Leaders celebrated for commitment to public transit and pedestrian safety at annual Movers & Shakers Ball (2024)

Leaders celebrated for commitment to public transit and pedestrian safety at annual Movers & Shakers Ball (1)

On Thursday, April 4, the annual Movers & Shakers Ball, an event that celebrates big pedestrian and transportation wins — and the people behind them — was held at the Chicago History Museum. The event, which was hosted by the Active Transportation Alliance, recognized the accomplishments and ongoing support of 1st Ward Ald. Daniel La Spata, James M. Derwinski, and 7th District Illinois State Senator Mike Simmons.

Derwinski, who has been the CEO and Executive Director of Metra since 2017, received the Movers Award at the celebration for Metra’s commitment to multi-model transportation — specifically efforts like Metra’s Community Bike Working Group and the new permanent “bikes on all trains” policy. Other highlights include Metra’s improved off-peak service and introduction of a fare program to assist low-income commuters.

After accepting his award, Derwinski shared an announcement.

“Our board last month approved the first in the country: Zero emission train sets,” said Derwinski. “They’re going to be 100% battery powered. Zero emission. There’s going to be eight of them,” adding that the initiative was possible thanks to a grant from the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ).

“I'm super excited,” he continued. “These are going to look totally different, but they're going to perform exceptionally. Our goal is to figure out how to make them work perfectly in the environment that we have up here.”

Ald. La Spata received the Safe Streets Award. In his time as alderman, and a member of Chicago City Council’s Committee on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety, La Spata has prioritized improvements to pedestrian and bike infrastructure. La Spata has been credited for helping see the installation of protected bike lanes on Milwaukee Avenue between California and Western Avenues and his transportation agenda is also focused on modernizing the Blue Line.

When asked about what things regular Chicagoans could or should do to help push for improvements in transit, La Spata told Streetsblog that residents should be pushing for increased state funding and also asking elected leaders to support improvements to infrastructure at the city-level.

Leaders celebrated for commitment to public transit and pedestrian safety at annual Movers & Shakers Ball (2)

Simmons received the Visionary Leadership Award due to his commitment to legislative initiatives that make streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. Specifically, his Senate Bill 2278, which allows local governments to construct non-highway state routes that don’t have to accommodate 55-65 feet trucks, passed last summer and went into effect at the start of the year. Additionally, Simmons was instrumental in Senate Bill 1892, which requires public transit agencies (RTA, CTA, Metra, Pace, etc.) to automatically renew Ride Free and Discounted cards for disabled and senior riders.

“The first thing I would say [to Chicagoans] is to keep using public transit,” Simmons told Streetsblog. “I’ve used public transit my whole life. When I was younger, I didn't have a choice. And now, I still choose to use public transit because I believe in it. It's a special privilege to have bus and train infrastructure.”

Simmons and La Spata also joined Active Transportation Alliance Executive Director Amy Rynell for a roundtable discussion about a safe and sustainable transportation system in the Chicago region. Simmons suggested the group continue to push other legislators so that he wouldn’t be the exception among them, while La Spata encouraged people to “abandon any sense of the inevitability of common sense.”

Leaders celebrated for commitment to public transit and pedestrian safety at annual Movers & Shakers Ball (3)

La Spata also pointed out two upcoming events to go along with his point. The first is a hearing on the public safety and public health benefits of lowering the speed limit in Chicago. “You all are the margin of change,” he told the audience. Additionally, in June, La Spata noted a pilot on plowing sidewalks. “We lead, but it's what you do to move our colleagues that will help to make the Chicago and the Illinois that we all deserve,” he said, once again encouraging attendees to stay involved.

In addition to the awards and roundtable discussion, the ball also featured both a live and silent auction. Some of the items that people could bid on were tickets for cultural experiences at some of the city’s most renowned venues and institutions like the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Field Museum, and Ravinia. Other items included gift certificates, a private brewery tour at Revolution Brewing, a Felt Verza Speed 40 road bike, and CTA merchandise.

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Leaders celebrated for commitment to public transit and pedestrian safety at annual Movers & Shakers Ball (2024)
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