Daley pedals to hall of fame

By SpencerRoush

Mayor Richard M. Daley has been inducted into the Active Transportation Alliance Hall of Fame after 10 years of being a member of the organization, for his efforts in providing safety for bike riders and pedestrians.

On Nov. 9, members of the alliance, which was formerly known as the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, filled Columbia’s Film Row Cinema in the 1104 Center, 1104 S. Wabash Ave., for their annual meeting to honor members and to celebrate their one-year anniversary of their name change and organization’s focus.

Last year, the Active Transportation Alliance expanded its mission to include advocating for pedestrians, cyclists and transit riders. The alliance also works closely with city government to develop new programs such as Open Streets, a day when streets are closed off to cars. The alliance also advocates for new legislation to ensure commuters’ safety.

“We’ve been pushing really hard for [Illinois House Bill 43] and it looks like it will probably pass in the next few months,” said Margot O’Hara, director of communications for the alliance. “Right now, drivers are supposed to yield to pedestrians, which is extremely vague and really difficult to enforce because it’s so subjective.”

O’Hara said they are now working hard to advocate for connecting bike paths and also for passing House Bill 43. This bill would make drivers have to legally stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.

Daley was honored and received two standing ovations because of his advocacy of new bike ordinances, his campaign for the 2015 bike plan and his promise to expand the popular event Open Streets each year.

While introducing Daley, Rob Sadowsky, executive director of the alliance, said, “When you have this mayor behind a campaign, things get done.”

Damian Moran, a junior sports management major at Columbia, said he thinks Daley has done a considerable amount of work to be inducted into their Hall of Fame. However, he said Daley should work harder to advocate for transit users.

During Daley’s acceptance speech, he said biking is important to the city because it creates a sense of community.

Harry Wray, a DePaul University political science professor and keynote speaker at the event, said Americans are going through a cultural change because of the economic crisis and heightened awareness of the environment. These elements are encouraging people to take alternate transportation, such as biking or walking.

“One percent of trips in Chicago are taken by bicycle,” Wray said.

Wray, who also wrote Pedal Power: The Quiet Rise of the Bicycle in American Public Life, said driving cars has created a sense of hyper-individualism that is separating the people from their city and community members. He said it’s caused people to only care about their individual interests instead of the greater community.

“If everyone decided to just get on a bike or walk, we’d be better off to society,” Daley said during his speech. “When they start building streets, it starts isolating people.”

Daley also said people need to keep advocating for pedestrian and bicycle needs to their local officials because government funding is hardly ever used to help their interests.

“I’ve always said there is no money for bike[s] or pedestrians,” Daley said. “It’s always cars. It’s always roads and bridges, then eventually they get to public transportation.”

Wray, 65, who has biked almost his entire adult life, has seen areas in the city that needs to be improved for cyclists’ safety, which he said are slowly being addressed by the city.

“You have to go to your local officials,” Daley said. “I hope you educate your aldermen, your state representatives, your senators, your elected officials, your congressmen. Go and see them and talk to them about legislation we need in the federal government.”

Daley said that he needs allies to show that other people besides himself want funding for alternate transportation.

“Don’t feel like you can’t go and talk to these people,” Daley said. “You elect them. You pay their salaries. Remember that.”