Entries tagged: Illinois

Advocates Bring Open Streets to the Heart of Downtown Chicago

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On October 1, Chicago advocates celebrated the first open streets initiative since 2009 — and they went big.

The initiative was held on the city’s iconic State Street in the heart of downtown, and was titled Open Streets on State Street. Unlike the initiative in New York City, which was organized by the NYC DOT, Chicago’s initiative was put on by local Alliance member organization Active Transportation Alliance, in cooperation with the Chicago Loop Alliance.

While Active Trans has organized open streets in the past, this was the advocates first time preparing an initiative downtown. In anticipation of the time commitment, the organization hired several part-time staff members to help coordinate volunteers, programming and logistics for the big event. Active Trans also partnered with local media to spread the word.

The initiative itself was a huge success, with thousands of pedestrians and cyclists enjoying a brisk fall day. Children were everywhere along the route, enjoying relay races, the imagination playground and plenty of active games. Even Chicago Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein got in on the fun by taking a turn in the dunk tank.

Active Trans Open Streets Manager Julia Kim summed up Open Streets on State Street by saying, “We’re encouraging people to ride bikes, take a stroll, and embrace the dramatic beauty of Chicago. Open Streets brings communities together to have fun and lead active lifestyles.”

With the success of this year’s initiatives, Active Trans is already looking forward to holding more frequent and larger open streets next year. The goal is to create routes that link downtown and neighborhood initiatives, allowing Chicago’s open streets to benefit both its diverse communities and major business district.

Learn more about the evolution of Chicago’s initiative and get tips from Active Trans’ Adolfo Hernandez by listening to or downloading the tip sheet from our recent Mutual Aid Call on Open Streets. If you have successes to share about initiatives in your community, e-mail me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Posted by mlhall on October 13, 2011
Tags: open streets, illinois, children, chicago, active transportation alliance
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Active Trans Urges IDOT to Track Doorings

imageBetween 2005 and 2009, the Illinois Department of Transportation tracked an average of 3,500 bicycle-vehicle crashes per year. As a result of those collisions, more than 3,300 cyclists were injured and as many as 27 were killed each year. While those numbers are astonishing, what’s even more shocking is that they do not include the type of collision that’s arguably the most common to on-street cyclists: doorings.

According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, the IDOT has stated that it does not track these dangerous collisions because the vehicles involved aren’t moving and because it simply has not received many requests to do so. Bicycle advocacy groups are working hard to change this.

After IDOT denied its request that law enforcement officials report dooring incidences, last month the Active Transportation Alliance began mobilizing its members to urge the IDOT to begin tracking doorings.

What’s fueling the need for numbers? As Ethan Spotts, Director of Marketing for Active Trans, explained during a recent My Fox Chicago segment, the problem is that, without statistics, bicycle advocacy groups are unable to prove that dooring is an issue and, as a result, cannot apply for grants to fund safety campaigns. With statistics in hand, Active Trans will be able to create awareness among drivers and bicyclists alike to ensure that a safer street environment exists for all.

Read more about Active Transportation Alliance’s efforts here and learn how to contact the IDOT here.

Posted by camie@PeoplePoweredMovement.org on April 06, 2011
Tags: illinois department of transportation, illinois, dooring, active transportation alliance
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Registration Now Open for 2011 Membership Development Training in Chicago

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One of the most powerful tools to boost biking and walking in your community is a large, active membership. The 2011 Alliance Membership Development Training will give you the proven tools and innovative best practices to engage more people in your important work. Is your organization looking to lay a strong foundation for its membership plan? Does your group already have a membership program, but want to take it to the next level? Attend this affordable, three-day training geared specifically for bike-ped advocates and learn from top experts in the field.

Registration is now open!

The training will focus specifically on best practices in membership development and retention, provide opportunities for group discussions and sharing of success stories with peers, and offer a limited number of one-on-one consultations with trainer and membership guru Ellis Robison, Kate McCarthy, Membership and Volunteer Director for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, and other Alliance leaders with expertise in this field. This event also includes social activities Wednesday and Thursday evening, providing plenty of chances for peer-to-peer networking.

Click here for a draft agenda. Click here for all the details and to register.

Illinois Advocates Win $50 Million for Bikeways

imageLast week, at the National Bike Summit, I was one of the hundreds of advocates who converged on Capitol Hill to tell our members of Congress to protect federal funding for biking and walking projects and programs. This week, when I returned to the office, the latest newsletter from the League of Illinois Bicyclists had arrived on my desk. And what was the leading headline? The LIB’s major role in directing more than $50 million federal dollars toward bikeways in the Prairie State.

Since 1991, the federally funded Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program has been the main source of money for active transportation projects and, in the 1990s, about half of ITEP dollars went to bike/ped facilities. But, as the LIB reports in the Illinois Bicyclist, that number plummeted to less than 30 percent under former governor Rod Blagojevich. Making matters worse, the state started raiding the ITEP program to deal with federal rescissions, too.

The LIB helped turn back that shortsighted trend.

During the last round of rescissions in August, Illinois advocates mobilized to protect bike/ped dollars. “LIB, the Active Transportation Alliance and the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy urged IDOT and Gov. Pat Quinn to more fairly spread the cuts across transportation categories,” LIB reports in its newsletter. “Thankfully, no ITEP dollars were rescinded.”

But that was just the prelude to an even bigger win: The latest ITEP grant list that includes more than $50 million for bikeways.

“Each major issue advocated by LIB – especially selecting more bikeway applications – came true in a record way,” the League notes. “Gov. Quinn had often expressed his desire to fund more bike trails in Illinois. Three times in 2010, LIB personally spoke with him, suggesting an ITEP bicycling emphasis as a way to do so without impact on the state’s financial situation. Our thanks have gone out to the Governor and IDOT Secretary Gary Hannig.”

Read more about the League of Illinois Bicyclists here. And learn how you can mobilize for more federal, state and local dollars in your community by getting connected to Advocacy Advance — a partnership of the Alliance and League of American Bicyclists — here.

Happy Walk to School Day!

imageKids today could be the first generation with a lower life expectancy than their parents. Many studies chalk up that disturbing possibility to the fact that nearly 80 percent of children don’t get enough exercise.

It used to be that students got a daily dose of physical activity simply traveling to and from school. In 1969, at least 50 percent of students walked or biked to school. Today that number has dropped to less than 15 percent.

Across the U.S., school leaders and local advocates are making strides in reversing that trend with International Walk to School Day activities. Drawing on inspiration from the United Kingdom, the Partnership for a Walkable America sponsored the first National Walk Our Children to School Day in Chicago in 1997. Five years later, more than 3 million parents, students and advocates in all 50 states marked the second international event.

Today, an impressive 3,213 schools are participating in Walk to School Day — and many Alliance member organizations are celebrating, too.

In California, for instance, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition highlighted yesterday that Walk to School Day marks a tripling in the number of schools participating in San Francisco’s Safe Routes to School Program. ““Safe Routes to Schools is a smart way to improve our streets and neighborhoods, which will encourage more families to walk and bike to school,” Renée Rivera, Acting Executive Director of the SFBC said in the press release. “Walk to School day is a great one day event that allows more kids and parents to experience firsthand how fun and easy walking to school can be.”

Up in Illinois, the Active Transportation Alliance helped a handful their local schools plan particularly festive celebrations with mini grants of $500. In addition to funding, Active Trans kicked in school safety patrol equipment, a banner to promote the event, snack bars, T-shirts, safety vests, signs, and stickers, as well as a Safe Routes to School consultation for the entire school district and safety resources for a Walk and Roll to School Day assembly.

How are you celebrating Walk to School Day?

Must Stop Bill Passes IL Senate

imageAccording to Chicago’s Active Transportation Alliance, “The Illinois General Assembly passed a monumental bill, HB43, clarifying the current law by requiring drivers to stop for pedestrians in all crosswalks – even those that don’t have a stop sign or traffic signal; and even those that aren’t marked with paint. Current law is vague and nearly impossible to enforce.

HB 43 is clear: come to a complete stop when pedestrians are present.

Active Trans worked with Sen. Heather Steans (Chicago) and Rep. Luis Arroyo (Chicago) to make Illinois a state that prioritizes and protects people, not cars. These two legislators were champions that deserve a lot of praise. If you are in their districts, please call them or write a handwritten thank you note letting them know their efforts were appreciated and congratulating them on their victory. The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, Metropolitan Planning Council and a particularly active group of students at Curie Metropolitan High School have played critical roles in this victory.

This will go into law as soon as Gov. Quinn signs the bill.

HB 43 will save lives and prevent serious injuries. More than 6,000 people are hit by cars every year in Illinois. That translates into 1,000 serious injuries and 150 fatalities.

This victory has been nearly two years in the making and we couldn’t have done it without the phone calls, support and momentum you provide. Thank you!”

For more information, visit http://www.activetrans.org/blog.