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Ride of Silence

The Ride of Silence, a slow, silent bike ride commemorating cyclists who have died on their bikes, leaves from Daley Plaza at 7 p.m. this evening.

The 12-mile route passes ghost bikes – old bikes painted white and chained at the site of cyclists’ deaths – memorializing Clint Miceli, Blanca Ocasio, Mandy Annis, Jepson Livingston and Tyler Fabeck.  It will conclude at Damen and Wellington, where there’s a ghost bike for Liza Whitacre, a 20 year old who died in a traffic incident there last October.

As Newstips reported in 2006, it’s estimated that some 200 cyclists and pedestrians are killed by motor vehicles in the Chicago area each year.

Rides of Silence are taking place at Arlington Heights, Evanston, and Joliet tonight.  Begun in Dallas in 2003, the Ride of Silence now involves thousands of cyclists in cities around the world.

Blackstone bikes

At Medill’s Academy for Alternative Journalism, Vy Pham does a very nice job of capturing Blackstone Bicycle Works — the swarm of enthusiastic kids, the laid-back mechanics/trainers, and the value for young people of a little structure, responsibility, and reward.

Route 66 bike trail

The League of Illinois Bicyclists and the Route 66 Trail Executive Committee are sponsoring a bicycle tour from St. Louis to Chicago to promote the state’s Route 66 Bike Route.

It leaves August 29 from the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge north of St. Louis and ends September 3 at Route 66’s origin point, near the Art Institute. Some will bike the entire 300 miles; some league members, bike clubs and others will join for portions of the trip.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has published a detailed guide to the bike route (pdf).

Bike to Work Week

June 7 to 13 is Bike to Work Week, with a daylong celebration in Daley Plaza on Friday the 13th (Mayor Daley and others speak at 8 a.m.; activities all day include bike stunt shows and a media challenge, with members of the media racing from the United Center to Daley Plaza.) The Chicagoland Bicycle Federation reports that 250 companies have signed up for their Bicycle Commuter Challenge, a competition to have the most employees biking to work during the week.  And from June 7 to 13, 6:30 to 8:30 a.m., CBF bike commuter stations at city locations and suburban Metra stations will offer snacks and a quick tuneup — here’s the schedule:   Read the rest of this entry »

Snow biking, and other events

There’s a bike ride planned for tonight — but only if it snows enough.

Read the rest of this entry »

Bike Fed Maps CTA Alternatives

The Chicagoland Bicycle Federation’s CTA Doomsday Guide lists bike routes that are alternatives for bus routes to the Loop that are slated to be eliminated Monday (and notes that “the Lakefront Trail is Chicago’s bicycle expressway”).

CBF will unveil the guide Thursday, November 1, 9:30 a.m. at the Clark/Lake CTA station (outside on Lake Street); it’s available here.

Reducing Chicago’s Carbon Footprint

With 50 percent of in-town trips made in single-occupancy automobiles, Chicagoans could do much to reduce the city’s carbon footprint by changing their own individual behavior, according to a new report.

And while city policies – including 350 miles of bikeways and 10,000 bicycle racks – have increased opportunities to convert car trips to bike trips, much more could be done to reduce transportation-related carbon emissions, said Rob Sadowsky, executive director of the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation.

CBF is one of four urban transportation groups across the country that released the Urban Transportation Report Card last week.

One goal of the report, which covers transportation policies and air quality in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle, is to spur competition with other cities when Chicago issues its emissions reduction plan later this year as part of the Clinton Climate Initiative, an international effort to reduce urban greenhouse gas emissions. “Chicago’s plans should be in line with, or better than, these other cities,” Sadowsky said.

Another goal is to move the conversation on reducing emissions beyond promoting hybrid vehicles, which reduce but don’t eliminate carbon emissions – and have environmental costs that are as high as other vehicles in manufacturing and shipping. Like other cars, hybrids also take up far more street space than mass transit, bicycling or walking, contributing to congestion that increases emissions in general.

According to the report card, 50 percent of area trips are made by single-occupancy automobile, compared to 26 percent by transit and 14 percent by car-pooling. Sadowsky said the 2000 census indicated that bike travel accounted for less than half of 1 percent of trips, but that figure represented an 80 percent increase over the previous decade. He guesses the number today would be 3 or 4 percent.

The report notes that Chicago’s new Complete Streets policy aims at making all streets safe for bicyclists and pedestrians, and the city’s Bike 2015 plan set a goal of converting 5 percent of all trips under five miles to bicycle over the next eight years.

But by focusing on moving autos quickly, the city’s traffic management department often undercuts other initiatives promoting biking and walking, Sadowsky said, and Chicago’s zoning code doesn’t do enough to promote transit-oriented development.

He said the city could reduce emissions with congestion-mitigation policies such as variable parking rates, and the state urgently needs to fix the funding formula for public transit, so the system can be expanded to address global climate change and rising gas prices.

Bike/Hike Trail Would Span South Suburbs

A new group is building community support for a 26-mile multiuse trail that would link 14 south suburban communities, 6 nature and forest preserves, and 5 existing biking/hiking/jogging trails.

Friends of the Calumet-Sag Trail will hold its second public meeting on Tuesday, February 13 at 7 p.m. at the Riverdale Marina, 13100 S. Halsted in Riverdale.

The Cal-Sag Trail would run from the I&M Canal Trail west of Palos Forest Preserve, along the Cal-Sag Channel and the Calumet River to the Burnham Greenway Trail near Indiana, where the Ford Environmental Center will open next year. It would create a network of more than 150 miles of trails in the area as well as an important east-west non-motorized transportation corridor, according to the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation.

The trail would provide several communities with bicycle and pedestrian access to Metra stations, said Keith Holt of CBF. The group estimates that 185,000 people live within two miles of the proposed trail.

The project would also spur ongoing efforts to clean up the waterways, where many industrial polluters have closed down, and turn what’s been considered an eyesore into a recreational and transportation asset that would help attract residential and business development, Holt said.

The South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association and the Southwest Mayors Conference have endorsed the project, and Palos Heights has received a $340,000 state transportation grant for its portion of initial engineering and environmental studies. The entire project could cost $20 million, with federal programs expected to provide most of the funding. The Friends group is planning to help towns along the path raise private donations to help meet matching grant requirements, Holt said.

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