Chicago to Bourbanais - By bike, bus & train

An update from Footprints Coach Mary Lynn Wilson:

Back in the “day” when I worked in advertising, when an ad came in that we didn’t sell, we said it came in over the transom. Well, I got an interesting Footprints route request “over the transom”. It came through Active Trans from Aimee. She’s going to travel from Chicago to Bourbonnais via Metra/bus/bike.

I remember seeing a bus at the University Park Metra station for the River Valley Metro when I went out to the Plum Creek Nature Center in Will County. It turns out you can catch the bus in University Park and it will take you to several locations in Bourbonnais, Manteno and Kankakee.

I took a look at riding from the station. It’s not that long of a ride but it’s a desolate one. I remember riding to Plum Creek in Beecher. What I thought it would be a quick 45 minute ride turned into 2 hours because of an incredible headwind. I ran out of water and had no food. I kept thinking I’d hit a gas station at the next intersection but there never was one! For a direct route to Bourbonnais there are a lot of country roads but you don’t hit many of the towns.

The same goes for taking the Wauponsee Glacial Trail from Joliet. It will take you down to Kankakee State Park but I’ve read some blogs that warn you to have plenty of food and water because there isn’t much after Manhattan.

Aimee and I talked a lot about lights, gear and how to carry books and a laptop. I admire Amiee’s determination to use a train and bike for commuting. It will be interesting to hear how it goes. Maybe her desire to be car-free will get more people thinking about doing the same for their much shorter commute. I’ll think of her next time I get one of those “but a car would be so much faster” thoughts.

Mary-Lynn Wilson

Legislative Update

On Friday, July 24, 2009, Governor Pat Quinn signed SB 75 into law. This bill, introduced by Sen. Michael Bond and Rep. Robert Pritchard grants school districts more flexibility in their use of revenue from fines of speeding violations in school zones. Specifically, the bill allows school districts to use the funding for Safe Routes to School and School Safety Block Grant activities. For more information on Active Trans' legislative agenda, visit

Lakefront Trail Activities July 25 and 26

Activities that may affect your use of the Lakefront Trail July 25 and 26.

Saturday, July 25

Corona Wide Open - Lincoln Park, North Avenue Beach - 6am-8pm

Chicago Beach Soccer Tournament - Lincoln Park, Montrose Beach - 7am-7pm

Sunday, July 26

Chicago Criterium - Grant Park - 7am-4pm


Rascals, global warming take one on the nose

 'Bolts won! Stretched a 4th inning run into a 3-2 victory over those rotten Rascals, who are also rascally. 13 bike bells ringing clearly rattled the Rascals's batters.

Footprints was a hit at the game too - coaches collected travel surveys and doled out local trail and bike club info. A perfect game for Footprints [with a nod here to Mark Buehrle].

Small events are wonderful ways to open a world of enjoyable bike riding for folks, right where they live, and break down the idea that bikes are only for biking. They're great tools for living, too. And living well.

Pictures are up here.

Have a small biking or walking event idea? Or a place you know would be fabulous to bike to? Let a Footprints coach know by filling out the survey

Ask Footprints: Biking to the Ball Park

Hey Footprints: how might one ride from, say, Food4Less in Oak Forest to the 'Bolts stadium in Crestwood? Like tonight, for instance?

Glad you asked:

Footprints coaches are expert route finders, adding experience to whatever whiz-bang algorithms on-line stuff uses [and confuses!]. And boy, does experience make a difference. Get your own Southland routes: ask for one at

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Bike racing downtown - Chicago Criterium rolls this Sunday

Ranked last year by USA Cycling as the number one race in the nation, the Chicago Criterium returns to Grant Park this Sunday, July 26.

Designed by Active Trans' and XXX Racing - AthletiCo's own Randy Warren, the course is not very technical - just four left turns and a quick chicane - but is placed in probably the most ideal location imaginable for both fans and riders alike. 


Photo by Luke Seemann of Chicago Bike Racing

From the start finish line by Buckingham Fountain on Columbus Drive, they head west on Monroe to deal with the first of two "kickers" (small hills) on the bridge over the Metra tracks.   The racers then hit Michigan Ave, where they briefly round the exit and entrance ramps to Congress, before dashing back out onto the famed boulevard, then turn left on Balbo back over the Metra tracks, and finally say a quick prayer before taking Turn 4 at full downhill speed and sprinting all out for the line and a huge payout.

There will be numerous accoutrements for fans along the course - including VIP tents and food and beverage venders - and the course location offers virually unlimited prime viewing areas.

There are still opportunities to register online for Sunday's race until 4pm today.  Day-of race registration is available as well.

Distracted driving not getting any safer

The NY Times wrote a pretty powerful story on the dangers of distracted driving. Complete with a video and interactive game, the story makes two points:

  • driving while texting, cell phoning, web surfing and any other distraction is extremely dangerous
  • most people underestimate how distracted they are when using those devices

The story offers plenty of stats: distracted (i.e. texting, talking on cell phones..even hands-free) is as dangerous as driving with a blood alochol level of .08. Cellphone distractions caused 2,600 traffic deaths every year, and 330,000 accidents that result in moderate or severe injuries, according to a Harvard study.

When I tried playing the texting-while-driving interactive game, not only could I not stay on the road, but I couldn't recall a simple thing a co-worker said to me while I was busy "texting" and "driving."

The paper ran another story that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration withheld research that shows how dangerous driving while texting or cell phoning is.

"The former head of the highway safety agency said he was urged to withhold the research to avoid antagonizing members of Congress who had warned the agency to stick to its mission of gathering safety data but not to lobby states.

Critics say that rationale and the failure of the Transportation Department, which oversees the highway agency, to more vigorously pursue distracted driving has cost lives and allowed to blossom a culture of behind-the-wheel multitasking.

“We’re looking at a problem that could be as bad as drunk driving, and the government has covered it up,” said Clarence Ditlow, director of the Center for Auto Safety."

The good news is that plenty of research backs up what we already know: driving while texting and cell phoning is deadly. Moreover, bicyclists and pedestrians are impacted much more because they are the most vulnerable (no seatbelts, no airbags, no car frame to protect them). The bad news is that a lot of legislation was dismissed because legislators don't get it.

“I’m on the phone from when I leave the Capitol to when I get home, and that’s a two-hour drive,” said Tad Jones, the majority floor leader in the Oklahoma House, who helped block the legislation. “A lot of people who travel are used to using the phone.”


Friends of the Calumet-Sag Trail receive 501c3 non-profit status

 Fly, little bird:

Three years ago, Active Transportation Alliance enabled the creation of the Friends of the Calumet-Sag Trail to accelerate the completion of the 32-mile multi-use connection between southeast suburban Burnham and southwest suburban Lemont. ActiveTrans served as financial agent while the Friends got its ducks in a row straight enough to apply for 501c3 non-profit status.

The letter came today. The Friends have left the nest, on wings born aloft by IRS approval of its application [and tortured metaphors].

Nick of time, too: the Friends are committed to providing the remaining $35,000 match for Cal-Sag communities awarded $268,000 by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin.

Find out more about our plans at

Bikes Lanes on Sheridan Avenue in Wilmette

Image winding up Sheridan Road in Evanston by bike or foot, then passing the beautiful Baha'i House of Worship in Wilmette. The 18-month road construction project on Sheridan Road is almost complete. The road project has bike lanes in both directions on Sheridan from Lake Avenue northward to Westerfield Drive and the Plaza del Lago.


Bike Lane on SheridanCheck out some photos taken just last week! The larger construction project includes repaving as well to enhance this great North Shore roadway for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians.

Please remember to ride safely and obey the rules of road as several municipalities in the North Suburbs have received complaints about bicyclists disobeying traffic signals and blocking the road. Please remember that bicyclists have the same rights as motorists to be on the road and are subject to the same duties applicable to a motorist. Be an example to other groups and bicyclists on the road! The many North Suburban Police Departments will be increasingly active to enforce safe shared use of roadways

Add the ribbon cutting ceremony to your calendars; it will take place on July 28, 2009 at 10:45 a.m. at Plaza Del Lago

West Suburban Bike and Dine

The July 18 West Suburban Bike and Dine was a huge success. Riders enjoyed gorgeous scenery, consumed way too much mouth-watering food, and showed the world (or at least the West Suburbs) how easy and fun it is to get around by bike.

Check out this story on the fantastic ride!

If you're beating yourself up about missing this, no worries, we have two more rides to go, on August 8 and September 26. Check out to sign up.

Hope you can make it!

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