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Civil engineer helps bring change to Des Plaines

This blog post is one in a series of stories 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.

Derek Peebles believes that the built environment impacts our daily life, especially our health. That’s why he leads the charge in implementing policy, systems and environmental change in the City of Des Plaines.

/He wants to make it safe, fun, and convenient for everyone to bike and walk in the community, thus increasing residents’ daily physical activity and helping to counter the national obesity crisis.

Under direction from the Des Plaines mayor, Derek assembled a local team to educate staff from all city departments about the benefits of active transportation and healthy lifestyles. He marshaled stakeholders from local schools, the park districts, the Lattoff YMCA, the chamber of commerce, elected officials and residents to develop the city’s vision for active living.

With strong community buy-in, Des Plaines adopted a comprehensive walking, biking, and transit plan, created a policy to ensure consideration of pedestrians and bicyclists in future infrastructure projects, developed a plan to encourage active transportation by students, and installed hundreds of new bike racks.

We salute Derek, a humble problem-solver who is always thinking about how to achieve the next goal, and never stopping until he accomplishes what he started. He works tirelessly to make the healthy choice the easy choice in his community. In pursuit of this goal, he takes on every challenge and overcomes each obstacle with a smile.