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The Active Transportation Alliance is a coalition of people who want safer, healthier and more convenient transportation choices. With this, they envision walkable communities, networks of trails and other types of bikeways, reliable transit, and safe and easy biking.
The Alliance envisions our region with half as many crashes and where half of all trips are made by walking, biking and transit. The promotion of walking, bicycling, and public transit to create healthy, sustainable and equitable communities is also a notion that the Village supports, establishing a better quality of life for our residents.
This vast project is also supported by the Healthy Hot Spot initiative, led by the Cook County Department of Public Health that aims to build healthy places in suburban Cook County through community partnerships.
In 2015, the Village of Richton Park received a technical assistance grant from Active Transportation Alliance via the Healthy HotSpot Initiative to develop a Complete Streets policy and implementation strategy. In its policy development process, the Village identified the need to create a community-wide active transportation plan to better understand which streets should be prioritized for bicycle travel, what types of facilities are most appropriate for its streets, which intersections need improvements, and where pedestrian facilities should be enhanced. Following that process, the Village received a second technical assistance grant from the Healthy HotSpot initiative to develop this active transportation plan.
Through the planning process, the plan steering committee developed the following plan vision:
The Village of Richton Park endeavors to create a comprehensive network of roads, trails, and sidewalks that enhances local and regional connectivity and access to transit for active transportation users; contributing to a safer, healthier, and more sustainable future. As the Village grows, this vision will guide future roadway extensions, neighborhood expansions, and annexations, and will also apply to partnerships with neighboring jurisdictions to ensure regional connectivity to trails and bikeways.
Undeniably, Richton Park has already been moving towards this vision, starting with its network of local paths that knit neighborhoods together, building its first bike lane on Poplar Avenue, developing a proposed bike network within its 2013 Comprehensive Plan, creating its Town Center Plan, and finally by adopting its Complete Streets Ordinance in 2016. This plan picks up where these other initiatives left off and provides detailed recommendations for infrastructure improvements, implementation recommendations, and offers guidance on additional policies and programs the Village and its partners can pursue to make the community a safe, comfortable place for people to travel on foot or by bike. With an eye towards implementation, this plan also includes recommended funding sources and strategies for phasing in infrastructure over time.
Reasons to establishing an active transportation plan are vast. Beyond grant funding and prioritization, there are many additional health, social, and environmental benefits to creating a walkable, bikeable community.
• Health: Walking and biking are easy, affordable and convenient ways to not only get exercise, but also to travel. With inactive lifestyles and chronic disease on the rise, promoting walking and biking is more important than ever.
• Equity: About 1/3 of our population either cannot drive or does not have reliable access to a car. This includes children, seniors, people with disabilities, and people with limited means. These groups depend on walking, bicycling, and transit, but often do not have a safe and efficient network of sidewalks, bikeways, and transit amenities to reach destinations like work, school, and grocery stores.
• Safety: Active transportation facilities have safety benefits for all roadway users. Many of the built environment changes that support walking and biking have positive safety benefits for all roadway users by creating a safe place for pedestrians and cyclists.
• Economic: Walking and biking are an affordable way to travel and create positive economic outcomes for communities. The cost to an individual to own, maintain and drive a car on a regular basis is about 12 times higher than transportation costs for a person who relies on bicycling. A complete and well connected bicycle and pedestrian network also has a positive effect on local spending. Cyclists and pedestrians make more frequent trips to local shops, resulting in more dollars for the local economy.
• Social: People who walk and bike have more opportunities to connect with each other. More connections encourage people to be active, happy and socially engaged.
• Environment: Nearly half of all trips are less than three miles, and more than a quarter of trips are less than one mile. Shifting these shorter distance motor vehicle trips to walking, biking or transit reduces greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to cleaner air and reduces traffic congestion.