This Weekend Is Your Last Chance to Take Our Survey and Win a $100 Prize!

The 2010 Active Trans survey closes on March 21, and this is the last call for your feedback! We want to learn how to better serve our community of bikers, pedestrians and transit riders. The survey is our primary way to keep our fingers on the pulse of our movement, so we hope you can find 10-15 minutes to click through our questions for us. Plus, not only is your input a great way to strengthen our work, but you’ll also be entered in a raffle for a chance to win a $100 REI gift certificate!

Take the 2010 Active Trans Survey

Bike/walk/transit friendliness as competitive advantage

Howwedrive.com posted a nice graph of time wasted because of rush hour congestion in some of our cities. Productivity is so high in America right now that meaningful gains are thin but expensive. If building or relocating my business, I bet I look longer at metrics like mobility and transportation flexibility than I used to in my decision cycle.

And if my business is building my region's capacity to compete, and I'm not in Seattle, I'm going to move that freakin' needle.

On the other hand, maybe people who work for Microsoft simply don't go home very often.

Survey: Would bikes on South Shore be a fun way to get to the Indiana Dunes? Duh!

 The National Parks Conservation Association wants your ideas (bikes on South Shore) for improving the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore experience (bikes on South Shore). While the scope of their inquiry is broad (bikes on South Shore), the ease and quality of the connections to the park by car, bike, hike, and transit (bikes on South Shore) are emerging as a top priority (bikes on South Shore) for improvements (bikes on South Shore).

The survey results will guide (bikes on South Shore) the National Park Service strategic planning for the Dunes. If you are particularly single minded (bikes on South Shore), the survey takes less than 4 minutes.

Let me know that you took the survey. And if you have any great ideas to share, about anything at all (bikes on South Shore).

 

Thanks Congress

Wednesday, the U.S. Senate approved a one year extension to the surface transportation authorization. They also approved transfers of money to keep the Highway/Transit Fund solvent. The bill will bring at least $1 million in money for Safe Routes to School in Illinois and also allow for a 2010 round of Transportation Enhancements grants. The bill has already been approved by the U.S. House and is expected to be signed by President Barack Obama on Thursday. 

Do you have a great idea for a new SRTS or TE grant? Email us your ideas at info@activetrans.org. 

 

Complete Streets in the Southland feeling a little feverish

 Long-time Southland reporter Carmen Greco wrote a nice piece about a Complete Streets plan for 159th Street today.

In the article, Homer Glen's community development director Ed Cage claims that Complete Streets will be easier in - wait for it - Homer Glen because their streets are going to be widened by IDOT soon. Greco quotes HNTB's Diane Gormley-Barnes (maybe a bit out of context, as her transportation planning & design firm has written in some great ideas for each community) as saying that Complete Streets are more challenging where the town is already "built out," such as Orland Park, Tinley Park, Oak Forest, Markham.

I'm of two minds here:

Mind one - Homer Glen is tabula rasa, a township building a town. They can go in any direction. And they are capitalizing on the chance given to them to learn from 159th Street to their east, with it's dangerous, acre-wide intersections, spotty & substandard sidewalks, business entrances that have spread like kudzu, and eye-sore streetscapes. Homer Glen continues to boom, and they are going to build new and wider roads no matter what. So thank god they're thinking about bikes, peds, and pretty things.

Mind two - Complete Streets is open to infection by suburban notions of bicycling and walking facilities, and its viability might be in danger.

The quotes Greco uses from Cage and Gormly-Barnes host two potential contagions:

1) Complete Streets works best on newly widened or newly built roads in developing areas;

2) Complete Streets is about street side amenities and bike paths.

I just came through two epic phone conferences involving the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission and NW Indiana's planners and engineers as we hammered out a Complete Streets policy for that region's federally funded road projects. These two infectious ideas - that Complete Streets means expensive street expansion projects, and that Complete Streets mandates bike paths along every road - threatened to submarine the discussion as municipal staff and the Indiana Dept. of Transportation warned that the policy would suck dry the transportation funding available. The compromises made reflect NIRPC's and other advocates efforts to save the patient.

Those same ideas surfacing on this side of the border trouble me. Most of the Southland can be characterized as "built up." And in the most built-up communities along this corridor - Oak Forest, Markham, Harvey, South Holland - is where you find the most people dependent on walking, biking, and transit. These communities should be the flagship communities for Complete Streets, where the solutions re-envision and re-prioritize what happens in that existing curb-to-curb space and available funding. You have money to only repave? Look at lane widths. Look at lane counts. Look at crosswalks. Look at painted medians. No matter how wide that road is, or how old it is, a Complete Streets perspective obligates every inch of it to accommodate every user - bikes, peds, cars, buses, semi-trucks, to its fullest ability, given any and all physical and financial constraints. Its best and most cost-effective application is on streets where the street is all you have.

But a contaminated view of Complete Streets is percolating in our suburban region, right where I think the policy can be the most transformative and the needs are greatest. It threatens to skew the region's Complete Streets priorities towards the new instead of towards what's needed. And I'm afraid it will infect IDOT, who will be like the kid who jumps in front of the sneeze to avoid next week's test. I'm afraid we'll get wonderful, beautiful streets through Homer Glen without getting inexpensive, life saving, quality-of-life improving pedestrian treatments in Markham.

The best defense is inoculation, with a swine flu-like sense of urgency. We need to inject folks with the notion that Complete Streets simply divides the money and space you have more equitably and more efficiently. Every resident, town official, public works director, municipal planner and engineer in every suburban town needs to know that to immunize them against the idea that funding and right of way considerations can exclude them from safer, more pleasant streets and road crossings.

Fortunately, this idea has viral characteristics of its own. Start an epidemic of sound street design: completestreets.org is a great place to get started. And the 159th Corridor Plan is avaliable here: http://gis.orland-park.il.us/159th-Street/

Chicago’s Green Dividend: Going Green and Saving Green by Driving Less

According to the CEOs for Cities report Chicago’s Green Dividend, the average Chicagoland resident drives 2 miles less per day than the average American. That adds up to $2.3 billion in savings per year that can go back into our local economy, and it means 2.8 million fewer tons of CO2 emissions per year. These savings are made possible by communities that are welcoming to cyclists, pedestrians and transit riders. Those who take advantage of their diverse transportation choices can save even more, but people who choose to drive also reap benefits. Walkable, transit-served communities bring daily destinations closer together, meaning drivers don’t have to drive as far. Take a look at the video below and consider how much more we could save and how much healthier our region could be if we made our communities even better for biking, walking and transit.

SAVE THE DATE! See CEOs for Cities president and CEO Carol Coletta present at our April 8 lecture Walkable Urbanism and the Green Future of Cities.

Power Play

 Earlier this week, Active Trans staff joined the Chicago Blackhawks mascot, Tommy the Hawk, in celebrating Mark Twain school's Walk Across Illinois. The 200+ students at Mark Twain are among the more than 2,000 students participating in Walk Across Illinois School Fitness Program. 

The School Fitness Program uses standards-based lessons and fun activities to teach students about bicycle and pedestrian safety. It is one component in Active Trans' cradle-college education programming. For more information on the Walk Across Illinois programs, visit www.activetrans.org/walk-across-illinois.

Join us today and Get Active & Get Going. 

Obesity Numbers Go the Right Way -- Lower

Some good news came out today from our partners at CLOCC.  On March 16, CLOCC released new prevalance data for Chicago children that indicate a reduction in obesity for children at school entry - from 24% to 22% - from 2003 - 2008. In addition, CLOCC released the first-ever data on Chicago children entering sixth grade and found an obesity rate of 28% for this age group. The full press release is available here.  Data around the country has shown a leveling off, but this is the first community around the nation that is showing a reduction.  Congratulations to CLOCC and all of its many partners!  We're proud to be a founding member.  Find out more about CLOCC at clocc.net

Best wishes on the West Coast

From our Board President Jane Healy

Our talented and dedicated director, Rob Sadowsky, announced today that he will leave Chicago in June to serve as the executive director of Oregon’s Bicycle Transportation Alliance.

Rob has served the Active Transportation Alliance for nine years – three years on our board and the last six as executive director.

We are excited for Rob and wish him success on the West Coast, a place he has dreamed of returning since childhood.

During this tenure, Rob has led the organization to impressive victories: three Open Streets events, Complete Streets policies, new relationships with the U.S. Department of Transportation, and a more effective advocate than ever before.

Active Trans is a remarkable organization and its board is ready to support and grow the organization. It will undoubtedly attract the most qualified candidates for a director who can further Active Trans’ reputation as a first-rate advocate and expert.

Thank you for continuing to support us as we transition to a new leader. Our members and partners fuel us to reach beyond what so many think is possible. Your support keeps us moving and keeps us excited about making Chicagoland a safe and healthy place to live, work and play.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. You can reach Rob at rob@activetrans.org or me at info@activetrans.org.

Happy Traffic in the O-Fo

Active Trans and the City of Oak Forest closed Cicero Avenue two hours before its 2010 Irish Parade for a mile of whatever one wanted, as long it was motor-free. The pictures are up on Facebook. The bars opened at 8 AM, but that's not what made Cicero Ave between 159th St. and 151st St. a street one enjoyed traveling, for once.

The joy comes from realizing that Cicero's characteristics - a big Strategic Regional Arterial carrying 40,000 cars a day at 40 MPH - don't emerge from the natural order of things. That was just a decision. Made by people.

And when people decide, those cars have to stop. Cicero's frustrating to drive, horrible to bike-on, unpleasant to walk along. To realize that people have power over all of that, that's one hell of a shift in perspective.

It was a CRAPPY morning weather wise - very Irish, just not green. More like Mud Brown Isle. Still, I estimate that a thousand people and maybe 30 dogs took to Cicero between 9 AM and 10:30 AM. More people walking than biking, and more kids biking than adults. Everyone wide eyed and smiling.

The Active Trans tent did a lot of business. Folks on Spokes, Chicago Cycling Club, Oak Lawn Bike Psychos, Major Taylor Cycling Club Chicago, Joliet Bicycle Club, League of Illinois Bicyclists, and Friends of the Calumet-Sag Trail joined our barely-big-enough tent, signing up people for rides and membership, and we gave most of our stuff away before it got soaked.

We're enamored with Open Streets. And I want to do more. You got a parade, or a street festival? Give me two hours, and we'll create a happy traffic jam. For once.

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