Since 2001, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) has promoted safe cycling and walking through the City of Chicago’s Safe Routes Ambassadors and Bicycling Ambassadors. The goals of the Ambassadors are safety, encouragement, and education for cyclists and pedestrians, reducing crashes and making Chicago a safer place for active transportation. The Safe Routes Ambassadors and the Bicycling Ambassadors are the largest and longest-running program of their type in North America.
The Ambassadors program is funded through CDOT and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) every yearly season, running from September through August. Each season Ambassadors visit events and neighborhoods throughout Chicago, including schools, parks, libraries, businesses, block parties, ward events, bike rides, farmers markets, festivals, Lakefront Trail outreach and many others. The Ambassadors also helped by acting as a street team during the busiest days for Divvy, Chicago’s Bike Share Program. Finally, the Ambassadors worked with the Chicago Police Department to enforce laws that provide a safer environment for people who walk, bike, and drive.
During the 2012-2013 season, the Ambassadors outreach included:
- 631 Public and Private Events
- Direct contact with 70,000 plus people
- 102 Targeted Enforcement events with the Bicycling Ambassadors
- 178 School Events
- 1,600 helmet fits
Since the programs existed as separate entities in past years, there is no good comparison of numbers between years, but 2012-2013’s numbers nearly equaled those of 2011-2012, while operating with 38% less staff hours. As the combined program moves forward, it will continue to reach new and excited audiences with safety messaging and education.