He may be a first year racer with XXX Racing - AthletiCo, but riding - and living with - bikes is nothing new to Matthew Stevenson, 23, of Evergreen Park, IL ("Southside, born and raised!").
He began riding at three years old, after receiving a hand-me-down sans training wheels from the neighbor two doors down. A few hours later the seed was planted and the obsession was growing.
Building dirt jumps with friends in random abandoned lots led to sanction BMX racing bmx at the Elgin and Rockford tracks, during the hiockey offseason. At age 13 while watching a bmx show, Matthew saw a racer he admired using a road bike for training. He dove into turns "like a Superbike pilot." With that he pulled his dad's yellow 1972 Schwinn Le Tour out of the garage and - that needed to stand on the front porch's first stair to get on notwithstanding - a roadie was born.
Bikes have been central to his life ever since.
Later that year, in the winter 2000, his now-boss knocked on his door and asked if he wanted a job. About a month later he showed up at Park Schwinn and asked if the position was still available. It was.
Oddly, Matthew never really used bicycles as a means of transportation until his junior year of college, when he began volunteering his time with Hand in Hand Ministries, a Catholic charity. Until then cycling was always recreational only, until he had a true movement of conscience.
While completing undergrad degrees in Theology and Political Science, he dedicated most of his spare time to social justice. The realization suddenly struck him then that his means of transportation did not reflect the deep commitment he'd made to those less fortunate than him. The red 4x4 was "ditched" and now Matthew only drives when needed for work or circumstances warrent.
He continues his work with Hand in Hand today, just recently returning from a trip to Belize. As well, Matt was inspired while attending St. Xavier University to help start a bike share program, utilizing shaft driven bicycles that can be checked out and returned at various locations across campus. He also currently volunteers with World Bicycle Relief, a non-profit partner with XXX Racing, and his other contributions to the team have been numerous.
Matthew has been enjoying his first season on XXX Racing immensely, "catting up" to a 4 even before the demanding schedule of summer racing starts. He is looking forward to even more success on and off the bike.
Footprints coach and fellow League of American Bicyclists cycling instructor Gina Kenny taught the League's Traffic Skills 101 program to the Urbana-Champaign Metropolitan Transportation District - U-C's version of the Regional Transportation Authority [Pace, CTA, Metra] - on July 1. Already an outstanding transportation planner, Cynthia Hoyle at the MTD organized the class. She wanted to be more grounded in good bicycling behavior for her own enjoyment and safety, but also to be a better bicycle planner.
Okay, so what? I'll tell you what:
Every bad bicycle facility or, much more common, decision to not accommodate bicyclists is at least partly rooted in ignorance of how cyclists can and do safely share the roadway. Taking the full Traffic Cycling 101 course, with its emphasis on behaving in traffic like a vehicle, brings anyone about 85% of the way toward making better decisions about bicycle accommodation than 95% of the planners, engineers, and public officials currently making those decisions.
You become the authority. And expose lots of people building streets and/or fighting bike facilities as simply being afraid of biking.
If you're one of those planners/engineers/public officials, there's pay off for you too: a bicycling constituency educated on how to share almost any street with car traffic will most appreciate the compromises you undoubtedly have to make to accommodate all traffic, even if you're 100% committed to being a bike-friendly community.
And put your own people through Traffic Skills 101, and watch the possibilities for cost-efficient, effective bicycle accommodation - and interaction with a public increasingly asking for bike friendliness - open up.
Active Transportation Alliance has five League certified Traffic Cycling instructors on staff [and yes, THAT'S why our bicycle planning staff is so good], and there are dozens more like Larry Mysz who are teaching classes right now. Drop us a line.
Senator Richard Durbin has thrown down the gauntlet for the Calumet-Sag Trail Coalition [representing the towns and public agencies who are building the Calumet-Sag Trail]:
He'll match every dollar the Coalition can raise with four dollars in federal grant money, up to $335,000, to design the trail heads, interpretive features and amenities that will define the trail access and interaction for the communities along the trail.
A tremendous offer for the Coalition - if this were 2006. In 2009, the communities and agencies along our corridor are stretched thin.
Thank goodness the Coalition has Friends. And we've got a really, really cool bike.
Activities that may affect your use of the Lakefront Trail for the weekend of July 10-12.
Friday, July 10
No permitted events reported
Saturday, July 11
C H Robinson's 6th Annual Kickball Tournament, Grant Park - Upper and Lower Hutchinson Fields, 6am-9pm
McDonald's L.A.T.E. Ride, Grant Park, 11pm-6am
Volleywood Beach Bash, North Avenue Beach, 7am-8pm
29th Annual Chicago Sprints Regatta, Lincoln Park - Rowing Lagoon, 7am-6pm
Sunday, July 12
The North Ave. Beach Ball, North Avenue Beach, 9:30am-7pm
A helpful bicyclist and some paramedics on bikes saved the day when a woman on her way to the Taste went into cardiac arrest.
According to the Sun-Times, "a 52-year-old woman who went into cardiac arrest on her way to the Taste of Chicago on Thursday was resuscitated, thanks to a quick-thinking passerby and a pair of paramedics on bicycles.
The unidentified woman, an Arizona tourist, was walking to the Taste when she collapsed near Balbo and Columbus around 10:30 a.m., Chicago Fire Department officials said. A good samaritan on her bicycle spotted the woman and began administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation."
It's the fastest way to see what the Footprints coaches are up to:
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Some trips are strictly by bike, some by bike/public transportation. And for those who see their commute as too long or too difficult, we continue to encourage everyone to think before they get in their car for that 1, 2 or 3 mile trip. This is where Footprints makes its biggest impact.
From one of our Footprints coaches, Mary Lynn Wilson:
Steve Buchtel asked me how long it takes to plan a route for our Footprints participants. I thought about it; it takes a long time! For most of the people we sign up, using a bike for transportation is a novel experience. Using the recommended streets on the Chicagoland bike maps and having the fledgling go at it would bring their noble experiment to a quick halt. So, we coaches poke through maps, Google and Bing only to be faced with a myriad of cul-de-sacs, canals, railroad tracks and streets where a speed limit is merely a suggestion. Persevere we do and manage to come up with a decent route with minimal fast moving cars, sometimes connecting the rider with a train or bus. We sweeten the pot by offering to make the ride with them. Never give someone a route you wouldn’t ride yourself.
But, I have finally been stumped. I met a gentleman at Matteson Fest who worked for the United States Postal Service at O’Hare. He wanted to use his bike to get from the facility on the southeast end of the airport to the Blue Line. Here’s the catch: he didn’t want to ride on Irving Park and he gets off work at 11:30 p.m. He said there was a shuttle to the Blue Line but it didn’t run that late. I wonder if he meant the Pace 332. It leaves the USPS at 11:36 and gets him to the Blue Line at 11:50. I enlisted the help of Rich Evans, the O’Hare bike ambassador (did you know O’Hare had a bike ambassador?) He threw out some suggestions that might work but in the end there still was one very large problem. Even if we geo our South Suburban cyclist to the Blue Line, once he got downtown there was not public transportation to Matteson. The midnight Blue Line train gets downtown at 12:40 and the last train to Matteson is at 12:50; a tight connection dependent upon everything going smoothly. The suggestion to our rider is to continue driving to work but use his bike for his local transportation.
Losing this one doesn’t sting as much knowing we have gotten people from the South Suburbs to downtown Chicago, someone from Oak Forest to Roselle, a teacher from Harlem and Northwest Highway to his school in Orland Park, and an intrepid rider from Tinley down to Kankakee State Park. Some trips are strictly by bike, some by bike/public transportation. And for those who see their commute as too long or too difficult, we continue to encourage everyone to think before they get in their car for that 1, 2 or 3 mile trip. This is where Footprints makes its biggest impact.
As the Education Specialist here at Active Trans it's my job to educate people in the Northeastern Illinois region on how to use their bikes more effectively and how to take advantage of programs like Bikes on Metra. Imagine my chagrin and slight embarassment when, as I tried to board an outbound Milwaukee District Metra line this morning I was politely reminded by the conductor that no bikes were allowed.
"But I'm reverse commuting" I pleaded, sure that I had the higher ground. "Sorry, no bikes on trains during the Taste of Chicago" the conductor responded. Wanh-wanh-wanh-waaaaah. Let that be a lesson to me to mark these dates in my calendar. And as a favor to our members etc., we'll put those dates in our on line calendar as well for your benefit. That's just part of my job, making mistakes, so you don't have to!
Check out our calendar, where we have the blackout dates listed.
Stickers are in! - put them on your driver's side window to remind you to make smart transportation choices. If you're from the south suburbs, you get one by filling out the Footprints survey at http://activetrans.org/footprints, OR by finding the Footprints coaches at many Southland events: http://activetrans.org/calendar.
If you're not from the Southland, you just don't get it.
After our successful spring Illinois legislative session, the focus has switched to Washington, DC.
Last week, the House Transportation Committee released a proposed new surface transportation bill. We are excited that Chairman Oberstar is leading the efforts, and we hope the key parts of the bill improve and strengthen. With a $450 billion price tag, it's more important than ever that we get a transformative bill with clear goals, measurable targets and national objectives for what those dollars should accomplish. Working with our allies at Transportation for America, we will continue our work to ensure that the new surface transportation bill helps us create healthy streets filled with healthy people.
Climate Change Bill
Also last week, the House narrowly approved the American Clean Energy and Security Act. This bill, commonly known as the Climate Change Bill, will help transform our oil-dependent country to move livable and active forms of transportation and living. Many thanks to Reps. Bean, Davis, Gutierrez, Halvorson, Hare, Jackson, Kirk, Lipinski, Quigley, Rush and Schakowsky for voting for the bill.