Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What have you done for me lately? A look back at 2012

by Michelle Stenzel

A few weeks ago, after our Bike Walk  Lincoln Park bike share meeting,  a young journalist posed a very reasonable question to me that nevertheless took me completely off guard: So, what has your group accomplished? As I struggled to formulate a semi-coherent response, I made a mental note to work up some talking points on that subject, so I would be better prepared next time someone asked. This column will serve as my crib sheet.
In 2012, Bike Walk Lincoln Park successfully advocated for the use of Stop for Pedestrian signs in dozens of locations.
Michael Reynolds and I co-formed Bike Walk Lincoln Park in June 2011 as a way of providing a forum for people who were interested in making our neighborhood even better for walking and bicycling. It was that simple. We spent much of 2011 just trying to get the word out about our group, establishing a web presence with the blog, and getting to know Alderman Michele Smith and her staff.

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Your Bike Walk Lincoln Park co-chairs flanking our bicycling alderman, Michele Smith, after the ward bike ride in June 2012.
However, in 2012, we got a few concrete things done, and I'd say these were some of the highlights of our accomplishments:
  • Participated in the Streets for Cycling 2020 Plan community input process.
  • Participated in Alderman Smith's menu walks, to provide in put on how to spend the menu money in our ward.
  • Advocated for Ald. Smith to use a portion of the menu funds for in-street Stop for Pedestrian signs, which can now be seen all over the ward, and which have helped scores of pedestrians cross streets more safely.
  • Continued to support the placement of speed cameras as one tool to calm traffic and increase safety at intersections near schools.
  • Celebrated and helped publicize the release of citywide plans from the city's Department of Transportation, including the Chicago First! plan for transportation generally and the Chicago's first Pedestrian Plan.
  • Helped organize and participated in Alderman Smith's first 43rd ward bike ride.
  • Formulated our first Bike Walk Lincoln Park mission statement, to help guide our future course.
  • Provided input for the draft of a proposed design for the redevelopment of the former Children's Memorial Hospital site, with a focus on bicycling, pedestrian and livability issues.
  • Published regularly on the Bike Walk Lincoln Park blog, and are now up to 110 posts total, with close to 26,000 page views recorded.
  • Started tweeting @BikeWalkLP to widen our digital outreach.
  • Worked with the alderman's staff on various projects that will help us implement bike corralls and People Spots in the future, including cataloging metered/unmetered/loading zones, and scoping for potential sites. 
  • Hosted a gathering to discuss potential bike share station locations in the 43rd ward and submitted the recommendations to Alderman Smith and CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein.

Beyond our ward, we also helped out in other ways: We're both working with Active Transportation Alliance to share knowledge we've gained to help other people set up similar bike- and walk-advocacy groups in other wards or neighborhoods. (We'd love to have a coalition of Bike Walk groups all over Chicago to link up with!) In addition, I'm serving as a community representative on the Mayor's Bicycle Advisory Council. 
A quiet November morning on the Armitage Avenue bike lane.
As for 2013, we're looking forward to continuing efforts to make sure that the wonderful ideas outlined in the Pedestrian Plan and the Streets for Cycling 2020 Plan get the support they need to help make them a reality in our little neck of Chicago's big woods. We'd love to have you participate in the new year! Drop us a line to to receive notices via e-mail of events, or follow us on Twitter @BikeWalkLP .

Wishing you everything good for biking and walking in 2013 and beyond!

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