Share your thoughts on Elk Grove Village Bike Plan

People biking in Elk Grove Village have long enjoyed riding in Busse Woods through meadows and woodland. Getting to Busse Woods by bike -- as well to other destinations in the village -- however, has been challenging.

To make cycling safer and easier, Elk Grove formed a Bike Plan Task Force. The plan, drafted by members of the task force, has been drawn up and is now open for your comments at the village website through February 15. Please share your thoughts if you live or ride a bike in Elk Grove Village. 

The draft plan includes a bike route system, signage for cycling destinations, and spot improvements that will make cycling safer in the Village.

The Friends of Cycling in Elk Grove Village have long advocated for a bike plan and are members of the Task Force. The group wanted to ensure that the plan focused on encouraging casual riders to feel comfortable riding to shops, schools and workplaces -- an excellent way to make cycling more family friendly!

Access to the large Busse Woods Forest Preserve is key for all -- including students at the high school across busy Arlington Heights Road.

Friends Treasurer Lee Skinner says that his group is “quite satisfied with results from five months’ work by people who were all new at the task.”

“We would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the respect and openness the village showed us,” said Skinner. “We really could not have expected more.”

The plan is a great way to make cycling in Elk Grove more comfortable for riders of all ages!

Want to help improve bicycling in your suburban community? Find out more about Active Trans’ Family Friendly Bikeways campaign.

New study shows safety benefits of separating bicyclists and pedestrians

We’ve heard repeatedly from Lakefront Trail users that creating separated trail space for bicyclists and pedestrians would make everyone feel safer on the path.

Now a new study conclusively shows separated space reduces crashes and the severity of injuries when crashes occur.

Sign our petition to separate bicyclists and pedestrians on Chicago’s Lakefront Trail.

The Canadian study, published in the new issue of the BMJ Open medical journal and covered by the urban not-for-profit Next City, is one of the first to analyze the relationship between route infrastructure and the severity of injuries resulting from crashes.

As other studies have shown and many advocates already know, the study underscored the importance of separating bicyclists from motor vehicle traffic with protected bike lanes and other facilities. Collisions between fast moving cars and bicyclists are more likely to result in serious injury than other types of crashes involving bicyclists.

The study’s findings on the safety of multi-use paths are more newsworthy. The authors found that crashes on sidewalks and multiuse paths, despite occurring off-street, were considerably more likely to result in ambulance transport and hospital admission, in comparison to crashes on major streets without bicycling infrastructure.

Twenty-seven year old Megan Williams was involved in one such crash with a bicyclist while running on the Lakefront Trail this fall. After recovering from the crash, she approached Active Trans and other trail advocates pushing for separated space for bicyclists and pedestrians on the path.

So far, more than 1,600 Chicagoans have signed our petition to the Chicago Park District to separate pedestrians and bicyclists and commit to other safety improvements. Sign and share our petition today

If you’re interested in getting involved in the campaign, please let us know. You can also donate to the campaign and renew your membership or join as a new member today to show your support.

CDOT releases 2015 street resurfacing plan

Though the 2014–15 winter hasn’t (yet) been as cold as 2014’s Chiberia or as snowy as 2011’s Snowpocalypse, the freeze-thaw cycles our region experiences each winter mean that potholes are inevitable.

The good news: Earlier this week, Chicago Department of Transportation released a list of 61 miles of arterial streets to be repaved as part of the city’s new annual standard of repaving at least 300 miles of roads!

For automobile drivers, potholes are quite a nuisance. For people biking, a pothole-ridden road can completely ruin a ride or potentially lead to dangerous crashes.

For those two reasons alone, the repavement projects are sure to warm a few freezing faces.

But beyond fixing bad pavement and patching potholes, resurfacing projects often provide the city an opportunity to install Complete Street improvements, such as high-visibility crosswalks or new bike lanes.

Neighborhood advocates should stay tuned for opportunities to help support walking and biking improvements as part of resurfacing projects happening in their community.

As a side note, be sure to check out how Jim Bachor is turning potholes into artwork in Chicago's Jefferson Park neighborhood.

Photo courtesy of Bike Walk Lincoln Park

Did you miss Winter Bike to Work Day on Friday?

Hundreds of winter cyclists descended upon Daley Plaza Friday morning to celebrate Winter Bike to Work Day and the first ever Roll the Cold Bike Challenge.
 
Winter Bike to Work Day commemorates the coldest day in Chicago history -- January 20, 1985 -- when the temperature dropped to 27 degrees below zero. 
 
Ronit Bezalel of The Chainlink was also there to capture the celebration. You can view her photos here.
 
Attendees mingled over warm coffee from Dark Matter, energizing electrolyte drinks from Nuun, cheesecake from Eli’s, various goodies from Clif Bar and free bike repair from Kozy’s Cyclery. FOX, NBC and CBS were there to report on the winter biking celebration.
 
Winter Bike to Work Day also marked the opening of registration for Chicagoland’s premier biking event, MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive.
 
MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive is the one time during the year that cyclists get to enjoy a sunrise over Lake Michigan and see iconic views of Chicago via a car-free Lake Shore Drive.
 
If you haven’t registered yet, you can receive a $7 early bird discount by signing up by noon on February 2, 2015. Want to save even more money? You can save an additional $2, for a total of $9 savings, if you stop by a Chicagoland MB Financial Bank location and grab a secret coupon code. And people who stop by MB Financial Bank will receive a deluxe CamelBak water bottle!
 
Last but not least, Michael Withers was annointed King of the 2015 Roll the Cold Bike Challenge for biking a whopping 267 miles during the week of January 17-23! Nice job Michael!

CDOT solicits input for placemaking guidelines

As a supporter of the Active Transportation Alliance, you’re most likely familiar with the idea of Complete Streets, the design approach that requires streets to be designed for safe, convenient use by users of all ages, abilities and modes of transportation.

A great pairing to Complete Streets is the philosophy of placemaking, a multidisciplinary approach that incorporates community building and neighborhood identity into designing community spaces.

In fact, the first principle in placemaking is to treat the community as the expert — that is, to design places with residents rather than for them.

Here in Chicago, the Chicago Department of Transportation is developing placemaking guidelines for the city’s streets and sidewalks and the department is soliciting input before launching a citywide survey.

To make your voice heard, head to CHIdeas.org and join the discussion!

Photo of Chicago People Spot courtesy of Streetsblog Chicago.

Pace proposes bold rapid transit expansion plan in Chicago suburbs

On Tuesday Pace – the suburban bus division of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) – unveiled a proposal it has submitted to the federal government to “change the suburban transit environment” with expanded bus rapid transit (BRT) service.

The proposed network would build upon the agency’s bus on shoulders and arterial bus rapid transit (ART) programs, connecting communities across the six-county area that currently lack quality rapid transit options through express bus service.

See the map of the proposed network in the Chicago Tribune.

These relatively affordable options are a critical aspect of solving the region’s persistent suburban connectivity challenges. As we and other advocates have said for years, our current hub and spoke transit system feeds Chicago’s downtown area well but fails to connect many other neighborhoods and communities where the vast majority of Chicagoland residents live, work and visit.

Despite the relatively modest price tag for this type of high-impact network, Pace leaders have said the likelihood of it being fully funded by the federal government is slim, considering the country’s current budget limitations and gridlock in Washington, D.C.

That’s why we continue to work with the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) to advocate for a dedicated revenue stream locally to help fund transit improvements and expansion in Cook County. You’ll notice many of the ART routes in our Transit Future vision are the same or similar to the routes featured in Pace’s most recent proposal.

You can support rapid transit expansion and projects like those outlined in Pace’s proposal by signing our petition to the Cook County Board of Commissioners. You can also volunteer to help spread our message and organize transit supporters in your area or donate to the campaign.

Photo courtesy of Pace. 

South and West Side advocates demand better cycling

You may have heard about a group of advocates who recently asked the City of Chicago to create better conditions for cycling, including more bike lanes and Divvy stations, on the South and West Sides. With the South and West Sides too often misrepresented as cycling deserts, it is fantastic to see local cyclists like Oboi Reed, Shawn Conley and Peter Taylor (Taylor serves on our board of directors) leading the charge for better biking!

Local support is the most important factor for securing new bike infrastructure. Active Trans is coordinating with these advocates to help build support for expanding Divvy, rolling out more bike lanes and making other bike infrastructure improvements, like advocating for improved bicycle access to the planned Big Marsh Bike Park. 

Unfortunately, transportation inequity cuts across all modes of transportation on the South and West Sides. 

Bike facilities are still inadequate despite significant progress in recent years, and more broadly there is a lack of Complete Streets that safely accommodate biking and walking. Unsafe intersections and crossings, wide streets with fast moving cars that are difficult to bike on or get across, and crumbling sidewalks are unfortunately commonplace. All of this can make biking and walking on the South and West Sides difficult.

Just as crippling is rapid transit service that doesn’t get people to job centers and other destinations in a reasonable amount of time, slow-moving buses stuck in traffic, and Metra trains that don’t stop enough or at all in the city.

Red Eye reported on the advocates this week, and the story attributes comments to me that one might read as saying that the South and West Sides shouldn’t expect the same investment in cycling as the North Side. My point, however, was that it’s not fair for the city or anyone else to use the lower rates of cycling compared to the North Side as an excuse to not provide bike facilities.

That’s not a fair comparison given the lower population densities on the South and West Sides and because some destinations, like grocery stores, are further away and not within an easy ride.

But cycling is already on the rise in these communities, and they are just as deserving of bike facilities and other investments that will continue to get more people riding. I also told the reporter that, while it’s true 43 percent of the new lanes are on the South Side, the South Side is much bigger geographically than the North Side. A better measure to assess progress would be bike lanes per square mile or whether or not bicycle accommodations exist within one-half mile of every Chicagoan -- one of the key principles in the city’s Streets for Cycling plan.

We do not insist on Copenhagen-like biking rates before installing bike lanes on the North Side, and we can’t insist on North Side biking rates before investing on the West and South Sides. Every community has room for growth and deserves good transportation options. Moreover, we know bike lanes and Divvy trips actually make our streets safer for everyone, including people in cars and on foot, by creating calmer, more orderly streets.

Get ready for the 2015 Chicago municipal election

This February 24, Chicago voters will be casting ballots for mayor, city clerk, city treasurer and aldermen, as well as some non-binding/advisory referenda. Here are five steps you can take to be prepared on election day.

1. Register to vote or update your registration online, via snail mail, or in person at the Board of Election Commissioners office (69 W. Washington, sixth floor). The deadline for voter registration is January 27.

2. Verify your voter registration and locate your polling place — or apply for an absentee ballot — by using this form.

3. Research candidates and referenda you’re eligible to vote for so that you’re well-informed.

4. Attend a community forum or debate in your ward to hear what your aldermanic candidates say about issues you care about. Check out our list of community forums by ward.  If you know of an event that is not listed, please email the details to brianne@activetrans.org

5. Vote! Participate in early voting (Mondays through Saturdays, February 9 – 21) at any early voting site or on election day at your designated polling place.

If you haven’t yet, learn about our priorities for improving walking, biking, and transit by reading Active Trans' 2015 Chicago Active Transportation Platform.

Escape the cold -- explore the pedway!

On Thursday, January 29, the Active Transportation Alliance is joining up with Moxie, Chicago’s LGBTQA social group for urban planning and policy professionals, to co-host a tour of Chicago’s beloved pedway system. 

This event will benefit Streetsblog Chicago’s Resurrection Fund, which is needed after its recent forced hibernation. The tour will be led by John Greenfield, editor of Streetsblog Chicago.

The pedway is a vast network of more than 40 city blocks in Chicago’s central business district. A series of tunnels and walkways connect CTA stations, retail areas, skyscrapers and hotels, while providing a nice shelter from the elements and traffic.

The pedway is used by tens of thousands of people every day yet remains a mystery to many. 

The cost for this event is $10 (please bring cash) and all proceeds will benefit Streetsblog Chicago’s fundraising efforts. 

Meet at Infields (111 N. State) in the basement of Macy’s department store for a drink before departing at 6pm.  The tour will end at Houlihan’s (111 E. Wacker, also in the pedway!) at 7pm for more drinks, food and good times.

Learn more on Moxie’s meetup site!

Governor Rauner puts Illiana Tollway on hold, now it’s time to kill it for good

In an encouraging sign, recently inaugurated Governor Bruce Rauner has issued an executive order putting the ill-conceived Illiana Tollway and other major infrastructure projects on hold pending a “careful review of costs and benefits.”

Sign and share our petition to Governor Rauner to kill the project for good.

There’s no timetable for the review, but mulling the costs and benefits of the proposed South Suburban highway shouldn’t take long. The evidence clearly shows the sprawl-inducing project would not be an efficient use of limited taxpayer dollars.

The proposed highway would link Interstate 55 with I-57 and I-65, serving only 8,000 vehicles per day at a cost of over $1 billion. The state is proposing to build the project as a public-private partnership with the state guaranteeing a private operator's costs, but there are lots of questions and skepticism about the politically motivated project’s actual financial viability.

Prior to him issuing the executive order, there were signs Rauner may be rethinking the project that former Gov. Quinn championed.

Rauner’s appointee to lead the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Randy Blankenhorn, is currently the head of Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), which issued a damning report on the project last year.

The analysis found that the highway’s traffic and toll projections would fall way short, leaving taxpayers responsible for filling a gap ranging from $440 million to $1.1 billion.

In addition, a report from Rauner’s transition team indicated he planned to “pause and review major infrastructure projects” in his first 100 days. It also calls for prioritizing investments based on performance goals and “rigorous economic, environmental and equity criteria” -- areas where the Illiana rates very poorly.

Active Trans is part of a diverse group of advocacy organizations -- including Openlands, Sierra Club, Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), Illinois Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) and Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) -- in opposing to the project. We believe taxpayer dollars could be better spent on infrastructure priorities that carry far greater benefits, like upgrading rapid transit and commuter rail lines, and critical projects like CTA’s planned Red Line South Extension.

Sign and share our petition to Governor Rauner today.

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