Odds and ends, some a bit odder than others:
Bike surprise: Always good when a group I’ve pigeon-holed offers up a contrarian view. An informal group of Oak Park advocates for improving conditions for biking and walking has urged village government to shelve plans to head straightaway into another bike-share program.
You’ll remember the Divvy bike program, all those handsome blue bikes standing at rest in their expensive docking stations around the village. Agree or disagree with the timing, but a narrow majority of the village board killed Divvy over the winter as costs were high and ridership was, at best, stagnant to falling.
Since that decision, it had been assumed that Oak Park would sign on to Bike Share 2.0 with another vendor who had hopefully figured out the fatal flaw(s) in the Divvy model.
Along comes Bike Walk Oak Park. Remember, this is something of an ad hoc group. But the person speaking for it is Ron Burke. He’s an Oak Park fellow and director of the Active Transportation Alliance. That’s a regional non-profit that advocates for bicyclists and often gets paid by municipalities to develop plans for bike routes and biking amenities in these towns.
In an e-mail last week he said this group wants village government to focus for now on building a proposed bike network – among other things that means designating and designing “low-stress bike routes” that will encourage people who don’t currently take a bike for a trip within the village to do so.
I’ve been a casual bike rider for several years and you couldn’t convince me to ride from Roosevelt to Lake along busy Oak Park Avenue. What’s my alternative? That, I think, is the point of this group’s caution on focusing on a bike-share program when there is a lot of other work to be done to make Oak Park friendlier to bikers and walkers.
White flight: There’s a term we don’t hear much anymore. But a piece last week in Crain’s noted a new nationwide academic study that looked at middle class census tracks which have lost white population over the past decade.
Of local interest are three south suburban towns – Lynwood, Matteson and Homewood – which have lost white residents as Hispanics and Asian Americans have begun to congregate.
Said the researcher, Samuel Kye, of Indiana University, “The pursuit of integrated neighborhoods is a fragile enterprise. There continue to be hurdles that make diversity difficult to achieve.”
These days everyone takes Oak Park’s diversity for granted. Worth remembering, we didn’t get to this place by accident or based on the munificence of the marketplace. Oak Park is diverse because of bold decisions made decades back and vigilance every day since.
SAY Connects: Today is the print debut of a new year-long series in the Journal called SAY Connects.
SAY is Success of All Youth, a nonprofit run out of the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation, which focuses on connecting and maximizing existing services for young people.
This project, which includes a monthly print section as well as digital, video, social and events, is what in our industry is called a sponsored-content section. The Good Heart Work Smart Foundation is underwriting all these efforts.
It means the Journal is being paid to create compelling feature stories around specific themes chosen by SAY. This first effort focuses on the challenges for parents in lining up and paying for summer camp programs for their kids. I think it is a good and useful read.
The content is not coming out of our newsroom. Instead it is being written by longtime local freelance journalist Cassandra West. And it is labeled as sponsored content.
We’re excited about this new effort and appreciative of the support of the foundation.