Did You Know?

Only 24 percent of jobs in the region are accessible by transit in 90 minutes or less by a typical resident — and that number drops to 12 percent in the suburbs.

State bike/walk fund advances transportation equity

The new state money for walking and bicycling comes with reforms that make it easier for low-income communities to secure funding. Needless to say, we were thrilled to see our efforts pay off in creating better transportation equity in the state.

For the first time ever, Illinois’ long-term capital program includes dedicated funding for walking and biking projects — $50 million annually. It also includes sustainable funding for public transit for the first time ever.

The new biking and walking funding will be distributed via the state’s popular Illinois Transportation Enhancements grant Program (ITEP), but with some important changes that make it more accessible for low-income communities.

  • Local matching funding shall be required according to a sliding scale based on community size, median income, and total property tax base.
  • Engineering studies are not required to be completed before the application is made.
  • At least 25 percent of funding shall be directed towards high-need communities, based on community median income and total property tax base.

Active Trans worked with legislators to include these reforms because we want to make sure the new money goes to the highest need communities. The language in the bill is based on our decades of experience working with low-income communities in the Chicago region, making streets and trails safer. Equity is central to our mission and the work we do every day.

Advocates and city officials across the region tell us it’s difficult for them to find the resources to apply for competitive grant programs like ITEP. If they can apply and win, they struggle to come up with the required local matching funds.

No community should be blocked from state funds that could make their streets and trails safer for everyone. Low-income communities deserve the most support given the challenges many of their residents face everyday to reach jobs, school, healthcare, and recreation.

Active Trans looks forward to working with state officials and advocates to maximize the impact of the new state money to build safer, healthier, more sustainable, and more equitable communities across the state.