The Chainlink

Friends,

Traffic in my little community (the Quad Cities, west of Chicago on the Mississippi River) is immeasurably worse when school is in session because just about everyone drives their children to school. And they say they don't want their children to ride bikes because all those cars make it too dangerous.

This situation is horrid. Children need safe routes to ride to school, and they need to have a little physical exertion on the way to get their physical and intellectual motors running.

I want to start a clamor for safe routes and more kids on bikes, but I'm not sure what authority types I should speak to, nor how I can recruit ordinary parents and kids to join the chorus. 

Please suggest to whom I should be speaking and what further substance I can offer to bolster the argument.

Many thanks,

Hector

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A very laudable goal, and I hope success comes sooner rather than later. Every community needs a Hector Lareau.

About three years ago I was cycling home west along Wrightwood just west of Pulaski when I encountered a group of about 25 teenagers riding in the same direction very carefully under supervision. It turns out they were from Kelvyn Park HS on an extra-curricular cycling safely class. Great to see!

Personally, I say that cycling and cycling safety should be a compulsory part of the middle or high school curriculum everywhere. Even if students never ride after high school, at least they will know what it means to be a cyclist in a car-centric environment. It can only get better from there....

Finally, it was with great sadness that I saw on Googlemaps that my own old high school back in England has demolished it's dedicated cycle parking shelters to expand the staff parking lot. How short-sighted! I rode my bike three miles each way every day for four of my seven years at high school.

 

Hey Hector-

Contact me at my work email, charlie.short@activetrans.org. I may have a contact that can help you out.

Charlie Short

Update, as of October 7, 2013:

I wrote to Elected Officials. One (alderman) responded that the police chief doesn't like how bicyclists treat pedestrians on sidewalks and that the city engineer says it will cost MILLIONS of dollars to stripe bicycle lanes on the logical street. (!!!) (That street is already four lanes wide and striped for only two along most of the subject route.) Complete Streets is supposedly City policy, but only if they're free apparently. So, says the Elected Official, too bad we can't help keep kids safe; sorry.

The local Safe Routes to Schools folks have offered support of some variety to be determined. The Active Transportation Alliance folks appear interested. School officials are also supportive, as kids are forced to walk in the street along much of the route in winter because the plows cover the sidewalks. (!!!!!!!!)

I'm starting to feel like one of those obnoxious crusading parents you read about. But I'm ignorant of how this political stuff works, and the more I deal with it, the angrier I get. Children are the most precious things any of us are tasked with caring for; if we can't get that right, I am not hopeful about the rest.

You are not obnoxious.  Good for you... I'm afraid you are right- when it costs money, "the children" are rarely anyone's priority :(  Wishing you good luck!

Not obnoxious at all. Just doing the right thing. Have you been able to get any parents on board to work with you?  The squeakier the wheel, the more likely you are to get results = safer conditions for the kids. Hang in there!  Efforts like this tend to take time, persistence and patience.

Hector Lareau said:

Update, as of October 7, 2013:

I wrote to Elected Officials. One (alderman) responded that the police chief doesn't like how bicyclists treat pedestrians on sidewalks and that the city engineer says it will cost MILLIONS of dollars to stripe bicycle lanes on the logical street. (!!!) (That street is already four lanes wide and striped for only two along most of the subject route.) Complete Streets is supposedly City policy, but only if they're free apparently. So, says the Elected Official, too bad we can't help keep kids safe; sorry.

The local Safe Routes to Schools folks have offered support of some variety to be determined. The Active Transportation Alliance folks appear interested. School officials are also supportive, as kids are forced to walk in the street along much of the route in winter because the plows cover the sidewalks. (!!!!!!!!)

I'm starting to feel like one of those obnoxious crusading parents you read about. But I'm ignorant of how this political stuff works, and the more I deal with it, the angrier I get. Children are the most precious things any of us are tasked with caring for; if we can't get that right, I am not hopeful about the rest.

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