Did You Know?

Chicago’s first protected bike lane on Kinzie St. increased ridership by 55 percent without increasing traffic congestion for cars.

Vote tomorrow! Local candidates have eye on sustainable transportation

In preparation for tomorrow's election, Active Trans gathered a coalition of eight environmental and transportation organizations to create the Sustainable Transportation Platform. Many of our members and supporters also signed on to the platform. Just as we hoped, the platform sparked multiple conversations with candidates. As you prepare to vote tomorrow, we wanted to update you on how your support has helped us elevate transportation as an election issue.

In addition to giving us the opportunity to sit down with candidates and discuss the need for expanding local sustainable transportation options, the platform has also rallied our members. Candidates are far more interested in our ideas and suggestions when they see that we have vocal, engaged members who care deeply about enhancing options for biking, walking and transit.

While the Sustainable Transportation Platform is directed at Chicago mayoral candidates, Active Trans has been using the platform to reach out to all other local candidates in the Feb. 22 elections. We sent the platform to Chicago aldermanic candidates and provided our suburban members with tools for learning where candidates in their municipal elections stand on our issues.

When Active Trans sent out the Sustainable Transportation Platform to all Chicago mayoral candidates, we asked them for feedback. We also asked to meet each candidate. Here's a quick look at the three Chicago mayoral candidates that have met with Active Trans (in alphabetical order).

Miguel del Valle

* Del Valle, the City Clerk of Chicago, said he supports all 10 recommendations outlined in the plan.
* Del Valle, however, did not formally endorse the platform because he said it might be perceived as a campaign promise. He said he may have different strategies for implementation and he couldn’t promise implementation for all the platform elements.
* Del Valle was intrigued with Active Trans’ suggestion to use Bus Rapid Transit to create a north-south route that connects CTA and Metra rail lines.
* He said he sees a role for the city to help support car sharing and bike sharing.

Rahm Emanuel

* A priority for Emanuel is repairing and extending the CTA Red Line.
* We learned Emanuel is an avid cyclist.
* While we didn’t have time to discuss all 10 platform recommendations in our meeting, he was supportive of the transit, biking and car-sharing topics that we covered.
* After Active Trans met with Emanuel, the candidate revealed some of his goals for expanding Chicago's bicycle network. Specifically, he wants to increase the number of miles of bike lanes added to Chicago each year – from 8 to 25 – and prioritize the creation of protected bike lanes. He also wants to see the Bloomingdale Trail completed during his first term and he wants to expand the availability of bike parking.

Patricia Van Pelt Watkins

* A priority for Watkins is restoring cuts in public transit and calling for more state dollars being devoted to transit in the Chicago region.
* Watkins was supportive of the platform, however, did not formally endorse it until she could further review it and consider funding options for each point.
* Watkins was interested in the idea of separated bike lanes and thought they would greatly increase the safety for anyone choosing to ride a bike in the city, particularly in the downtown area.
* She was very interested in Bus Rapid Transit and thought that it could be a great way to increase ridership and service along corridors with little to no access to rail.

Carol Moseley Braun responded to our request to meet, but scheduling conflicts prevented a meeting. Gery Chico and William Dock Walls also appear on the ballot, but did not respond to Active Trans' request to meet.

As you can see in the recently-released Green Growth questionnaire and a recent article in Time Out Chicago, all the Chicago mayoral candidates show support for biking, pedestrian and transit issues.

Regardless of what happens on election day, Chicago will need a strong voice keeping our city's attention on walking, biking and transit. You can make our voice stronger and help us move our transportation platform forward by joining Active Trans or making a donation today.