Author Archives: Jim Merrell

Advocates for safer walking and biking prevail: Speed camera threshold stays in place

Thank you to the aldermen who voted to reject efforts to raise the threshold for automated speed enforcement, which would have enabled dangerous speeding and put vulnerable roadway users at risk.

On July 20, a majority of aldermen defeated a measure that would have raised the threshold for speed camera ticketing, making it legal to travel 10 mph above the speed limit near parks and schools — during a time when there’s been a traffic safety crisis on our streets.

A triumph for safe biking: City commits to concrete protected bike lanes

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Transportation announced plans to upgrade all existing protected bike lanes with new concrete curbs by the end of 2023, a big step toward creating a connected and protected bike network for Chicago. 

The announcement comes after years of grassroots advocacy calling for more robust barriers for Chicago’s bikeways, as well as recent mobilization efforts in response to a devastating string of fatal crashes,

Now is the time for a transformative capital plan

The just-announcedChicago Works Five Year Capital Plan offers Chicago an extraordinary opportunity to show how walking, biking, and transit can help spark and sustain an equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plan highlights a number of inspiring and potentially transformational projects, including $159.2 million dedicated to the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) in 2021 and 2022 for Complete Streets improvements — like protected bike lanes and dedicated bus lanes.

Active Trans works to connect trails in Chicagoland

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Chicago area residents have come to depend on trails not only as recreational assets, but also as transportation corridors that provide low-stress walking and biking connections within and between communities.

The Chicago area provides opportunities to enjoy more than 1,100 miles of trails that crisscross the region. But too often people walking or biking on our regional trails encounter dead ends, dangerous crossings, diversions onto stressful streets, and other gaps in the network.

The role bikes play in creating a better world

Chicago Bike Week is when we celebrate the role bikes play in creating a better world.

Over the past few months, we’ve been reminded again and again how the issues of biking and mobility intersect with broader movements for social justice.

We must continue to prioritize the needs of communities most harmed by an unjust transportation landscape, Black and Brown people, poor people, and people with disabilities.

We must also do everything we can to dismantle the white supremacy and structural racism that creates walking,

During Chicago Bike Week, let’s recommit ourselves to safer streets

As we begin the annual celebration of Chicago Bike Week, we are faced with tragic reminders of how far our region still has to go before people of all ages and abilities are able to enjoy the benefits of biking.

Over the past several weeks, two teenagers have been killed and one adult seriously injured while biking in our region.

Each and every fatality and serious injury is preventable.

A bad decision for lakefront transit

State and local officials leading the North Lake Shore Drive reconstruction project have eliminated the best option for bringing a dedicated transit lane to a vital Chicago corridor.

We strongly oppose this decision and will work with our members, supporters, and partner organizations to reverse it.

The reconstruction effort is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create healthy, sustainable, and equitable transportation along Chicago’s North Lakefront. In 2018, Active Trans lead a coalition of ten business and civic groups calling for dedicated space for transit.

Open streets and Chicagoland’s transportation recovery planning

We’ve been listening to feedback from our supporters about open streets and want to respond in order to clarify some important points. We also want to continue to share how we are developing our overall response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We do not oppose open streets. By raising concerns about potential harms to public health and urging that any initiative be community-informed, we regret that some supporters got the impression we’re against any changes to street design during the pandemic.

Breaking the cycle of ugly public meetings

A proposed project to make a street safer for people walking and biking sparks backlash. A contentious public meeting is held. Arguments based on emotion and anecdotal experience are hurled about. People are frustrated. Rinse. Repeat.

Maybe the project moves forward, or gets watered down, or nixed entirely. Who knows? The outcome depends on a completely opaque process and constantly shifting set of criteria.

Chicago: This is why we can’t have nice things.

Common sense approach needed for bikes on Riverwalk

UPDATE (6/25/19): According to the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), bicycling is allowed on the path when the Riverwalk is not congested. Reports indicate security guards are no longer asking people biking to dismount. Learn the latest on the issue and Active Trans’ advocacy efforts in the Chicago Reader. 

A lack of transparency and mixed messages has led to widespread confusion and frustration about biking on the Riverwalk along the Main Branch of the Chicago River.