Active Trans’ Neighborhood Bikeways Campaign continues to pedal full speed toward our goal of building a world-class network of bike infrastructure in Chicago.
To say 2013 has been a big year for bikes in Chicago is an understatement. It’s been huge. In addition to adding more miles of protected and buffered bike lanes to our streets, this summer has seen the rapid expansion of on-street bike parking and the flourishing of Chicago’s bike-sharing program, Divvy (including a month-long unicorn chase!).
But with so much going on across the city, it’s easy to lose track of the progress we’ve been making together. That’s why we thought it would be a good time to celebrate what we’ve accomplished so far in 2013, preview what’s coming down the pike, and show how you can get active in our campaign to make Chicago the best city for biking in the country.
In 2012, the city released a new blueprint for a bike-friendly Chicago. The result of an extensive community input process — that included the participation of many Active Trans members and supporters — the Chicago Streets for Cycling Plan 2020 has guided the development of our network of bike lanes.
A supportive city administration with a clear vision for promoting biking is a wonderful thing, but that alone isn’t enough to realize the vision of a world-class bike network in Chicago. Because our 50 alderman have the final say on what happens on the streets in their wards, building a well-connected network means we have to organize in each and every ward to ensure members of the city council know their constituents support safer and better conditions for biking.
And that’s just what we’ve been doing in 2013. The Neighborhood Bikeways Campaign has been working block-by-block mobilizing grassroots support and connecting people with their elected officials to call for bringing positive changes to our streets.
Here are a few highlights of what we’ve accomplish together this summer:
Hands down the highest profile project this year was on Milwaukee Ave., the busiest street for biking in Chicago. During peak times, more than 500 people an hour bike down Milwaukee, making up about 40 percent of total traffic on the street. In June, the city unveiled a new "spoke route" on Milwaukee Ave., which combines protected and buffered bike lanes, improvements to traffic signals and enhanced road markings that together have drastically improved the street for all users.
The Neighborhood Bikeways Campaign gathered nearly 3,000 signatures on a petition supporting the project and turned out dozens of supporters to a public meeting hosted by 27th Ward Ald. Walter Burnett, Jr. Not to be outdone by residents, several Bike Friendly Business champions also worked to get two supportive letters published in the Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune.
At the end of July, city officials shared plans for bringing improvements to another busy street: Broadway in Uptown. The proposed plans include a "road diet" and new protected and buffered bike lanes for this key artery between Montrose Ave. and Foster Ave.
The Neighborhood Bikeways Campaign partnered with neighborhood leaders from Bike Uptown to canvass businesses along the corridor and turn out dozens of supporters to 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman’s public meeting on the project.
With wide lanes and low traffic, Vincennes Ave. from 85th to 103rd, is notorious for speeding motorists, which makes the street dangerous for people riding bikes as well as pedestrians accessing churches and schools along the corridor.
Ahead of the installation of bike and pedestrian improvements, the Neighborhood Bikeways Campaign joined Friends of the Major Taylor Trail to host a community workshop to compile input from residents on trouble spots and needed improvements.
According to the Chicago Streets for Cycling Plan 2020, Clark St. in Lincoln Park from North Ave. to Armitage is slated for safety improvements in 2014 as part of the Clark St. spoke route. Residents and businesses have shared that the current design, with four wide travel lanes and no bike infrastructure, encourages motorists to travel at a high speed, making the street dangerous for people riding bikes or pedestrians trying to reach the park.
The Neighborhood Bikeways Campaign partnered with 43rd Ward Ald. Michelle Smith and the local group BikeWalk Lincoln Park to hold a streetside community workshop to review the existing conditions and identify needed improvements.
These are just a few examples of how grassroots activists are getting things done here in Chicago. Thank you to each and every one of you that have helped out along the way. Stay tuned for more!
Here’s how you can do more:
This startling and sad article from Streetsblog NY and the accompanying video (WARNING: graphic video) about someone who drove his car onto the sidewalk and maimed five children who were walking to school highlights the pervasive problems of vehicular violence and the problematic default responses to it in our society.
In a nutshell those problematic responses are
Our tendency to deflect blame can be seen in the language used in mainstream reporting like this from the NY Daily News, starting with the headline: "SUV plows into 5 students — 3 of which were rushed into surgery with multiple fractures — after vehicle jumps curb outside of Queens school” no mention of the driver in that headline.
Apparently the SUV was demonically possessed like something out of a Stephen King novel.
Blaming the victim is another common reaction. As observed in this DNA Info NY article about the crash, the principal of the school, Camillo Turriciano made a woefully misguided attempt to address student safety after the crash by sending all parents a letter telling them to forbid their children from wearing headphones on the way to school. (For the record, no articles or video indicate any of the children involved in the crash were wearing headphones at the time of the crash).
Since the driver was a parent dropping off his kids at school, a more appropriate response would have been a letter reminding parents to drive slowly, safely, and without distraction when dropping students off and picking them up. Additionally, now might be a good time to engage in their local Safe Routes to School Partnership to develop safer pick up and drop off procedures, if they haven’t already.
Minimizing is also a common reaction in reporting and coverage of crashes like this. In this case, the coverage of this particular crash does seem to do a pretty good job of indicating the severity of the injuries. Often, though, we read that the cyclist or pedestrian suffered “non-life threatening” or “serious” injuries, or was “hospitalized but is stable.”
The problem with this is that a “non-life threatening” or “serious” injuries can be anything from a sprained ankle to a crushed pelvis. “Hospitalized but stable” can mean severed spine and permanent paralysis.
Unfortunately, that was the case in this crash. The injuries sustained by these children included multiple fractured vertebrae, a crushed pelvis, multiple fractures, burns and multiple lacerations. These are lifelong injuries which will change the course of these children’s lives, and their only recourse for reparation is likely to be liability insurance.
A quick Google search reveals that New York state insurance requirements may provide as little as $75,000 per injured party. Given the gravity of these injuries, it’s not hard to imagine 75K being used up very quickly.
And finally, much is made about the fact that the District Attorney Richard Brown is not (at the time of writing this) considering a criminal prosecution. And even worse, no ticket has been issued.
The issue of criminal prosecution is complicated, as the burden of proof when establishing criminality is so high for crashes and DAs realize that juries are most often drivers themselves and likely to be sympathetic to defendant drivers, and that they are often extremely reluctant to devote resources to prosecuting all but the most egregious of traffic crashes as criminal prosecutions.
DUI resulting in fatalities, fatal crashes that happen during the commission of a crime, crashes that result in the injury of a police officer — these are the types of crashes that DAs will typically pursue criminal charges around. The rest are usually punted to the realm of insurance for “justice.”
We don’t need to send every driver who makes a mistake to prison for decades, but we do need better investigations after crashes. We need a return to a system of laws that put more accountability on drivers and we need systems in place with regard to enforcement, legislation and within the judiciary that recognize traffic crime as “real” crime that exacts a real toll on society.
Chicago ghost bike image courtesy of Eric Allix Rogers.
The dust has settled, the kinks have been worked out and like almost every single other bike, pedestrian and transit project that was anticipated with much glee by Active Trans, and much dread from some others, the DIVVY bike-sharing program is here and it’s an unqualified success. As of Sept. 4, there have been
• More than 230,000 trips taken on Divvy bikes
• More than 6,200 annual members
• More than 55,700 24-hour passes sold
• More than 200 stations
• More than 680,000 estimated miles traveled
More than 680,000 miles travelled! That’s the equivalent of circling the globe 27 TIMES! That’s the equivalent of going to the MOON and back, and then almost all the way back to the moon AGAIN. Chicago rode a bike to the moon! Wrap your head around that!
Or another way to look at it: a 175lb person biking at a moderate pace burns about 58 calories per mile. Multiply that by 680,000 miles and you get 39,440,000 calories burned!
One Chicago style hot dog is approximately 475 calories. That means, thanks to DIVVY, Chicago has earned the right to eat an additional 82,857 Chicago style dogs! Yum!
With that in mind, please enjoy our latest video on the wonders of DIVVY!
Help document the need for innovative bicycle infrastructure in Chicago and Evanston! Both the Chicago Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) Complete Streets Program and the City of Evanston need volunteers to participate in upcoming bike counts. Please consider volunteering during one or more of the following times:
Volunteers will help track ridership levels, demographic data and document the demand for bike facilities.
To volunteer, contact Dave Smith, CDOT bikeways planner, at email@example.com or 312.742.7620.
Last month the Active Transportation Alliance partnered with 43rd Ward Alderman Michele Smith and the neighborhood group Bike Walk Lincoln Park to conduct a streetside community workshop of North Clark Street between West North Avenue and West Armitage Avenue.
Having heard from several residents, park goers, and local businesses that the current design of Clark Street makes people feel unsafe while walking and biking and even driving, we set out to gather community consensus on the specific problems of this half-mile stretch of road and generate creative solutions supported by the community.
More than forty community members and stakeholders participated in the workshop. We discussed what’s wrong with Clark today, including problematic intersections, fast moving traffic, and a street design that mixes different types of traffic.
Participants were encouraged to imagine their own solutions to these problems as well. Some of the ideas for improvement included:
It’s clear that the Lincoln Park community is interested in making big changes to Clark between North Ave. and Armitage Ave. Active Trans will share more detailed comments from workshop participants and community stakeholders with the city’s planners and continue to work with CDOT to see that plans for this street reflect the needs of the community.
No plans have been made to change Clark St. yet, so there’s a great opportunity to advocate for changes supported by the community.
Interested in staying involved in this process? Let us know! Active Trans, Bike Walk Lincoln Park and Alderman Smith’s office will continue to work together to see that your ideas are represented in a new, safe Clark St.
If you’ve been reading the news, you likely know that Metra is embroiled in a scandal — with new revelations making headlines nearly every week.
First, Metra CEO Alex Clifford resigned his post with a near-record-breaking golden parachute. Then allegations followed about improprieties by transit board members, including political pressure on hiring, double-dipping (collecting two government paychecks), dodging court-ordered repayments, misrepresenting home addresses and covering up misdeeds.
Calls for reform have started to echo across the region to prevent future scandals.
Needless to say, public trust in the nation’s second biggest commuter rail system, Metra, is broken. It must be restored. But will riders be left with empty political reforms that capture headlines but leave transit underfunded and broken?
The recent scandal and its fallout have become a distraction from another scandal that has slipped under the radar for years — how Chicagoland’s transit is failing our region. These failures are problems our region’s leaders would rather not face:
As Gov. Quinn and transit leaders rush to fix the Metra leadership mess, move past scandals, and restore public trust, we need to ensure they don’t ignore these daunting problems that impact riders.
Please join me in reminding key transit leaders that despite this scandal, what matters most are transit riders. Urge them to implement reforms focused on actually fixing transit service, not just fixing scandals.
Every September 22, the world celebrates Car Free Day. This includes Active Trans and the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), who've invited you to take the pledge to go carfree on September 22 since 2009.
In 2013, we've upped the ante and created Car Free Week, which takes place September 22-28! It's your chance to take the pledge — not for just one day, but seven — and put your transit card (or u-lock, laptop, or walking shoes!) where your mouth is by tracking your carfree trips at Drive Less Live More for the chance to win big rewards.
The more trips you track between September 22-28, the cooler the prizes you could win! And best of all, it's totally free.
Car Free Week 2013 prizes
Chicago "Stay-cation" Package
Two Zipcar packages
Two Divvy BikeShare annual memberships
|Two 2014 MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive registrations||
|Two 2014 Four-Star Bike & Chow registrations||
1. Visit www.drivelesslivemore.com and click the “Car Free Week” image (or “register" button) to register as a user — it's easy and will take just a minute or so. Once your profile is confirmed, you are ready to start tracking trips.
2. Click on the “My Trip Tracker” link near the top-left to start entering trips into the interactive calendar. Any kind of trip can be tracked — transit, bike, ridesharing, walking, even telecommutes; all non-drive-alone trips are awarded a point score (trips must be Sept 22-28 for Car Free Week prizes; there are additional prizes for all September commutes, however!)
3. As you accumulate points, check the “My Rewards” page to see which Car Free Week prizes can be won; you will automatically be entered into each prize as you become eligible for them!
We're giving away great prizes via social media, too! Tell us about your Car Free Week trips, using #carfreeme, and you could win Divvy Bikeshare Day Passes, PACE gift bags or Transit Tees t-shirts!
So this September, don't sit intraffic — join the movement!
World Car Free Day is supported by the World Car free Network, the hub of the global car free movement, which promotes alternatives to car dependence and automobile-based planning, and works to improve quality of life for all. More information about the World Car Free Network is available at www.worldcarfree.net.
On Sunday, Sept. 1, Evanston held its first Shared Streets event, which allowed residents to enjoy a beautiful afternoon strolling along three car-free blocks on Dempster Street.
People not only strolled — they biked, skateboarded and danced to a jammin' band. Along the way, people could pick up hula hoops, practice T'ai chi or blow bubbles.
Active Trans was on hand providing participants with bike safety intormation and the Evanston Bike Club shared details about its upcoming rides.
"Our goals were to get more people cycling and walking, to organize and embolden the pro-walking/cycling community, and to make the point that streets are for people," said one of the organizers, Natalie Watson.
Ever get a flat tire on Milwaukee Ave.? Next time you’ll have somewhere to stop and fix up your ride like new.
Please join Active Trans as we help Paramount Room cut the ribbon on their brand new bike fix-it station, the first such installation along the new Milwaukee Ave. Spoke Route.
By investing their own dollars to bring even more bike amenities to the neighborhood, Paramount Room is leading the way as a Bike-Friendly Business. Help us repay the favor by showing them some bike community love!
Active Trans staff will be on hand to help demonstrate how you can use the fix-it stand for basic bike repair and maintenance.
The event will be kicking off a monthly series of ‘Bike-In’ events at Paramount Room, including special deals for people arriving by bike, networking and presentations from local bike shops and advocacy groups. Please join us!
What:Fix-It Station Ribbon Cutting and Bike Social
Where: Paramount Room, 415 N. Milwaukee Ave.
When: Tuesday, September 10 6-8 p.m.
Getting around the Midwest in multimodal style is about to get easier. Beginning tomorrow, September 6, bikes will be welcome on one of the Amtrak trains connecting Michigan and Chicago.
The Blue Water Line, which operates daily between Port Huron, Michigan and Chicago, travels between southern Michigan and Chicago’s Union Station. It passes through East Lansing and Kalamazoo, Michigan — cities that host two large state universities — as well as several other bike friendly communities.
|Director of Government Affairs for Amtrak’s Central Region, Derrick James, poses with a prototype of the modified railcar that provides secure storage for four bikes.|
Train riders will be able to walk their bikes onto the trains, which will be stored on racks that are positioned in modified café cars. The modified cars can securely carry up to four bikes per train; riders can lock their bikes to provided brackets.
A $10 fee will be charged per bike, in addition to the regular cost of the rail fare. Riders pay this fee when purchasing a ticket online or at an Amtrak station.
“We’ve worked with the cycling community to modify these railcars so bikes can be secured without disassembly,” said Derrick James, director of government affairs for Amtrak’s central region and a former Active Trans Board of Directors vice-president. “We look forward to measuring the success of this service with an eye to expansion to additional routes across our national network.”
The addition of bike racks in modified cars comes to the Blue Water Line earlier than expected. When Active Trans first reported Amtrak's efforts to get bikes on the trains earlier this year, the estimated start date was originally set for spring 2014.
Thanks to James’ work as an Amtrak liaison to the bicycling community, the efforts of the League of Michigan Bicyclists and pressure from the Michigan Department of Transportation, intermodal transit in Michigan will be easier starting this week.
Amtrak already offers walk-on bike service to other trains whose routes service Chicago, including lines in Illinois and Missouri, in unmodified railcars. With the addition of the Blue Water Line, even more transit connectivity has been created throughout the Midwest.