Great news - HB 156, the School Safety Bill passed the House yesterday with only one no vote. Now that things are rolling, be sure to check our legislative page for updates.
HB156 and SB 75 would give school districts more flexibility in their use of money that comes from speeding violations in school zones. Specifically, it would allow them use the funds for Sate Routes to School and School Safety Block Grant activities.
Our next issue of ModeShift, hitting mailboxes in early March, will give you details on these bills and tips on how to be an advocate in your community every day.
We all need to play a role to make sure that pedestrian and bicycle facilities are included in transportation infrastructure projects in our communities. Action needs to happen now at the local level. Call your Mayor to ensure that your streets become Complete Streets -- ones where anyone can travel by foot, bike or car. Tell them why this project is important to your community (Complete Streets can reduce transportation costs and travel times while increasing property values and job growth) and remind them that each roadway project provides an opportunity to include the needs of all users (pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, and the disabled).
I rode to downtown on the Trail at about 6:30 p.m. with heavy wet snow falling. The Trail was in good condition and the Oak Street Bend had some ice but there was pretty good path through that area.
On the way home at about 10:00 p.m. I didn't even try to take the trail as the streets had a coating of ice over them anyplace where cars had not been regularly driving. I'm certain that the Trail was covered with a coating of ice as well. The Park District should be out to salt early in the morning (usually around 6-6:30 a.m.) so that should help a lot. Please be careful, however, as the Trail may still be very slippery as well as side streets.
Congratulations to the Champaign-Urbana Safe Routes to School Project on unveiling their new billboard:
The sign, an incredibly effective visual argument against speeding, is only one small part of a comprehensive program that is getting kids across these two municipalities more active on their way to school. Champaign-Urbana Safe Routes has also received state funding to improve the street signage around Urbana’s schools, decorated the local buses with transportation safety messages, and is working with the Active Transportation Alliance to introduce a Walking School Bus program at King Elementary. Cynthia Hoyle and Rose Hudson are outstanding examples of advocates changing the transportation culture in their community. To learn more about their work with the Champaign-Urbana Safe Routes to School Project, click here. To learn more about Safe Routes to School where you live, click here.
I've been thinking about food a lot lately. People who know me know that I love to cook, love to watch cooking shows, love to go out to eat, and love to talk about it all. I've been listening to foodie podcasts lately and a couple of podcasts have connected my love of food with my work -- transportation. The first was a podcast from Good Food, a KCRW podcast that discussed the idea floating around to have the Obamas plant a "Victory Garden" at the White House. They have more than 17 acres on the lawn that could easily be used to plant fruits and vegetables. Imagine the presidential chefs going out to their garden to pick fresh vegetables and fruits for the latest banquet. What a great message that would send. Not to mention the reduction in carbon from reduced transportation.
The second podcast was from my favorite show, The Splendid Table. The weekly show had been following people over the past year who were practicing a localvore diet. They were required to get at least 80 percent of their diet from food grown and produced within 100 miles of their homes.
Connecting the local food movement with transportation natural. A board member of Active Trans recently hosted a cocktail party at his house to link the two and share his two favorite passions: biking and eating local vegan fare.
I've been a member of a Consumer Support Agriculture Farm (or CSA) for years. It is called Angelic Organics and my house is the drop-off site in Logan Square. The farm is out near Rockford, less than 100 miles away. My kids get to go out to farm every year and see where their food grows, meet the farmers, the fields, and learn about farming. The food gets trucked to my neighborhood and neighbors come to my house to pick up a 3/4 bushel of fresh produce each week for 20 weeks during the summer and early fall. Now if I can only get them all to bike with a bicycle trailer or walk to my house instead of driving, it would be something...
Are you interested in hosting your own Foodie/Transportation party at your house or apartment? We'll work with you design it and come out to talk about our work. If you are interested, contact Arline Welty here.
Dang, now I'm hungry.
On March 3, a special primary election will be held to fill the 5th Congressional District seat vacated by Rahm Emanuel (now White House Chief of Staff). Active Transportation Alliance has more than 1,600 members in the 5th District. As a service to our members, we are offering each of the candidates an opportunity to post their transportation platform on our blog.
The first posting is from Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley. His posting appears below unedited. We will add other candidate postings as they are received. Please feel free to share your opinions by commenting on the blog postings.
Statement from Commissioner Quigley:
"Mass transit provides a safe, affordable, environmentally efficient way for people to travel to and from work. Chicago is in desperate need of an infusion of federal funds to continue to upgrade our transit system. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided a great opportunity to invest in transportation infrastructure. Commissioner Quigley urged Congress to include more funding for mass transit in the final version of the stimulus package on a new website, with a petition to support transit funding. Unfortunately, a third of the funding for CTA, METRA and other local transit operators was cut from the final bill. If elected to Congress, Commissioner Quigley would continue to fight for more funding for bike lanes and to make walking and public transit safer, more convenient and more efficient.
On the County Board, Commissioner Quigley has sponsored every piece of major environmental legislation adopted by Cook County in the last decade and continues to press the County to make environmental sustainability a top priority. His efforts lead the Chicago Reader to name him the "greenest elected official in Chicago." In their recent endorsement, the Chicago Sun-Times, wrote that Commissioner Quigley "has championed the Cook County Forest Preserve District, gotten more money for environmental programs and persuaded county government to buy green." Commissioner Quigley also forcefully advocates for and works to protect the Forest Preserve District. Since 2006, as chair of the Forest Preserve Board Finance Committee, he has urged District officials to increase the pace of land acquisition, opposed encroachments and inappropriate uses of District lands, and supported careful restoration of District lands to their natural state."
Sun Times' transportation reporter Mary Wisniewski gets it:
"Here's a confession: I used to talk on the cell phone a lot while driving, both hands-free and hands-full. It kept me from feeling bored in traffic, it saved time, and I knew my chances of getting stopped for it were about equal to my chances of getting ticketed for jaywalking on State Street.
Last month, I decided enough was enough, and stopped. I looked at it this way -- I've done 956 really stupid things in my life. But I've never driven drunk because I was afraid I'd hit a kid. Since talking on a cell phone can be as bad as driving drunk, that meant I had to hang up the phone. So I did."
The ban for talking on a cell phone while driving in Chicago is about to go up. Sure, passing a law doesn't automatically stop everyone.
But, as she says, "Laws alone aren't going to stop cell phone use while driving. There has to be something else -- a sense of social shame. There has to be a tipping point -- to go from thinking it's OK to drive while on the phone to thinking it's akin to breaking wind in public.
Think of how many people smoked in the 1970s -- one of my jobs as a kid was to empty and clean out the household ashtrays. My kids have never even seen an ashtray. It's not because cigarettes are illegal -- they're banned from many indoor places, but they're still legal outside and in people's homes. Most people don't smoke anymore because enough of them got the message that it's insanely bad for your health, and social mores evolved to make it seem silly instead of cool. That's what's going to have to happen with cell phones and cars."
Yesterday we had a fantastic public turnout for our Alsip Park District Bike Plan Input meeting at the Apollo Recreation Center. Included amongst 40+ participants were park district director Jeanette Huber and many enthusiastic Alsip Park District Board of Directors including President Jerri-Lynn Kleiner and Kathy Perretta; Village of Alsip Mayor Patrick Kitching; and Active Trans Board Member Jane Healey.
To develop a base network for our bike plans, we have participants draw their routes, destinations and barriers on big maps with colored markers [the mayor got his own special color]. Lots of people use routes through Alsip’s cemeteries, and a refreshingly large number of residents talked about their current bike trips to restaurants, neighboring communities, friends’ houses, and better yet, to bars. Almost everyone had concerns about riding on and crossing both 127th St. and Cicero Ave. – no big surprise there. They told us that the east and west sides of Alsip don’t connect thanks to the difficulties crossing Cicero Avenue, a problem that dates back as far as some of the lifelong residents can remember.
Mayor Kitching articulated his vision of connecting the Alsip Park District’s multi-use, paved trail to the path through Oak Lawn’s Wolfe Wildlife Refuge, and to the future Calumet-Sag Trail. To get across Cicero, he wants to go under it: he sees driving a 12’ diameter, prefabricated steel pipe into an available bridge embankment, like sticking a drinking straw horizontally into a scoop of chocolate ice cream. Dig out the dirt from the center, and Presto! Instant bike tunnel!
While I haven’t ever seen such a thing, Vince Cullen, Alsip’s public works director, said that it’s very viable, very durable, very fast & inexpensive, plus it doesn’t disturb the road above – Vince said he wouldn’t even have to stop traffic. Compared to what it takes to build a box culvert under a big road – which is the old school way – Alsip’s pipe dream could become a totally tubular solution for suburban towns trapped inside expressways and rail lines.
By Steve Buchtel and Katie Tully
The Oak Street Bend still has some snow and ice on it but is rideable with caution. Amazing how all that hasn't melted yet with the above freezing weather. We have had a cold and snowy winter so far!
The rest of the Trail from Ardmore to the 11th Street underpass is in good shape. Some wet spots so be careful as the temperatures drop bellow freezing again but most of the Trail is dry.