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Find out what's happening in the blog. Below is a list of blog items.

Jun 21

Batavia retains status as Bike Friendly Community

Posted to BataviaPlus City Profiles by Christopher Cudworth

league-logoThe League of America Bicyclists has again designated the City of Batavia as a Bike Friendly Community . The ranking is based on an extended assessment of factors. In the article that follows, we talk with members of the Batavia Bicycle Commission that has overseen the key factors leading to the BFC designation. These include:

  • Total Bicycle Network Mileage to Total Road Network Mileage
  • Bicycle Education in Schools
  • Share of Transportation Budget Spent on Bicycling
  • Bike Month and Bike to Work Events
  • Active Bicycle Advocacy Group and Advisory Committee
  • Bicycle Friendly Laws and Ordinances
  • Current Bike Plan and Implementation

The designation also measures factors such as Engineering on the Bicycle network and connectivity, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement of safety and cyclist’s rights and Evaluation and Planning.

Great 8The BFC Report Card includes recommendations for Batavia to become a Silver Level Bike Friendly City. These include:

  1. Create an on-street bicycle network the complements existing trails in Batavia
  2. Continue building culture of collaboration with local organizations and bike shops
  3. Work with law enforcement to monitor and manage both bicycle and motorist traffic law infractions
  4. Increase bicycle safety education

In 2009 the Batavia City Council created the Batavia Bicycle Commission. The initiative began with the creation of the City of Batavia Bicycle Plan which was originally written and approved by the City Council in 2007.  This initial Plan provided suggestions on how to make Batavia better place for bicyclists to ride and visit. Some of these guidelines included friendlier crossings, bike lanes for traffic clarity, clearer markings and signage and creating an overall awareness program. The plan also considered a safer routes to schools program.

The Batavia Bicycle Commission is made up of seven Batavia residents. Current members include:

 

John Gamble (Chair)

John Burnham

Rick James

Matt Knowles

Amy Moore

PJ Scott

Joanne Spitz

We talked with members of the Bicycle Commission to discuss progress on bike safety and community awareness. And we asked…

 What does it mean for Batavia to be designated a Bike Friendly Community?

Bike Commission membersJohn Gamble:  It means an increased awareness for everyone in the community to be alert for cyclists, but also for cyclists to respect and abide by laws intended for their safety.

The BFC designation applies for four more years. If Batavia chooses, it can apply to upgrade its status earlier based on achievement of the suggested factors for increased friendliness to cyclists.

COB: Congratulations on the Bike Friendly City designation. What led to the renewal as a Bronze Level Bike Friendly City?

John Gamble: Yes, we’ve been able to progress in some important categories the last four years, and this designation is good for the next four. So we’re looking at what it will take to reach a Silver designation. But most importantly, we’re focused on the four “E’s” that got us here.

  • Enforcement: Make sure we create an atmosphere in which both bikes and vehicles respect the laws.
  • Encouragement: We want to do what we can to invite people to ride.
  • Engineering: Working with the city and park district to create bike friendly pathways
  • Education: Our most important job is educating cyclists on their rights and responsibilities. But that includes educating motorists as well.

Amy Moore: One of the challenges we have is still convincing people, especially kids, to wear helmets. Kids fight them. But people don’t go downhill skiing without a helmet and goggles. So we’re trying to encourage awareness about how important it is to wear helmets while biking.

Joanne Spitz: We’re also looking for ways to create support for bicycle infrastructure. People already don’t see bikes. It’s an age-old problem. So the safer and more visible we can make it for riding in terms of safety and access on streets, the better. But it’s also a public awareness thing with our drivers. Not seeing bikes is just like not seeing motorcycles. So we want to promote presence of mind. It’s tough with people texting while driving. The distractions are a problem.

John Gamble: And we really want to continue improving support for infrastructure around sites like schools. So we’re looking at East-West and North-South corridors for bicycles and pedestrians to have safe routes to schools. That makes it easier for cars to know there might be bikes present.

Amy Moore: Then there are still the street crossing issues. We’ve worked with the state to set up crossings in town that are functional. Some work well, while others need work. The crossing at McKee and Route 31 is not ideal. We might have located that one in a different spot and are concerned that crossing as it now stands provides a false sense of security. So some of these issues are ongoing. But that’s our job on the Bicycle Commission. Keep the conversation and education going.

The  Batavia Bicycle Commission was created to serve as an advocate in developing legislation to promote and serve bicycling in the City of Batavia.This includes acting as the primary resource to city government on issues, policies and standards related to the Batavia Bicycle Plan and future growth of the Plan. The Commission works with the community at large to help develop educational and informational programs, events and materials to promote safe biking and pedestrianism.

 





Jun 22

Fox River Trail initiatives needs paddlers to collect data

Posted to BataviaPlus Regional by Christopher Cudworth

Fox River FabyanThe Wisconsin-Illinois Fox River Water Trail Initiative is seeking to improve how people engage with and enjoy the Fox River along its entire length. The group is issuing an invitation to participate in data collection to better identify needs and opportunities associated with this effort. Here is the message from Karen Ann Miller, AICP, Executive Planner, Kane County Development Department and Co-Chair, of the Trail Initiative. 

Hello Fox River Stakeholders!



You may have heard of a little project going on in and around your community. It’s a project that will enhance recreational opportunities, garner national recognition and be an economic development driver for municipalities and counties along the Fox River. The Wisconsin-Illinois Fox River Water Trail Initiative began when individuals attending the Fox River Summit in 2014 learned about the National Park Service (NPS) Water Trail System.  In the summer of 2015 these individuals met to discuss their interest in working together to develop a water trail for the Fox River that may someday be designated as part of the NPS Water Trail System.  The benefits of such a designation include national recognition, a listing on the National Park Service website with interactive maps and other information for paddlers, support for conservation and other efforts to protect the trail.

The group, the Core Development Team, applied for and is receiving technical assistance from the NPS’ Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program to develop the Wisconsin-Illinois Fox River Water Trail Initiative.

The Core Development Team has been busy collecting existing data regarding canoe/kayak access points including signage, parking, and amenities on land at the access location. Data collection on river segments regarding the journey experience such as time expected to travel a segment, hazards, dams and portages, and experience level is also needed. This data will be used to develop maps of the Fox River, a public website and plan for suggested future improvements.

We need your help to collect data in Illinois during this paddling season!  Collection forms that can be accessed electronically through Google Drive or as paper forms have been developed, along with instructions for data collection volunteers.

If you are interested in becoming involved in this exciting initiative to develop a water trail for the Fox River please see the instructions attached to this email and contact Karen Ann Miller at millerkaren@co.kane.il.us with any questions.

Please sign-up to receive updates on the Wisconsin-Illinois Fox River Water Trail Initiative through the Fox River Ecosystem Partnership monthly Downstream newsletter at www.foxriverecosystem.org

We hope you will join us on this exciting venture!


Karen

Karen Ann Miller, AICP

Executive Planner

Kane County Development Dept.

Illinois Co-Chair

Wisconsin-Illinois Fox River Water Trail Initiative

719 S. Batavia Ave.

Geneva, IL 60134

(630)232-3418


Jun 19

Batavia Interfaith Food Pantry: making life normal for many

Posted to BataviaPlus Voices by Christopher Cudworth



Batavia Pantry tooSee those shelves filled with food at the Batavia Interfaith Food Pantry and Clothes Closet? It's all donated and processed for distribution to members of the community in need of groceries for daily nutrition. 

See, hunger in Batavia doesn’t look like bloated stomachs or skin and bones.  It is more often about making a choice between paying the electric bill, the medical bill or going to the grocery store.  It is part of the stress of trying to get the bills paid and the home duties done while you parent and work. It’s just like all of us but there is ZERO room for error in many households.

Unexpected financial emergencies put many people in a bind.

  • You get a flat tire and then what?  How do you get to work?  If you skip work to fix the car, you lose that day’s income and maybe the job itself.  You come to the food pantry until the car is fixed.
  • Your tooth hurts and the cost of the dentist bill causes you to be late on rent again. You get an eviction notice.  You need to pay the landlord or lose your home, so you come to the food pantry because every last penny needs to pay the landlord.
  • Your wife left you and the four kids.  It was tight before and now the family has one less job. You go to the food pantry because the kids need healthy food and clothes.
  • There is a new baby and the baby needs diapers, which aren’t cheap. You come to food pantry because we have the food you need to feed a growing family.
  • You live in a $500,000 house with your husband and kids with two nice cars and all the fixings.  Everything is working well until someone loses a job, there is a major medical problem and someone can’t work.  Income drops.  Expenses rise.  Debt payments remain the same.  You come to the Food Pantry and Clothes Closet until income rises or the house and overhead can be cut.
  • Divorce brings folks to the pantry until expenses and lifestyles are settled.

For others, the supplementary services provided by the pantry and clothes closet are a regular part source of support. There is no particular triggering event. Here are a few examples:

  • You are retired on a fixed income.  You know exactly how much money there is to go around. You come to the food pantry monthly for full service shopping, every Saturday for extras and sometimes midweek for bread and apples.  You’re not here because it’s an emergency. You are here because your budget won't work without these supplementary groceries.
  • You are working over 40 hours a week at minimum. Paychecks don’t cover the expenses so you are a pantry regular as well: once a month, every Saturday.

The pantry and clothes closet helps folks hold it together, be part of their community and carry on a life that has normalcy.

700 FAMILIES A YEAR

Over the course of the year, the pantry and clothes closet serve close to 700 families.  They are welcome to receive full service grocery shopping once a month (almost a week's worth of groceries) and clothes shopping twice a month. Yet most only take what they need. Some we serve only once. On average, clients visit 11 times a year. That includes about 6 visits to the food pantry and 5 visits to the clothes closet.  

Of the individuals we serve, 40% are children, 52% are adults, and 8% are elderly. The volume of food and clothing that goes in and out of our little building each month is amazing.  

We rely on the help of150 volunteers a month process both clothing and food donations. In May alone our volunteers processed 52,000 pounds of food donations

This article for Voice was provided by Betsy Zinser, Executive Director of the Batavia Interfaith Food Pantry and Clothes Closet. 

Batavia PantryThe Batavia Interfaith Food Pantry and Clothes Closet is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, volunteer agency directed and operated by community and local church volunteers residing throughout the greater Fox Valley area. It is also a member of the Northern Illinois Food Bank. Those who visit and use the Food Pantry are our neighbors and friends, people with disabilities, seniors, low income families, and families whose member(s) have lost their jobs.

Once a client/family has been 
certified they may use the Pantry once a month. In addition, all clients may come during the last half hour of operation on any day the Pantry is open for produce and bakery items. The Pantry is also open to all clients each Saturday morning, see right column for hours and available items.
The Batavia Interfaith Food Pantry has been open for over 30 years. It is currently serving over 1,200 individuals each month. This would not be possible without the active support of community volunteers and donors who so selflessly donate their time, effort, and money. Our pantry requires 900 worker hours each month to fill our client shopping hours and food collection and stocking needs.