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.

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. 

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