Big bucks and bike trains

How geeked do elementary school kids can get about being on t.v. for riding their bikes? Answer: pretty flipping geeked.

That was the setting for a major funding announcement by the Cook County Department of Public Health. The Department was awarded $16 million in stimulus funds last Friday to fund efforts to combat obesity in suburban Cook. The announcement was made at Paul Revere Intermediate School in Blue Island, just as school was letting out and 'Jane's Bike Train' was saddling up. This dozen or so kids rides home from school daily as a group, led by one amazing parent (Jane Healy, Active Trans Board President). After the formal announcement indoors, the camera crews and print reporters went outside to witness the beaming group of riders as they provided a picture-perfect example of what an active, healthy community looks like.

The Cook Co. Health Dept. will communicate how funds will be used in the coming months, but I can tell you that encouraging and enabling more walking and biking for suburban Cook residents will be prominently featured. Active Trans will telegraph any news as soon as it becomes available.

My favorite snapshot? When the Univision reporter came on the scene. She was SWAMPED by a couple hundred squealing kids, who recognized her as a big celeb in their community. Pretty cool stuff.

Kornheiser outrageous

From our board member Peter Taylor

Has any one seen this?

I think the SunTimes bloggers get the sense of outrage here. I understand comedy but this so irresponsible. The contempt in Tony Kornheiser's voice begs a smackdown. I think Active Trans and other Cycling advocacy groups have an opportunity and an obligation to expose Kornheiser's profoundly ignorant misuse of his public station.

This world stands at the summit of petroleum supply looking down towards the inevitable abyss and Kornheiser decries the city of Washington DC's decision to paint wide bike lanes on Pennsylvania avenue, because there is less room for cars. And in the process contemptuously ridicules recreational cyclists. Granted that the automobile has driven the US economy for the past 75 years; that age has past. We are so fortunate that we have precious little time to redirect our thirst for oil and re-engineer our economy to function in a different way. But allowing this to happen naturally is inviting disaster. Kornheiser's rant is an example of the kind of ignorance that constitutes the obstacles that will pitch our economy into ruin. America cannot currently sustain its status quo if our economy is based on energy sources we don't control. Active Transportation is a matter of national security. There is nothing funny about this deadly serious issue. Blowhards such as Tony Kornheiser must not be allowed to sway the opinions of the public unchallenged.

 

International Poster Competition to Promote Biking, Walking and Transit

The Chicago International Poster Biennial will hold its first student poster competition this year with the theme of "Transportation: Crucial Issues." The theme is intended to explore why it's great to bike, walk and take transit (transportation that’s green, healthy, affordable and social). It's a new spin on the classic transit posters Chicagoans know and love. So it'll be exciting to see the entries! Spread the word and encourage any art and design students you know to enter. The deadline is May 22, 2010.

From the competition website:

During the most prolific poster-making period in Chicago (the early 20th century), transportation and tourism went hand-in-hand as the predominant theme. Posters for the North Shore and South Shore electric rail lines lured urbanites away from the city by portraying the scenic beauty of the countryside. Posters for the Elevated Lines touted various cultural destinations within the city. These posters remain a very visible part of Chicago’s historical visual landscape.

The jury of the Chicago International Poster Biennial would like to see your interpretation of the theme of travel, regardless of where you are or what you believe is the most vital issue regarding transportation that needs to be communicated today. Make a poster about rethinking transportation to impact the environment, individual health, urban infrastructure… anything is possible. Make one, great poster, and send it to us.

You can buy the classic "Avoid Street Congestion" poster pictured here at Posters Plus. And you can look forward to seeing cool new posters for biking, walking and transit later this spring.

Full details about the competition can be found at http://chicagobiennial.org/2010/student-competition/ .

USDA welcomes you to Sprawlsville!

In his March 14 column, the SouthtownStar's Guy Tridgell finds a cow to tip over: the USDA will cover your downpayment and fully back your low-interest mortgage if you buy in a subdivision on Chicagoland's urban fringe. In the Southland, Peotone and Beecher both qualify. Meanwhile, the towns north of them, University Park and Matteson in particular (both with Metra and Pace service), have been clobbered by foreclosures.

As the Sun-Times reports today, this summer you can put the money you saved into your gas tank.

Red light camera update

We have been heavily involved in the red light camera debate in Springfield, and we want to keep our members updated on legislation that affects you!

This week, the Illinois State Senate is expected to approve a bill that will allow for the continued use of red light cameras while adding new protections for the civil liberties of Illinois road users. If approved by the Senate, the bill will head to the Illinois House of Representatives for a post-spring break vote.

The compromise bill being debated this week will:

  • Allow red light cameras to be used in the Chicago and St. Louis metropolitan areas.
  • Require tickets issued in Chicago to be reviewed by a technician and a third party that is unaffiliated with the red light camera company.
  • Require tickets issued in communities outside Chicago to be reviewed by a technician and a current or retired police officer
  • Allow anyone ticketed to review the footage online
  • Ticket drivers who pass the stop bar and enter a crosswalk only when pedestrians or bicyclists are present.

Active Transportation Alliance fights to reduce all traffic crashes by 50% in 20 years. Red light cameras are proven safety measures in line with this mission. That’s why we ask your support in fighting for this legislation.

Here is some background on our approach:

Red light running is prevalent and has serious results.

  • A person is injured in a red light running crash every two seconds in the United States. That results in 165,000 injuries and 800 deaths per year, according to a 2009 report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
  • Red light crashes are more dangerous than other crashes – 45 percent of them result in injuries, versus the 30 percent of non-red light crashes that have injuries, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
  • More than half of victims in red light cases were outside the car involved, according to IIHS and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Red light cameras work.

  • A before and after study in Oxnard, Calif., found a 40% reduction in violations in four months (Oxnard, CA study)
  • A Fairfax, Virginia study had similar results: a 44% reduction, with a one-year study timeframe.
  • Naperville showed a 33% reduction in injury crashes, 75% reduction in angle/turning crashes, 19% reduction in total crashes, 8% reduction in rear-end crashes (6 months of data compared with 3-year previous average)

They only ticket those breaking the law

  • Red light cameras do not record every car that enters an intersection. Cameras are triggered only when a car enters the intersection illegally.
  • Red light cameras only record cars turning right if they do not stop before the turn.

Your support allows us to advocate for our rights and safety. Thank you!
 

Local racing starts tonight

The 2010 Chicago racing season kicks off in Calumet Park on the city's southside tonight at 5:45, with the Half Acre Cycling Gapers Block Crits, a full week of racing from March 22 - 26.

Located at 95th Street and the lakefront, the race can be easily reach by bike, following the Lakefront Trail to its terminus at 75th Street and the Bike Route signs further south, as indicated here.  Do not forget front and rear lights.

The bridge at 91st Street and US 41 may be up. Thus, you may have to go straight, make a left on South Chicago and then make a left at 95th street to get over the shipping canal. Shouldn’t be a problem if you follow the cars, but it may add another 5 minutes to your ride.

These races are targeted specifically at the more inexperienced categories (Men's 4 and 5, Women's 4 and 3) and, according to Half Acre Cycling, at least 10 spots will be left open every night for day-of-race registration.  The course is a large loop that features wide, safe turns.  The weather is cool this week, especially by the lake, so be sure to dress warmly.

A USAC license is required to race and one can be purchased at the event.  You will need to decide if you want a day-of license or the full season option.  Obviously, if you are planning to race more this season after gaining invaluable experience at the Gaper's Block Crits, you'll want the full season license.

 

Safer Roads for Everyone

Yesterday, the State Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill making it a crime to drive unnecessarily close to, near or toward a bicyclist or pedestrian. A violation resulting in no injury is a misdemeanor. A violation resulting in a serious injury or death is a felony. This is a new crime and does not remove any other potential penalties. The bill will proceed to the House after the spring break in April. The new bill, once enacted, will provide a new tool for police to help keep our roads safer for all users.

See the bill here.
 

Police look for driver involved in hit-and-run

Police are looking for the driver of a pickup who killed a cyclist in McHenry County and then fled the scene.

Authorities are looking for the driver of the truck, described as a dark-colored, full-size, newer-model pickup, possibly a Chevrolet, with a single exhaust pipe. Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff's crash investigation office at 815-338-2144 or Crime Stoppers at 800-762-7867.

More details here

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.

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