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IL Chicago Lawrence Ave Woman on bike credit Hanna Kite
A new bike lane on Lawrence Avenue in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago. Photo by Hanna Kite

This post is the fourth in a series of case studies about Complete Streets people, places, and projects. Follow the full series over the next several weeks.

A road diet, bicycle lanes, and a profusion of pedestrian improvements have subtly transformed a low-key Chicago neighborhood.

The Ravenswood neighborhood in Chicago, especially the northwest section along Lawrence Avenue, has a quiet, residential feel. Many people in the neighborhood have lived there for decades, and the area attracts families with young children. Six bus routes and two train lines serve the neighborhood, and ridership rates are high. Buildings in the neighborhood are at most only three or four stories high, and a pharmacy, grocery store, handful of boutiques, and cafes serve local residents. In general, Ravenswood is mostly free from the hustle and bustle of the more hip areas of Chicago.

Complete Streets

How two major cities are fighting climate change

Chicago Nightscape Chicago’s skyline at night. Photo by Jon Herbert, via Flickr.

Climate action plans—sets of strategies designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other negative environmental impacts—play a critical role in realizing a community’s sustainability vision. While dozens of cities have such plans, few have the supplemental programs to set them in motion. However, there are leader communities that are making notable efforts on implementation.  Chicago, IL and Boulder, CO are two of those cities, and they are using benchmarking and pricing to reduce carbon emissions.

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The best policies of 2012 and a bold step forward in Chicago: Complete Streets News, April 2013

Policy Adoption

Announcing the best Complete Streets policies of 2012 — In a report out last week, the National Complete Streets Coalition, a program of Smart Growth America, examined all the Complete Streets policies passed in the last year and highlighted some of the best. Leading the pack is Indianapolis, which adopted a Complete Streets ordinance in August. “We’re very proud of our efforts in the past few years to make Indianapolis more walkable, bikeable and connected. The strength of our Complete Streets plan is its clear commitment to achieving a vibrant, healthy city,” said Mayor Greg Ballard. “Now, we’re working to make our plan a reality with safe and accessible transportation options for all residents.” Read more >>

Complete Streets

Smart growth news – July 31, 2012

Top stories

Google Move Buoys Chicago Tech Hub
Wall Street Journal – July 26, 2012
Christopher Leinberger, professor at the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan, said Chicago is also getting a boost from a trend in which offices and corporations are relocating from the suburbs to walkable urban areas. “The companies moved out to the suburbs because that’s where the boomers wanted to be and now they’re moving back [downtown] because that’s where their kids want to be,” he said.

Mayor, governor team up for final T-SPLOST push
Creative Loafing Atlanta (GA) – July 30, 2012
Less than 24 hours before metro Atlanta voters decide whether to tax themselves to pay for more than $8 billion in new roads and transit projects, Mayor Kasim Reed and Gov. Nathan Deal stood alongside dozens of local, state, and federal elected officials to once again urge voters to pass the T-SPLOST.

What cities are best for seniors? Try Provo, Sioux Falls
USA Today – July 31, 2012
While recreation and community engagement are a plus, the best cities for aging offer quality health care, educational and employment opportunities, and transportation and an economy that work for seniors, according to a national index released today by the Milken Institute, a non-profit think tank based in Santa Monica, Calif. The institute found the best large cities for successful aging helped keep seniors over 65 working, learning and healthy.

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Partnership in the News: The Buzz Around TIGER 2012

The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER Discretionary Grant program, provides a unique opportunity for US DOT to invest in road, rail, transit and port projects that promise to achieve critical national objectives. The TIGER grant program is also part of the federal interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities, which encourages collaboration with US EPA … Continued

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Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning Highlights Five Cook County Communities in New Report

The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), in partnership with the Metropolitan Planning Council and the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, has released a new report, Homes for a Changing Region, highlighting the work of five communities in West Cook County. These communities received Community Challenge grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The report will provide housing supply and workforce data that will help the communities plan and acquire property for future affordable housing and mixed-use developments.

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Smart growth news – October 11

Poll finds support for statewide planning in New Jersey
NJBIZ, October 11, 2011
New Jersey residents support statewide planning to guide growth and development and to protect farms and open space, according to a poll released Tuesday. … The poll was commissioned by four nonprofit organizations: New Jersey Future, the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and Smart Growth America.

Obama’s infrastructure bank proposal faces first test in Republican-led House
The Hill, October 9, 2011
Advocates for reshaping the nation’s roads and bridges have criticized Obama for focusing his message on infrastructure. The president’s argument loses some effectiveness when it is focused on hard-to-visualize infrastructure rather than readily apparent crumbling roads and bridges, they say.

Obama jobs bill touted as a way to bolster infrastructure
Kansas City Star, October 7, 2011
A portion of President Obama’s $447 billion jobs bill could be a boon for Missouri highways, roads and bridges, state and local officials were told Friday.

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"An increasing movement toward more walkable cities"

CNBC released its list today of the top 10 most walkable cities in America, and includes in it a discussion of the growing trend among towns and cities to create neighborhoods with pedestrian-friendly streets and bustling downtown shopping districts. These features are a key part of smart growth development strategies and, as CNBC writer Cindy Perman explains, walkable neighborhoods have benefits beyond street-level charm. Walkable neighborhoods feel safer and more social, and help build exercise into daily routines. But even more importantly, walkable neighborhoods bring economic benefits:

You wouldn’t spend much time hanging around in the parking lot of a strip mall in a car-dependent suburb. But, you would linger in a very walkable city, which means you’re more inclined to spend more. Quite a bit more, in fact. The Urban Land Institute studied two Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC, one walkable and one not. They found that the Barnes & Noble book store in the walkable suburb made 20 percent more in profits than the one in the driving-dependent suburb.

“We call that a place-making dividend,” McMahon said. “People stay longer and come back more often and spend more money in places that attract their affection.”

There’s an economic benefit for homeowners, too: Homes in walkable cities hold their value better than those that were heavily reliant on driving, according to Smart Growth America, a group that promotes “smart growth” instead of suburban sprawl.

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Chicago's Regional Planning Gets Boost from HUD Grant

The following is a guest post from SGA coalition partner Center for Neighborhood Techology, and is part of an ongoing series about winners of the 2010 Partnership for Sustainable Communities federal grants. If your organization applied for, considered applying for or was awarded one of these grants, we want to hear about your experience! Tell us about it here.

Chicago’s Metropolitan Agency for Planning recently won a $4.25 million Sustainable Communities Regional Planning grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to begin making the Agency’s ambitious long-range development plans a reality. Chicago’s GO TO 2040 plan aims to create a stronger regional economy for the Chicago area by way of more livable communities, improved government efficiency and better transportation options for residents. The HUD grant award will help communities put those plans in to action.

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Chicago's 30 year plan looks at day-to-day life and regional prosperity

From CMAP's GO TO 2040 report
A page from the introduction to CMAP’s GO TO 2040 report.

Chicago’s Metropolitan Agency for Planning announced today a visionary plan how the city and its surrounding counties should grow and develop over the next 30 years. The GO TO 2040 project is “a comprehensive regional plan seeks to maintain and strengthen our region’s position as one of the nation’s few global economic centers.” After three years of research, the Agency lays out four main themes in its comprehensive new report: livable communities (including housing, water, energy, parks and local food), human capital (including education and the workforce), efficient governance (including tax reforms) and regional mobility (including strategic investment in transportation).

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