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Mobilizing suburban advocates
The time has come for suburban Chicago communities to boost their game when it comes to improving walkability, bikeability and transit.
In pursuit of these goals, 65 advocates from 44 villages and cities around Chicagoland recently joined Active Trans for our inaugural Bike Walk Every Town suburban advocacy summits.
Designed to mobilize grassroots leaders to work on improving biking, walking and transit in their local communities, the summits provided residents with step-by-step instructions on how to build a base of supporters from the community, how to activate this base and how to engage elected officials to make positive change happen.
Attendees included concerned residents new to advocacy, seasoned leaders with years of experience and a handful of elected officials.
The training — held in four suburban locations across the region: Highland Park, Schaumburg, Elmhurst and Flossmoor — was partly focused on introducing several key bicycle- and pedestrian-focused policy ideas and guiding each participant through a campaign-building exercise.
Several residents who attended plan to develop campaigns to fill in trail gaps in their communities and encourage elected officials to adopt Complete Streets policies so roads are developed with all road users in mind. There was also interest in building campaigns around prioritizing and allocating appropriate funding to bicycle and pedestrian projects, as well as polling local politicians running for office on their transportation priorities.
Following the summits, a series of webinars will be offered that dive into a variety of topics, including best practices in writing a petition, developing an elevator pitch, organizing bicycle and pedestrian pop-up events, and reviewing case studies of successful policies, projects and campaigns.
And these summits and trainings are just the beginning. We will continue to work one-on-one with Bike Walk Every Town advocates to move their local campaigns forward and organize for change across the region. With 284 communities in the Chicagoland region, Active Trans looks forward to building a network of suburban advocates who are ready to make biking and walking a safer, more comfortable option for getting around their communities.
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