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A bicycle commuter who rides four miles to work, five days a week, avoids 2,000 miles of driving and about 2,000 pounds of CO2 emissions each year.

Chicagoans Demand No More Compromises at Walk + Roll for Safe Streets

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Chicago, IL, June 10, 2022

On Sunday, June 12, Chicago Family Biking and Better Streets Chicago are organizing a family-friendly Walk + Roll for Safe Streets from Lincoln Square to Uptown to honor Raphael “Rafi” Cardenas and Elizabeth “Lily” Grace Shambrook, two toddlers recently lost to vehicle violence. The event will include a moment of silence for each child and demand city leaders and drivers commit to making Chicago streets safe for all. The community will arrive at Leavitt & Eastwood in Lincoln Square at 10:15 a.m., A few speakers will address the community and hold a moment of silence for Rafi at 10:30 a.m, before walking and rolling the 1.4-mile route to Leland & Winthrop, to hold another moment of silence where Lily was killed. All members of the community are invited and are encouraged to RSVP and bring signs in support of safe streets to hold during the event.

Across the U.S., vehicular violence is on the rise, resulting in a 16-year high traffic fatality rate. In spite of the city’s 2012 adoption of Vision Zero and Mayor Lightfoot’s renewed commitment in 2021, we’ve seen a rise in traffic violence in Chicago as well. In 2019, Chicago lost 4 cyclists and 40 pedestrians; in 2020, 8 cyclists and 39 pedestrians were killed; and 10 cyclists and 24 pedestrians in 2021. As of today, Chicago has had 4 cyclists and 14 pedestrians killed this year.

At the heart of the problem is Chicago’s car-centric approach to road design and the dangerous driving behaviors it enables.  The City knows what safe streets look like, but all too often they fail to build them. Many projects have been in discussion for over a decade, but they don’t see the light of day because of pushback from a small number of vocal residents and Aldermanic privilege. Projects, like the Leland Greenway, sacrifice the necessary safety features originally planned, leaving behind ineffective, hollow street designs that fail people looking for safe routes – people like the Shambrook family.

Safe streets should not be up to public opinion; safe streets should be the default. 

But until we see the day that’s true, the community is demanding change.

During this event, the groups are demanding immediate action from IDOT, CDOT, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, and all fifty Chicago Aldermen, including: 

  • Prioritize pedestrian and bike safety over parking by implementing expert-recommended, gold-standard road designs instead of watering them down for the small but loud anti-bike crowd.
  • Require all large trucks to be outfitted with side guards, not just city contractors, and reinforce and expand limits on their access to neighborhood streets.
  • Address Chicago’s poorly enforced illegal parking crisis through radical street design that includes safe loading zones and focuses enforcement and consequences on the most dangerous offenders – commercial vehicles, ride share, and CPD. 

The groups are asking for all Chicagoans to take action too.

  • Commit to Safe Streets
  • Leave 10 minutes early when driving so you don’t feel rushed and make unsafe driving choices or treat neighborhoods like shortcuts.
  • Pause your own agenda when you drive near people walking, rolling, or biking and give them a few moments to make sure they are safe. 
  •  If you don’t shout “Yes” you’re saying “No”- City leaders need to know you want safer streets too. You must call your representatives and work with your neighbors to show up in support of these transformational projects that will save lives.  

It’s time for the City and Chicago Department of Transportation to stop forcing communities to beg for safety after every tragedy. The City can and should build safe infrastructure to prevent further loss of our friends, family, and loved ones. A better future is possible – and Chicago must act now.

Lead Organizers/Contact:

Chicago Family Biking is a grassroots organization offering education, resources, and encouragement to help families of all kinds ride in Chicago. We advocate for improved cycling infrastructure to make the streets safer for everyone. http://www.chicagofamilybiking.org/ 

Contact: Rebecca Resman, 773.398.8981, chicagofamilybiking@gmail.com

Better Streets Chicago is a 501(c)(3) grassroots transportation advocacy organization that believes better infrastructure and service is critical for Chicago to be a safer, more equitable and more livable city. https://www.betterstreetschicago.org/  

Contact: Kyle Lucas, 312.375.9765, kyle@betterstreetschicago.org

Sz Donnelly is a local biking advocate, Chicago Family Biking member and Kidical Mass ride leaders. She is working to bring safe biking and walking routes and education to schools in the Chicagoland area.

Contact: Sz Donnelly, 773.520.3103, sdonnelly@nohwear.net

This event and call to action is supported by the following: 

Active Transportation Alliance

Women Bike Chicago

Keating Law Offices

Ride Illinois

Ride of Silence

Mike Perrino (Segway Batman)