Interview with a CTA bus driver who's a customer service pro

Here's a great interview on one of my favorite local transportation blogs. VoteWithYourFeet chats with Jairo Naranjo, a veteran CTA bus driver about customer service and much more.

State road race championship is on

Tower Racing is once again bringing Illinois cyclists a state road racing championship, on Sept. 12, 2009.  Through unintended, yet fortunate circumstances, it will move from last year's location in Oak Brook to an area many area riders are intimately familiar with, Willow Springs.

Chicagobikeracing.com has an excellent, must-read preview of the race published, but anyone who has done the Cafe De Luca ride on Sunday mornings from Wicker Park will have the advantage here.

Registration is open and is expected to fill up fast.

Crossing over

It's that time of year. 

Road racing is winding down; not much remains except for some final state championships and random crits.  Burnouts are everywhere, looking for low pressure rides and long mornings at the coffee shops.  The local group rides are filling back up with regulars, while others are discovering their significant others again.

But soon, fall barbeques will send sweet smoke across the parks, stereos will be blasting classic rock across the parking lot, and the welcoming sound of a frothy, cold beer popping open will attract friends far and wide.

It's not a tailgate party.

It's Cyclocross season.

Looking for a way to continue your fitness and keep your competitive edge?  Or way to break into bike racing without risking road rash or worse?  Cyclocross could be for you.  A combination of road and mountain biking, running and pedaling and in-between, cyclocross racers navigate a techical course over varied terrain, including barriers which require a dismount, then retire to sidelines for beer-handups and other general shenanigans.  It's no wonder cyclocross is one of the fast growing disciplines in American cycling, and in competitive sports, overall in fact. 

The Chicago Cross Cup kicks off the 2009 season in Jackson Park, brought to you by XXX Racing - AthletiCo, on Sunday, September 20th.  Registration is open.

Schools Cut Back on Transportation

According to a report by the American Association of School Administrators, 23 percent of school districts are cutting back on school bus routes and availability due to funding shortfalls. Rather than not offering any transportation services, Active Trans has a better solution. Implement Safe Routes to School and other programs that encourage walking and rolling to school.

Active Trans has multiple programs for elementary schools including one-time presentations, mini-grants for Walk and Roll to School Day events, curriculum and fun challenge programs. Give us a call at 312.427.3325 for help starting a program at your school.

Read the full report here.

Lakefront Trail Activities August 28-30

Activities that may affect your use of the Lakefront Trail August 28-30

Friday, August 28

Friday Night at North Avenue Beach, 6-9pm

 

Saturday, August 29

Chicago Shoreline Marathon, I'm not sure how much this will affect Lakefront Trail Traffice, this is a water event with check points on the shore at 63rd St. Beach, 12th St. Beach, North Ave. and Montrose beaches. The event is from 9am to 4pm

McDonald's Kids/Fleet Feet Sports Triathlon, Lincoln Park (Foster Area), 5am-3pm

 

Sunday, August 30

Chicago Triathlon, Grant Park, 6am-3pm

Different routes for different bikers

Footprints coach Gina Kenny wrote this; I'm just the very-very-proud-of-Footprints messenger:

Even though it hasn’t been ages since I started commuting, I still forget how intimidating some things can seem when you first start. A Footprints participant wanted a route from her home in Homewood to the Old Plank Trail.

I planned a route taking 175th Street to Kedzie Avenue; taking Kedzie south; continuing going southwest as it becomes Olympian Way; going briefly west on 212th Place to Main Street and then taking Main Street south to the trail.

I’ve commuted on 175th Street a few times and thought it was not a bad street to commute on. Ashley made it part of the way but turned back – “Call me a chicken, if you will” she had wrote to me in an email. I thought about when I first started commuting – how I would tense up every single time that I heard a car coming up behind me. How I would take a route with residential streets, even if it added two miles to my route. And, I realized how scary riding on a four-lane street can seem if you have not been commuting for awhile.

So, I offered to ride with her and I planned her a new route with mostly residential streets and only one real scary section. Early on, our route was on 183rd Street for a block until Western Avenue. She rode it like a pro both there and back.
Then we continued on Western south, riding through residential areas and largely following the Electric Metra line until we hit Kedzie.

After about a block on Kedzie, the street turns into Olympian Way with a bike lane! Bike lanes are extremely rare in the south suburbs and I think I shocked Ashley with how excited I was to ride on a bike lane. We discussed whether to cross the street when the bike path switches sides of the street at a bridge or to continue on the road and then we were in another residential area before hopping on the trail.

Was the first route I gave her “wrong?” No, but, the second route was definitely “right.” What good is a route if the person does not feel comfortable riding it? Being able to revise a route to suit a particular riders needs and riding a route with a rider are just two of the great benefits of signing up for Footprints. Visit http://www.activetrans.org/footprints for more info and to sign up.

Chicagoland Car-Free Day...take the pledge!

We are excited to announce the inaugural Chicagoland Car-Free Day campaign!

Chicagoland Car-Free Day is a regional campaign encouraging people to leave their cars at home on Sept. 22 and explore getting around by biking, walking and transit.

Take the pledge at www.chicagolandcarfree.org and get a $1 off a large drink coupon from Caribou Coffee.

The campaign is hosted by the Active Transportation Alliance and our regional transit agencies, RTA, Pace, Metra and CTA.

Businesses, organizations and municipalities can also get involved by hosting Chicagoland Car-Free Day events and activities which will be listed on the website.

Please take the pledge, spread the word and get your activity listed here: www.chicagolandcarfree.org

 

What was your favorite Open Streets moment?

From our advocacy director, Adolfo Hernandez:

Open Streets proved to be an amazing day of exploring beautiful communities on Chicago's West Side. We saw people of all ages and abilities riding bicycles, running, jogging, skateboarding, dancing, creating art, knitting, playing or just sitting and chatting with neighbors. The one thing they all had in common were their smiling faces. It's amazing what can happen when you open streets to people.

For me, the most memorable moment was the amount of people form the community who were out enjoying their streets and their neighborhoods in a new way. The most common question I heard was,"When can we do this again?" or "Are you doing this next week?" Chicago's West side often gets left out in terms of major events; most of those things usually happen closer to the lake or further North. Community residents and our community partners were excited about bringing a world class event and experience to these great communities of Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Garfield Park, North Lawndale, and Little Village.

We saw that there is a demand for more places to play, be physically active in a safe way and to meet with friends and family. Active Trans and our community partners are committed to bringing more Open Streets to Chicago. Tell us about your favorite moment and where you would like to see Open Streets.

Volunteer for BLT Sept. 13!

Come volunteer and have fun helping The Active Transportation Alliance make the 21st annual Boulevard Lakefront Tour a success on September 13, 2009!

All day-of-event volunteers receive an event T-shirt, free picnic lunch and an invitation to the Active Trans annual volunteer party. Eligible groups of 10 people or more can also qualify for monetary donations. Pre-event volunteers receive an event entry in exchange for 6 hours of volunteer time.

 

If you would like more information about volunteering or the positions available please visit our volunteer recruitment page for the Boulevard Lakefront Tour at www.boulevardtour.org/volunteer.html or email me at CynthiaS@activetrans.org

 

Volunteers are essential to the success of our events!

 

Sincerely,

Cynthia Spreadbury,
BLT Volunteer Coordinator

 

A New Green Economy Event on September 14th

From 8-10 a.m. on Sept. 14, seven prominent Chicago area civic groups including the Active Transportation Alliance will hold a roundtable at the Downtown Omni Hotel to discuss tax savings through transit benefits. Attendees will learn about how you can provide your employees a greener way to commute through a federal tax law that saves payroll taxes.

Beyond learning about how these programs work, roundtable participants will also hear what other cities are doing to work with employers and how businesses can save while offering a real benefit to employees. The roundtable will feature other top executives from the Chicagoland area, local elected leaders, Members of Congress, and other national leaders.

This event will feature:

  • The Honorable Manuel Flores, Alderman, 1st Ward, City of Chicago
  • The Honorable Ross Mirkarimi, San Francisco Board of Supervisors
  • Stephen A. Schlickman, Executive Director of the Regional Transportation Authority
  • Congressman Daniel Davis (D.-- IL) * invited
  • Congressman Daniel K. Lipinski (D—IL) *invited.

If you are interested in attending the roundtable, RSVP via email to jdrew@cnt.org or click here.

Sponsors include: The Regional Transportation Authority, The Center for Neighborhood Technology / I-GO, Chicago Metropolis 2020, The Active Transportation Alliance, the Metropolitan Planning Council, The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Accor Services, and the office of Alderman Manuel Flores, 1st Ward.

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