Attend public meetings and call for action on Evanston Bike Plan Update

The Evanston City Council recently adopted a Bike Plan Update that has the potential to establish Evanston as one of the most bike-friendly cities in America. If fully realized, the plan will provide a model for communities across our region looking to create family-friendly bikeways.

But this outcome cannot be taken for granted and strong advocacy is needed right now to ensure this exciting vision moves from plan to reality.

The City of Evanston is hosting a series of public meetings to hear from residents and collect feedback on the Plan Update.

Several local ward meetings will lead up to a special city council hearing on September 29 to discuss the Plan Update, as well as a protected bike lane project on Sheridan Road and Chicago Avenue.

If you live in Evanston, please plan on attending one of the meetings and speak up in support of safe and livable streets, like those envisioned in the Plan Update.

Unfortunately, resistance has emerged from residents on various aspects of the adopted Plan Update. We know that some of the individuals who share these concerns will turn out to the public meetings and speak out against the plan.

That’s why it’s so important for supporters to take the time show up and participate in the conversation. We need to make sure decision makers hear from a balanced cross-section of residents and that any potential tradeoffs are discussed openly and transparently.

Here’s how you can help:

1) If you’re an Evanston resident, attend an upcoming public meeting and speak out in support of family friendly bikeways for safe and livable streets. 

2) Watch our blog for a sign-on letter later this week to document support for the Evanston Bike Plan Update. 

3) Join our Family-Friendly Bikeways Campaign to learn about how you can help bring better biking to Chicago’s suburbs. 

Bike, eat, repeat!

Come for a ride with us! On Sunday, September 7, you're invited to join us for the Four-Star Bike & Chow. 

This go-at-your-own-pace ride follows four bike-friendly routes (see right) curated by our friends at the Chicago Cycling Club.

Expect to encounter hidden parks, eye-catching architecture and plenty of Chicago history.

Not only is the ride interesting and fun, we’ve made it convenient.

We offer mechanical support, volunteers along the route to point the way, rest stops and water stops to ensure you enjoy your ride.

And of course, your registration fee supports the Active Transportation Alliance’s efforts to make cycling, walking and public transportation easier and safer in Chicagoland.

When it’s time to take a break -- in addition to the to-be-expected water, fresh fruit and cookies waiting for you -- we’ll have scrumptious samples from a host of Chicago restaurants:

New Furama
nana
Pierogi Wagon
DonerMen
Phoenix
Bridgeport Pasty
Lou Malnati’s

Check out our menu page for details on what treats to expect at which rest stop. Or check the punch card in your rider packet (which you will need to enjoy the treats).

Four routes of different distances start and end at the UIC campus.

And save room for a tasty post-ride Revolution Brewery beer at the post-ride festival. Register today!

Upcoming study to focus on accommodating bikes on South Shore Line

Currently, the South Shore Line is one of only two light rail lines in the U.S. that don’t allow passengers to bring bikes on trains.

The South Shore Line runs between Millennium Station in the Loop and South Bend Regional Airport in Indiana.

This past spring, Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC) collected comments from the public to gauge the interest for bringing bikes on trains.

As we expected, comments were overwhelmingly supportive of bikes on trains.

Next month, NIRPC is kicking off a feasibility study on accommodating bicycles the trains. This will be an engineering study that will look at requirements, funding sources, opportunities and barriers as well as multiple options for allowing bikes.

The results of the study are expected in March 2015.

The study is be funded by a coalition of groups: NIRPC, Northern Indiana Commuter Transit District, Save the Dunes, NIPSCO, Arcelor-Mittal, National Parks Conservation Association, Porter County, LaPorte County, Northwest Indiana RDA and the Greenways Foundation.

It’s been more than two years since Active Trans and other non-profit organizations began pushing Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District to allow bikes on the South Shore Line.

Let’s hope that once this study is complete, the wheels will start to turn at a much faster rate for getting bikes on the South Shore Line.

Photo courtesy of Streetsblog Chicago and Dave Wilson. 

A Spoketacular event in Bronzeville

The Bronzeville Bikes Spoketacular event last Sunday was a big success.

The event included information on bike safety, a bike tour, a bike sale for refurbished bikes, a bike donation program and an ice cream social.

The highlight of the event was watching kids get their bikes fixed at no charge at the Bronzeville Bike Box, which is a 20-foot shipping container located in a formerly vacant lot at 51st Street and the CTA Green Line.

The bike box provides bicycle repairs, rentals and merchandise for people biking in Bronzeville.

Active Trans was delighted to participate in the event, which was part of Bronzeville Bikes' effort to make Bronzeville a community where bicycles are a key tool for fun, transportation and commerce. 

The Bronzeville Bike Box is looking for bike donations and helping hands.

It's open Friday, 2 p.m.– 7 p.m.; Saturday, 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.; and Sunday, 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Check out the Bronzeville Bikes website for info about other events, including regular bike rides leaving from the bike box. 

 

 

Tell us where you need secure bike parking

With the peak biking season in high gear, you may be looking for a secure place to lock your bike, particularly while at work.

Are you asking for secure parking? Are the building managers providing it? Please complete our brief survey. We'll use the results to advocate for more secure bike parking options!

Background
With accomplished bike thieves on the prowl, it's especially important to have secure parking for your commute (and a great lock or locks) when your bike is unattended for 8 hours or more.

Active Trans has had discussions with the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), the city of Chicago, and others about providing covered, secure bike parking at large office and residential buildings, particularly downtown, where the sheer number of people and bikes results in parking shortages.

BOMA is inclined to let the market determine whether buildings provide bike parking, and while more buildings are providing secure parking at the behest of current and prospective tenants, many are not.

Cities like San Francisco and New York adopted ordinances requiring certain office buildings to provide secure bike parking; the requirement there is waived if the building allows tenants to bring bikes into their offices.

Chicago Secure Bike Parking Survey

 

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Question - Not Required - What types of secure bike parking would you consider using? Check all the apply.

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10. Want to help make Chicago more bike-friendly? Share your contact information to get connected to our advocacy campaigns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Show your support for North Branch Trail extension at Aug. 21 public meeting

We invite you to attend an upcoming public meeting on Thursday, August 21 to show your support for the Cook County Forest Preserve’s North Branch Trail extension project. 

If you walk, jog or bike on the North Branch Trail then you have experienced moving from busy streets into quiet woods where the sounds of the city quickly fade away. You may have seen a deer or two.

Trail users can hop on at Caldwell and Devon Avenues and travel north along the north branch of the Chicago River to the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe.

Next Spring, the Forest Preserve District of Cook County plans to make this experience even better by extending the trail south from Caldwell and Devon to Irene Hernandez Woods at Foster and Kostner Avenues. From there bicyclists can connect to the Sauganash Trail to the north, the Lakefront Trail to the east or the planned Weber Spur Trail to the northeast.

Active Trans supports the vision proposed by the forest preserve, which creates the most comfortable route for the broadest cross-section of trail users. The south trail extension will provide greater access to more people and open up more destinations for users.

Some residents, citing concerns about tree removal and public safety, have proposed an alternative route that would take the trail extension onto neighborhood streets, which would turn off many potential trail users and seriously compromise the experience of riding on the trail.

Please join us on August 21 to show your support for the existing plans for this important link in our regional trail network.

What: Cook County Forest Preserve District open house on North Branch Trail extension
When: August 21, 6-8 p.m. 
Where: 6100 N. Central Avenue, Matthew Bieszczat Volunteer Resource Center

Please RSVP in order to attend. 

Chicago biking community loses a dedicated supporter

The bicycling community in Chicago lost a great friend and supporter with the recent death of Dan Brown. Dan died as a result of a boating accident on Lake Michigan on Saturday evening. 

A committed supporter of Active Trans, Dan volunteered at our MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive and Four Star bike ride for many years.

For these events, Dan served as a ride marshal, helping people on the route with mechanical issues with their bikes, offering first aid, and sometimes providing just a snack, a bottle of water or some words of encouragement to those who needed it.

He volunteered at our Chicago Bike Swap events. And just a few weeks ago, Dan donated his time at Active Trans’ inaugural Bike to Brew ride, where he helped mark the route and ensure that the party after the ride ran smoothly. At this event, he also served as a ride marshal, leading the first wave of riders on the route.

As always, Dan performed these tasks with a big smile on his face. Dan was the type of person who would jump in to help where ever he was needed.

Dan, 56, loved helping people and he loved seeing more people riding bikes.

In addition to volunteering for Active Trans for many years, he often participated in events held by The Chainlink community.

His infectious enthusiasm will be missed dearly. 

Photo of Dan Brown courtesy of The Chainlink

First ever Indiana Walk Summit, August 27-28!

Step up, Indiana, and register to attend the first-ever Indiana Walk Summit, taking place August 27-28 at the Marten House Hotel and Lilly Conference Center in Indianapolis.

The conference will share examples from around the state and nation of best practices, model policies, and tools and resources that will help all Hoosier communities, regardless of size or setting, create safer and more accessible pedestrian environments.

Walkable communities are healthy and thriving. They help make a place great – somewhere people choose to live, desire to visit and are willing to spend time and money.

Safe, accessible and convenient pedestrian experiences are critical in ensuring that people of all ages and abilities have mobility options.

And the growing body of evidence is clear: walkable places are also economically vibrant.

The summit will consist of workshops on the afternoon of Wednesday, August 27 ($25), and a full-day conference on Thursday, August 28 ($85). People are welcome to attend one or both days.

The event website has all of the pertinent details, including a promotional flyer, an updated program overview, continuing education info (expected to include AICP, CHES/MCHES, LACES & PDH), the list of sponsors and more. Sign up now!

Bad driving you can do something about

While riding my bike to work last week, a delivery truck driver coming from the other direction illegally turned left in front of me, making my heart skip a beat and forcing me to stop suddenly. The truck couldn’t complete the turn right away, because he was (thankfully) yielding to a pedestrian. 

I made eye contact with the driver and said “What are you doing?”

His response was troubling. I got a 7 second middle finger salute that just added insult to injury.

He completed his turn. I got to work safely. End of story?

Nope.

Since he was working for a well known company and had an identifiable truck number, I contacted the company and expressed my concern for their driver’s behavior – both the illegal turn and the "sign language."

The company representative assured me that they take these situations seriously and that they would look into it. They even sent me some coupons for some free product to thank me for my time.

Everyone should drive safely, but people that drive for a living have an even bigger responsibility since they are on the road more frequently, transport other people and/or often have larger vehicles that can cause more damage.

In London, commercial trucks without special safety features to protect pedestrians and cyclists will be banned from the city due to the disproportionate frequency of injuries/fatalities they cause.

If you see someone driving a commercial vehicle irresponsibly, whether they are driving aggressively, illegally or distracted, please report their behavior. Please note -- it’s not necessary or recommended to engage with the driver on site.

Collect the following information:

  • Vehicle number
  • Plate number
  • Date/time
  • Description of vehicle
  • Description of the driver
  • Exact location of the incident

Then, simply contact the company and calmly explain what you witnessed and that it was concerning behavior to observe from a representative of their company.

In the instance of dangerous cab driver behavior, you can submit your complaints directly to the Chicago Department of Business Affairs. I know from experience that they do a thorough job of investigating complaints.

Reporting bad driving, especially commercial drivers, is everyone’s job. 

Come to 'Spoketacular' event in Bronzeville on Sun., Aug. 17

If you haven’t had a chance to see the Bronzeville BikeBox in action, mark your calendar for the Spoketacular on Sunday, August 17, 2-6 p.m.

It promises to be a great bike and community event to get your bike fixed, tour Bronzeville and indulge in ice cream.  

With the Spoketacular, Bronzeville Bikes hopes to draw attention to the advantages of biking to Bronzeville residents.

Bernard Loyd of Urban Juncture, who was instrumental in organizing the BikeBox project, says the Spoketacular, a fun event on the surface, is part of a larger plan: “We expect it to raise the awareness of the great benefits of bicycling for fun, commerce, and health, and help build the local bicycling community.”

Part of building the bike community is through education. The Spoketacular will offer bike safety tips in addition to a bicycle tour to explore the neighborhood.

The tours, which examine the history and architecture of Bronzeville, started last summer with such impressive success they continued this summer.

The tour this Sunday starts at 3 p.m. and riders will leave from the Community Garden at 51st and Calumet; Bill Depenbrock, a volunteer who manages the BikeBox says the next ride will focus on urban foraging, “It’s a ride for edibles, looking at plants in the urban wild.”

The BikeBox, located at 51st Street and the CTA Green Line stop across from the Community Garden, is a repurposed 20-foot shipping container where Bronzeville Bikes does low-cost bike repairs and sells refurbished bicycles.

There are no other bicycle repair shops in the area; last year, Bronzeville Bikes hosted monthly “pop-up” bike repairs in the Community Garden.

Because there was such a demand for the services, the BikeBox was launched this summer. The shipping container is a low-cost structure that Loyd hopes will serve as a model for other communities.

“Once established," he said, "the BikeBox can be a self-sustaining 'mini-business' that can be replicated in other economically-challenged urban neighborhoods that are, effectively, bike deserts.”

The BikeBox got off the ground with support from Urban Juncture, Inc., Evanston Bike Club, Bronzeville Bikes, SRAM, Quality Bike Products, Bill Depenbrock and devoted volunteers (pictured above).

Though the operating costs are low, support through bike donations and volunteering are appreciated. If you can’t bring a bike for donation on Sunday, you can make contributions through the Metropolitan Planning Council to support the Spoketacular.

Though summer -- and peak bicycling season -- is coming to a close, the BikeBox will be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through September and Loyd says he hopes to continue bike education programs beyond the Spoketacular.

This blog post was submitted by Active Trans volunteer contributor, Rachel Roszmann. 

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