Join Active Transportation Alliance and Spin Doctor Cyclewerks on June 23 for a day of biking, sightseeing and socializing along the Fox River Bicycle Trail.
The Fox River Trail is a gem in the Chicagoland region. Streaching for more than 32 miles along the scenic Fox River, the trail features a paved, smooth surface, as well as quaint towns, historic mills, trees, parks and wildlife.
This ride is highly recommended for those who have never experienced riding the Fox River Trail and for those who love riding in groups.
Meet at 10 a.m. in downtown Geneva for free coffee and treats from Nosh. A UP-W Metra train arrives downtown Geneva at 9:47 a.m. The ride departs at 10:30 for Carpentersville.
While the ride is free (not including lunch), it does require advance registration. A detailed ride guide will be emailed to all registrants. Sign up here!
For more information, email Kevin Dekkinga.
The Earth Policy Institute has just released a new report on bike share programs in the U.S. With the expansions of current bike share programs and new openings in large markets like New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, the nationwide fleet of shared bikes is poised to quadruple in the next couple of years, from nearly 9,000 to more than 36,000.
Who is excited about Chicago's new Divvy bike share system?
The full report is available on the EPI website.
Time flies when you’re trying to re-develop a neighborhood, even when it seems to take forever to get anything done.
QCDC staff and board members at ground breaking earlier this year for Shops & Lofts development at 47th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue.
Ten years ago, the Quad Communities Development Corporation (QCDC) was formed to enlist residents, businesses, elected officials and other people and institutions in North Kenwood-Oakland, Douglas, and Grand Boulevard to look hard at their neighborhoods, identify what’s needed to make them better, document those recommendations, and then get on with the difficult business of transforming plans into reality.
It’s the same approach followed by 13 other neighborhood lead agencies in LISC Chicago’s New Communities Program – an ambitious, long-term effort funded by the MacArthur Foundation to strengthen underserved communities through comprehensive planning and implementation.
For QCDC’s staff, supporters, and neighborhood partners, it’s been quite a decade. And they’re celebrating it this Thursday with a big shebang at Maggiano’s on North Clark Street. Chances are, amid the speeches and toasts, the backslapping and glad-handing, there’ll be some quiet reflection about how that was then and this is now. Because where QCDC and its neighborhoods are today is different than where they were in 2003.
How it started
To get the lay of the land in the early days, read John McCarron’s overview of the challenges QCDC faced in 2006. Gentrification – not foreclosure – was the enemy. The neighborhoods – rich in historic homes, conveniently located near Chicago’s Loop and employment centers, and absent some notorious Chicago Housing Authority projects razed through the Plan for Transformation – had the potential to catch real estate fire, with the threat of boosting rents and home values beyond the means of long-time residents.
Former QCDC board chair (and current Cook County board president) Toni Preckwinkle, left, and QCDC Executive Director Bernita Johnson-Gabriel at Reavis Elementary.
The Great Recession of 2008 solved that problem. Now, the market rate housing in Lake Park Crescent and Oakwood Shores (the mixed income developments that replaced the public housing projects) have been a tougher sell than expected, and the sour economy generally discouraged further residential development. Meanwhile, persistently high unemployment has suppressed the number of shoppers who’d been counted on to support many new local businesses.
But QCDC, technically a start-up back in 2003, has been adaptive and resilient. It made a plan – a quality-of-life plan – and stuck to it, regardless of the massive economic forces beyond its control.
From planning to reality
It planned for a farmer’s market. It has a farmers’ market. It planned for more businesses on Cottage Grove Avenue and to "banish the gray" along commercial corridors. It has more businesses on Cottage Grove Avenue. It planned to establish a Center for Working Families in the neighborhood. It has a CWF in the neighborhood. It planned for an ambitious retail/residential complex at 47th and Cottage. It’s getting a retail/residential complex at 47th and Cottage.
According to a LISC analysis in late 2011, more than $11 million in grants and low-interest loans to QCDC and other partners have leveraged $144 million in additional neighborhood investment. Seventy percent of the actions outlined in the group’s quality-of-life plan have been implemented, or are in the process of being implemented.
Banners that QCDC installed to spruce up the Cottage Grove commercial corridor.
“QCDC has gone from being a start-up built around the leadership of the former 4th Ward alderman (Toni Preckwinkle, now president of the Cook County Board) to a highly respected organization,” said Susana Vasquez, LISC Chicago’s executive director and former director of the New Communities Program. “The last few years have been a struggle for every neighborhood organization, but QCDC showed it can take a punch and remain standing. Shops & Lofts is a good example of that.”
Shops & Lofts, the retail/residential complex at 47th and Cottage, had its genesis in the pre-2008 days of easy money and blind ambition – though even under those circumstances it was a tough sell. Still, QCDC stuck with it (read another McCarron piece to see how), and more than seven years after initiating the project, broke ground earlier this spring for a development that will include a Walmart, other retail space, and rental apartments.
“"We've tried to honor the community's plan, despite unforeseeable challenges,” said Bernita Johnson-Gabriel, who signed on as QCDC’s NCP director in 2004 and became executive director three years later. “I am grateful to all who have contributed to QCDC's success and look forward to another 10 years of positioning the south lakefront communities of North Kenwood, Oakland , Douglas, and Grand Boulevard as vibrant and exciting places to live, work and play."
On Wednesday, May 8, many hundreds of schools across the country celebrated National Bike to School Day. This included a significant number of schools across Chicagoland and the state of Illinois.
From Chicago to Elmhurst, Palatine to Countryside, schools celebrated the day with activities like on-bike education programs, bike trains to school and bike safety presentations. (Read about some of the Illinois schools and their activities on the Bike to School Day website.)
Active Transportation Alliance was on hand at Northside College Prep in Chicago, where students who biked to school were treated to Clif Bars and given an off-campus lunch pass (a great perk for any high school student) and entered into a raffle to win bike lights and other prizes.
Students from the school's Chicago Studies class promoted the day with posters around school.
An estimated 10 percent of students biked to the school on Wednesday, causing the bike racks to overflow (see photo!).
Donte and Paul, a couple of Northside College Prep students, said they had never biked to school before and would definitely be doing it again.
A student named Sara said it was her second time riding. She said likes it because it’s faster than other modes of transportation for her, and allows her to catch a bit more sleep in the morning.
A student named Summer also touted the speed of biking, saying “I need to do this more often.”
Events like Bike to School Day provide a great opportunity for students, staff and parents to try out the bike as a fun, feasible and fast way to get where they need to go.
Out of school and working? Well then, you'll need to sign up for the Bike Commuter Challenge, happening in early June.
What will make you want to participate in Bike to Work Week, June 8-14?
Maybe it will be this new Active Trans video?
Or it could be this free t-shirt you get by becoming a Team Leader in the Bike Commuter Challenge?
Or maybe it's this fun spoke card you'll receive at one of our Team Leader meetups, beginning 5/21.
Whatever ends up motivating you to ride during Chicago's Bike to Work Week (June 8-14), don't stop when it's over! Help grow the movement by riding happily and safely all year long!