We don't call that waste; we call it progress

It was only two short years ago that Bush Appointee, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, suggested on the PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer that bicycling facilities were an example of inappropriate, non-transportation use of the federal gasoline tax. Today, Illinois residents can feel proud of current U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who is blogging about the relevance of bike facilities and defending the use of recovery dollars to build them. Bravo Secretary LaHood!

Read the full blog here.

Coburn Report dismisses Recovery-supported bike paths
Should biking advocates be angry that Senator Tom Coburn included two bike paths in his latest list of stimulus "waste?" Or thrilled that the Senator singled them out?

As reported by The Washington Times, Coburn said, "When we run $1.4 trillion deficits, the money we spend ought to be a high priority for the American people as a whole."

What he really means is that, because he doesn't get bikes, no one else does either.

...

As Liz Oxhorn, a spokeswoman for Vice President Biden put it:

"The real question here is whether Recovery Act critics will at long last acknowledge that well over 99 percent of the projects are sound, effective and working as promised."

I couldn't agree more. We've worked hard this year to get our Recover Act dollars out to the states quickly and effectively. Yes, some of those projects include bike paths, a key ingredient in our livability initiative to allow people to live, work, and get around without a car.

We don't call that waste; we call it progress.
 

Reflect yourself!

From our Board President Jane Healy:

So. You've stuck it out this far. The cold hasn't stopped you. The rain merely gave you pause. Now the snow is here and you're still riding. Way to go!

You've probably realized by now that riding in the winter means riding the dark a whole lot of the time. Have you recently noticed that your entire winter ensemble is gray/brown/green and black? Or maybe you've noticed pedestrians with a seeming death wish who seem to step in front of you a lot lately. Worse, maybe you've had a 'near miss' of the car variety.

Then you need to come on out and join us this Friday. "Make it bright, make it REFLECTIVE!" is a fun workshop on how you can make yourself and your bike stand out in a crowd like a lit-up reindeer on his way to work Dec. 24th.

Join us Friday evening from 5:30-7:30 pm at the Active Transportation Alliance's offices (9 W. Hubbard, on the 4th floor). We'll show you some of the cool products out there for lighting yourself up (yes, you can actually see Hokey Spokes, Monkey Lectric and BikeGlow lights in person, not to mention a butt-load of blinkies and headlights), show you how to make yourself safer on the road in an urban environment, let you play with reflectors (yes, you CAN cover your bike in OHSA reflective tape, and we can show you how!), and even share the fleecy wealth from the BikeWinter sweatshops so that you, too, can have a free Curious George balaclava or fuzzy puppy neck gaitor.

Feel free to bring your dinner or something to share. Light refreshments will be provided.
Crafty people are encouraged to bring their imaginations and their bike gear that needs enlightening.

Warning: reflective stickers WILL be applied!

Redrawing the American (suburban) city

Five or six of the region's top city planners now work for towns in the Chicago Southland; traditionally, the Southland has been like the La Brea Tar Pits for municipal planners (who, admittedly, are sometimes like dinosaurs).

But that professional capacity is growing now for all sorts of reasons - fat kids, global warming, empty nesting, stimulus funding, the threat from new suburban edge communities. Here, one of those Southland top talents, Blue Island's Jodi Prout, gets some recognition from the Natural Resources Defense Council's publication, OnEarth.

As a bonus, check out the snooty caption beneath the picture of State Street in Chicago. Someone's a hater!

Lively biking in the dead of winter

Think bicycling along with wearing white ends on Labor Day? Think again. This edition of Active Transportation Alliance and Friends of the Park’s Creative Living in the City Lecture Series highlights ways for you stay biking during Chicago’s winter wonderland.

When: 12:15-1:15 Thursday Dec. 10
Where: Chicago Cultural Center in the Claudia Cassidy Theater, 78 E. Washington
Cost: Free

The Chainlink (www.thechainlink.org), Chicago bicycling's online community, has blossomed from an idea to more than 2,500 members in 18-months. The Chainlink founder Leah Neaderthal, will discuss how online tools can reinforce and, in some cases, build a community that is based on pedaling away from a computer.

Lauren Sailor, co-chair of Chicago Bike Winter (www.bikewinter.org), will also join Leah to talk about this grassroots organization that provides a variety of classes, promotion and community to help keep you going through the snow and chill.

Metra makeover

Some Metra stations are getting a facelift. Read more in the Tribune here

Room for debate

The Active Transportation Alliance is pulling together a volunteer committee to work with our staff in developing a Candidates Questionnaire for the 2010 elections. The committee would work together to develop the actual questions asked and help disseminate the responses. Interested people should email: rob@activetrans.org.

Wanted: Scary Intersections

Do you know of a road or intersection that is impossible to cross?
We want to see it!
Document it through video and post it on YouTube. Then let us know. We will select a video at the end of February that best shows the need for a law requiring drivers to stop for pedestrians at crosswalks.
The winning person will receive a one-year premium Active Transportation Alliance Membership and T-shirt.

Your video should:

  • Show the need for a law requiring drivers to stop for pedestrians at crosswalks
  • Show a vehicle failing to yield to a pedestrian in an intersection
  • The intersection should have no stop signs or traffic lights
  • Preferably an intersection with busy pedestrian traffic including children
  • Be no more than five minutes in length
  • Be posted on YouTube no later than February 19, 2010

If you are interested in participating in this content, please email your contact info to dan@activetrans.org or call 312.427.3325 x229.
 

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Hall of Famer gets some press

Check out this great story on recent Hall of Fame inductee Bob Hoel!

Still looking for a 2010 calendar?

Well, we at Active Trans are recommending a couple of cool bike calendars that may fit your needs.

Thought You Knew Us is in their second year producing classy and cool bicycling pin-up calendars (women and men versions available) that benefit the Chicago Women's Health Center. The editions this year are exceptional and Active Trans is honored to be included as a supporter. Congrats to Alexis F., one of our members, on her efforts putting these together.

And, another member, Elizabeth A, is offering a "Chicago Bikes" calendar with cool photos that she took herself. Proceeds from this calendar will benefit the Chicago Ride of Silence that Elizabeth organizes each May.

So, grab a calendar, hit all your deadlines and meetings, and know you'll be supporting some worthy causes.

Active Trans throws a spoke wrench into your Southland holiday plans

I’m an experienced, self-taught home bike mechanic, and have the deep knuckle scars and boxes of stripped & gouged bike parts and tools to prove it. During this season of peace and goodwill, Active Trans is revealing another path to you: Worth Cycles-N-Sports, tucked up against the Tri-State at 6559 W. 111th St. in Worth, Ill., is offering both bike repair classes and gift certificates for classes at a 10% holiday discount for Active Trans members who purchase before December 23. Instructor Jim Saplis has been teaching basic bike repair, less-basic bike repair, and full bike rebuild classes for a decade or more, a couple years now in the Southland, and somehow he and I never met. (Maybe he doesn't drink beer - that might explain it.)

Classes are scheduled as they fill up, which Jim says has been about every two weeks. About the class, Jim also says:

Classes consist of no more than four people and one or two instructors for all classes. You will work on your own bike. It's very hands on and all appropriate questions are addressed and answered. You will be grouped with people of similar skill level.

There are three current class levels being offered:
1. Beginner (approximately 4 hours)
2. Intermediate (approximately 5 hours)
3. Over haul (2 sessions of approximately 5 hours)

Included in the class is a Park Tool School manual (which can be picked up ahead of time to study up and prepare questions), all necessary tools and lube, bike stands and a completion certificate.

Bike mechanics classes are a great resource for the Southland. Contact Jim at (708)361-0440 or e-mail jsaplis@msn.com. Know of other Southland bike mechanics classes? Send them in, I’ll put them up.

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