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Chicago’s first protected bike lane on Kinzie St. increased ridership by 55 percent without increasing traffic congestion for cars.

School District Consolidations an Opportunity for Walking and Biking?

Earlier this week, we reported on Gov. Pat Quinn’s proposal to slash funding for school transportation (see our blog posts here and here). In the same budget proposal, the governor announced the creation of a commission to study how to cut the number of school districts in Illinois. Currently, our state has the third highest number of school districts (868) in the country. This, despite the fact that we are 5th highest in population and more than 80% of the state’s population lives in the Chicago area.

Consolidating school districts could have an impact on school transportation. Students who need to travel further will be less likely to walk, bike or use mass transit. But will this proposal actually negatively impact active transportation?

We think not because nothing in the proposal suggests closing schools – only consolidating administration. School attendance boundaries will not change, just administrative oversight.

We believe the Governor’s proposal is an opportunity for Illinois to more closely align school districts to jurisdictions, which would encourage more opportunities for coordinated planning between school districts and local agencies. If that happens, school districts may be better equipped to plan for schools that are walkable and bikeable, and that’s great!

For more information on Safe Routes to School and other Active Trans education programs, email education@activetrans.org.