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A World Class Policy

I'll remember last week for the rest of my life. The state joined twelve other states and the District of Columbia to enact safety legislation requiring cars to stop at crosswalks and unsignalized intersections.  I grew up in California where even in the 1970's cars were expected to stop for pedestrians.  I lived in a different world, almost.  When I moved to Michigan, it was a true culture shock to get used to the new frontier-like laws.  It just didn't make any sense.  As time went on, I got used to the system that placed priorities on cars, but I never liked it.

So when our Director of Education and Government Affairs thought it was time to introduce the bill that soon became HB43, I was all on board.  This is the kind of legislation and advocacy that we envisioned when the Board expanded our mission in 2007.  We built a coalition of supporters among disability rights advocates, police chiefs, pediatricians, community leaders, and regional planners.  Two great new champions of active transportation, Rep. Luis Arrroyo and Sen. Heather Steans, stepped forward and sponsored the bill, taking a risk to save lives.

When I recently announced my departure from Chicago, I dreamed that as a final accomplishment, that I could count this bill as part of the legacy.  Well, my dreams have come true thanks to great help from key people:

Dan Persky — our legislative leader who worked the bills and made the calls traveling to Springfield on a minute's notice to get the job done.

Lina Hoffman — working to gain support in the Northern suburbs as part of her job as Suburban Coordinator and working with the students at Curie High School to bring a bus down to Springfield as part of her other job with us as the Drive with Care coordinator.  I'm so proud of what she was able to do and for the role that these high school kids played in this story.  They showed that 40 young adults from the Southwest side can make a difference, turning at least 3 votes in our favor.

Steve Buchtel and Pamela Brookstein — our other two Suburban Coordinators who worked hard to move the suburban votes.  Each and every vote was important.

Margo O'Hara — our Communications Director, who crafted messages, wrote press releases, pitched stories, and engaged our members to make calls.

Our Members — who worked the phones to let their legislators know that they cared about this legislation.

Our partners including Access Living, Metropolitan Planning Council, and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police.

Our job is not done.  We need to urge Gov. Pat Quinn to sign the legislation.  We need to work to educate motorists and pedestrians on the law integrating into drivers' education courses, the driver's exam, and signage.  But we will change the driving culture for the better. 

Nothing has embodied our essence with our new mission as moving toward responsibile mobility as this bill.  It is good for all citizens of Illinois and will bring a saner policy to transportation for all of us whether we bike, walk, take transit, or go by car.  I am very proud to be a part of this historic moment.