the message: "Someone has Registered You for MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive." 

If these emails are not received immediately, please check your SPAM folder and/or confirm you entered the correct email address when registering.  

These confirmations offer proof that your online registration was processed; please save these for your records. The charge on your credit card will appear in the name of the Active Transportation Alliance – the nonprofit organization that produces and benefits from this event.

Questions? Contact Katie Leisner, Events Registration Manager at or through the event hotline at 312.216.0488.

Can I register my child?

You can register youth participants (17 and under) for $16 each, which includes the official event T-shirt. All paid registrants, including youth, are required to wear wristbands and special rider and helmet numbers.

You can add a youth registration for the Boulevard Lakefront Tour - Four-Star Throwback Ride for $10 each, which includes a T-shirt.

T-shirts are not included for any day-of-event registrations.

My children are riding in a trailer—do I need to register them?

Our rule is: if you pedal, you pay.

Children in trailers do not need to register. However, every tagalong or tandem rider must register and wear his or her wristband and rider and helmet numbers.

Can I have a refund?

No, registration for MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive is non-refundable. All proceeds from the event support the non-profit Active Transportation Alliance’s work to make Chicagoland safer and more fun for all transportation users.

How do I get my rider materials packet?

When you register by Sunday, May 10, your packet of rider materials will be mailed to you. You’ll also have the option to upgrade to have your t-shirt mailed to you. If you register from Monday, May 11 - Saturday, May 23, you’ll need to go to a packet pick up location.  

Registration confirmation is required to pick up your packet. Remember, you can pick up any family members’ or friends’ packets as long as you bring their confirmation emails.

I missed the mailing cutoff; can I pick up my packet on the day of the event?

Yes, but it is highly recommended that you pick up your packet before the day of the event to avoid long lines, which cut into your time enjoying the ride on Lake Shore Drive.

Why is there a $5 increase starting May 5?

We charge a fee starting May 5 to offset the additional resources it takes for us to order last-minute T-shirts and food for the rest stops and to process and manage registrations closer to the event.

Sign up early to avoid the increase and to have your packet mailed to you. Check out the discounts here, and look for coupon codes in our advertising and through our sponsors or partners.

What should I do if my packet has not arrived in the mail?

Did you register before the May 10 mailing cutoff date? If yes, then review your confirmation email to ensure that you entered your mailing address correctly.

If the information is correct, but you have not received your materials by May 15, please contact Katie Leisner, Events Registration Manager at or through the event hotline at 312.216.0488 for assistance.

Can I register the day of the event?

Yes, if the ride is not sold out. Day-of-event registration is $63 and does not include a T-shirt.

I’ve registered, but I’m not receiving emails about the event. What should I do?

Your spam filter might be blocking our messages. Check your junk mail for event communications and add “” to your list of safe senders. We cannot keep you informed if we cannot reach you.

Why do I have a processing fee added to the cost of registration?

The processing fee covers the cost of registering online. This fee is standard among all major registration sites and includes credit card transaction charges. 

Can my registration fee be deducted from my taxes?

Your event registration is a donation that does not exceed the fair market value of the goods and services received, and is not eligible for a tax deduction.

However, memberships and donations that are processed with your registration are considered charitable contributions and may be eligible for a tax deduction.

Donors will receive a receipt acknowledging the value of charitable contributions after the transaction is processed. 

Why isn’t there a packet pick up location in my community?

While we strive to offer opportunities for people around the region to pick up packets, we unfortunately can’t be in every community. Everyone who registers before the final three weeks leading up to the event receives their packet in the mail.

Packet pickups are an unfortunate challenge for last-minute registrants, which is why we encourage people to register early. We do offer the opportunity for one person to pick up multiple packets as long as they have all the registration confirmation emails for the people they want packets for.

The Ride

Where can I park downtown?

Go here for directions and parking information.

What do I need to bring?

Rider and helmet numbers, helmets and wristbands are required. In addition, bring your bike, appropriate clothing, a water bottle and spending money. See the event info page for more information.

Why must participants wear rider and helmet numbers and wristbands?

Your rider numbers and wristbands are proof you have paid for this fundraiser. They entitle you to participate and to access the rest stops, festival refreshments and services.  We will be asking registrants to show their numbers at checkpoints along the route. Your rider and helmet numbers are required for safety. They’re also needed so you can easily access professional photos of yourself on the route. You can register your number before the event and get notification once photos have been posted.

Where does the ride start?

For your safety, all participants must start at one of the below locations. We strongly discourage starting at any other point along the route. Visit the Route and Timing page for more information.

·         Columbus Drive and Jackson Drive

·         Bryn Mawr rest stop

·         Museum of Science & Industry rest stop

·         Fullerton check point

·         Oakwood check point

Can I start biking anywhere along the route?

For your safety, all participants must start at one of the below locations. We strongly discourage starting at any other point along the route. Visit the event info page for more information.

·         Columbus Drive and Jackson Drive

·         Bryn Mawr rest stop

·         Museum of Science & Industry rest stop

·         Fullerton check point

·         Oakwood check point

What if it rains?

MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive will be held rain or shine. If there is a serious weather warning, please check our website or call the event hotline at 312.216.0488 for further information.

Refunds are not available. Your investment in this event directly supports our work to make Chicagoland better for bicyclists, pedestrians and transit users.

When should I arrive to start my ride?

Visit this page for suggested guidelines on when to start your ride. The route opens at 5:30 a.m. and we encourage you to start early. Take advantage of a beautiful morning on the lakefront and start your ride early. The earlier you start, the longer you can ride—prime your engine with Dark Matter Coffee, available for purchase at 5:15 a.m. near the ride start. We recommend getting on the route by 7 a.m. at the latest.

The Chicago Police and the Office of Emergency Management and Communications approve the ride start and set the schedule. Participants will not be allowed to start after 9:30 a.m. Strict cutoff times are necessary to ensure safety for all participants in closing and reopening Lake Shore Drive. Please do not endanger yourself and others by ignoring these rules.

Allow adequate time to park your car or travel by public transportation. And if you choose to pick up your packet that morning, allow time to wait in line. We strongly recommend that you visit a local packet pickup location before the day of the ride, if possible, to avoid long lines and a delayed start.

What if I arrive late?

If you arrive late, you won’t be able to do the ride. The Chicago Police and the Office of Emergency Management and Communications won’t allow participants to enter the route after 9:30 a.m.

I’m not sure I can ride 15 or 30 miles.

MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive is a fun, laid-back ride where participants can set their own pace. If you can walk 1 mile, you can bike 5 miles. Make sure to check out our tips and training guides.

If you get tired, there are three rest areas with water, light snacks and toilets located along the route. Learn how to get ready for the ride.

How many times can I ride the route?

As many times as you can! Lake Shore Drive is 15 miles long. Bike just the southern loop (15 miles), the northern loop (15 miles) or the whole thing (30 miles)! You may bike as little or as much as you like during the event!

What happens if I don’t make the cut-off times?

Depending on your location along the route between 9:30 and 10:15, you may either be turned around to head back to Grant Park, or re-routed onto the Lakefront Trail, or not allowed back onto the route at Jackson and Lake Shore Drive. Please watch out for cars once you leave Lake Shore Drive—the roads that cross under Lake Shore Drive will be open to car traffic.

What safety concerns should I be aware of?

At Active Transportation Alliance, safety and security have always been the primary focus for our events. Visit this page to find out more.

What emergency medical assistance will be available at the event?

There will be three ambulances along the route. There will also be about 40 ride marshals riding the route, and they’ll act as the eyes and ears of the event. In case of an emergency, they have radio contact with the ambulances, support vehicles and ride marshal manager.

Can I go straight home after the ride or do I have to go to the post-ride festival?

You certainly don’t have to go to the post-ride festival, but if you miss it, you’ll be missing live music, food, exhibits and demos. Take advantage of this time to hang out with your friends, family and the biking community in Grant Park.

Where is volunteer parking?

There is no on-site parking provided for any participants, volunteers, sponsors/vendors, or staff, but we’re not abandoning you! See our directions and parking page for more information on where you can park.