Chicago’s first protected bike lane on Kinzie Street increased ridership by 55 percent without increasing traffic congestion for cars.
Get the latest updates on active transportation issues in South Chicago below and make sure to join our In Your Community: South Chicago e-newsletter list. The e-newsletter comes out quarterly and offers a quick read on issues related to bicycling, walking and transit in your neighborhood.
If you are interested in learning more about any of the information provided on this page, please feel free to contact Jim Merrell at Jim@activetrans.org or 312-216-0470.
#31 bus back on a trial basis
A six-month pilot program for the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) #31 bus is up and running after months of campaigning by dedicated community groups. The bus runs from the Ashland Orange Line Station to the Lake Meadows Shopping Center, and operates on weekdays only. While the pilot program re-establishes critical public transit along a burgeoning commercial corridor, many are concerned that restrictive hours and low frequency will make it difficult for the bus to reach its ridership goals. We encourage those who live and work along the route to use the bus, and to contact CTA and your alderman to voice your support for making the #31 bus permanent. Check out more information about the #31 bus on our blog.
Active Trans announces Chicago River Trail Action Plan
Active Trans recently released the Chicago River Trail Action Plan, outlining our vision for a continuous system of mixed-use trails along the Chicago River. Building on the success of the Riverwalk and The 606 trail, our action plan proposes innovative floating and decked trail infrastructure to complement the existing 13 miles of riverfront trail. New projects such as the El Paseo Trail and the Riverline Development are incorporated, and the plan encompasses all the communities along the river.
Leadership network recap
The Active Trans South Side Leadership Network met for the first time on Aug. 24. This new initiative brings community leaders and advocates together by region to work on projects and campaigns. The first meeting was full of lively discussion about many exciting community projects. To get more information and RSVP, contact Cynthia Hudson at Cynthia@activetrans.org.
Big Marsh Bike Park opens
The Big Marsh Bike Park opened on Nov. 6 in a ceremony attended by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Alderman Susan Sadlowski Garza, park district chief Michael Kelly and local community leaders. The $5.7 million project transformed the site from an “industrial wasteland” into an impressive 40-acre bike park designed for community members of all abilities to come out and bike. The bike park features jumps and trails for BMX and mountain bikers, a multipurpose trail for more casual riders, and a cyclocross course intended for a future competition site. This development creates a much-needed public space on the South Side and makes an important investment in bike infrastructure. While the park is designed to be used by people from every part of Chicago and beyond, work must be done to make sure that the site is accessible to everyone.
Red Line expansion plan draws lively response
More than 250 South Side residents met with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) on Nov. 1 to discuss the city’s plan to extend the Red Line to 130th Street. Many community members were excited about the potential for shorter commutes and greater connectivity to the rest of the city. Locals also expressed hope that the extension would remove traffic from the Dan Ryan Expressway, help students get to class and match community members with job opportunities elsewhere in the city. The CTA plans to hold additional public meetings before the public comment period comes to a close, and we’ll forward that information when it becomes available.
Beautiful 35th Street pedestrian bridge opens
The long-awaited 35th Street mixed-use bridge is open! The new $18.3 million structure is a beautiful white suspension bridge that strategically curves to offer residents crossing on foot or by bike stunning views of the lake and skyline. Replacing a 75-year-old crumbling box bridge, the 35thth Street Suspension Bridge is fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and creates a vital connection between Bronzeville and the lakefront. By providing all residents of Bronzeville with a safe and accessible route over Lake Shore Drive and the Illinois Central railroad, the city is making an important investment in connectivity and walkability.
Safer streets coming to Cottage Grove
The six-block section of Cottage Grove Avenue from west 77th Street to West 83rd Street will be upgraded this year to make this crash-prone stretch of roadway safer for people walking while also boosting local businesses.
The Chicago Department of Transportation kicked off construction on the $4.8 million project this past spring and expects it to be completed in a year. It includes improving the intersection of 79th and Cottage Grove, one of the most dangerous intersections in Chicago for people biking and walking. The intersection appeared on the Active Transportation Alliance’s Safe Crossings list as a result of its 36 reported pedestrian and bike crashes 2006-2012 – the fourth highest in the city.
Improvements include enhanced lighting, sidewalk repair, updated ADA ramps, additional trees and side-street bumpouts to slow and reduce cut-through traffic. Although two lanes of traffic in both directions on Cottage Grove will be maintained in the new design, Active Trans hopes the streetscaping improvements will help calm traffic and make the overall environment safer for all users, especially people walking.
Better transit for south Chicagoland
For decades, South Chicagoland residents and transit experts have recognized the potential benefits of enhancing service along the Metra Electric District line, which would greatly improve access to transit in an area that is currently a “transit desert.” Now this idea is finally gaining momentum with interest from the mayor’s office and a glowing article from the Chicago Tribune editorial board. The Coalition for Modern Metra Electric, which includes Active Trans and community groups from the South Side and south suburbs, is calling for the line to operate like true rapid transit with trains running every 10-15 minutes throughout the day. Take action today — sign a letter to your legislators supporting upgrades to Metra Electric service.
PlayStreets: building community on the South Side
PlayStreets Chicago is a citywide initiative to encourage neighborhood organizations and residents to temporarily close off residential streets and provide Chicago families with pop-up play spaces to come together, be safe and get active. This summer, dozens of PlayStreets events in South Side neighborhoods have been facilitated by Active Trans and World Sport Chicago, in collaboration with community groups. The events are designed to bring neighbors together, promote a sense of community, and encourage healthy and active living. To learn more about PlayStreets and find information about upcoming events, check out the PlayStreets Chicago website and watch this great video.
Ventra still a problem for social service providers
The transition to Ventra has made it more difficult for many low-income residents to ride transit to job training, housing, medical appointments, childcare and other critical destinations. A recent Chicago Jobs Council (CJC) report, "The Hidden Cost of Ventra," highlights the key issues and recommends specific changes that would remove unnecessary hurdles for providers and boost ridership and revenue for the transit agencies. The report details the challenges providers face in ordering transit passes in bulk for their program participants. Active Trans supports the policy recommendations in the report and is working with CJC and social service providers to advocate for the changes to be implemented. Read our blog to learn more about this issue.
Separate biking, walking trails coming to lakefront from 31st to 51st Streets
The Chicago Lakefront Trail is the busiest trail in the nation. For years, Active Trans advocated for trail separation at the most crowded sections of the trail in order to ease congestion and increase safety. And now we are seeing that advocacy pay off with major trail improvements starting this summer. These improvements, which include trail widening and creating two distinct paths for biking and walking, are currently being developed between 31st and 51st Streets. The first phase of the project, from 31st Street to 40th Street, began construction in August. As the project moves forward, we will continue to work with the city to ensure leaders effectively implement improvements and upgrade trail infrastructure along the full length of the trail.
Local Community Resources
Please email suggestions for additional local community resources to Jim@activetrans.org.
South Side Community Areas
Ashburn, Armor Square, Auburn Gresham, Avalon Park, Beverly, Bridgeport, Burnside, Calumet Heights, Chatham, Douglas, East Side, Fuller Park, Grand Boulevard, Greater Grand Crossing, Hegewisch, Hyde Park, Kenwood, Montclare, Morgan Park, Mount Greenwood, Oakland, Riverdale, Roseland, Pullman, South Chicago, South Deering, South Shore, Washington Heights, Washington Park, West Pullman, Woodlawn