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Only 11 percent of Chicagoland residents ride transit to work.

A passionate advocate makes Forest Park fertile ground for healthy living

Over the next few months, Active Trans will be posting a series of stories on this blog featuring some of the great things happening in suburban Chicago communities.

The stories will focus on Chicagoland communities that are on the forefront of the movement to encourage healthy, active transportation like walking, biking and public transit.

These are communities Active Trans had the privilege to work with as part of the Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative, a federally-funded program aimed at creating healthier and more active lifestyles throughout the nation.

As part of the local program—which was focused on suburban Cook County—Active Trans created 11 municipal active transportation plans, four regional bike plans, nine bike and pedestrian route signage networks, and travel plans for seven schools and four school districts.

Suffice it to say this was the largest single project Active Trans has ever embarked upon. We are proud of our accomplishments. Active Trans received national accolades for the quantity and the quality of its planning work on behalf of this program. We are even more proud of the individuals, organizations, and governments that are making the Chicago area region cleaner, healthier, and more livable. These are their stories.


Denise Murray brings unflagging enthusiasm to her work as the coordinator for Live Healthy Forest Park, a community partnership devoted to improving public health. After Denise succeeded in winning a Model Communities grant from the Cook County Department of Public Health, she assembled a local team to advance an active transportation plan, a Complete Streets resolution, a school travel plan, and a bicycle route signage plan. src=http://www.activetrans.org/sites/default/files/Forest%20Park.JPG

The grant enabled the Village of Forest Park to advance a number of community priorities. Bicycle route signage and shared pavement markings were installed, route maps were printed, and bicycle racks were purchased for schools. Thanks to her guiding efforts with the Live Healthy Forest Park committee, a new park district workout room is open to the public and healthy food options are available at all village events.

Denise uses her training as a chef to teach healthy cooking classes, and call upon her experience as a bike commuter to offer a weekly bike ride on the Illinois Prairie Path. Local schools now offer healthier food options, schools now have student-run gardens, and the school district established student “walking trains,” which were instrumental in Forest Park being designated a Walk Friendly Community.

So what’s Denise tackling next? She’s working with two local business owners in Forest Park to organize a 5k run in the community. Enthusiasm, meet action!