History of Break The Gridlock


September 2001, Enrique Peñalosa joined Critical Mass before the BTG conference.

Originally formed in 2000, Break The Gridlock grew from the energy, dining room tables and bar stools of area transportation activists who met through Chicago's Critical Mass rides. We needed a name and a bank account so we could act as an umbrella for grassroots projects such as such as Bike Winter (BTG currently acts as Bike Winter's fiscal agent), the Zoning for Transportation Equity Coalition (which fought hard for and won parking related reforms during the city’s zoning rewrite) and the Campaign for a Free and Clear Lakefront (ie Depave Lake Shore Drive). We are very grateful to the Center for Neighborhood Technology for being our first fiscal agent.

These early years are remembered for BTG’s amazing conferences, which hosted luminaries in the transportation/activism world, such as Jane Holtz Kay, the author of Asphalt Nation, and Enrique Peñalosa, former mayor of Bogota, Colombia, who was a pioneer of car-free days and Bus Rapid Transit. These conferences also featured workshops to help energize and educate local advocates.

In 2008, Break The Gridlock re-formed as a 501 c 3 service organization dedicated to helping grassroots projects by providing financial, organizational, and technology assistance. We also stay on top of transportation policy and funding issues via attendance at the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee and representation on the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s regional bike and ped task force.