Creating Safe Routes to Chicago schools

For the past year, the Active Transportation Alliance has been working with Chicago Public Schools and its Office of Student Health and Wellness to promote walking and biking to and from school as part of the Healthy CPS initiative. You can read more about the project in this NewCity article: Paving the Way for Safe Routes to School.

This summer we plan to post regular stories on Active Trans' work on this project, highlighting various ways schools in Chicago are working to integrate active transportation into their school wellness activities. Here's the first article in the series. 

In October 2012, the Chicago Board of Education adopted a new Local School Wellness Policy to promote healthier school environments. One aspect of the policy was for schools to create Wellness Teams, a group of staff, parents and/or students who focus on implementing the Wellness Policy and promoting general wellness and physical activity in the school.

School Wellness Teams have been great partners for Active Trans during the Healthy CPS project. They provide the perfect place to gain feedback and to ensure the sustainability of a Safe Routes to School program long-term.

At Funston Elementary School at 2010 N. Central Park Ave. in Logan Square, Action for Healthy Kids (AFHK) — an Active Trans partner — helped the school form its Wellness Team. Using AFHK’s “Game On!” framework (which includes components to promote walking and biking to and from school), Funston's Wellness Team has worked to promote wellness throughout the school.

As part of the Healthy CPS project, Active Trans met with the Wellness Team this spring to launch its Safe Routes to School initiative. The Wellness Team helped conduct travel tallies, which showed that a majority of students — 61 percent — already walk to the school.

The Wellness Team was also able to obtain nearly 150 parent surveys, which detail parental attitudes and concerns, and helped coordinate a parent meeting to garner direct feedback (see photos). Results will be used to create recommendations for ways to increase the number of students who walk and bike to school and to improve walking and biking conditions.

Moving forward, the Wellness Team at Funston will continue to be a central partner for Active Trans in implementing recommendations and making biking and walking safer and easier for students and community residents alike.

Visit www.activetrans.org/education or e-mail education@activetrans.org to connect more with Active Trans’ School and Education work.

PlayStreets events coming to Chicago again this summer

Active Transportation Alliance, in partnership with World Sport Chicago and LISC Chicago, is happy to once again be assisting in organizing PlayStreets events in Chicago this summer.

PlayStreets are reoccurring community events that close a street to car traffic and open it up for games and activities for local families. 

A program of the Chicago Department of Public Health, PlayStreets is an initiative to help foster more physical activity for children in underserved neighborhoods

Now through Labor Day, more than 150 PlayStreets events will be happening across the city.

Active Trans will be partnering with 10 community-based organizations to organize and implement events across the city’s South Side.

Gads Hill, a community-based family resource center serving the low-income population of the city's Lower West Side, will help produce events on the North and West Sides.

In addition to physical activity, events are designed to bring residents closer together and build community and be a part of making streets safer and neighborhoods more vibrant.

We’re excited to once again be a part of the PlayStreets initiative, and we encourage you to keep your eye out for PlayStreets events across the city this summer.

Read more about PlayStreets in this press release by the Office of the Mayor.

Help improve the Clybourn Metra station!

Wish you had a better Metra station at Clybourn? Your transit station doesn’t have to be difficult to get to on foot or by bike, and there’s no reason you should feel unsafe or uncomfortable as you wait for your train.

To help you bring change to your community, the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the Active Transportation Alliance to make use of an easy-to-use tool that helps community members evaluate local transit stations and advocate for improved passenger amenities and better stations overall. Join us at the workshop!

What: Complete Station Assessment of Clybourn Metra Station on the Union Pacific/North Line
When: Wednesday, June 25 at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Clybourn Metra Station, 2001 North Ashland Ave.

Please RSVP to the meeting and receive a reminder email as the date gets closer. Questions? Please email Kyle Whitehead or call him at 312-427-3325 Ext. 392.  

What is a Complete Stations Assessment?
Transit riders often become accustomed to the routine of their commute and resign themselves to navigating outdated or inadequate infrastructure.

A Complete Stations Assessment is an evaluation tool to identify missing amenities or places for improvement for any CTA or Metra transit station -- whether it’s missing a shelter or has problems with unclear signage, handicap accessibility or broken fare mechanisms.

This tool is designed to empower community members to rethink their transit stations, suggest improvements and attract the attention of important stakeholders to implement improvements.

The photo above shows a recent Complete Stations Assessment underway at the Addison Blue Line station.  

Volunteer to count pedestrians

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) Pedestrian Program seeks volunteers to help count pedestrian traffic at key locations downtown Chicago. 

Reliable pedestrian counts provide critical data for assessing and improving pedestrian safety and walkability, as well as tracking city-wide trends in walking to work, school and transit.  

The count contributes to the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project and helps meet goals set out in Chicago’s Pedestrian Plan.

When: July 8-10, 2014, 4:30-7 p.m.

Where: Various locations around downtown Chicago

If you're interested in helping out, please email Eric Hanss, Pedestrian Program Project Manager, at eric.hanss@activetrans.org.

Planned Divvy expansion will connect north, south and west sides

Good news continues to roll in when it comes to Divvy, Chicago’s wildly successful bike share program. During its first year of operations, Divvy announced plans to increase the number of its docking stations in Chicago to 475 from 300. Throughout the summer, Divvy has been revealing proposed locations for the new docking stations.

The planned expansion will bring Divvy to many neighborhoods that were previously disconnected from the network. The expansion will extend Divvy south to the South Shore neighborhood, north to Rogers Park and West Ridge and west to Avondale, Irving Park, Albany Park and Humboldt Park.

We’re glad that so many neighborhoods will soon have easy access to Divvy and the freedom that the program offers.

Below is a list of the proposed new Divvy stations:

 

The 5th ward could receive as many as 17 Divvy stations, including:
• Ellis Avenue and 53rd Street
• Lake Park Avenue and 53rd Street
• Ellis Avenue and 55th Street
• University Avenue and 57th Street
• Everett Avenue at the Museum of Science and Industry
• Harper Avenue and 59th Street
• Cottage Grove Avenue and 67th Street
• Stony Island Avenue and 64th Street
• Lake Shore Drive and Hayes Drive
• Stony Island Avenue and 67th Street
• Jeffery Boulevard and 67th Street
• South Shore Drive and 67th Street
• Stony Island Avenue and 71st Street
• Jeffery Boulevard and 71st Street
• South Shore Drive and 71st Street
• Cottage Grove Avenue and 71st Street
• Cornell Avenue and Hyde Park Boulevard

The 47th ward will receive five new Divvy stations, located at:
• Rockwell and Addison streets
• Leavitt and Addison streets
• Oakley Avenue and Irving Park Road
• Campbell and Montrose avenues
• The CTA Rockwell Brown Line station

The 45th ward will receive four new Divvy stations, located at:
• The Six Corners Shopping District at Irving Park Road near Cicero and Milwaukee avenues
• Schurz High School, 3601 N. Milwaukee Avenue
• The Irving Park CTA Blue Line Stop
• Another location along Irving Park Road between Six Corners and the Blue Line station (exact location as yet undetermined)

The 33rd ward will receive nine new Divvy stations, located at:
• The CTA Kimball Brown Line station
• The CTA Kedzie Brown Line station
• The CTA Francisco Brown Line station
• Kedzie and Montrose avenues
• California and Montrose avenues
• Sawyer Avenue and Irving Park Road
• California Avenue and Byron Street
• Troy and Elston avenues
• California Avenue and Fletcher Street

Rogers Park and West Ridge could receive as many as 16 new Divvy stations, including stations at:
• Ridge and Touhy avenues
• Clark Street and Touhy Avenue
• Clark Street and Lunt Avenue
• Glenwood and Morse avenues
• Clark Street and Columbia Avenue
• Sheridan Road and Albion Avenue
• Clark Street and Devon Avenue
• North Broadway and Granville Avenue
• Ridge Avenue and Pratt Boulevard
• Indian Boundary Park
• Western and Devon avenues
• Warren Park
• Sheridan Road and Greenleaf Avenue
• Peterson and Maplewood avenues
• Peterson and Damen avenues
• Clark Street and Elmdale Avenue

Stay tuned as more stations are announced.

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: http://atrana.convio.net/btb.

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 www.bikecommuterchallenge.org 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!

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