Oct 15, 2010

New Illinois "Share the Road" license plates

Show your suppport for cycling, even when you are driving! Register for the new "Share The Road" Illinois license plate and a portion of your registration will go toward cycling education. Download the registration form and read more about this exciting new Illinois license plate at http://www.bikelib.org/other-advocacy/license-plates/license-plate-reservations/

Kudos to the Leage of Illinois cyclists and Active Trans for their efforts in this!

Jul 9, 2010

An Open Letter to the Highland Park Traffic Commission

Dear Traffic Commission,

At your June 23, 2010 meeting, you asked the dozens of cyclists present to speak to cycling issues in Highland Park. This letter is in part a response to your request.

We cyclists appreciate the HP Traffic Commission’s efforts, especially the Commission’s thoughtful approach to accommodate all users of the Highland Park transportation infrastructure, including cyclists, pedestrians and transit users. We also appreciate your willingness to stand in the middle of the inevitable conflicts of interest that arise from the different uses. These issues directly affect the quality of life in Highland Park and have lasting impacts on our communities and even our pocket books as research has shown even real estate values are associated. So your work is quite valuable.

Cyclists and pedestrians are the most vulnerable users of the traffic infrastructure. At the June 23 meeting it was discussed that cyclists must obey all traffic laws the same as motorist. And while we heartily agree, we would like to remind the Commission that the consequences of motorists breaking the traffic laws are typically much more catastrophic than cyclists or pedestrians doing so. For example, should a cyclist not obey a stop sign, they primarily put themselves at risk, similar to a motorist not wearing a seat belt. But should a motorist not obey a stop sign, it can be deadly for another motorists, cyclists or pedestrians. It is simply physics--thousands of pounds of metal and glass in motion are a lethal weapon compared to couple of hundred pounds of mostly flesh and blood. So we ask the Commission to put its focus on how to best create a safe traffic environment and utilize Highland Park’s resources for engineering, education and enforcement with a safety-first focus.

Single file cycling provisions are confusing and unenforceable. We applaud your June 23 recommendation to align the Highland Park bicycle code with state regulations which allow for two abreast riding. Two abreast riding is necessary if for no other reason than a cyclist must be able to pass another cyclists. As an illustration we recently received a report from a cycling group from July 6, 2010 where on Skokie Blvd a motorist pulled alongside the cyclists to inform them that Highland Park requires single file riding. The cyclist leading the ride, an organized ride out of the Old Orchard’s Lifetime Fitness Health Club, was confused and pointed out that they are in fact riding in single file. Later the cyclist was reflecting on why the motorist would be making these comments and he realized that as part of their cycling they often must pass one another and that there was a brief time when one rider was being passed by the other riders and this must have been when the motorist was approaching from behind.

Special provisions for recreational cyclists are not advised. At the meeting it was suggested that the large recreational cycling groups that ride though town on weekend mornings might be provided with some special provisions like an organized event such as a marathon might be provided. While this sounds accommodating to the cyclists, we believe it could lead to more difficulty. Though some large groups are regular and identifiable, trying to identify who is a recreational rider and who is riding for other reasons is a meaningless distinction. The transportation infrastructure is for all transportation users regardless of their personal reasons for using the system. Motorists may also be recreational users which we see on nice summer weekends when antique auto enthusiasts bring out their cars or groups of motorcyclists ride through town. Motorists who are on their way to work may get aggravated when someone they judge as a recreational user is impeding their transit, but both users are equally entitled to use the public infrastructure.

Paving the Green Bay trail is not relevant. It was briefly discussed by the Commission if paving the Green Bay trail might aid cycling. If the concern of the Traffic Commission is the pressure on Highland Park’s traffic that large groups of cyclists create, paving the trail will offer no help. Though trails are a wonderful addition to the transportation infrastructure, their use by groups of cyclists traveling at high speeds creates other concerns. Pedestrians on the trails, sometimes with young children or pets in tow, and other slow cyclists are already pressured by fast cyclists coming through the trails and accidents have ensued. For safety we believe a better question than paving the trail, is to ask how we can make a St. Johns Ave or a Green Bay Road safe for users from eight to eighty years old. That is a Complete Streets question and one that once answered well, can go a long way to increase our mutual quality of life. And we applaud the Traffic Commission for continuing to recommend a Complete Streets Policy.

Highland Park should form a Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force. Though most Highland Park residents over the age of 15 are motorists, not all are active cyclists or pedestrians. The knowledge and experience of active cyclists and pedestrians are invaluable. Highland Park will not be able to make good decisions on engineering, education and enforcement without informed user input. Additionally a task force can act as a liaison to the interest groups. For example the bicycle groups that ride through Highland Park on weekend mornings can be directly communicated with by the Task Force to negotiate preferred routes through town or to raise any concerns about enforcement. Also recall that we cyclists and pedestrians are typically also motorists and transit users, so we are best positioned to offer advice on accommodating all users.

Thank you again for the work of the Highland Park Traffic Commission,


Jay Goldstein
For North Suburban Complete Streets

Jul 7, 2010

Highland Park recommends repealing single file bicycle code

The Highland Park Traffic Commission met June 23 to discuss local bicycling issues. Dozens of cycling enthusiast also showed up to see the Commission in action and make sure cycling issues are being handled appropriately.

A Commission meeting to focus on bicycling was apparently as a result of motorists complaints of cyclists, particularly groups of cyclists who ride through Highland Park on weekend mornings which do not observe stop signs. Also mentioned was the difficulty of motorists passing cyclists on Sheridan Road.

The Commission discussed Highland Park's eight pages of bicycle codes and noted there are provisions in the code that are no longer being observed such as mandatory bicycle registration and single file cycling restrictions. The Commission voted to recommend the City Council repeal the Highland Park bicycling codes that might be confusing to cyclists and are not consistent with state code such as the single file provision.

There were also discussions of how to create more effective bicycle routes through town by marking or striping certain roadways. However the Commission recommended to the City Council to adopt a Complete Streets policy nearly a year ago (see August 31, 2009 entry below) since a Complete Streets policy would systematically review all such considerations. The Commission expressed concern the City Council has not adopted Complete Streets and voted once again to recommend the City Council adopt a Complete Streets policy.

For more information also see Pioneer Press reporter Charles Berman's good coverage of the meeting from the July 6 Highland Park News.

Jun 30, 2010

BP Gulf Oil Spill Disaster Protest

The Chicago Tribune published a letter today from Jay Goldstein, a board Member of Active Transportation Alliance about how we might collectively protest the BP Gulf oil spill disaster. This is the full text of that letter:

Personal Protest
I agree that if we want to protest the BP oil spill, the answer is not to boycott BP gas stations. (“Bypassing BP station won’t KO oil giant” June 18, 2010) Instead I plan on making my own personal “BP Protest” by walking cycling or taking public transit for at least one trip a week I would normally drive. Transit studies have shown that amazingly 90% of all trips in the US between 1 and 3 miles are driven and only 31% of trips under one mile are made by foot or bike. And if we all went so far to substitute our driving for walking or cycling merely equal to our recommended daily exercise, we could collectively reduce U.S. dependence on oil by between 35% and 38%--almost all the oil we import! So leave the car behind at least one trip a week and help save the Gulf, lose some weight, relax and save money--now that’s my kind of protest.

Dec 23, 2009

Active Transportation Alliance Reports on our Efforts

This just published in the recent Active Trans newsletter ModeShift:

Completing Highland Park streets

An active group of cyclists and Highland Park residents are imagining safer and more accessible streets. They know what those look like - ones with bike lanes, pedestrian-friendly intersections and slow traffic.

And they knew where they had to look to get them.

Complete Streets policy is flooding Northeast Illinois, with Illinois, Cook County, DuPage County and the City of Chicago all adopting policies that will result in roads that accommodate all users.

Inspired by that movement, Highland Park residents decided to take action to bring Complete Streets to their community.

It started with a meeting called by Jay Goldstein, Active Trans board member and advocacy chair for Velo Club Roubaix, to discuss road safety in the North Suburbs.

“It was amazing how many people came,” said Kim Stone, a former Active Trans board member and Highland Park resident. “It was a really mixed group of people. Some live in Highland Park. Some bike through Highland Park.”

That is where residents connected with Active Trans and our North Suburban Coordinator Lina Hoffman.

Stone and Peg Laemle, another Highland Park resident, were charged with researching Complete Streets and worked with Hoffman to plan the proposal.

“There has to be a way where traffic can flow and pedestrians can also easily cross streets,” Laemle said.

The city already had a Healthy Highland Park Task Force and a Green Initiatives Alliance, a multi jurisdictional approach to making Highland Park more sustainable. Stone and Laemle believed that Complete Streets would fit in with the City's priorities and would be a natural compliment to both these initiatives. Stone said that it was important to work within the City's process, gaining support from staff as well as elected officials.

The other key to gathering support was the backing of the other residents that attended that first meeting.

“Instead of me just as an individual, it was a group. There was a constituency behind the idea,” she said. “Having a group of people who want to see things changed and have come to a consensus is really key.” Active Trans was able to provide expert resources like sample policy and promoted public meetings on Complete Streets to our members.

Doing their homework paid off. Residents met first with Public Works and Community Development staff, then requested an Active Transportation Alliance presentation before the Traffic Commission, which unanimously recommended the City adopt a Complete Streets policy. Then Stone and Hoffman met with Highland Park Mayor Michael Belsky. The next step was an Active Trans presentation before the Environmental Commission. A Planning Commission presentation will be the last step before City Council review. With Mayor Belsky as an advocate of a Complete Streets policy, support from residents, city staff and commissioners this final step should be a slam dunk!

from: http://www.activetrans.org/modeshift/02_10/highlandpark

Aug 31, 2009

Highland Park Moves on Complete Streets

Only a year after our cycling advocates Bruce Rosenzweig and Jay Fried were injured in Barrington Hills on a nice Sunday morning Velo Club Roubaix road cycling club ride and this North Suburban advocacy group was formed, one area town has voted to adopt Complete Streets!

Wednesday August 26, 2009 the Highland Park Traffic Commission finally met to hear a presentation on Complete Streets by two capable Active Trans folks, one being Lina who we helped get hired. And the Commission unanimously voted to recommend that Highland Park adopt a Complete Streets policy!

After Active Trans’ short presentation some Highland Park residents got up to speak in favor of Complete Streets. I watched the meeting unfold and I must give kudos to our own advocate Elliott Rosen who helped turned the tide in our favor. Elliot was able to speak with the authority of a Highland Park citizen; he spoke without any prepared remarks, in a positive manner about Highland Park, and he clearly called on Highland Park to be better for the sake of those like him and his family who don’t want to be captive to their cars and might want to occasionally enjoy safer and better travel around by bicycle. If that itself did not seal the deal it was when Elliott said he would be personally willing to volunteer to help on a Highland Park Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force which will likely be needed to advise the City on a going-forward basis about how to apply the Policy.

One Commission board member said it well before the vote when he realized that this is a whole new way of thinking about traffic movement and he could see how it might eventually affect the way the City approaches every project. Right he is! Complete Streets looks at how best to move around people--not just motor vehicles. It puts people first, and that includes when we the people, use our public roadways for movement other than in our cars, like for cycling!

Highland Park may be one of the first jurisdictions in the country to have a COMPLETE Complete Streets policy because all roadways within the City, no matter their jurisdictions, may soon be under such a policy:

  • There is a now a Federal policy, which covers jurisdiction over national highways
  • There is now an Illinois policy, which covers state highways. This is as of last year and also thanks in part to Active Trans!
  • There soon should be a Lake County policy which will cover the county roads. Our group has also helped with that.
  • When Highland Park adopts a policy, all roads through Highland Park would then be covered, no matter whose jurisdiction they may fall under!

Jun 3, 2009

City of Higland Park Important Meeting

Wednesday AUGUST 26, 6:30 pm
Highland Park City Hall
1707 St. Johns
(directly across from the HP Metra station)

View Larger Map


Please come to a meeting of the Highland Park Traffic Commission on August 26 at 6:30 pm. Especially if you are a HP resident or HP cyclist! Lina Hoffman from Active Transportation Alliance (formerly Chicagoland Bicycle Federation) will be making a presentation on "Complete Streets." The goal is for the Traffic Commission to begin taking all users (including pedestrians and cyclists) into consideration when making decisions that impact the roadways in Highland Park. We need to have strong representation at this meeting.

Why do we need a Complete Streets Plan? A plan will help insure that the needs of pedestrians and cyclists, as well as cars, are considered when building, designing or reconstructing roadways. The state has a plan which applies to state controlled roads. Lake County is implementing a plan as well. Each jurisdiction needs their own plan or policy since each controls different roads. A Complete Streets Plan for Highland Park would impact city roads only. Highland Park is important because:

1) we have a strong cycling community
2) there are on-going citywide initiatives currently to become more environmentally sustainable and to improve health -- this fits in to both
3) Highland Park is a bike friendly community and many cyclists and group rides pass through town. If Highland Park were to implement Complete Streets, it could serve as a model for other communities.

More info:
Questions? Email:
Kim Stone
kstone@spcpweb.org or
Lina Hoffman

Jun 1, 2009

More details on Complete Streets

The Complete Street movement is about enacting smarter public policy that benefits everyone which results in increased safety(1), improved quality of life and health, reduced congestion and is more fiscally sound. It has been already adopted by eleven states, including the State of Illinois; also DuPage County, City of Chicago and over 80 communities around the country(2) including Philadelphia on June 5 of this year(3). Complete Streets is widely supported by groups ranging from the National Realtors Association, the YMCA, AARP and the Institute of Transportation Engineers who themselves became to be known the last half-century as the "throughput crowd" for focusing solely on increased roadway capacity and speeds while not being inclusive of all users and without consideration of other benefits. So it would appear that those not yet on-board with Complete Streets might now be said to be old school and hopefully will become a minority. Also for a federal policy, the “Complete Streets Act of 2009” is now before Congress.

(1) In the US every 113 minutes a pedestrian or cyclists is killed by a motor vehicle and every 8 minutes one is injured or paralyzed. It may be interesting to note that this is 3x the current rate of Germany which was historically also a motor vehicle centric country but has now worked hard for years on reforming their street policy. Source http://www.postwritersgroup.com/archives/peir071209.htm. Studies have shown just a few Complete Street policy implementations can reduce risks 28% to 40% while increasing safety for drivers as well. See http://www.completestreets.org/webdocs/federal/cs-2009pressrelease.pdf. While bikes and pedestrians account for 13% of all road fatalities they received less than 1% of safety education funds. Engineering, Education and Enforcement are three keys. See http://www.wdef.com/news/complete_streets_legislation_could_improve_safety_for_chattanooga_cyclists/03/2009

(2) For an up to date atlas where Complete Streets policy has been enacted see: http://www.completestreets.org/complete-streets-fundamentals/complete-streets-atlas/

(3) See June 5 entry on http://www.completestreets.org/news-blog/blog/

Mar 16, 2009

1000 Area Cyclist Represented at Meeting

An estimated 1000 area cyclist were directly represented at the March 10 meeting held at Alberto's Cycling in Highland Park. About 30 local cycling advocates from area cycling clubs, bike shops and other concerned area residents came to meet Lina Hoffman the new North Suburban Coordinator from Active Trans and see how their respective organizations can continue to be involved in efforts to improve cycling in the area. Officers and leaders of the following local groups were present:

Alberto's Racing
Barrington Bike Club
Bicycle Club of Lake County
Colavita Cycling
Evanston Bicycle Club
Northbrook Bicycle Task Force
Velo Club Roubaix
Vision Quest Coaching

Also as planned, concerns were discussed regarding the new January 2009 Barrington Hills local ordinances that restrict bicycling. (Though invited, no member of the Barrington Hills Village Board was present but we understand discussions are ongoing with area cyclists and cycling groups and the village.) Out of our discussions on March 10 an effort was begun to identify a volunteer bicycle coordinator in each of the area municipalities. The local bicycle coordinator would first become aware of any impending new bicycle ordinances with the goal to prevent other municipalities to adopt measures as has Barrington Hills. The area coordinator would also monitor road plans and work toward creating a comprehensive bicycle task force as has been done so well by folks with the Northbrook Bicycle Task Force. Also the coordinator could help facilitate discussions with the local police and/or schools. Already volunteers have stepped forward to help coordinate Highland Park, Deerfield, Barrington and Hawthorne Woods! A Lake County coordinator volunteer is also being sought to start reviewing the 5-year road plans published by the County.

Other activities planned by the group include making a presentation at a monthly Lake County Transportation Committee meeting; contacting the League of Illinois Bicyclists about ideas for Barrington Hills, having staff from Active Trans meet with local police and municipalities; and meeting with the Lake County Sheriff. Ideas were also discussed regarding better representing area low-income cyclists and recognizing that a benefits of the group's efforts is helping area residents keep commuting costs low by utilizing bike and transit options.

Next meeting is 7PM Monday June 1 at Alberto's Cycling.
More info on the meeting agenda to follow.

Feb 17, 2009

Meet Your New Advocate

The Active Transportation Alliance infomed us today they have hired Lina Hoffman as the new North Suburban Coodinator. Carolyn Helmke, Senior Transportation Planner at Active Trans said that thanks to the help of North Suburban Complete Streets in raising awareness and funds, even in these uncertain economic times, Active Trans wanted to increase their advocacy work in our area. Carolyn went on to say "Lina Hoffman lives in Skokie and is excited to help mobilize north suburban communities to walk, bike and use transit more often. She has experience working with government and non-government organizations and was a student trustee at Oakton Community College from 2002-2004. She is currently finishing up her bachelors degree at DePaul majoring in International Studies and plans to pursue a graduate degree next. She is very interested in the way that cultural values help shape communities and sees a culture of transit emerging that she will help promote."

One of Lina Hoffman's first duties will be to meet our group and hear our priorities at our next meeting, 7:00-9:00PM, Tuesday March 10 at Alberto's Cycles in Highland Park. For more information on the meeting or our group please contact us at cyclingadvocacy@gmail.com.

Feb 11, 2009

Barrington Hills "Response" to Crash and Cycling Issues

February 5, 2009

RE: Village of Barrington Hills Bicycle Ordinances

During the spring and summer months, large numbers of bicyclists ride throughout the Village of Barrington Hills. A 2008 Barrington Hills Police Department survey indicated that bicyclists were a major concern for members of the community. Large groups of bicyclists frequently occupy entire lanes on roadways and impede the normal flow of traffic. Complaints of bicyclists disobeying stop signs and other rules of the road were also raised in the survey. The Barrington Hills Police Department responds to a number of bicycle related complaints during the spring and summer.

In response to these issues and in the interest of public safety for all bicyclists and motorists, the Village of Barrington Hills recently adopted two new ordinances that pertain to bicycles and their safe operation on roadways. The first is the mandate of single file bicycle riding. This ordinance states that persons riding bicycles upon a Village maintained roadway are prohibited from riding side by side and shall only ride single file.

The second ordinance is negligent operation of bicycles which states that it shall be unlawful for any person to operate a bicycle upon any public roadway (Village/County/ State) in a manner which is negligent or creates a risk of bodily injury or damage to or loss of property.

These new ordinances aim to ensure that both bicyclists and motor vehicles can share the roadway in a safe and responsible manner. The Barrington Hills Police Department will be enforcing these ordinances especially during the spring and summer months as the weather gets warmer. Any requests for additional information on these ordinances may be directed to Officer Sabas Parada at (847) 551-3006 or sparada@vbhpd.net

Feb 9, 2009

Printable flyer for March 10 meeting

Please print for posting at your bike shop or
club. Thanks and hope to see you then!

brochure courtesy Elliot Rossen

Jan 13, 2009

Jan 13, 2009 meeting

Alberto's Cycles was kind enough to once again host a meeting. At the January 13 meeting cyclist reviewed maps and rated cycling routes in preparation to lend our perspective to Lake County's Complete Streets new policies and plans. Joe Weiss a GIS mapping software expert from Active Trans had prepared an area road map showing routes most commonly used for cycling. Joe created the map by directly importing about 100 routes previously captured by riders using GPS devices on their bikes (usually Garmin). The routes get recorded by the GPS as the riders are actually cycling the routes and then are often uploaded to sites like Motion Based and MapMyRide.

In preparation for the upcoming meeting with Lake County being held on January 26, riders, some with tens of thousands of miles on these roads, rated the road segments based on their perceived safety. Randy Neufeld from Active Trans had recommended we simply use a GREEN/YELLOW/RED rating, green being where we feel safe and red where not safe. Also at the meeting a group lead by Kim Stone worked on a City of Highland Park Complete Streets project.

7:00PM TUESDAY MARCH 13, 2009 at Alberto's Cycling

Dec 5, 2008

On Tuesday November 18, 2008 a meeting was held at the Alberto's Cycles store in Highland Park, IL for cycling club leaders, bike shop owners, local officials and other interested parties. About 30 people were in attendance to hear a presentation by Active Transportation Director Randy Neufeld (right) and West Suburban Coordinator Pamela Brookstein (second from right). Here Rob Hugi (second from left) president of the cycling club Velo Club Roubaix, presents a gift from the club of $1000 to Active Trans. Also pictured (left) is Daryl Kunz past president of VCR and instrumental in getting this meeting held. (Photo coutesy of Elliot Rossen)

At this time a project was begun headed up by Stu Holz and Gary Zaid to collect all the routes commonly used for road cycling in our area. Stu and Gary were instrumental in developing and mapping the 40 VCR routes found on the VCR web site. These routes have also now become popular with other clubs and riders in the area. Stu and Gary are among the high-milleage riders in the area and like other such riders can identify just about every pothole on their routes. Stu estimates he has almost half a million lifetime cycling miles, most right on these very roads. (Yes that is enough to go to the moon and back!) The next meeting was set for January 13, 2009 and thereafter each second Tuesday at the beginning of the quarter as needed.

Dec 4, 2008

Second Article Published on group's efforts

December 4, 2008


Bicycle enthusiasts and bike shop owners from Lake County are joining forces to advocate for safer roadways for cyclists and pedestrians.

About 30 people, including representatives from different bicycle clubs and bike shop owners along the North Shore, attended a Nov. 18 meeting at Alberto's Cycles in Highland Park to push for more bicycle and pedestrian paths along roadways throughout the county.

Daryl Kunz of Deerfield, a member and former president of Velo Club Roubaix, which is spearheading the effort, said the meeting was attended by members of bike clubs from several North Shore communities including Deerfield, Highland Park, Lake Forest and Northbrook. He said another meeting is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 13 at Alberto's Cycles.

Goal to have a voice

"The goal is to get bicycle club members and shop owners involved with having a voice on how roads are improved and made more cycling friendly," said Kunz.

Velo Club Roubaix and other bicycle clubs organized the meeting because of concerns about bicycle safety after a number of cyclists were hit by cars.

Brendan George, owner of Alberto's Cycles and president of Alberto's Sport bicycle club in Highland Park, said providing safer areas for cyclists to ride is "a very important issue." George was injured when he was hit by a pickup truck while cycling on St. Mary's Road in August.
Work with planners

Bike club members' plan to work with local road planners to develop "complete streets" policies, which incorporate pedestrian and bike paths and shoulder areas when roads are rebuilt or new roads are constructed.

"There's been a lack of complete streets in our major roadway systems and that limits peoples' choices," said Randy Neufeld, chief strategy officer for the Active Transportation Alliance (formerly the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation), who attended the meeting.

Neufeld said members from the different clubs will meet with transportation officials from local municipalities to encourage them to develop complete streets policies that incorporate "bicycle, pedestrian and transit uses in addition to automobile uses."'
County meetings

He said the groups also plan to meet with officials from the Lake County Division of Transportation, which recently received a federal grant to develop a complete streets program for county highways.

Michelle Feldman, a former village Deerfield trustee and newly elected County Board member in District 22, has pledged to work with the bicycle clubs in their efforts to develop policies at the county level.

"I think their concern is how to make roads safer all around, and I'd like to offer direction in how we can go about it," she said.

Kunz said the clubs are seeking funds to expand bicycle advocacy efforts in Lake County. Persons interested in donating to the cause can visit the Active Transportation Alliance's Web site at www.biketraffic.org.

Copyright 2008, Deerfield Review, Pioneer Press. All rights reserved. REPRODUCTION PROHIBITED.

Oct 30, 2008

First Article Published on group's efforts

Suburban bicyclists to meet over safety fears
Published: October 30, 2008

Jay Fried suffered a severe break in the scapula bone of his shoulder when he was knocked off of his bicycle by a horse trailer during a bike ride on Bateman Road in Barrington Hills on Aug. 3.

It's the second time the Northbrook resident has been hit by a vehicle while riding his bike and he still suffers severe pain from the most recent accident.

"This time when it happened it was serious. I was in the emergency room," said Fried, showing an X-ray of the 29 staples that were placed in his shoulder to hold the incision. Another bicyclist on the ride with Fried also went down and was injured.

Only a few days later on Aug. 12, Brendan George of Deerfield was knocked to the ground by a pickup truck during a bike ride on St. Mary's Road north on Illinois Route 60.

"I went down and skidded down St. Mary's Road, sliding on my back in a fetal position," he said.

Fortunately, George was not seriously injured, but he still has scars from the accident.

"I have road rash that's still not healed and it's been three months," said George.

Accidents like these are a growing concern to cyclists in the northern suburbs, and two local bicycle clubs are spearheading new efforts to improve bicycle safety.

Clubs campaign

The effort is being headed by Velo Club Roubaix, which has more than 100 bicycle club members in Lake and northern Cook counties and rides out of Lake Forest and Deerfield.

Alberto's bicycle club in Highland Park is also championing the cause.

The clubs have invited about two dozen bicycle clubs and bike shops throughout Lake County to attend a meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Alberto's Cycles, 1770 First St. in Highland Park, to discuss ways to improve safety for cyclists. Representatives of the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation and Lake County Division of Transportation also have been invited to attend.

Daryl Kunz of Deerfield, a member of Velo Club Roubaix and the club's former president, said the goal of the meeting is to "network to make the area suburbs better for cycling through advocacy, education, enforcement and other efforts."

Kunz said part of the effort is to educate motorists about the rules of the road when it comes to sharing the road with cyclists. He said a new state law requires motorists give at least three-foot clearance when passing a bicyclist on the road.

Fried is a member of Velo Club Roubaix and George is a member of Alberto's bike club and owner of Alberto's Cycles in Highland Park. Both say the drivers of the vehicles who hit them and caused them to fall never stopped. They believe it's important that motorists be educated about the law and the three-foot rule.

Kunz said the clubs also hope to raise funds for increased advocacy in Lake County through the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation and for lobbying county transportation officials to incorporate more bicycle/pedestrian paths when new roads are built, or existing ones are improved.

"It's not just the hard-core bicyclists like us that it will benefit. It will also benefit the casual riders," he said. "There's so much reconstruction planned in the next four to five years and this is an opportunity for the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation to influence how those (roads) are rebuilt."

Resources needed

Pamela Brookstein of the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation said the federation currently has a coordinator for the northern suburbs but that person only works a few hours a month because resources are limited.

Brookstein said clubs such as Velo Club Roubaix are trying to raise funds to expand the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation's advocacy efforts in Lake County as well as northern Cook and McHenry counties. Clubs interested in donating to the cause are encouraged to visit the federation's Web site at www.biketraffic.org.

"There is a lot of energy in the north suburbs, people that would really like to see some bicycle improvements happen," she said. "We'd love to be a part of that."

Bruce Christiansen, transportation coordinator for the Lake County Division of Transportation, said that department recently received approval for nearly $190,000 in federal funds to do a "complete streets study" of county roads.

Christensen said the study, which will start in January, will include a complete inventory of county highways and will develop a policy for future highway improvements to better accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians. He said the county will seek input from bike clubs and bicycle advocacy groups as it plans.

"Generally speaking, pedestrian and bicycle travel isn't as safe as it could be in most parts of the region, and the study is hopefully going to help us come up with recommendations to improve safety for all users of the highway system," he said.

Copyright 2008, Deerfield Review, Pioneer Press. All rights reserved. REPRODUCTION PROHIBITED.

Aug 3, 2008

Getting Started

The idea for this group was formed by Bruce Rosenzweig and Jay Fried after their Aug 3, 2008 accident which was on a typical and pleasant Sunday Velo Club Roubaix (VCR) ride that wound its way around Northern Cook and Southern Lake County when in Barrington Hills they were struck by a hit-and-run driver in a pickup truck pulling a horse trailer. Though badly injured, and some surgeries later, they are fortunately both still with us. It could have been much worse and has been worse for many folks cycling lately. Also fortunately this was the first time since VCR was formed in 1981 that there were a vehicle/bicycle contact accident on a club ride. So we are very grateful for that. But no doubt it is getting tougher out there with more and more people on the same roads every year and national newspapers reported lots of bike/car incidents summer and fall of 2008. For example, locally the discussion heated up in the Daily Herald a follow-up column about Barrington Hills, ironically both before the accident.

Bruce called a meeting a few days later on August 12 at his house while he was still pretty doped up from the crash and not walking much, so take note if you want to start something like this it probably helps to be a bit off your rocker. Ironically that same night we got a call during the meeting of a crash that had just occurred. On the Tuesday night Alberto’s ride Brendan and some others had gone done on St. Mary’s Road from a collision by a hit and run driver.

The next a meeting was held at Jay Fried’s house and folks from Chicago Bicycle Federation (now called Active Transportation Alliance) were invited to talk about how they do bicycle advocacy. We got excited when we heard about what those folks have accomplished over the years and especially what they have done recently in the west and south suburbs. So we decided to enlist their help for advocacy in our area here in the Northern Suburbs and Lake County. Some folks mostly VCR’s past-president Daryl Kunz, went about putting an invite list together and contacting all the other clubs and the bike shops and any other interested parties to come together and join forces and get behind the Chicagoland Bike Federation to get some advocacy done around here.

Way back I did some cycling around Oregon and you could tell things were better there. In 1971 Oregon implemented a roadway policy that took into consideration cycling and already by the late 70’s it was way more bike-friendly there then it still is around here. We learned from the experts at Active Trans that if we could get public policy improved for cycling we could make lasting changes that would make cycling safer and more enjoyable for all of us, whether you are out for a fast recreational ride with VCR or another racing type club, or commuting to the work, or for your kids riding around town or school. This is the idea behind the national Complete Streets movement. A Complete Streets policy requires that in all stages from planning though construction and maintenance, all users of the road must be considered, and that includes cyclists, pedestrians and transit users. This helps level the playing field among all roadway users. And now thanks to Illinois cycling advocates, in 2007 Illinois adopted a Complete Street policy which applies to state routes (not county or local). Please join us and participate to help improve cycling in our area!