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October 17, 2013

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Outreach in neighborhoods without bike shops

I've been involved in advocacy on the far south side of Chicago for several years. We have large areas with NO bike shops - a huge disadvantage in reaching fellow cyclists in neighborhoods with a low density of bike traffic.

We had a big victory recently - getting a few miles of buffer- and bollard-protected bike lanes on Vincennes Ave. - an important connector route that has been very bike UNfriendly until now. We had to fight to get them, making the argument "if you build it, they will come." In the weeks since completion, I'm now seeing some bike traffic - average people on average bikes riding comfortably during rush hour and off peak.

Next year we're getting a few more miles resurfaced and striped for buffered or bollard-protected lanes, running all the way to the city's southern border, to connect with a planned bike route network in the inner-ring suburb of Blue Island.

Anne Alt 347 days ago

Don't forget the schools

We find that our principals and language liaisons at our schools know which parents in the non-English communities are approachable -- and can get other parents involved. We employ this with our Safe Routes to School (SRTS) events. Many of the kids in those communities walk by necessity but we make a big deal of congratulating them (and their parents) on making the healthy choice, rather than using a kiss and ride. The kids love it, so their parents pay attention to what the kids want. That helps us recruit people from the community to become advocates for biking and walking -- instead of them seeing it as a stepping stone until they can afford a car. Often, that's a sign of success they are working towards so we have to battle that perception too.

Kelley Westenhoff 347 days ago