Friend of Active Transportation Remembered

I learned today that a friend of our mission, Jan Metzger, lost her battle with lung cancer. My good friend from college, Michael Burton and his wife Gin Kilgore, both wrote a wonderful tribute to her work and her passions. I'd like for you to read that now and get to know someone who has made a difference in our line of work.

Lakefront Trail Conditions 2/22/10

I rode the Lakefront Trail this Monday (2/22) afternoon from Ardmore to Jackson and although there is a bit of slush here and there, it is in generally good condition and easily rideable, even with road tires. The Oak Street Bend all the way to Ohio St. was covered with snow. I did walk around the bend and then rode from the bend to Ohio St. but the banked surface was snow covered. I rode most of the way along the sidewalk next to Lake Shore Drive. The sidewalk was also covered with snow but did have pedestrian tracks and a few other tire tracks cut through the snow.

As always the recommended detour between Oak and Ohio Streets is Inner Lake Shore Drive via the Oak and Ohio Street underpasses.

Metra safety contests

Attention K-12 students and schools, there is one week left in Metra's annual contests for creative safety posters and essays. this year's theme is "Make the Right Choice: Look, Listen and Live." Safety around trains is very important and and we're glad Metra is making it fun for students to get involved...I mean, who wouldn't want a new notebook computer? The deadline for submissions is March 1.

$100 million investment in unclogging rail system in Chicago

Some good news to be announced today:  US Deptartment of Transportation is planning to announce tomorrow a new investment of $100 million toward Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Project or CREATE. The effort involves 47 railway improvements such as grade separations to move freight more quickly through the Chicago gridlock.  Why is this important?  One of the reasons that rail systems bog down in the region is the shared rail infrastructure by both commuting trains and freight.  It takes three days for trains to get to Chicago from the West Coast but three additional days for them to get through Chicago.  Freeing up both freight and commuter trains will help make them more efficient, more convenient and more competitive with the trucking business.  It also enables the high speed rail system to work.

The bad news is that the funding could have also been used for some really exciting opportunities to stimulate additional transit such as light rail systems, Bus Rapid Transit, or bicycle sharing.  Perhaps this award will help the region move toward those funding coversations next.

Read more at:

Orland Park: The texting stops here

 The Southtown Star reports that Orland Park is ROCKING the state's new texting while driving ban. Their enforcement saves lives. I think the Village should print up tickets for texting that are shaped like people.

Enforcement is EVERYTHING for laws like this to make a difference in safety and quality of life. Orland Park just became more a more livable place. I think the rest of the Southland's finest can live up to their example.

Toyota and traffic justice: misplaced outrage?

Unless you live under a rock or have been on a vacation on a remote island, you've likely heard about the Great Toyota Recall, in response to safety concerns over stuck gas pedals and faulty brakes. Scary stuff, right? No road user - whether behind the wheel, on foot, on bike or on transit - wants to be on the receiving end of a vehicle that's accelerating out of control.

But the level of media coverage and general hysteria has me stymied. It highlights once again how underwhelmed we are in the U.S. by regular old traffic crashes. By my count, here's the score:

  • Total fatalities (thus far) attributed to the sudden acceleration of Toyotas = 34
  • Ped/bike fatalities nationwide in 2007 = over 5,000
  • Average U.S. traffic fatalities in one year = roughly 34,000

Traffic deaths are tragic - for all road users, for any reason - and are largely preventable. But for plenty of reasons - car culture, consumer protectionism, plain old drama - stories like the Toyota fiasco routinely make the top of the newscast or on the front page, while another dead pedestrian or two is barely a blip. Where's the anger, the outrage for the deaths of the most vulnerable users of the road? Why are we complacent with traffic crashes as just being a 'part of life'?

But I see signs of change for the better. The recent high-level attention to the issue of distracted driving by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation has been nothing short of game-changing. Even Oprah joined the bandwagon. If we can raise the stigma of distracted driving to the level of that for drunk driving, we'll have moved toward a more civilized road environment. And with a stated commitment to sustainability and livable communities, U.S. Sec. of Transportation Ray LaHood will hopefully direct the flow of government spending toward facilities for clean, active transportation.

Active Trans is committed to this challenge - to stand up for peds, bikes and transit riders; to shine a light on too little funding and too many crashes; to clean up the environment, get people more active and make communities more livable, but we can't do it without you. Join us as a member at any level - you won't regret it. 

Calumet-Sag Trail on Gapers Block

Writer Sheila Burt just hit it out the park on Gapers Block today - including the challenges and why the Southland is worth it (apologies to Lorial). Includes video - take THAT newsprint!

Vote for Bike Buddy!

Our friends in New York, Transportation Alternatives, are pushing a new project that could have implications here in Chicago. Bike Buddy would be a mobile and web-based route sharing application that could change how bicyclists get around locally or if traveling to a new city.

You can help by voting (one vote per day per email address allowed) for the project on the Pepsi Refresh Everything website.

Spread the word!

New bike and pedestrian blog

Our friends at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency Commission started a blog dedicated to biking and walking. Check it out!

Emailing Active Trans

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