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Cook County plan prioritizes transit, biking, walking

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Cook County released its first transportation plan since 1940 this week and it contains lots of good news for people who ride transit, bike and walk.

The plan has a strong multi-modal focus, emphasizing the health, community and economic benefits of active transportation modes. It acknowledges the county – and nearly every other government entity – has historically prioritized road building over other transportation investments, and commits to helping reverse the trend.

Click here to read the full report.

Active Trans served alongside other advocates and government agencies on a task force that provided input during the development of the plan.

The county says it will be a more vocal advocate in addressing the unequal distribution of transportation resources across the region, advocating for more investment in biking, walking and transit at all levels of government.

At the state level, the plan specifically calls for an increase in the state’s motor fuel tax and investing the additional revenue in alternative modes, one of Active Trans’ advocacy priorities. Illinois’ gas tax hasn’t been increased since 1991 and it’s not indexed to inflation.

Watch video of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle unveiling the plan.

The plan rightly calls out transit as the “single-most important mode” in driving economic growth. Our transit system hasn’t expanded significantly in decades and we need to raise more revenue for transit at the local, county and state level so we can access additional federal dollars to fund major expansion projects.

This type of investment is a proven way to increase job access and economic development in communities suffering from disinvestment, like many on the South Side and South Suburbs.

Read more of our thoughts on the plan in the Chicago Tribune and DNAinfo.

On biking and walking, the county also commits to further assisting local governments with the development and implementation of bike and pedestrian plans. We work with many municipalities who want more biking and walking infrastructure but they struggle to come up with the funding and technical assistance for implementation, so this assistance is much needed.

The county also says they’ll play a coordinating role in the development of regional trail and path plan. Expanding the regional trail network is one of our top priorities and there’s growing support for it given the increasing popularity of the Lakefront Trail, 606 and other off-street trails.

The plan provides a strong foundation for continuing to grow investment and usage of active transportation modes but implementing these ideas requires continued advocacy at all levels of government.

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