Elevating Chicago

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Give it up for the Little Guys

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shymen

I've lived all over the country and world, my background is in International Affairs, Political Science, and Economics, and I'm a Chicago boy born and bred.

Last Friday, several dozen cyclists rode to the US Department of Transportation's headquarters in Washington with a signed letter by hundreds of local bike-ped advocacy organizations, showing their love for Secretary of Transportation LaHood's commitment to their causes.  Read about it here.  Many organizations that Ted and I routinely promote, such as: Safe Routes to School National Partnership, Transportation for America, and the National Complete Streets Coalition, were among the advocates in attendance.  Whether they'd admit it or not, their trip to US DOT's headquarters was in essence sucking up to LaHood and lauding him for his commitment to what these organizations are fighting for.  I have nothing wrong with this, especially because no money was involved, and I support these advocacy organizations in their fight to get their voices heard - today I want to talk about these organizations and how we can all help in their fight.

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Lahood w/ Obama

As I wrote about a month ago after I heard President Obama speak, if we want to make a change, we need to do something about it.  There is no correct way to do this.  Some groups march in Washington, and some write letters.  In Chicago, groups like the Active Transportation Alliance, hold fundraisers.  This past Sunday was "Bike the Drive," an awesome event in Chicago where the City closes Lake Shore Drive to cars, and opens it for bikes only.  It's a great fundraiser for the ATA, but it's also a great way to bring national awareness to the cycling community in Chicago.  Not only do events such as these, promote the ideals of the ATA, but also I guarantee you that people in Springfield, and Washington too, knew what was going on.  And hopefully they took note!

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Not all advocacy organizations are the same, or do good, for that matter.  Bike the Drive came just two days after Critical Mass, which unfortunately, as I heard, saw the largest amount of drunken riders ever.  Springfield and Washington policymakers need to see actions done by those in Washington at LaHood's office, or in Chicago, on Lake Shore Drive, more than they see actions like drunken critical mass, for them to create new bike-ped policies that benefit all of us.

Lahood seemed appreciative of his visitors, and Chicagoans rode along the drive in record numbers.  The little guys are doing their job getting the big guys to hear their voices, but we need everyone who supports these organizations to make their voices even louder.  I'm not really one to talk, but just as everything, there's power in numbers.  The more people following the work and calendars of organizations like ATA, Safe Routes to School National Partnership, Transportation for America, the National Complete Streets Coalition, and many more, the better.  With midterm elections around the corner, the time is now to promote the changes we want.

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