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Greetings from the new Executive Director
I am thrilled to be able to introduce myself as Active Trans’ new Executive Director. I say that because I am proud of this organization’s work and its community of supporters, and because I am excited about our potential for the future.
I come to Active Trans from the non-profit Union of Concerned Scientists, where I started and directed its Midwest Office. Before that I served as Associate Director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Deputy Executive Director at the American Lung Association in Chicago. Most of my career has focused on advancing environmental policy, which has allowed me to work with Active Trans (recently and when it was the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation). In the 1990s, for example, I worked with CBF to direct millions of federal transportation dollars to bike, pedestrian and transit projects.
Lucky for me, Active Trans has grown even stronger in recent years. That, of course, is due in large part to its base of committed members and supporters. Together, we successfully pushed for important laws that make our streets safer – a ban on texting, a ban on using your cell phone in a school zone and a measure that requires drivers to stop for pedestrians. We have been in communities throughout the region, educating thousands of children about pedestrian and bicycling safety, and we are writing bicycle and pedestrian plans with the City of Chicago and dozens of suburbs, like Evanston, Oak Forest and Mount Prospect. We are truly leading the charge to make bicycle, pedestrian and transit options convenient and safe in every Chicagoland community.
You’ve probably known it for a long time, but many business and community leaders are just catching on to the idea that that transportation options not only make our communities better places to live but are also vital to the region’s economy. A recent Chicago Tribune poll found that suburban residents support transit funding over highway spending.
Momentum is building in many Chicagoland communities around livable, walkable and bikeable communities. As a region, though, transportation options are severely limited for many residents. That is bad for our wallets, our air quality and our health.
Active Trans’ board wisely expanded the organization’s mission into transit and pedestrian advocacy in 2008. There is enormous opportunity to affect the landscape of the region’s transportation with that expansion. Over the next few months, we will begin to ramp up a new initiative to support transit and transit riders. At the same time, we remain as committed as ever to improving bicycling, which has been our bread and butter for 25 years.
I have lived Active Trans’ mission for a long, long time. My typical commute is a bike ride to the Green Line and the Green Line to work. My family and I walk and bike for everyday errands. I know you live the mission too, but many people don’t even have that option.
Your support helps Active Trans ensure that that those who don’t want, can’t afford, aren’t old enough, or aren’t able to drive a car still have safe and convenient options to get around. I am excited to get to know you as we continue to rely on your support and expertise in order to advance biking, walking and transit in every Chicagoland community.
I am very interested to hear from you, too! Stop by the Active Trans tent at the Boulevard Lakefront Tour this Sunday on the UIC campus. Haven’t signed up? Hurry!
Thanks again for your support.
Ron Burke, Executive Director
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