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Decades of research shows that expanding roads doesn’t provide lasting congestion relief. More lanes means more traffic.

Chicago takes steps towards making our streets safer and buses faster

Wednesday, March 15 marked a successful day in the fight for safer streets.

Two important ordinances — the Complete Streets Ordinance and the Safe Streets Pilots Ordinance — were approved by Chicago City Council.

But that’s not all.

The Plow the Sidewalks ordinance was also introduced to city council and will be assigned to a committee as a next step towards a municipal sidewalk snow clearing pilot program.  

These wins took years of organizing and agitation from advocates, activists, and elected officials alike.

This victory was made possible by each person who emailed their alderperson, shared feedback on frustrating and unsafe experiences on the road, and testified in front of city council.

While we still have a long way to go to create truly equitable and safe streets for all, we must celebrate the small steps toward bigger goals along the way. 

 

THE COMPLETE STREETS ORDINANCE

The Complete Streets Ordinance ensures that when the Chicago Department of Transportation is resurfacing arterial streets, they add safety improvements such as bike lanes, bus lanes, curb extensions, and pedestrian islands for the most vulnerable to traffic violence — people who get around by rolling, walking, biking, or taking transit.

In 2022, one of every three traffic fatalities in Chicago were people walking or biking. With traffic deaths at their highest point in years, we need to calm traffic on Chicago’s major streets.

 

THE SAFE STREETS PILOT ORDINANCE

The Safe Streets Pilot Ordinance establishes two small-scale downtown pilot programs for automated enforcement of certain parking violations — specifically, cars parked in bike lanes, bus-only lanes, bus stops, and crosswalks.

This pilot program will discourage drivers from illegally parking in places that put our most vulnerable road users in dangerous situations.

Anyone who bikes in Chicago is familiar with the all-too-common experience of suddenly being forced to merge with car traffic because a careless driver has parked in the bike lane.

As we push for more dedicated bus lanes in Chicago, we expect the ordinance will help keep those bus lanes clear, allowing for faster travel for buses.

Read more about the two ordinances that passed here.