The Chicago region’s current hub-and-spoke transit system leaves nearly half a million Cook County residents stranded in transit deserts.
The North Suburbs include north suburban Cook County, as well as Lake and McHenry counties.
Get the latest updates on active transportation issues in the North Suburbs below and make sure to join our In Your Community: North Suburbs 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 Nancy Wagner at Nancy@activetrans.org or 312-216-0479.
What does your mayoral candidate think about biking, walking and transit?
Cities and villages around the region are gearing up for local elections on April 4. Where do candidates in your community stand on biking, walking and transit? Active Trans contacted candidates for mayor and village president from municipalities across the region with a request to complete our Suburban Municipal Candidate Questionnaire. The questionnaires are an educational resource to inform voters about candidate’s priorities for improving biking, walking and public transit. Check out our voter guide today.
Skokie Valley Trail extension underway
Gaps in the Skokie Valley Trail have long been a frustration of people who bike and walk in the North Suburbs. The multi-use path is envisioned to eventually run from Wisconsin to Chicago, but lack of funding has left the trail segmented. Fans of the trail will rejoice to learn that conversations around bridging the gap and extending the trail are currently underway. Two major developments are being discussed. One is the proposal to build a biking and walking bridge over the busy and congested Lake Cook Road. The other is an extension of the trail from Lake Cook Road to Voltz Road through Northbrook.
Advocates meet with North Suburban members of Congress
In February and March, Active Trans worked with community advocates across the region to meet with local members of Congress and urge them to protect bike/walk/transit funding under the new administration. This included meetings with Representative Brad Schneider (IL-10) and Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-8) in the North Suburbs. We talked about recent projects in their districts that received federal funding and highlighted remaining gaps in the network. Our team then followed up with D.C. staff for each member as part of the Illinois delegation at the National Bike Summit.
Deerfield Road gets an upgrade
Do you use Deerfield Road and have thoughts about how it could be safer and more appealing to people who walk and bike? Now is your chance to help make those ideas a reality. The Lake County Division of Transportation is conducting a study of Deerfield Road from Milwaukee Avenue to Saunders/Riverwoods Road, a distance of approximately two miles. The purpose of the study is to investigate capacity, safety, drainage, non-motorized travel deficiencies and to accommodate future travel demand. This is a huge opportunity to improve off-road trail facilities and increase bike and pedestrian connectivity. Active Trans board member, Elliot Rossen, represents Active Trans in the Phase I Deerfield Road Stakeholder Involvement Group.
Walk audits along the North Shore
The Consortium of North Suburban Environmental Groups, Go Green Wilmette and Wilmette Citizens for Active Transportation welcomed Mark Fenton to the Active by Design Summit on Oct. 3-5. Fenton, a renowned public health, planning and transportation expert, worked with local North Shore communities to conduct walk audits as part of the summit programming. The walk audits, conducted in Skokie, Park Ridge, Highland Park, Wilmette and Glencoe, drew an enthusiastic group of key stakeholders, including city officials and local advocates. Each community had a different objective for its audit, including improving walking and biking accommodations at intersections, creating Complete Street designs, or assessing the lack of sidewalks. Read more in the guest blog by summit organizer, Anne Nagle.
Park Ridge Bike Task Force takes action
Park Ridge residents are working to move their community forward on active transportation. Last summer acting Mayor Marty Maloney announced the creation of the Park Ridge Bike Task Force. Nine task force members have been appointed and the group has been busy at work. They conducted a walk audit with renowned transportation and public health planner Mark Fenton and have been working with the city to secure funding for a bike plan. Most recently, the Task Force brought a list of recommendations to City Council including an update to the outdated bike plan, increasing bike parking, and replacing dangerous storm drains.
Evanston’s Dodge Ave. bike lanes make the streets safer
Evanston’s new protected bike lanes on Dodge Avenue have stirred up debate over the past few months. The heated discussion made its way to the Evanston City Council, which heard dozens of comments from residents at both the September and October committee meetings. Those in favor of the protected bike lanes argued that they add much needed safety and comfort for people who bike by using a physical barrier to separate cars and bikes. Ultimately, the council voted to redesign the lanes to expand bus zones and increase visibility sight lines at specific intersections. The council also voted for a study of the impact of the redesign on motorists’ ability to pull over far enough for emergency vehicles to get through. Check out our blog for more information about the bike lanes.
Skokie event focuses on safety at Niles North, Old Orchard
Active Trans, Niles North High School students and staff, and representatives from School District 219 and the Village of Skokie joined forces on Sept. 21 to transform Lawler Avenue by creating a temporary Complete Streets project. The event focused on a perilous stretch of Lawler Avenue that runs between Niles North High School and the Westfield Old Orchard shopping center, where students and teachers walk between the school and shops and restaurants in the mall. Unfortunately, people who walk here are often faced with speeding drivers who fail to stop at the crosswalk, which creates unsafe conditions. Active Trans and partner groups created and installed temporary, low-cost solutions including a more visible pedestrian median and a painted crosswalk that demonstrated how to calm traffic and create a safer environment for everyone along Lawler Avenue. The Village of Skokie was pleased with the project and expressed a strong interest in working to secure funding to make permanent improvements. Read more on our blog.
Des Plaines strives for better biking and walking
Des Plaines residents are tired of feeling cut off from certain areas of the city due to inadequate access for people who bike and walk. The Des Plaines Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Committee is working with city officials to address this problem at the Northwest Highway S-Curve, where two intersecting railroads make conditions unsafe and unappealing for people who bike and walk. The Des Plaines City Council debated the issue at its October meeting, discussing five options listed in a feasibility study from V3 engineering firm. The most appealing option is a separated multiuse path along the side of the highway, running under the railroad bridges. Many agree that this is a necessary step to making the community more connected, and the city council voted for a phase 1 engineering study to move the project forward. Click here for more information.
Rapid transit coming to Dempster Street
A new state-of-the-art rapid transit service is in development to take riders from Evanston to O’Hare International Airport. The Pulse Dempster Line will connect the communities of Evanston, Skokie, Morton Grove, Niles, Park Ridge, Des Plaines and Rosemont along the major thoroughfare. This upgrade is much needed to improve suburban connectivity, which is currently a major challenge in our region’s transit network. Expected to start running in 2019, the project is currently in the planning phase with plenty of opportunity for community input. Let Pace know what your priorities are for the Pulse Dempster Line. Submit a comment today!
Local Community Resources
North/Northwest Suburban Active Transportation Council: Nancy@activetrans.org
Wilmette Active Transportation Group: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please email suggestions for additional local community resources to Jim@activetrans.org.