22 October 2007

Plan ahead: Chicagoland Bicycle Federation's 20-Year Vision

Yes, the person who's always dropping everything and dashing to the train station at the last minute is about to sing the virtues of planning ahead. How far ahead? How's the next 20 years sound?

The Chicagoland Bicycle Federation just released it's 20-Year Vision plan (PDF). No, it's not a health insurance supplement for people with progressive myopia, although that would be nice. In this plan the CBF has crafted a blueprint for a future in which only half of all trips within the Chicago area are made by automobile. That means that if all goes as planned, by 2027 a wonderful 50% of all local trips in Chicagoland* will be taken by bicycle, public transit, and/or good ol' fashioned walking.** How will this be accomplished? They've outlined four main areas of focus:

Build a movement. That's right, build a movement. We're not just a fringe group of self-righteous proselytizing protesters tying up traffic with Critical Mass once a month. We're in your neighborhood living and buying groceries. We're in your community commuting to work. We're in your schools teaching bike safety to your children. We're in your parks and preserves building better trails and linking them together. We're at your town hall meetings encouraging local leaders to complete the streets by building sidewalks and bike lanes. We're contacting your legislators and asking them for better public transit funding. We're at the bus stop, we're on the train platform, we're strolling down the sidewalk, we're zipping down the street. Come join us! Help us build the future!

Create a world-class bicycling and pedestrian network. We don't have one; don't let any noncyclist cheerily tell you otherwise and cite all the special maps. Been in the Southland lately? Maps don't create a world-class network, they show the least bad way to get around the gaps where no network exists. We sorely need to actually build this network so we won't need maps. (Except to hoard as collectibles, of course.)

Encourage active transportation. Bike! Bike! Bike! Walk! Skate! Bike! Go places! See stuff! It's fun and exciting! It's vaguely educational! Meet people! Do things! It's healthy and eco-friendly! Everyone wins! Hooray! (There, now, are you sufficiently encouraged? No? Well, I'm tired. I'll try again tomorrow.)

Reduce traffic fatalities for bicyclists and pedestrians by 75%. If you do drive, please drive with care. Watch out for more vulnerable road users, especially in places where there are more pedestrians but fewer options for them. Share the road with bikes because bikes are vehicles and the road is where they belong. I want to live!

We can do this; we will do this. Sure, we've got until 2027, but let's not wait until the last minute. Let's see, in 20 years I'll be... oh, damn. But that's not important.

*Suddenly I have to wonder whether this plan accounts for the ever-spreading geographical extent of "Chicagoland" in the next 20 years. Will the CBF spread its coverage to Kankakee, Grundy, and DeKalb Counties? Would it be willing to tackle state legislation in Indiana and Wisconsin, too?

**Power chairs, inline skates, Segways, etc., also count. But skateboards don't count because skateboarders are bike-lane-hogging punks-asses and they know it.


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