Active Trans wants to help suburbs build Family-Friendly Bikeways

Three-foot-wide striped bike lanes and “share the road” markings may provide enough security for the 10 percent of people who are already strong and confident cyclists.

But what about the other 90 percent of people -- those who need more protection from cars in order to cycle without feeling anxious?

Active Trans believes that providing these 90 percent with “next-generation” bike facilities will increase confidence and allow for safer, more frequent cycling trips.

That’s the focus of our newest campaign, Family-Friendly Bikeways.

The campaign, which launched last week, focuses on creating a network of accessible, low-stress biking facilities in suburban communities.

These include bike trails, on-street protected bike lanes and “bike boulevards,” which are residential streets that prioritize cycling and minimize cut-through motor vehicle traffic.

Our goal is creating bike routes where you’d feel comfortable biking with your young child.

Please sign a petition supporting Family-Friendly Bikeways in your community.

Join Active Trans as we Bike the Burbs June 29!

Join Active Trans, Elmhurst Bicycle Club and Spin Doctor Cyclewerks of Bartlett for our second annual Bike the Burbs Ride. 

This year, on June 29th, we’ll travel the historic Illinois Prairie Path round-trip from Elmhurst to our lunch stop at the fantastic and bike-friendly Two Brothers Brewery and Tap House in Warrenville, where we’ll enjoy a tour of the brewery and a special menu. 

The ride will depart at 9:30 a.m. from Elijah’s Coffee & Tea (136 W. Vallette) near the path in Elmhurst.  Conveniently, a UP-W Metra train will arrive in Elmhurst just minutes before we begin. 

EBC members will greet you at the Elmhurst station and escort you to the start of the ride two miles away.  There is also free parking available near Elijah's.

The Illinois Prairie path is a true gem in the Chicagoland region and a great example of what’s possible when neighbors come together in support of better recreation and non-motorized transportation opportunities. 

The path is largely hard-packed limestone (suitable for road bike tires) and features comfort stations, water fountains, prairie restoration and excellent birding opportunities. If you’ve lived in the area for a while, but have yet to visit this remarkable trail, join us!

The ride is free but we do ask that you register in advance here:

Through the registration page, we also invite you to join or renew your support of Active Transportation Alliance, and help us mobilize advocates for infrastructure like the Prairie Path throughout Chicagoland.

We’ll ride at a casual pace, but we are aiming to keep roughly a 12 mph pace. The total distance for the ride (roundtrip) is roughly 40 miles.

Riding Metra? Be sure to hop aboard the UP-W train that arrives in Elmhurst at 9:12 a.m. (departs Ogilvy at 8:40 a.m.).
On the return trip, inbound trains depart from Elmhurst at 3:13 p.m., and then every 2 hours.

We’ll also be passing a Metra stop in Wheaton along the way, for those who would prefer not to make the entire journey. Inbound trains depart from Wheaton at 12:54 p.m., and then every 2 hours

Space is limited to 75 riders.


Daily bike trips in Chicago reach 125,000, exceeding car traffic on busy Chicago streets

If a person bikes to the grocery store and the Census Bureau didn’t count it, did that person actually bike to the store?

Not in the eyes of most transportation planners, who generally count bike trips by relying solely on Census Bureau surveys of how people get to work.

Active Trans wanted to get a more complete picture of biking in Chicago, so we commissioned an analysis that uses other data, including a comprehensive travel survey conducted by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.

We recently released this analysis, with the first estimate for total daily bike trips in the city of Chicago. And the number is large: 125,000.

To put that in perspective, Western Ave. carries approximately 40,000 cars per day on its 23 miles in Chicago. This means there are three times more bikes trips in Chicago than cars on Western Ave.!

The estimate is a year-round average, so daily bike trips this time of year are expected to be higher, with lower numbers in colder months.

Biking to work gets the limelight, but most of the trips — nearly 91,000 — are everyday “utilitarian” trips like going to a restaurant or the library.

Work trips account for approximately 26,000 trips and school trips about 7,000. The estimate does not include purely recreational bike trips.

The report also analyzed demographic data on bike-to-work trips and the city’s bike count data to provide more details on the rising tide of cycling in Chicago. Additional key findings include:

  • Biking to work more than tripled from 2000 to 2012.
  • Biking to work is most common among the lowest income groups.
  • Chicago bike counts found that winter biking has become increasingly common, with the winter biking counts equal to nearly 40 percent of summer counts.
  • Chicago bike counts found that women accounted for 25 percent of observed cyclists in the winter and 31 percent in the summer. 

The ongoing surge in cycling makes it all the more important that Chicago designs Complete Streets that accommodate cycling and facilitate orderly and safe sharing of the streets by all roadway users.

Key design techniques include narrower roads and traffic lanes that lead to calmer traffic, shorter and more visible crosswalks, protected bike lanes and "neighborhood greenways."

Join our growing ranks by participating in the Bike Commuter Challenge, which starts today, June 13, and runs until June 20. It’s easy and fun.

Check out the Bike Commuter Challenge celebrations!

Are you one of the thousands of people in the region biking to or from work this week? Leave a little extra time during your morning and evening commutes to come celebrate with us.Special Membership Offer

Special T-shirt offer: Join or renew your Active Trans membership at one of the * celebrations below for $50 and get this sweet t-shirt!

Monday, June 16th

Evening Celebrations: 5:30-7:30 p.m.
• Beer Bistro (1061 W. Madison) in Chicago
• J.W. Hollstein’s Saloon (17358 Oak Park Ave.) in Tinley Park

Tuesday, June 17th

Morning Celebrations: 6:30-9 a.m.
• Halsted & Blackhawk in Chicago*
• Division & Campbell in Chicago*

Evening Celebrations: 5:30-7:30 p.m.
• The Beer Bistro North (1415 W. Fullerton) in Chicago*
• Lake Street Kitchen + Bar (1101 Lake St.) in Oak Park*
• The Bottle Shop (1148 Central Ave.) in Wilmette*

Wednesday, June 18th

Morning Celebrations: 6:30-9 a.m.
• Milwaukee & Ashland in Chicago*
• North Shore Channel & Foster in Chicago*

Evening Celebrations: 5:30-7:30 p.m.
• Dimo’s Pizza (1615 N. Damen) in Chicago*
• Palmer Place (56 S. LaGrange Rd.) in LaGrange*
• Duke’s Ale House and Kitchen (110 N. Main St.) in Crystal Lake

Thursday, June 19th

Morning Celebrations: 6:30-9 a.m.
• South Lakefront Trail between Field Museum & Shedd Aquarium in Chicago*
• North Lakefront Trail & Fullerton in Chicago*

Evening Celebrations: 5:30-7:30 p.m.
• Hopleaf (5148 N Clark St) in Chicago*
• Bat 17 (1709 Benson Ave) in Evanston*
• Deja Brew (5219 W 95th St) in Oaklawn*
• The Cellar Door (5150 Main St. #A) in Downer’s Grove*

Friday, June 20th
• Daley Plaza: Bike to Work Rally from 7:30-9:30 a.m.*

Ready, set…pedal!: Bike Commuter Challenge starts tomorrow

Midnight tonight marks the beginning of the Bike Commuter Challenge!

Companies from all over Chicagoland will be duking it out on two wheels for recognition as the greenest and healthiest workplace. And it's not too late to join!

Go to to sign up your company or join your company's team already in progress -- it's easy and free! All you have to do is log at least one bike trip during June13-20, even part way, to participate.

Do you have any questions about biking? Check out our handy Everyday Biking Guide here.

Wait! There’s more!

Starting Monday, June 16, through Thursday, June 19, stop by one (or more) of over 20 morning and evening celebrations held by Active Trans.

The City of Chicago has lots of fun events planned, too, including the annual Chicago Bike to Work Rally 7-9 a.m. on Friday, June 20 at Daley Plaza.

Join us and thousands of other happy Chicago cyclists as we celebrate the best way of getting around Chicagoland!

Lake St. protected bike lane can be success with some TLC

A recent Tribune story about Chicago bike lanes zeroed in on problems with the advanced bike lane on Lake St., which currently runs from Damen to Central Park and is scheduled for an extension to Austin Blvd.

I ride this corridor a lot to and from Oak Park where I live, and I often avoid the Lake St. lane because the glass and debris problem is so prodigious.

The pavement condition is lousy, too, and you’ll typically encounter a few cars parked in the lane. Liquor bottles are the main source of glass, along with broken car windows and years of glass accumulation.

It’s good the article calls attention to these problems, and CDOT is well aware and working to clean the lane more frequently. Lake is also slated for repaving, which will help a great deal.

I have heard from many suburban commuters and Chicago residents who are excited about the extension. But the story quotes some who oppose extending the lane on the assumption that the glass and debris problem will continue, and they won’t be able to use Lake St.

Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. The city just needs to clean the lane more often. Then it will be a good bike lane that will also narrow Lake St and calm traffic that currently travels fast and recklessly, weaving between El supports and using empty parking spaces for additional travel lanes.

With El tracks overhead and the debris problems, Lake St. isn’t ideal for a bike lane. But then again, every street on the underserved and depressed West Side has issues. Lake is the only continuous corridor on the West Side that CDOT believes they can run an advanced bike lane all the way to the border with Oak Park, serving as a “Spoke Route” for the broader Streets for Cycling Plan.

The West Side deserves good bike facilities, too, and with more TLC and more bikes (which I believe will happen over time), the Lake Street lane can be an important segment in the city’s bike network.

One thing is for sure: it’s pretty cool that we are in a place to debate where to put protected bike lanes, when less than four years ago they weren’t even on the table.

Let's restore equity to commuter benefit

Six members of Congress from the Chicago region recently urged Congressional leadership to restore equity to the widely popular commuter benefit that currently favors drivers over those who ride public transit to work in Chicago and across the country.

The commuter benefit is an employer-provided federal tax benefit that allows commuters to purchase transit passes, carpooling rides or parking tax free. Citing the many benefits of riding transit, the members called attention to the gap between the monthly limit for the parking benefit – $250 per month – and the transit benefit, only $130 per month.

The benefits were the same until Congress failed to act last year, allowing the transit benefit to drop from $245 to $130 per month, while the parking benefit rose $5 a month.

In their joint letter to the chairman and ranking minority member of the House Ways and Means Committee, the members said this drop costs transit riders as much as $100 per month.

All six members who signed the letter are currently co-sponsoring a bipartisan bill in the House (Commuter Parity Act – H.R. 2288) to restore parity to the benefit, including Representatives Dan Lipinski, Mike Quigley, Brad Schneider, Bill Foster, Tammy Duckworth and Jan Schakowsky.

Riding transit helps reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality and save energy throughout the region.

Join our local members of congress and transit supporters across the country in urging congress to take immediate action to restore parity between the parking and transit benefits. The commuter benefit should apply equitably, regardless of how one gets to work.

Sign on to a letter to your local member of Congress here.

West Town and Lakeview launch Bike-Friendly Business Districts

By Marianna Foral, Active Trans Campaign Intern

This week, Active Trans is partnering with the West Town and Lakeview Chambers of Commerce to launch Bike-Friendly Business Districts in their communities. The districts are the first of their kind in Chicago and intend to encourage cycling as part of their neighborhood identities through new discount programs for customers who arrive by bike and a number of bike-focused events.

Bike Friendly Business Districts are commercial zones where local business owners, community groups and residents actively promote biking in their neighborhood through special promotions, public events, and improving conditions for cycling. The Bike Friendly Business District model has flourished in cities like Long Beach, CA and New York, and it makes sense.

“Slower speeds increase the visibility of storefronts, helping to convert passers-by into loyal customers,” notes Kace Wakem, program manager at the West Town Chamber of Commerce. Studies also show that although customers who arrive by bike spend less per trip, they will visit more frequently and spend more per month than customers in cars.

West Town and Lakeview already have a thriving bicycle culture. The Milwaukee Avenue protected “Spoke Route” through West Town and the Lakefront Trail through Lakeview are two of the heaviest bike-trafficked roads of their kind in the country. With the city investing in safer bikeways and the Divvy bikeshare initiative, more and more people are using bicycles in their daily lives and local businesses recognize an opportunity to benefit.

Fittingly, West Town and Lakeview Bike Friendly Business Districts are kicking off during Chicago’s Bike Week, which starts June 13 and runs through June 20. In addition to the commitment of over 60 businesses participating in the neighborhood discount program, there will also be a number of events s in each neighborhood.

Saturday June 14
Lakeview: Schubas Bike Bash, at 3159 N Southport, 12-4PM: Kick off Bike Week with bike tune-ups, demos, raffle prizes and workshops, as well as BBQ and music.

Monday, June 16
Lakeview: On the Route Bicycles Commuter Pit Stop, at Lincoln and Barry, 6:30-9AM, with support from Whole Foods: Stop for free coffee, giveaways and bike mechanic.

Tuesday, June 17
Lakeview: Heritage Bicycles Commuter Pit Stop at Lincoln and Wellington, 6:30-9AM, with support from Whole Foods: Stop for free coffee, giveaways and bike mechanic.

West Town: Paramount Room, After Work Happy Hour and Pit Stop at 415 N. Milwaukee, 4-8PM, featuring: 20% Off Food and a $4 Craft Beer Pints all night, cyclist networking, presentations from a bike advocacy group, bike maintenance demos, and complimentary passed hors d'ouevres

Wednesday, June 18
West Town: Frontier, “Bikes Stunts and Oysters” at 1072 N. Milwaukee 4-9PM, Patio Happy Hour Oyster Boil featuring: $12 Boiled Dozens and $1 Raw Oysters, $5 Half Acre Family Tall Boys, and BMX Demos from Let's Roast Bike Shop starting at 6pm

Thursday, June 19
West Town: Duran European Sandwiches, “Brake for Breakfast” at 516 N. Milwaukee, 7-10AM, $3 for choice of bagel and smear and La Colombe coffee, or a made-to-order bagel sandwich with coffee for $5

Friday, June 20
West Town: Ancien Cycles, 6-9PM Live Music, Beer, Free Burgers & Pho-Style Soup

Find participating businesses in both neighborhoods and links to each community's webpage at our Bike Friendly Business District homepage.


Mark your calendar: More Bike Commuter Challenge (June 13-20) events announced!

Between the City of Chicago’s Bike Week Events and our Bike Commuter Challenge events, there are plenty of opportunities for you to have fun on two wheels.

Looking for something to do on your bike commute to or from work?

We’ve got some morning celebrations for you to stop by and fuel up with a free Clif Bar and a cup of Dark Matter coffee, get your bike checked out and open or renew your Active Transportation Alliance membership.

Whether you’re a Chicagoan or a suburbanite, we’ve also got some great evening celebrations that will allow you to meet with fellow bike commuters over some discounted food and Revolution Brewery beer. Check out our morning and evening celebrations here.

Are you going to be anywhere near downtown?

The city of Chicago has some great bike-centered events lined up including a showing of Rushmore in Millenium Park, a two-hour bike tour of the Near North side, an instructor-led and DJ-accompanied evening outdoor spin class under Cloud Gate and more! Click here for further details.

Not registered for the Bike Commuter Challenge yet?

Go to to join the challenge and get all the info you need to get going on two wheels. Biking one part of your commute to or from work for one day counts! Just be sure to log all your bike trips before June 30.

Did you know we’re throwing a party?

We’ll be celebrating with team leaders and winning teams on Tuesday July 22 at DIRTT. Save the date!
Stay tuned for upcoming announcements here, at, as well as on our Twitter and Facebook feeds.

Bronzeville Bike Builder — creating the next generation of people who bike

The TAG Foundation, a non-profit committed to the health and wellness of local residents, had a mission – distribute 500 bicycles to youth in Bronzeville.

So on a recent Saturday, the foundation’s goal was accomplished with the help of Working Bikes (which supplied the bikes), local Bronzeville biking organizations, social agencies, schools, faith-based institutions and Active Trans.

For the bike distribution event, dubbed the Bronzeville Bike Builder, children ages 13 and under lined up outside of Wendell Philips High School starting at 7:30 a.m., waiting for their opportunity to pick out a bike.

“These bikes are not only for the smartest or the poorest or the most politically connected children of the community,” said Angela Ford, TAG Foundation executive director. “They are for the most passionate children interested in riding a bicycle.”

At 9 a.m., when the doors opened, children and parents received a Chicago Bicycle Map and a bike safety guide and then participated in a bike safety class. Wendell Philips Academy High School students explained the rules of the road and taught children how to use hand-signals while riding and how to conduct an ABC (air-break-chain) quick check.

After the training, Children entered rooms filled with hundreds of refurbished bikes of all colors and styles. Children shopped for the bike that called out their name.

Working Bikes staff and other volunteers helped adjust seats and handlebars and passed out helmets and U-locks. Before children could take their new bikes home, the final step was completing a cycling course in the high school parking lot led by the Chicago Bicycle Ambassadors.

“It was one of the best events I’ve had the fortune to be a part of,” said Charlie Short, CDOT’s Bike Safety and Education Manager. “Angela did a great job not only in putting the event together, but getting people that supported the mission. I worked with 7 young people who volunteered their Saturday to help kids not only ride better, but in some cases, ride for the first time.”

By the afternoon, 500 children in Bronzeville had earned their own bicycle.

The TAG Foundation’s goal is to distribute 500 children’s bikes in different Chicago neighborhoods, at least once a year. If you have an old child’s bike sitting in storage that you would like to pass along for the next generation of bicyclists, visit

“I’m glad to see the city move towards encouraging more bicycling,” said Ford. “I am still friends with most of the children from my youth. As we all turn 50 this year, we still laugh at all of the adventures we had with our bikes. Those bonds and memories will last to the end of our days! I wanted to help a new generation create the same lasting memories. It is my firm belief, one is never unhappy on a bicycle.”

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