July Media Tips - Metropolitan Planning Council

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July Media Tips

Bicycle Tales from Two Metropolitan Cities: Chicago and Stockholm, Sweden

Allstate Technology Consultant Jace Cole is what you would call a bicycle enthusiast. Over the past two summers, the Chicago native has logged more than a 1,000 miles on his bicycle through grueling, 38-mile, daily round-trip journeys from his home in Northbrook, Ill., to his office in the Loop. Despite the Olympic-caliber commute, the distance isn’t the most difficult aspect of the trek, according to Cole. “The majority of the route is through dangerous traffic, and in many places, bike lanes are hard to access,” he admits.

This summer, MPC Director for Regional Policy and Transportation Michael McLaughlin also had the opportunity to do a little bicycling through a major metropolitan city, but his experience was substantially different than Cole’s. McLaughlin was bicycling in Stockholm, Sweden, and experienced firsthand how bicyclists and pedestrians are allotted their own cobblestone-lined lanes, which separate them from potentially dangerous traffic. Ten years ago, Stockholm implemented a ridership and safety plan and re-engineered some of the city’s busiest intersections, making it easier for bicyclists to navigate through traffic. That same plan was updated in 2006, not only to make Stockholm’s car, tram, bus, pedestrian and bicyclist-filled streets safer, but also to provide the city’s 1 million residents access to transit stops that may have previously been inaccessible.

As Chicago prepares for approval of a new state capital bill, a federal surface transportation package, and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s long-range, 30-year plan (to be released in 2010), bicycle improvements like those in Stockholm should be considered a must-have for Chicagoans like Cole. For more information about the Bombardier-sponsored peer exchange that took McLaughlin to Stockholm, visit MPC's Web site or contact McLaughlin at 312.863.6022 or mmclaughlin@metroplanning.org .

It’s Officially Sommer-Time at MPC

Karin Sommer, one of the newest Associates to join the MPC staff, has hit the ground running. The 28-year-old Duluth, Minn., native has quickly dug into creative land-use projects. She is spearheading the Corridor Development Initiative in Lawndale, helping the community create a vision for mixed-use growth along Ogden Avenue; and working in partnership with New York-based Project for Public Spaces to create a Chicago guidebook with resources and step-by-step instructions for agencies, community groups and residents that want to create great places .

Sommer, a nature lover and architectural buff, received her bachelor’s degree from Carleton College. After her graduation, she headed to the Big Apple to work in one of the world’s largest architectural libraries, at Columbia University . There, she gained a fond appreciation for urban planning, and decided to purse a master’s in urban planning at the university.

In New York, Sommer worked with a technical assistance planning project in West Harlem, performed GIS research for Columbia University ’s Earth Institute, and interned at the Hudson Yards Development Corporation to help plan the parks for this area of west Manhattan.

“Coming from New York , I love that I can still have the excitement of a big city, but in a much more livable way,” comments Sommer about her favorite thing about Chicago. For more information about the projects Sommer is leading, please contact her at 312-863-6044 or ksommer@metroplanning.org.

MPC’s 2008 Annual Meeting Luncheon Has a Presidential Twist

Every year, MPC hosts an Annual Meeting Luncheon, its sole fundraising event, convening some of the most notable and influential decision-makers in the Chicago region, state of Illinois, and nation. The meeting highlights key issues, concerns or topics facing the region, and this year’s meeting on Sept. 8 will be no different. MPC is working with the Presidential campaigns of Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama to secure a high-profile, knowledgeable surrogate for each candidate to participate in a moderated discussion on the candidates’ plans and priorities for supporting transportation, housing and economic development in the nation’s metropolitan regions.

MPC’s 2008 Annual Meeting will be hosted at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, 151 E. Wacker Dr., Chicago, on Monday, Sept. 8, from 11 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. Attendees can register on MPC’s Web site. Reporters interested in attending the luncheon should contact Mandy Burrell Booth, MPC Assistant Communications Director, at 312.863.6018, or mburrell@metroplanning.org .

Reconnecting Neighborhoods Revisits Communities with Recommendations

The second round of Reconnecting Neighborhoods meetings kicks off Thursday, July 24, and community members like Crystal Palmer are hopeful. “This community is going through positive change,” said Palmer, who has been a resident of West Haven —formerly Henry Horner Homes—since 1968, and is currently president of the Henry Horner/West Haven Local Advisory Council.

Palmer, like so many others affected by the transition from public housing high-rises to mixed-income communities, is engaged in the day-to-day struggle to obtain better transportation and retail options, as well as greater input for both longtime public housing residents and newcomers alike. Reconnecting Neighborhoods is a community planning process in three new mixed-income communities that is providing residents, developers and city officials an opportunity to discuss their plans for the future of the three communities, and shape recommendations for enhanced transit services, retail, and improved public infrastructure that will result from the meetings.

The meeting for residents of the Mid-South community will take place at the King Center, 4314 S. Cottage Grove Ave., on Thursday, July 24, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The Near North community meeting will take place on Tuesday, July 29, at Seward Park, 375 W. Elm St., from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The Near West community meeting will occur on Thursday, Aug. 9, at Ma jor Adams Community Center, 125 N. Hoyne Ave., from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

For more information, please visit the Reconnecting Neighborhoods Web site, or contact Manager Brandon Johnson at 312.863.6046, or bjohnson@metroplanning.org .

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