On this Page:
- New RTA Accessibility Report
- Municipal Survey Results
- School Travel Plans
- ITEP Projects and IDNR Grant Program Announcments
Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Overview
A good walking and bicycling environment is essential for our region. Prosperity depends on mobility, and this means not only our ability to travel across the country and around the world, but to get to local commerce, schools, health facilities, parks, government buildings, family, friends, and colleagues. While autos or transit are appropriate for many of these trips, most also involve walking or bicycling part of the way. Barriers to pedestrians, bicyclists, and pedestrians with disabilities can discourage mobility, require expensive auto trips, or even prevent trips.
CMAP is working with its partners to improve conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists throughout the region. We strive to make travel by foot and bicycle safe. We are working to make the region accessible to people with disabilities, including people who use wheelchairs, walkers, and white canes. We are helping government agencies to plan and build sidewalks and bikeways -- both local bikeways and regional trails. We're helping communities get the technical information they need to build vibrant, walkable business districts. CMAP is encouraging subdivision design that provides connectivity between jobs, housing, schools, and parks. And we are promoting walking and bicycling as efficient, healthy, and fun ways to travel.
The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) recently released "Making Way: A Guide for Communities to Promote Pedestrian Mobility and Increase Access to Existing Transit." The guide was developed to encourage municipalities in the region to implement small-scale capital access improvements such as the installation of sidewalks and crosswalks near existing transit facilities. Such improvements promote pedestrian mobility and provide added access to transit. The guide outlines specific steps that communities can take to improve their local built environment while providing viable connections to existing bus and train facilities that will help increase transit ridership.
The 2010 Municipal Plans, Programs, and Operations Survey for Northeastern Illinois repeated many of the same questions about non-motorized transportation as the 2002 Soles and Spokes Municipal Survey conducted by the Chicago Area Transportation Study. Comparing the results over the the eight-year time span between the surveys demonstrates substantial progress by municipalities in their work to make their local communities walkable and bikeable. The table below shows the number of municipalities answering affirmatively in each year, and the number of municipalities indicating that each program is under development in 2010:
|Survey Question||2002 "Yes"||2010 "Implemented"||2010 "Under Development"|
|Approved Plan to improve or maintain accessibility in the public right-of-way for people with disabilities||60 (32%)|| 54 |
| 24 |
|Bicycle transportation plan (stand-alone plan or part of a comprehensive or parks/recreation plan)||121 (65%)|| 116 |
| 34 |
|Pedestrian transportation plan (stand-alone plan or part of a comprehensive plan)||109 (59%)|| 84 |
| 31 |
|Existing on-street bicycle facilities (e.g., bike lanes or signed routes)||58 (31%)|| 72 |
| 27 |
|Existing off-street bicycle facilities||104 (56%)|| 112 |
| 16 |
|Requirement that developers build public sidewalks with new development or redevelopment||157 (84%)|| 159 |
| 7 |
|New sidewalk construction program or activities||108 (58%)|| 134 |
| 10 |
|Sidewalk reconstruction or replacement program||147 (79%)|| 156 |
| 8 |
|Pedestrian and bicycle safety education||92 (49%)|| 86 |
| 14 |
|Enforcement of pedestrian right-of-way laws by the police||95 (51%)|| 122 |
| 5 |
|Bicycle parking at community destinations (e.g., libraries, village hall, parks, or schools)||112 (60%)|| 141 |
| 15 |
|Electronic inventory or map of bicycle facilities (GIS or CAD)||39 (21%)|| 69 |
| 24 |
|Electronic inventory or map of sidewalks (GIS or CAD)||33 (18%)|| 72 |
| 26 |
Methodological notes: the 2002 survey had 186 responses (response rate 68%); the 2010 survey had 211 responses (response rate 74%). There may be a strong response bias in the results (see the discussion below), so the raw numbers may be more reflective of municipal activities than the percentages shown above. However, assuming the percentages are valid, statistically significant changes from 2002 to 2010 in the proportions of municipalities with affirmative responses are indicated with an asterisk (*). Again, the percentages should be used with care because of the likelihood of response bias.
Response bias? Using the 2010 survey, we can calculate the proportion of communities indicating that they had completed or were developing a school travel plan for comparison with the actual number of school travel plans approved by IDOT. 93 communities (44% of respondents) indicated in early 2010 that they had developed or were developing a school travel plan. By the end of 2010, IDOT had approved plans for 107 communities in the region (38% of communities). The two percentages are significantly different. The raw survey number seem to track the actual data better than the percentage of respondents, indicating a possible response bias. Communities with active programs for walking and cycling transportation may be more likely to have responded to the surveys than other communities, so the percentage of responses may be less indicative of activity than the raw numbers.
Survey administration was similar in 2002 and 2010. Both surveys allowed written and electronic responses, and included multiple followups at the regional and subregional level. Participation by low-income communities was a challenge for both surveys.
Results. Unequivocal improvements, where both the number of communities answering affirmatively and the percentage of communities increased significantly from 2002 to 2010, are indicated in boldface type. These include facility inventories, new sidewalk construction, bicycle parking, and pedestrian right-of-way enforcement. Ambiguous results, where raw numbers of affirmative responses increased from 2002 to 2010 but the percentages did not increase, included on-street and off-street bicycle facilities, sidewalk reconstruction/replacement programs, and requirements that developers build sidewalks with development and redevelopment. Unambiguous declines, where the raw numbers and percentages declined, included all of the planning activities included in the survey (pedestrian, bicycle and planning access for people with disabilities), as well as pedestrian safety education.
As of 2010, 107 municipalities in the Chicago region have had school travel plans approved by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), up from 83 in 2008 and 58 in 2007. Approved school travel plans had been a prerequisite for Safe Routes to School funding in Illinois. Although the Illinois Safe Routes to School Program is under review, and the school travel plan requirements will likely change, development of a school travel plan may be beneficial to address identified school travel hazards or school-related traffic congestion. School travel plan implementation should be funded by a variety of fund sources, including local funds. It is unclear when (or if) federal Safe Routes to School funds will be available in the future.
CMAP encourages collaboration among schools, police, public health, planning, and traffic engineering officials to develop school travel plans. These plans may include engineering elements like sidewalks, but also traffic enforcement and encouragement of walking and cycling.
If a community embarks on a school travel plan, participants should consider using the guidance and standards in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices to properly identify routes and identify appropriate traffic controls. This should be done by the municipal engineer or his/her designee. See Part 7 of the 2009 Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.
Additional information about Safe Routes to School can be found at:
- SafeRoutes.info (National Center for Safe Routes to School)
- Active Transportation Alliance Safe Routes to School page. Active Trans' resources include a "Local Leaders' Guide" theat provides practical advice about developing a plan and program for safe routes to school.
- IDOT Safe Routes to School Program (program information subject to change)
Below is a summary of approved travel plans by regional council.
|Council||2007 Communities with Approved Plans||2007 - 2008 Communities with Approved Plans||2007 - 2010 Communities with Approved Plans||Total Municipalities|
Source: CMAP analysis of IDOT data. Note: Some communities are in more than one council, so the sum of the last column may equal the "total."
Why school travel is a regional concern. Travel to school is a regional concern because of the need to reduce highway casualties. There were 1,179 pedestrian or pedalcyclist injuries or deaths among children ages 5-14 in the Chicago region in 2010 (source: IDOT County Crash Summaries). In addition, school travel may impact regional congestion, so facilitating safe walking and cycling to school may reduce the peak-period burden on our roads. Analyses of the Travel Tracker household travel inventory have indicated that travel to school is a substantial portion of trips during the morning peak and return trips home at 3:00 p.m. (see chart below). Other Travel Tracker analyses indicate that between 40% and 50% of students ages 5-13 are driven to school (see our Travel Tracker report on Mode Choice and Trip Purpose, pp 55-61).
Source: Parry Frank. Trips Underway by Time of Day by Travel Mode and Trip Purpose for Metropolitan Chicago. August 2010. P. 5.
Maps of communities with approved school travel plans, by county and year, are available on MetroPulse.
The State of Illinois and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) have issued a press release announcing the projects awarded funding under the 2012 Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP).
The 2012 program totals nearly $50 million, nearly half of which will go to projects in northeastern Illinois. IDOT received 328 applications requesting total federal funds of nearly $327 million. Beginning this year, IDOT will administer the ITEP program to be awarded annually instead of every two years.
IDNR Grant Programs Announced
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has released applications for the Illinois Bicycle Path Grant Program, the federal Recreational Trails Program (RTP), and the Illinois Off-Highway Vehicle Program. More information and important dates can be found on the IDNR's Bicycle Path webpage. Application deadline for all programs is noon on March 1, 2013.