CNT Update, May 2008

CNT Update, May 2008

We’re Spring Cleaning!
To better understand what our subscribers want to know about CNT while keeping the most up-to-date and comprehensive information, please consider filling out this form to be on our physical mailing list. CNT does not sell any of our information to third parties. Some of the information CNT sends: annual reports, event announcements, and publications of interest.

Please send back to kathrine@cnt.org.

**************************
CNT Update: May 2008

Sustainability News
Chicago Tackling Key Sustainability Issues
Smart Cars or Smart Cities?
The Shift to Commuting by Bike

CNT News
Chicago Matters May Topic: Transportation
CNT Celebrates 30 Years
HTA Index Launched

CNT Toolbox
Tool Spotlight: HTA Index
CNT in the News
Staff Updates
Jobs

Support Your Neighborhood Green Think Tank
Attend a Transportation Planning Workshop
Get your home supplies at Green Home Chicago Design Center
Host CNT’s 30th Celebration

**************
Sustainability News
**************

Chicago Tackling Key Sustainability Issues
The City of Chicago recently announced the official commencement of the Blue Bag recycling program, scheduled to be phased out this summer. By 2011, the more supported, source-separated Blue Cart recycling program will be available in all wards. In addition, the City will be adding about 15 additional recycling drop-off locations in order to provide a recycling option to those not served by the Blue Cart program during the transition. Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Michael Picardi has said that the blue cart rollout cannot go any faster because the city lacks the funding for all new carts, trucks, and employees needed. Since ending the blue bag program will free up funds to direct toward getting carts out quicker to all wards, it is hoped that a complete city-wide program will happen sooner than 2011. While this is a positive move toward becoming more credible as a “green city”, there continues to be huge amounts of waste that will not get recycled while the City transitions to a full roll-out. It’s important for Chicagoans to continue to lobby for a quicker commitment from the City. To see the schedule for 2008, view the map here.

In addressing another key issue in building a more sustainable region-mass transit and congestion-the more complex issue of “bus rapid transit” (BRT) has been a focus of discussion. The federal government is awarding more than $153 million to Chicago and the CTA to test bus rapid transit lanes as well as congestion pricing. By dedicating lanes to busses, the nation’s second most congested city is taking a step to benefit not only public transit users but people who continue to drive (as buses will no longer weave from lane to lane to make stops). The comprehensive vision means that other forms of transportation can be integrated into future plans: bike renting and car sharing would be available at rapid-transit stations, which would have turnstile fare-collection equipment to facilitate faster boarding. And the strategy goes hand-in-hand with recently passed Complete Streets legislation that calls for enabling all types of transportation users the ability to share the road safely.

Progressive congestion solutions will transport Chicago to the world-class city it wants to be, putting it in step with the newly emerging metropolises that been able to develop around more diverse forms of mobility. The bus rapid transit lanes would also contribute to lower emissions of carbon dioxide gases because the double-long, hybrid buses that the CTA will be purchasing would also be stopping less often.

To read more about the plans, see the CTA website here.

Smart Cars or Smart Cities?
Chicago is not the only city considering the value of multi-modal transport in an urban environment. New research is coming out that agrees with and builds on what CNT advocates: eliminating auto dependency is a key to cleaner, less congested and more livable cities. WorldChanging editor Alex Steffen recently wrote in BusinessWeek that cities are “a smart alternative to cars”, and that the key to reducing emissions lies not in new auto technology, but in cities that eliminate the need to be constantly driving.

The fundamental issue is an overdependence on vehicles to get from here to there, resulting in the nation’s increasing congestion problems and rising greenhouse gas emissions. This paradigm means that efforts at making vehicles more fuel efficient-while important because vehicles cannot be eliminated-does not properly focus on the solution of reducing vehicle dependency altogether. As Mr. Steffen puts it, “The best car-related innovation we have is not to improve the car but to eliminate the need to drive it everywhere we go.”

After all, as one sits in congestion, amongst a seemingly infinite amount of vehicles, on a finite amount of space, is the point to be wasting time in a car that gets better fuel efficiency? Or can we delve deeper into solutions-reducing the use of cars, whenever possible? The new issue of the Chicago Reporter, “Jammed” looks at the driving habits of Chicagoland residents. And it becomes clear that the region is “at capacity” for more people and more cars at farther and longer trips, which is the direction the region is headed. With some commuters spending 20 hours a week just driving to and from their jobs; others spending hundreds on gas each week, it seems the problem cannot be solved in the car.

In 2007, rides on the Regional Transportation Authority system-which includes the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra and Pace- made up just 5.6 percent of all trips taken in the six-county Chicago region, according to a study by Chicago Metropolis 2020. Some advocates say the figure needs to be more than twice that in order to sustain the region long-term. It seems the most important fixes are to build off of the increasing trend of using alternate ways to get around, while also focusing on making that shift easier by developing or redeveloping, using infill development and infrastructure investments to transform existing medium-low density neighborhoods into walkable compact communities.

The Shift to Commuting by Bike
A recent article by Washington Post syndicated columnist, Neal Peirce, explores the possibility of 2008 as the “Year of the Bicycle”, citing not only the gathering force of the Congressional Bike Caucus (which is now 160 bipartisan members), but also Mayor Daley’s inclination towards this more friendly (and fun) form of transportation, specifically his interest in Paris’ Velib rental bike program and the possible development of a program in Chicago.

Starting this spring, 40 cities all over North America will take part in a Bike to Work Week (or in the case of Seattle, a Bike to Work Month!). The Chicagoland Bicycle Federation’s annual Bike to Work Week, for example, will help to raise awareness about safe biking during one of the most frequent commutes people make: to and from work, while also promoting better employee health and organizational commitment to sustainability. “Bicycle commuting transforms the atmosphere at work — it boosts the health and energy of employees, encourages team spirit, lowers costs, and builds the organization’s reputation for being green,” said Rob Sadowsky, executive director of the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation.

For organizations and companies raring up to compete in the annual Challenge, designated Team Leaders get their office excited about commuting by bike. They recruit co-workers, track team-members’ biking trips, and offer tips on making bicycle commuting easy and fun. “Public esteem is a big incentive in this competition. It’s a sign of the vitality and vision of the organization when employees compete for health instead of parking spots,” Sadowsky said.

Bike to Work Week in Chicago is June 7-13. In addition, the Commuter Challenge is now open to all companies who want to compete to be the most environmentally friendly company in Chicagoland. In the meantime, learn how to ride safely and comfortably to work here.

**************
CNT News
**************

Chicago Matters May Topic: Transportation
Now in its 18th year, Chicago’s award-winning multimedia public affairs series Chicago Matters: Growing Forward is examining how the choices we make today impact our environment and the future of our region. Over the next 25 years Northeastern Illinois will experience major growth — 1.2 million new jobs will be created and as many as two million new residents will join the 8 million people already living here.

Anyone currently living in the Chicagoland region knows that our shared resources are already under strain: we spend some 253 million hours and 151 million gallons of fuel just sitting in traffic jams. Our public transit system is the nation’s second largest, but has faced funding shortfalls and an increasingly decrepit infrastructure for decades. If current projections are accurate, as many as 23 townships may suffer water deficits of varying severity by the year 2030. Meanwhile the region’s buildings are the source of the largest portion of greenhouse gas emissions to our atmosphere. These are some of the important issues that the series has been exploring.

Before the launch of the series in March, CNT partnered with the Metropolitan Planning Council to aid the media in addressing these complex issues by developing a resource guide. The guide covers all eight topics of the Chicago Matters series: Transportation, Water, Energy, Land, Waste, Food, Air and Community and is helping to provide journalists with the contacts and resources they need for their stories.

Chicago Matters is an annual public information series made possible by The Chicago Community Trust, with programming by WTTW 11, Chicago Public
Radio, the Chicago Public Library, and The Chicago Reporter, a publication of the Community Renewal Society. Visit www.chicagomatters.org for more information. You can also sign up for the Chicago Matters e-update, with sneak peaks of upcoming stories and links to all current stories.

CNT Celebrates 30 Years
In 30 years, CNT has grown from a small storefront operation with tomatoes growing in the window to a national “think-and-do” tank that is leading the movement toward urban sustainability-locally, national and recently even internationally. We would love to hear your stories of what you think CNT has done well over the years and where you would like to see our work in the years to come. Email thoughts to annette@cnt.org.

SAVE THE DATE: CNT will celebrate its accomplishments and innovations which have addressed critical urban environmental and economic issues. The 30th Anniversary Celebration will take place on Wednesday, September 17, 2008 from 6 PM to 9 PM at the Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 N. Lake Street.

Interesting in hosting the event? Or maybe your firm has services you would like to donate for the event? Please contact Nicole Gotthelf, Director of Development and Communications at nicoleg@cnt.org.

HTA Index Launched
The launch of CNT’s new Housing + Transportation Affordability Index website has lead to news stories from Boston to Seattle and from Minneapolis-St. Paul to Austin. CNT talked to individuals across the country who live in compact transit-rich neighborhoods about why they choose to live there.

In Chicago, longtime Hyde Park resident Charlotte D. figures she saves $5,000 a year by not having a car. It’s been 30 years since she had one, so she estimates she has saved $150,000 so far by using public transportation.

“I haven’t missed it,” she says. “I take the bus, which picks me up right next door to where I live. It takes me 15 minutes to get to work downtown. The bus comes by every five minutes during rush hour, 10 minutes in off-hours. It takes less time than driving, not to mention what I save in parking.
People should think more about public transportation. I’m always surprised that people don’t use it. Besides the fact that you save a lot of money, you’re healthier. I walk much more than if I drove everywhere.”

Continue reading this story…

**************
CNT Toolbox
**************

Tool Spotlight: HTA Index
The Housing and Transportation Affordability Index website has generated lots of press and posting on blogs. Many have found it a helpful, brilliant, and even ground breaking tool that reveals transportation costs at the neighborhood level in 52 metro areas. The website provides invaluable and previously unknown information to consumers, housing advocates, and elected officials to understand the true cost of housing affordability based on location. Try it out at www.htaindex.org. According to the Washington Post, “it’s a data fest even by wonk standards.” At the same time, as Alex Steffan put it on Business Week, “it clearly illustrates a basic principle in contemporary urban planning through a simple portrayal of real numbers.”

Interested in finding out the average vehicle miles traveled in your metropolitan area? What’s the transit ridership percentage? Or, as the tool is named, the combined housing and transportation costs for both renters and owners? Find out all of these and many more at www.htaindex.org.

CNT in the News

What’s Going Down(Town) blog, How Much Gas Before We Change?
Describes auto dependency in Fort Wayne, Indiana and cites CNT’s work in Fort Wayne.

Green Trend in Building Economical
Green Infrastructure is taking the Chicago region by ‘storm’! The term in being used more to explain why natural processes like rain gardens, native vegetation, and permeable pavement are often low-cost, environmentally sustainable and sometimes even crime-lowering ways of treating stormwater.

All Aboard? Supporters Say Expanding Passenger Rail Service in Maine Makes Perfect Sense, but Skeptics Counter Transportation Funding is Desperately Needed Elsewhere
A detailed from MaineBiz about transit-oriented development in Maine. CNT’s report on the Amtrak Downeaster is cited.

Staff Updates

We were sad to say good-bye to some great talent:
Deb Ackles
Claus Jensen
Kevin Garvey
April Whitworth
Aaron Schrieber-Stainthorp
Janet Hanley
Mary McGrath
Demelza Philips

CNT is growing and filling up with excellent new talent:
David Becker, CNT Energy, Operations Manager
Kathryn Eggers, CNT Energy, Communications Associate
Clare Wisner, I-GO, Member Service Associate
Anjuli Seth, I-GO, Member Service Associate
Evan Skow, I-GO, Fleet Assistant
Aaron Roquena, Network Administrator
Adam Goldstein, CFO
Matthew Scallet, CNT Energy, Communications Associate
Susan Casey, CNT Energy, Intern
Michelle Moore, I-GO, Billing Coordinator
Justin Hardesty, Member Services
Hal Sprague, Senior Policy Associate, Natural Resources

Jobs

Senior Research Analyst
Posted: April 10, 2008


Senior Transportation & Economic Development Planner

Posted: April 10, 2008

Economic Development and Research Associate, Transportation, Community, and Economic Development Division
Posted: May 7, 2008

**************
Support Your Neighborhood Green Think Tank
**************

Attend a Transportation Planning Workshop
Over the course of the past year, CNT and the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership have held a series of webinars and workshops aimed at educating transportation advocates, government officials, developers, and citizens on the transportation planning process. These have been part of a larger project whose goal is to improve the quality of public involvement during transportation planning.

The next installment of “From the Margins to the Mainstream” is a workshop to help participants understand what the principles referred to as “context sensitive solutions” (CSS) are, and how these principles can be used to balance and integrate the needs of travelers and communities in the planning and design of urban transportation systems. The workshop is directed at advocates, local officials and planning/design professionals in state DOTs, transit agencies, MPOs, and consultants.

Register now for the event here.
Read more here

Get your home supplies at Green Home Chicago Design Center
Green Home Chicago is a new company that sells unique and eco-friendly interior design products for commercial and residential sites while remaining dedicated to the health of the planet, its inhabitants and our economy. The design center is one of a growing number of “greenhouses” for the rapidly growing business sector of sustainable materials. The result is a magnificent variety of elegant and distinctive eco-friendly furnishings for clients created by an industry with a social conscience.

Best yet, Green Home Chicago donates 1% of all profits to green-minded organizations and customers have the option to decide exactly where the contribution resulting from their purchases will be made. This year, Green Home Chicago has selected CNT as a benefactor from this program.

Learn more about Green Home Chicago here.

Host CNT’s 30th Celebration
CNT is celebrating its 30th year with a party at the Garfield Park Conservatory on September 17, 2008. Consider become a sponsor of this event.

Sponsorship Levels: Platinum ($30,000); Gold ($10,000); Silver ($5,000), Bronze ($2,500), Green ($1,000), and Friend ($300). For more information, about sponsorship opportunities, contact Nicole Gotthelf at nicoleg.@cnt.org.

Your support helps CNT develop innovative programs that build more livable and sustainable communities.

**************************

You can also support our efforts in building more sustainable urban communities by making a donation online by clicking the button below.

Questions about anything you’ve read or interested in learning more? Contact Annette at annette@cnt.org.

donate now