By Sojung Choi
Last Friday (the 13th) held out good luck for everyone that attended our free Complete Streets Workshop.
We invited leaders throughout Chicagoland to guide their conversations around what complete streets could mean for their own communities. Members from the Chicago Police Department and representatives from more than ten community development corporations (roughly 50 participants) throughout Chicagoland all attended.
Complete Streets in Chicago is part of a growing national movement that is stirred by the idea that streets should be designed with all of its potential users in mind. Our workshop geared participants towards envisioning what it would take for their street planning to prioritize the safety and accessibility of all of its users.
Guests included organizers from LISC's New Communities Program, CLOCC's vanguard communities, CDOT, the Chicago Park District, and various other community based institutions. LISC’s NCP, The Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC) and the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) gave presentations touching on various topics to inform and provoke discussion about the challenges and opportunities to creating Complete Streets.
Janece Simmons from The West Humboldt Park Development Council commented on the importance of equipping people with the tools they need, “The Complete Streets Summit was informative and thought provoking. The West Humboldt Park community worked on a plan with CDOT several years ago to design the Streetscape for Chicago Avenue between Kedzie and Pulaski. Unfortunately, no one on our team had the tools that we now possess as a result of this conference; our design would have gone beyond beautification if we had. Every community should be abound with these visionary tools so that planning and design is more complete and encompassing of all types of traffic (car, pedestrian, biking) needs.”
Some pictures of the day’s highlights:
Check out some more pictures from the workshop on our Facebook page:
The Workshop was sponsored by Active Trans, CDOT, CLOCC's Healthy Communities Working Group, LISC and Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities.
As a bicycle advocate in the Chicago Southland (my livelihood), my phone rings lots of times to introduce me to someone who moved into a community for very good reasons (usually), but now something’s changed — maybe they’re frustrated with traffic issues, or they wish their kids could get to school on their own, or their health has changed and they’ve got (literally) marching orders from their doctor — and now they’ve realized that without a car, they’re trapped. Think 1948 Berlin and you don’t have an airplane: Without a car, lots of suburbanites in 2009 aren’t getting beyond that blockade of big arterial streets. And they’re calling me for help. (Does that make me Truman?)(No, it doesn’t.)
I’m thinking though that bike and walk friendliness, including trail access, is moving up the agenda of individuals and families leaving the city for the suburban lifestyle - in other words, the suburban lifestyle is beginning to include easy, car-free access to trails. This is fantastic news, as the Southland is well positioned to capitalize on the growing desire to live near trails; with the completion of the Calumet-Sag Trail, we’ll have more communities within a 15-minute bike time of a trail than any region in Illinois. Prospective residents will have a smorgasbord of communities to choose from without having to sacrifice the opportunity to lead an active lifestyle. Busting open trail access to so many towns in the Southland will reverberate across the Triple Bottom Line, bringing benefits beyond improved physical health for everyone.
And now the wellness benefits of trail access are well documented: get yourself excited over this article about a Drexel University study on the influence of trail access on community wellness.
Student leaders of Curie Metropolitan High School sent a personal message to Mayor Daley during the Active Trans Annual Member Meeting – help pass Illinois legislation HB 43, also known as the Must Stop for Pedestrians Bill.
More than 6,000 pedestrians are hit by cars in Illinois each year. These crashes lead to more than 1,000 serious pedestrian injuries and 170 pedestrian fatalities.
A pedestrian is killed every other day in Illinois (every week in Chicago) and a child pedestrian is killed every week.
Students and families at Curie High School have experienced firsthand the dangers that pedestrians face, as they described to Mayor Daley how their classmate William was struck this year while crossing the intersection of Archer and Pulaski.
These student leaders of Curie’s Forefront Class are doing more than just communicating their concerns – they are taking action to shape a new culture of driver and pedestrian safety throughout campus and the surrounding neighborhood.
The students are volunteering to lead a Drive with Care campaign, as part of Active Trans’ Drive with Care program. Working closely with Active Trans staff, the students are leading a peer-to-peer program that seeks to stigmatize reckless driving, by raising awareness on campus through educational outreach and collecting student pledges to adhere to principles of safe driving. Students are also examining street design concepts, transportation initiatives around school zones, and taking action to improve the safety of the Archer and Pulaski intersection.
Curie’s students are yet another example of the power of member and community involvement, and are demonstrating their commitment and passion to make their campus safer for drivers and pedestrians. Active Trans is proud of the commitment and accomplishments of these students, and judging by their enthusiasm and activism perhaps one or more of them will follow in Mayor Daley’s footsteps to become influential politicians themselves!
The Curie Forefront class continues their work to improve safety and increase awareness about the dangers of reckless driving at their high school and greater community. Get involved! Take the driver’s pledge at www.activetrans.org/drivewithcare/pledge and tell your legislators to support HB 43.
Yesterday, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) signed on as a co-sponsor to S. 584, the national Complete Streets bill. This legislation will require all states to implement Complete Streets practices for all federally-funded road projects.
In 2007, Illinois enacted a state-level Complete Streets policy. This law has not yet been implemented. It also does not cover all federally-funded projects. The new federal law, when passed, will ensure that we have comprehensive Complete Streets policies in Illinois.
Senator Durbin recognized the work of Active Transportation Alliance on Complete Streets including our recent media work surrounding pedestrian safety. Please visit www.durbin.senate.gov and send him a thank you message.
November is here and so are the strong Northeast winds. With those weather conditions comes water on the Lakefront Trail both south of Fullerton and at the Oak Street Bend. While the new pavement at the Oak Street Bend seems to be helping keep some of the water off of the Trail in that location, a significant amount of water still can come onto the Trail south of Fullerton.
Remember that there is a soft surface trail just to the west of the Lakefront Trail (between the LSD off ramp and the Lakefront Trail) that is far enough away from the water so that it receives much less, if any spray from the Lake.
Seasonal rest rooms are now closed along the Lakefront Trail. The Park District has extended the time that these rest rooms are open to the first of November (contractually they are only scheduled to be open through Labor Day). There are still options to use rest rooms along the Trail but you will need to go to a facility that is open during the winter, such as a Park District Field House.
On the North Side, the Field House at Margate Park is a good option (on the west side of LSD between Foster and Lawrence). On the South Side the South Shore Cultural Center is a good spot to stop.
From Active Trans Board President Jane Healy: As I rushed to make the final outbound train before the cutoff for bringing bikes on board Metra, I couldn’t know that the doors would not be opening on the end cars at my stop.
I realized something was wrong only when the doors failed to open on my car and the train began moving outbound to the next town--where the doors failed to open again. The conductor explained to me what had happened (the train platforms are too short for the long rush hour trains), then informed me that I’d have to wait until we got to 159th and Cicero. Thankfully, he was wrong. I was able to get off at Midlothian.
Why was I thankful? Because the thought of navigating 159th and Cicero to my home in Blue Island during rush hour terrified me. I’m an experienced, fairly aggressive cyclist, yet even I know my limitations. I knew of no easy way to get from here to there without dealing with four-lane, high speed arterials--with curbs--for miles. Which pointed out to me the dilemma that so many of our suburbs have to deal with: how do you encourage pedestrians and cyclists to use active transportation when there is a serious lack of safe routes?
We are stuck with these suburban car zones. But we can make them safer and encourage healthier, more environmentally friendly options. The new Cook County Complete Streets policy should begin to create improvements, albeit slowly. From here on out, IDOT needs to take into account all intended users when they do any new or major resurfacing projects. Wide shoulders instead concrete curbs would make South Cicero Avenue much safer for bicycle journeys. Making sure that the sidewalks are complete would make it more pedestrian-friendly.
Only when the built environment becomes safer will we see a serious shift in transit modes in the suburbs. Here’s to the hope that that process has begun.
post script: I made it home safely--and enjoyed the ride--by taking mostly back streets from the charming Midlothian train station.
(Disclaimer: Undergoing any change to a person’s fitness routine requires careful examination of an individual’s ability and preparedness to participate in the new routine/activity(s). Anyone who has not been involved in successful physical conditioning immediately prior to a change in activity or who has a history of health related problems or has questions regarding their physical ability to undertake a change in physical behavior should consult a qualified physician before undergoing such a change in behavior.)
Winter can be a tough time to ride, let alone train in Chicagoland. Still, if you didn’t train during the cold-weather months here, you could potentially be off the bike for five months. That is too long if you want to be a competitive athlete the rest of the year.
Winter training has several specific purposes including:
1. Full recovery from previous year
2. Establish goals for next year
3. Build strength, both muscular and connective tissue
4. Work on form, including pedal stroke and body position
5. Establish a base of endurance fitness for next year
In order to have a complete program you should have the following things available to you.
1. Access to resistance equipment (weights, therabands, etc.)
2. Indoor trainer (rollers or resistance trainer)
3. Cold weather clothing
If you have been training consistently throughout the 2009 season you want to take some time completely off of the bike during the beginning of the really bad weather. Two weeks off of the bike is the minimum, but you could take as long as four weeks completely off. That doesn’t mean that you should not be exercising during this time, just not on the bike.
Once you are rested from your previous season, you need to establish your goals for the next season. Establishing your goals will help you to know what specific things you need to work on during the winter to help you to reach your goals for the next season. For example, if your only goal is to ride a century in August, you will not need to do a lot of on-the-bike strength training in January. If your goals focus on track events, you will need to do more strength training over the winter. If you want to by flying fast for the early season races in March and April, you will need to establish a much bigger base during the winter months.
Ideally you will add in strength and weight-bearing exercise for 8-12 weeks. Cyclists get very strong in very specific ways, but that makes them susceptible to injury when moving in any way that isn’t pedaling a bike. Winter is the time of year to work on moving in those non-bike ways.
Using the indoor trainer (either rollers or resistance trainer) can be a great tool to work on proper pedaling and full-body riding technique. Working on this over the winter for at least 8 weeks will help tremendously during the entire next season.
Maintaining some aerobic and some anaerobic activity during the winter is important. This doesn’t have to be all on the bike. Some anaerobic work can come in the weight room, basketball court, or cross country ski trails.
If you make a good plan with a lot of fun and diverse activities for your cold-weather training, you can come out of the Midwest winter ready to have a great season on the bike when the warm temperatures return.
Alderman Schulter of the 47th Ward is hosting a community meeting to discuss the upcoming Lawrence Avenue Streetscape Program from the Chicago River to Ashland Ave.
As the longest east-west marked bikeway on the north side of Chicago, Lawrence is an important connection for Chicago cyclists. Please come out Monday evening to support the inclusion of bike facilities in this project.
The meeting, featuring a presentation by the Chicago Dept. of Transportation, will be held Monday, Nov. 16, from 7-9 p.m. at the Sulzer Regional Library (4455 N. Lincoln.)
A member and volunteer shared a cool video that his firm developed about the Burnham Plan Centennial and celebrating 21 green projects that are underway around the region. Check it out and learn about new green space, trails and more that are on the way in Chicagoland.
Thanks much to Andrew and New Clarion Media for this video and also our wonderful Open Streets video.
Earlier this week, we held our annual member meeting, which celebrated our members and our work, and reflecting on our priorities for the coming year. As part of the celebration, three folks were inducted into the Active Trans Hall of Fame. Long-time member Bob Hoel showed how someone who is committed can get so much done. Also inducted was Lucy Gomez-Feliciano of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association for her tireless leadership on making Open Streets a reality in Chicago.
Then on the Ultimate Campaign Manager: Mayor Daley. Before being inducted, the Mayor got to hear from our keynote speaker, Harry Wray about the importance of the bicycle and it’s ability to build community. The Mayor’s words really echoed Professor Wray’ sentiment. The Mayor talked about the importance of bicycling, and about the commitment our city has made to being one of the greenest and bike friendliest in the country. He also talked about the importance of reaching out to our elected officials about getting more funding for bike, pedestrian, and public transit improvements; he noted how too much of that money goes to roads and highways for cars!
Another highlight of the evening was an Open Streets video highlighting events in New York, Portland, San Francisco and our very own here in Chicago. Our members cheered our Mayor’s commitment to grow Open Streets in the coming years.
Thanks to everyone who came out and toured through the displays of the work you support. Our members continue to be the driving force behind our work and we were excited to see so many of them there, all interested in and engaged in making our streets, our communities and our cities better. The involvement of our members is key to make our work effective. Want to get involved? Contact us! Your voice matters.