Author Archives: Maya Norris

Making the case for bike rooms 

More people than ever are bicycling around Chicago, thanks to the bicycling boom that emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic enticing people to hop on two wheels. But how do we maintain that momentum?

One way to keep people on their bikes is to have secure, accessible, and functional bike rooms in commercial and residential buildings—a key piece of infrastructure that may make the difference as to whether these new riders stick with cycling in the long term.

Brookfield showcases its efforts to improve walking and biking

The residents of the Village of Brookfield and neighboring towns got the chance to learn about the village’s current and future pedestrian and bicycle improvements during a recent walking tour and discussion that Active Transportation Alliance helped organize.

During the tour, village staff, local leaders, and community advocates shared behind-the-scenes stories about planning, funding, and building support for various active transportation initiatives around Brookfield, including the village’s bicycle boulevard — the first in the western suburbs.

Bringing it all together

Violeta Valadka faced a dilemma that many ardent supporters of Bike the Drive face. What to do with all those Bike the Drive T-shirts she has amassed over the years.

Her inventive solution: Create a quilt out of those collectible T-shirts as a lasting memento of one of her favorite bicycling events of the year.

Valadka (pictured left) has been riding in Bike the Drive every year since the event debuted in 2002.

Sustainable transportation expert brings vast planning experience to new role

David Powe is a self-professed transportation nerd — a moniker he wears proudly. After all, he has devoted his entire career to sustainable transportation planning and activism, shaping walking, biking, and public transit conditions in various cities across the United States to help create equitable, healthy, and thriving communities.

And now he brings that vast experience and deep expertise to Active Transportation Alliance as its new director of planning and technical assistance.

Powe (pronounced “po”) joined the organization in March,

A successful campaign to replace a dangerous bridge in Lake Bluff

State Sen. Julie Morrison and Lake Bluff scored a major win in their quest to improve walking and bicycling safety and connectivity in the village.

The senator for the 29th District and village officials successfully pushed for the upcoming Illinois budget to include $1.25 million for a new pedestrian bridge between North Chicago and Lake Bluff on Green Bay Road (Illinois route 131).

Morrison led the funding effort after local residents in this north suburban community voiced their concerns about the existing bridge’s lack of safety.

Ralph Banasiak’s second act as a bicycling advocate

Renowned novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, “There are no second acts in American lives.” Ralph Banasiak is proving him wrong. The retired math teacher is staging his second act as a bicycling advocate.

As a bicycling columnist and an active member of the Bike Palatine Club, Banasiak is working to make bicycling safe and encourage more people to take up cycling — earning him the Public Service Award from the Active Transportation Alliance.

Longtime planner looks back on her remarkable career at Active Trans

It’s the end of an era. After a decade of service to Active Transportation Alliance, Senior Transportation Planner Heather Schady is moving on, leaving behind a legacy that showcases the transformational power of walking, bicycling, and public transit in metropolitan Chicago.

Schady joined Active Trans in 2009 as its transportation planner. She worked with Active Trans until 2012 and then rejoined the organization in 2014.

As an expert in active transportation policy and design,

New law paves the way for more walking and cycling infrastructure

Earlier this year, Illinois State Rep. Bob Morgan helped usher in new legislation that will allow more communities to build walking and biking infrastructure in the Chicago region.

The bill that Rep. Morgan co-sponsored — HB 2950 — allows the state and collar counties to spend gas tax funds on walking and bicycling infrastructure like sidewalks and bike lanes. Before this bill, gas tax revenue only went toward new roads.

Active Trans honors extraordinary advocates

The rock star advocates that the Active Transportation Alliance works with took center stage at the organization’s recent 2021 Annual Meeting.

Active Trans celebrated their dedication and outstanding work, and the role they play in helping the nonprofit carry out its mission to improve walking, bicycling, and public transportation in the Chicago region.


Rochelle Jackson was honored with an Advocate of the Year award for her efforts to improve walkability and bus service in North Lawndale,

Longtime volunteer clocks in 18 years of service and counting

To say Kevin Crowley is dedicated to the Active Transportation Alliance is an understatement.

Crowley, 33, has been volunteering for Active Trans for 18 years — more than half of his life. In that time, he has gradually taken on more responsibilities, playing an active and influential role in Active Trans’ events.

In recognition of his longtime commitment and support to the nonprofit, Crowley is the recipient of Active Trans’ 2021 Volunteer of the Year Award.