From our Elgin Bicycling Ambassador Marjorie Gohl:
Recently the Chicago Tribune wrote an article detailing the lack of interest of Elgin residents to apply for grants to increase wellness in Elgin, but few people might not understand why Elgin residents are being prompted to increase their health. Before the article was written, few Elginites even knew that Elgin has gained the title of “Fattest city in Illinois”. Even now there is only a select number of Elginites that know we hold this title and before I became an Elgin Bicycle Ambassadors, I didn’t know that Elgin was considered the fattest city in Illinois either. Along with Tom Armstrong, I travel around Elgin on my bicycle and educate the residents on the importance of using a bicycle to commute, shop and exercise.
Tom Armstrong is a retired city planner for Elgin and I am a science teacher in Elgin and we are both avid bicyclists. So, when Active Transportation Alliance, which is based out of Chicago, posted the job opening for two bicycling ambassadors in Elgin, Tom and I both knew this would be the perfect summer job for us. Elgin received a grant though Illinois Department of Transportation Safety Division and recruited Active Transportation Alliance to run the program. Tom and I travel around Elgin on bicycles, appearing at park parties, festivals, concerts, Thursday’s Harvest Market, service groups, kids camps and adult bicycle clubs. Depending on the event we attend, we teach people how to properly wear a helmet, check their bicycle for safeness (ABC quick check), vehicular bicycling and tips on riding defensively. You may have even seen us at various events handing out material on safe bicycling, commuting, rules of the road and Kane Country trail maps.
Even though our season is almost over, you will still see Tom and I riding our bicycle around Elgin all year round. We’re employed until the end of September and will be participating in the Elgin by Bike program in September. We’ll also be riding in the progressive dinner by bicycle “Bike and Dine” and we encourage all Elginites to sign up for the event as well. Riding bicycles in Elgin takes just as much time as driving a car and is good for our air and traffic congestion. Also, bicycling Elgin is fun and great exercise. If more people start riding their bicycles around Elgin, we will be able to rid ourselves of the title “fattest city in Illinois”
Elgin Bicycle Ambassador
I have been made aware of two attacks on the Lakefront Trail last week around 31st Street at or after 10:30 p.m.
I am investigating these reports further but, as always, please be aware of your surroundings anytime you are riding your bicycle, including on the Lakefront Trail. It is always safer not to travel alone at night. Always wear a helmet and watch for suspicious activity and have an "escape" plan always in mind.
I will report any additional information that I uncover on this blog.
We applaud the Chicago Transit Authority’s new no-tolerance policy for bus and train operators who use cell phones or other electronic devices while operating a vehicle. We encourage all Chicago-area transit boards to adopt similar policies.
Distracted driving, including dialing on cell phones and text messaging, is one of the leading causes for crashes injuring bicyclists and pedestrians. Bicyclists and pedestrians are disproportionately injured and killed in crashes because they do not have the protection of seatbelts, airbags or a steel frame.
Recent reports from Virginia Tech Transportation Institute reveal that text messaging increases the risk of crash as much as 23.2 times as high as non-distracted driving. The same analysis showed that drivers of heavy vehicles involved in distracted driving crashes on average had their eyes off the roadway for four of the last six seconds before the crash. On a major arterial road, a vehicle can travel more than 100 yards in that amount of time. Distracted driving has been the cause of several high-profile crashes involving public trans in Southern California and Boston.
The Illinois General Assembly also recognizes the need to curb this behavior. This year it passed two laws that restrict texting or talking on a cell phone while driving. This legislation, however, does not affect public transit rail operators. And although it is critical to ensuring bicyclists’ and pedestrians’ safety, it is not enough to protect the employees and customers of Illinois’ public transportation.
The non-profit Active Transportation Alliance improves walking, bicycling and transit by building a movement, increasing traffic safety, encouraging physical activity and designing a world-class transportation network. We are working to create a region with a 50 percent reduction in all crashes and where 50 percent of the population walks, bikes and takes mass transit. We sit on the Secretary of State Jesse White’s Distracted Driving Task Force and we value our partnerships with Pace, Metra and CTA.
You can make transit safer by banning the use of cell phones and other electronic devices by your employees while operating buses and trains. Thank you for your attention to this critical matter.
Child Miles Travelled - the total distance we drive in a year chauffeuring our kids hither and thither - are growing faster than miles driven for work.
Another reason to ground them!
I use the term "lifestyle miles" all the time - the other trips outside your work life. I drive all the freakin' time for work and I'm a BICYCLE ADVOCATE [Crain's caught me]. But I couldn't get to Kentucky using my lifestyle miles travelled in a year. Focus on lifestyle miles [which is actually FUN to do instead of stressful] and you'll do the most good for yourself and your town.
Figure out how to reduce your lifestyle miles with a south suburban Footprints coach. Ask 'em at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's like Facebook for Chicagoland bicyclists and we love it!
If you're not on the Chainlink, sign up now and Active Trans would love to be your friend. Hope to see you at the party!
From our Footprints Coach Mike Erickson:
Everyone’s got a story, and the Footprints Program – we talk to people all the time – proves it. At a Footprints party during Bike to Work Week a Southtown Newspaper photographer gave up his story: how did you become a bicyclist I ask? (How did I know he biked? -- I had to ask him.) His answer: "I used to pass out behind the wheel, and the State took away my license. It turned out I liked walking everywhere; you get to see so much that you miss behind the glass. Then I met this girl who bikes everywhere. Now I’m with her. We bike. They finally gave me back my license. Who needs it?"
Want to read a story book? Read “[…] All Cars”, a young adult fiction novel by Blake Nelson. I love that it starts off with a quote, “Every generation needs a new revolution.” – Thomas Jefferson. It’s about an American teenager who rants about what he calls our unthinking auto-culture and the whole consumer economy thing. Very true, very funny, and you can read it in two days, while stuck in traffic (joking – remember, friends don’t let friends drive much).
Everyone’s got a story, but if you don’t ask you’ll never know. You have to ask for the back story. By the way, what’s your story, Morning Glory?
Give us Footprints Coaches your story, or a call if you’re having any trouble getting around town (too much car, not enough active trans) – we specialize in the south suburbs.
Veggie Bike & Dine was such a love-fest this weekend! From Howard Area Community Garden to a surprise sommelier experience at Trotter's to Go, it was such a treat to celebrate dining by bicycle with all riders. Active Trans wants to thank our small, hardworking volunteer group: board member and ride founder Chris Brunn, Veggie Bike & Dine Intern Carlin Thomas, Neighbor Space's Andrew Dribbin and Ben Helphand, Ride Marshals Megan Bernard and Katie Call, and photographer Holly Swanson.
Food was provided by Lakeside Cafe, Ras Dashen, Taste of Lebanon, Chicago Diner, Trotters to Go, and Green Grocer Chicago. Thank you to everyone for their support and wonderful vegan food.
If you'd like to create your own Veggie Bike and Dine, see www.activetrans.org/veggierides for instructions and routes of past rides!
Gov. Pat Quinn has signed into law Public Act 96-0267. These amendments to the Crime Victims Compensation Act includes in the definition of "crime of violence" leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident involving death or personal injury if the victim was a pedestrian or was operating a vehicle moved solely by human power or a mobility device at the time of contact. The effect of the amendment is to give pedestrians and bicyclicsts access to the Crime Victims Compensation Fund when they are injured and cannot get relief from the perpetrator of the crime.
Hello! I am looking for some willing biyclists to donate their smiling faces for about two hours tomorrow morning. WGN's morning show is doing a piece on safe cycling. In particular, it would be great to have some children. But all are welcome! Please contact me for details. email@example.com