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Did You Know?

Bus riders account for more than 20 percent of people using Lake Shore Drive every day while taking up a fraction of the space that cars do.

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.

Unfortunately, the plan also risks missing out on some enormous benefits by taking a business-as-usual approach to transportation. The approach risks letting politically popular projects like car-centric re-paving beat out smart, long-term planning and investment in cleaner, healthier, and safer modes of transportation.

The plan lacks details on how Complete Streets investments will add up to producing an easy-to-use and accessible network of walking, biking, and transit options and community engagement in the plan has been woefully lacking.

But there’s still a chance to set things right and leverage Chicago Works to help our city meet some of its most pressing challenges.

And with potentially billions of additional dollars in federal infrastructure funding flowing to Chicago in the coming months, now is the time to show residents the city can implement a capital plan that is smart, transparent, and transformative.

To this end, we have shared a detailed memo with the City of Chicago. The document comprises a series of recommendations we believe will enable the city to maximize the benefit of new capital investment.

Key recommendations include:

  • Create transparency and community accountability. Provide public forums for input on project development and planning decisions.
  • Implement Vision Zero improvements. Develop a timeline and project schedule for traffic safety improvements on Vision Zero High Crash Corridors within the scope of the city’s 5-year capital plan.
  • Jump-start stalled progress on protected bike lanes. Install at least 10 miles of protected bike lanes on key routes by 2023, prioritizing the South and West Side routes that lack quality infrastructure.
  • Deliver a network of dedicated bus lanes. Install at least 20 miles of bus lanes on high-ridership routes by 2023.
  • Make streetscapes work for mobility. Set baseline design goals for all streetscape projects that emphasize and positively impact walking, biking, and using transit.

We urge Mayor Lightfoot, City Council, transportation and transit agency leaders to take these steps to ensure the capital plan achieves its goal to encourage clean, healthy, and affordable transportation.

Read our full response to the Chicago Works Five Year Capital Plan where we spell out these recommendations in detail.