Join our campaign to expand public transit in Cook County

The Chicago region’s public transit system is long overdue for an upgrade. There are too many gaps that prevent people from moving around the region and getting to work, school and other destinations on time.

Many existing lines are outdated and in disrepair, disrupting riders' lives and schedules every day. Meanwhile, too many residents are forced into their cars, where they end up stuck in traffic while damaging the environment.

Everyone who lives or works in Cook County knows it’s a problem, but nobody has the money to solve it.

That’s why we partnered with the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) to launch Transit Future, a campaign advocating for the Cook County Board of Commissioners to adopt a robust revenue stream to fund the development of Chicago and Cook County’s transit system.

This new revenue source will allow the city and the county to take advantage of available federal funds and other existing financing tools to fund transit projects.

Such an investment in transit will save all commuters time and money, create jobs, connect residents to job centers, and benefit the entire regional economy.

Our vision will create a more livable, economically competitive and environmentally sustainable region built on a public transportation system that works for everyone.

Now we need your help! Sign up today to volunteer to be a Transit Future supporter in your neighborhood.

In the coming weeks and months, we’ll be working with volunteers in districts throughout Cook County to engage their local Cook County Commissioner and mobilize other transit supporters in their area.

Transit Future

  Join the campaign today to be part of building a new and improved public transit system in Cook County.

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Get a photo of Rev Brew pedicab, win VIP tickets to Bike to Brew

Keep your eyes peeled for the Revolution Brewery pedicab around Chicago so you can snap a picture and get entered into a raffle to win two VIP tickets to Bike to Brew Saturday, July 26.

If you dig bikes and beer, this is your summer party opportunity.

Bike to Brew offers a fun bike ride starting at Daley Plaza and ending at a private party at Revolution Brewing’s production brewery on Kedzie with DJ Limbs, Revolution beer specials, local food trucks and more.

Bike to Brew is 21 and over and registration includes access to the pre-ride festival, wristband for the private party at Revolution Brewing, a beer ticket, colored-valve cap lights and bike route cue sheet and support.

VIP tickets also include:
1. Extra beer ticket
2. Rev Brew T-shirt
3. Voucher for brewery tour at a later date
4. Rev Brew growler to take home

Here’s how you enter to win two VIP tickets to Bike to Brew:

1. Snap a photo of the Rev Brew pedicab (pictured here; you’ll get two raffle entries if you’re in the photo)
2. Tag us in the photo on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the date and location of the pedicab
3. You’re entered to win!

So, keep your eyes open for the Rev Brew pedicab and tag us in your photos. We’re on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Learn more about Bike to Brew’s ride and party. Happy bike summer, people!

Arlington Heights plans for easier rides around town

The village of Arlington Heights recently launched a plan that will make cyling to everyday destinations safer and easier.

Lead by the village's Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, this is a third-generation bike plan, updating versions from 1988 and 1996.

Major priorities include making cycling more comfortable for all people of all ages, connecting with neighboring communities and identifying ways to make crossing arterial roads easier so cyclists can get to grocery stores and other daily stops safely.

Funded by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency For Planning (CMAP), planners are looking at existing conditions and will engage the community through interviews, community visioning and an interactive website.

According to CMAP, "The pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly downtown and neighboring residential areas are unfortunately surrounded by arterial roads with little or no bicycle accommodations and an inconsistent or incomplete sidewalk network...Safe crossings for bicyclists and pedestrians are often absent."

CMAP expects to complete the plan by the spring of 2015.

Support for biking in Arlington Heights is clear, but the village faces a common challenge: funding. 

As mentioned in a recent article in the Daily Herald, many of the surrounding communities -- like Palatine, Mount Prospect, Wheeling and Des Plaines -- have already adopted and begun implementing bicycle and pedestrian transportation plans.

Over the years, Arlington Heights has done much to improve biking in the community. In addition to good bike maps (north and south), the village has installed bike parking throughout the town and at the Metra station.

This summer the Arlington Heights Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committtee launched its first community event to introduce residents to safe routes and to encourage more riding. Also, the Arlington Heights Bike Club offers rides for people of all levels, and it sponsors a legendary bike swap as well as other events.

And now it's time for the next step.  "Biking is just a great, fun way to get around," said Peter Szabo, chair of the Arlington Heights Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committtee. "It's a more active way of getting around the community; we just want to promote that choice of transportation."

Let’s rebuild Lake Shore Drive the right way

Strong turnout at last week’s open house on the reconstruction of North Lake Shore Drive shows Chicagoans are committed to a bold vision for the project that serves the needs of everyone who uses our lakefront.

More than 330 people – including several Active Trans supporters – attended the meeting last Tuesday at the Drake Hotel, sparking lots of dialogue about how to make our lakefront more safe, convenient and accessible.

Attendees reviewed data and presentations on the current configuration of North Lake Shore Drive and offered their feedback and ideas for the new design.

If you couldn’t make the meeting, there’s still time to be part of the public process. The project team is accepting comments on the draft Purpose of Need statement, which lays out the project vision, until July 31st.

You can join the hundreds of supporters already asking for greater attention to alternative transportation options, like bicycling and public transit, in the document. Read more about our vision for the project in this civic platform released last year.

This is a rare opportunity to stop the slow shift of Lake Shore Drive towards a superhighway that serves as an ever-widening barrier between Chicago and our lakefront, and support a design built upon shared principles of mobility, safety, connectivity, livability and sustainability. Contact the project team today.

The next public meeting for the project will be in summer 2015, and construction will not begin until 2019 at the earliest, but there are some things we can do right now to improve the experience for everyone using our lakefront, particularly in the busy summer months.

These include adding pavement markings to the trail to separate bicyclists from pedestrians and designating a separate trail in the most congested areas, such as between Oak Street Beach and Fullerton.

We’ll continue to engage trail users to push for these and other improvements in the coming months.

Stay tuned to the Active Trans blog for continued updates on the project and other opportunities to help improve our lakefront. In the meantime, be sure to submit your comments on the draft Purpose and Need statement to the project team.

Walking Wednesdays (and more) at Prieto Academy

(This blog is part of our series chronicling our work with Healthy CPS. Read more about the project here.)

Since the beginning of the Healthy CPS project last spring, Prieto Academy in the Cragin neighborhood on Chicago's Northwest Side has served as a great example of the type of work this project has been able to accomplish.

Assistant Principal Amber Richard has been an important part of this work at the school serving kids in pre-K through 8th grade.

Through meetings and workshops, she's been creating lots of opportunities to obtain feedback and garner support from school staff and parents (See another example of administrative support among Healthy CPS schools here).

In the past year, Prieto hit the ground running, planning an extremely successful Walk to School Day event in October, which laid the groundwork for more Walking Wednesday events throughout the school year, including five this spring.

For Walking Wednesdays, Prieto established a meeting point a few blocks from the school where students meet to walk as a group. Some students already at the school have been walking back to the meeting point to join the group for the walk to school!

Prieto was the first school for which Active Trans completed a school-specific Safe Routes Action Plan (SRAP), detailing recommendations of specific ways to improve the safety of students walking and biking and to increase the number of students traveling to and from school through active transportation.

By the end of the project this September, a total of 25 CPS schools will have a personalized SRAP to better assist their work to increase student active transportation.

This fall, Prieto hopes to continue its leadership in active transportation promotion by making Walking Wednesdays an every-week event.

Additionally, recommendations from Prieto’s SRAP will be filtered into the school handbook and other messaging aimed to make arrival and dismissal procedures safer.

Prieto also plans to establish a Wellness Team to continue to move forward with safety and encouragement recommendations, such as those already underway.

New footbridge allows University Park kids to walk to school again

The village of University Park, in the far south suburbs of Chicago, recently installed a new pedestrian bridge that will make a big difference in the community.

Above: the new pedestrian bridge; below: the old, condemned bridge

 

The bridge will make it easier for children to get to their schools on bikes and on foot and eliminate an unnecessary bus route, saving the Crete-Monee School District thousands of dollars each year.

Not only will children be able to safely walk to Coretta Scott King and Crete-Monee middle schools, but University Park residents are also now connected to a public recreation center with a pool on the other side of the bridge.

The old pedestrian bridge, which connects both sides of Hickok Avenue where the road crosses Deer Creek, was condemned in 2006.

The village was awarded Safe Routes to School funding from the Illinois Department of Transportation in 2008, after Active Trans wrote a grant for the project in conjunction with the schools.

The Safe Routes to School funding has already covered the cost of installing a new bridge. This fall, the funding will be used for connecting missing sidewalks and installing school zone signage.

Congrats to University Park on its new pedestrian bridge!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DuPage County's new tools for people who ride bikes

DuPage County has been working hard lately to make it easier for people who ride bikes.

The county recently launched a new app for smartphones and tablets; cyclists with the app will be able to pinpoint their location on county trails based on GIS data.

Another website, Go Bike, enables cyclists to plan routes based on whether they are casual or experienced riders.

DuPage County plays host to a large number of excellent bike trails, including the Illinois Prairie Path, Great Western Trail and DuPage River Trail.

If you’re eager to ride one of the county’s many trails, make sure to take a look at the 2014 updated DuPage County bikeways map. For a hard copy, email Daniel Thomas at Daniel.thomas@dupageco.org. 

Active Trans applauds DuPage County for its efforts to make cycling safer and easier for all people who ride bikes.

Active Trans’ newly launched Family-Friendly Bikeways campaign strives to meet the same goal: to get more people on bikes -- especially the average person who may have some fears about riding in traffic.

The goal of the Family-Friendly Bikeways campaign is to help suburbs construct a network of accessible, low-stress biking facilities in communities, creating bike routes that are safe to bike even with a young child in tow.

Pedal, pints, party! Join us for Bike to Brew!

We hope you can join Active Trans for the inaugural Bike to Brew event at Revolution Brewing’s production brewery.

On Saturday, July 26, Bike to Brew will offer 1,500 lucky people the opportunity to ride from downtown around 5 p.m. on a carefully-crafted eight mile route through Chicago’s North and Northwest Sides to arrive at Revolution Brewing on Kedzie for a private party from 7 to 10 p.m. with DJ Limbs, Revolution beer specials, local food trucks and more.

The pre-ride festival starts around 3 p.m. so people can hang out and enjoy music, Dark Matter Coffee samples, cool vendors and games before riding.

Registration for the 21 and over event includes access to the pre-ride festival, wristband for the private party at Revolution Brewing, a beer ticket, colored-valve cap light and bike route cue sheet and support.

We know people love bikes and beer, so of course Active Trans and Revolution recommend responsible consumption and transportation. The party is close to the Blue Line and major bus routes. Plus, our overnight bike parking option allows anyone to choose to leave his or her bike, take a cab or transit home and pick the bike up the next day.

Registration for Bike to Brew is limited to 1,500 people and Active Trans expects the event will sell out.

Registration is $30 and Active Transportation Alliance members save $5.

When signing up, people may join or renew their Active Trans membership at a discounted rate of $26. People may also add a discounted registration to the Four-Star Bike & Chow Sunday, Sept. 7 for just $25.

Don’t miss out, sign up now!

New CDOT campaign aims to make Chicago safer for pedestrians

Three thousand pedestrians are hit by motor vehicles in Chicago annually, resulting in around 30 deaths a year. Seven to eight Chicago pedestrians suffer a traffic-related injury every day.

These are the grim statistics that the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) is hoping to change with a new pedestrian safety campaign. The new campaign is part of CDOT’s “Zero in Ten” goal, a plan to eliminate all pedestrian fatalities in the city within 10 years.

Zero in Ten first appeared in the city’s 2012 Pedestrian Plan.

Active Trans helped develop the campaign images (pictured here) that will appear on CTA buses, bus shelters and elsewhere on city streets reminding people driving and biking to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.

Another part of the campaign is a sting operation by the Chicago Police Department.

The first pedestrian safety enforcement sting took place July 1 and is profiled in this piece from the Chicago Tribune and this one from Streetsblog Chicago.

Off-duty, undercover police officers posed as pedestrians and attempted to cross Clark Street at Germania Place on the Near North Side, close to the Latin School of Chicago. Drivers who did not stop for the pedestrians received tickets.

State law mandates that drivers must stop for pedestrians in all crosswalks. The law, which Active Trans played a key role in passing in 2010, carries penalties from $50 to $500 for failure to stop. 

The Chicago Police Department will carry out 60 similar stings this year close to schools, senior housing facilities and retail areas, many of which are also locations where pedestrian crashes recently occurred.

At a press conference on July 1 at the site of the Clark Street sting operation, CDOT Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld and Active Trans Executive Director Ron Burke both spoke about the need to protect pedestrians in Chicago.

“Every life lost is one too many, and we must make every effort to reduce pedestrian fatalities,” Scheinfeld said.

The next phase of Chicago’s bike lane revolution

Back in 2010-11 when Active Trans asked Chicago mayoral candidates to support a 100-mile network of protected bike lanes by 2015, many scoffed. That may fly in Europe, we were told, but this is Chicago. Cars are king and cyclists are lucky to get a white stripe between themselves and cars.

But Mayor Rahm Emanuel loved the idea and so did his Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner, Gabe Klein. Within 30 days of Emanuel’s inauguration, the city’s first protected bike lane was installed on Kinzie St.

Many more projects have followed, and Chicago is leading the nation on advanced bike infrastructure:

  • Chicago has roughly 50 miles of protected and buffered bike lanes currently and expects to add another 40 miles this year.
  • Kinzie St. and the southern section of Milwaukee Ave. are among the busiest bike routes in the nation.
  • The Dearborn St. two-way protected bike lane in the Loop was recently named the nation’s best.
  • The state of Illinois recently agreed to allow protected bike lanes on some state-owned routes in Chicago, including a stretch of Clybourn Ave.

According to data collected from the Green Lanes Project, since 2011 Chicago has built nearly twice as many miles of barrier-protected bike lanes than any American city including New York, Portland and San Francisco.

But 100 miles by 2015? Well, that’s proven to be a very ambitious goal the city won’t meet. The city is counting protected and buffered bike lanes towards meeting a 100 mile goal for “advanced” bike lanes, which will be a huge accomplishment and way ahead of other cities.

We love buffered lanes, too, but remain committed to at least 100 miles of protected lanes as part of a comprehensive network.

Support from the mayor and aldermen has been crucial for these projects and is directly linked to strong grassroots support across the city. Through our on-the-ground mobilizing efforts, 12,000 Active Trans members and supporters signed petitions, turned out to public meetings, and made their voices heard in local media.

Of course, those of us who ride bikes know that coasting on your momentum will only take you so far. So with one year to go before the next round of municipal elections, now is a good time to take stock of where we are and where we want to go:

Design and maintenance of barrier protected lanes.
These lanes are the safest and most popular design for average Chicagoans who are not yet “confident” cyclists. It’s our favorite design on streets where it works. Sweeping, snow removal and standing water are areas for improvement (while keeping in mind that this past winter has been one of worst recorded winters for snow and ice accumulation).

“Hardscaping” on protected lanes.
In order to make quick progress and demonstrate “proof of concept,” all on a shoestring budget, Chicago has used basic plastic bollards, parked cars and white lines for its protected bike lanes. The next generation of lanes can use permanent and more attractive ways to separate traffic wherever possible, like curbs, landscaped medians or raised bike lanes.

Buffered vs. protected bike lanes.
More than half of the city’s first 100 miles of advanced bike lanes are currently expected to be buffered bike lanes. With enough community support, some of these can be built as barrier-protected instead. In addition, buffered lanes can be enhanced with “bots dots,” reflectors or some other raised delineator in the left-side buffer zone that still allows cars and bikes to pass.

Closing gaps to create a connected network of low-stress routes.
Bike lanes are only useful if they connect people to where they want to go. Luckily, Chicago’s Streets for Cycling 2020 plan lays out a robust 645 mile network generated directly from community input. Filling in gaps and key links in our network will be essential to making biking an easy way for people to complete everyday trips.

Adding more Neighborhood Greenways on less-busy side streets.
In 2013, Chicago saw its first Neighborhood Greenway installed on Berteau Ave. with a second slated for Leland Ave. in Uptown this year. Neighborhood Greenways take advantage of Chicago’s strong street grid system by optimizing low-traffic residential side streets for people riding bikes. Expanding these types of facilities will help create a more comfortable riding experience and make cycling a more attractive alternative for more people.

As we have already witnessed, these improvements will be challenged by some local elected officials and community members who are unwilling to make some of the tradeoffs required, like rearranging street parking or reconfiguring lanes on a street.

It’s our job to respond to this challenge. Now is not the time to back down. We must redouble our efforts and continue to find new and creative ways to build support among our neighbors and leaders. And we can’t do it alone. Join the movement to create an even better bike network in Chicago by signing up for updates and alerts.

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