Tag Archives: Chicago

Top 10 walking, biking, and transit stories of 2020

Jan 11, 2021 | by Kyle Whitehead

2020 was a challenging year on many fronts. The coronavirus devastated communities across Chicagoland in 2020 and the transportation impacts will be felt for years to come.  Throughout the year, the Active Transportation Alliance continued to do the important work of fighting for clean and equitable transportation. Here’s a look back at 10 of the most important walking, biking, and transit stories and advocacy victories of the year.  1. COVID changes how Chicagoans get around. From staying at home in March through spending the holidays at home in December, many residents traveled far less in 2020. Car traffic and transit ridership plummeted while walking and biking spiked. Over the summer, Active Trans spoke with more than 100 community leaders in the city and suburbs about...

Cameras can help Chicago slow down cars but must be deployed fairly

Oct 27, 2020 | by Kyle Whitehead

During a difficult Chicago budget season, Mayor Lori Lightfoot is proposing changes to the city’s speed camera program that would lower the speed at which residents are ticketed.  State law allows Chicago officials to ticket people driving when they’re captured on camera going 6 mph or more above the posted limit. However, to date the city has only ticketed residents for going 10 mph or more above limit.   Last week Mayor Lightfoot proposed lowering the ticketing threshold to 6 mph. In support of the proposal, the mayor pointed to camera data showing increases in speeding near parks and schools during the pandemic.   This proposal rightly shines a light on the danger of speeding on city streets and the harm it causes. But the timing and penalty structure raise concerns about the program’s impact on racial and social equity, especially...

Advocates call for keeping transit running during any post-election protests

Oct 13, 2020 | by Kyle Whitehead

UPDATE (10/14/20): In response to the petition, Mayor Lightfoot's Office said in a statement to WTTW that they will work with city officials, community leaders, and other stakeholders to “avoid any shutdown of transit options in the future.” A coalition of advocates is calling on Mayor Lightfoot and Chicago-area transit agencies to keep our buses, trains, paratransit, and bike sharing running during future periods of civil unrest in the city.   The group’s petition states that “transit is a public good and a necessity at all times.” It calls for the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra, Pace Suburban Bus, and Divvy to make public commitments to remain in operation during times of protest so people can get where they need to go.  The group says this request is urgent given the potential for unrest following major upcoming...

Moving beyond four main barriers to building protected bike lanes in Chicago

Sep 24, 2020 | by Kyle Whitehead

Protected bike lanes have been proven again and again as the best approach for making streets safe and comfortable for biking. People of all ages and abilities get excited about biking when they are physically protected from car traffic. This protected biking environment dramatically increases safety and comfort for people on two wheels while having limited negative impact on car and truck traffic. The key ingredient for a good protected bike lane (PBL) is a street with space that can be dedicated to bikes. While not all streets will work, there are more than enough streets in Chicago for a robust network of PBLs. In some cases adding a PBL requires re-allocating street space from cars, such as converting parking...

Support better transportation in Chicago’s 2021 budget

Sep 8, 2020 | by Kyle Whitehead

Chicago faces many challenges as officials prepare next year’s budget. Among those challenges is the need to improve mobility options while keeping the city's transportation system accessible to everyone. That's why we need to ensure that transportation issues and improvements are part of the city's budget conversation. You can help make sure this happens: If you're a Chicago resident, please take the city’s 2021 budget survey by Sunday, September 13.  As with many other critical public systems, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the underlying inequities in Chicago’s transportation network.  Decades of structural racism and disinvestment have meant that the Black and Latinx communities were already struggling with inadequate transportation options before the pandemic. Then, as COVID-19 hit, these Chicago communities faced even...

Chicago’s budget needs to advance bus and bike lanes

Aug 18, 2020 | by W. Robert Schultz III

Active Trans Campaign Organizer W. Robert Schultz III, a 31st Ward resident, provided testimony at a Chicago City Council hearing on the city's infrastructure needs on August 18. The following is an excerpt of his remarks. I have lived in Belmont Cragin, Logan Square, and Uptown. Over the 30 years that I lived in Chicago, I have worked in nearly every one of its 77 community areas, and my Chicago experiences started as a frequent visitor to Englewood in the 1960s. I chose to make Chicago home because I wanted to live a car free. This means walking to a Chicago Transit Authority bus stop if I am heading out for shopping or work, or recreational-, educational-, or health-related activities....

Take action now to stop public transit and Divvy shutdowns

Aug 14, 2020 | by Active Trans

The following is an organizational statement from Active Transportation Alliance Executive Director Amy Rynell. For more on the shutdowns, see Lynda Lopez's blog post, The needless harm done by shutting down public transit. Public transit provides access to opportunities for thousands of working-class Chicagoans. Buses, trains, paratransit, and bike share connect people to their jobs, healthcare appointments, grocery stores, and their families. When it's taken away, riders are cut off from where they need to go or forced to pay much more for a taxi or ride-hailing trip. The repeated evening and overnight shutdowns of CTA, Divvy, and paratransit service in the downtown area sets an alarming precedent. City officials are making this call without providing the public a clear...

Chicago prepares second e-scooter pilot

Jul 27, 2020 | by Kyle Whitehead

The scooters are coming. Again.  Officials say four companies responded to the city’s request for applications for a second e-scooter sharing pilot this summer. Chicago selected Bird, Lime, and Spin to participate in this year's program, which launches August 12. 2020 PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS  The terms reflect many of the recommendations from Active Trans’ E-Scooter Policy Report, which was released following the 2019 pilot.  The companies can operate a combined 10,000 scooters in a geographic area that includes most of the city.  Scooters are not allowed downtown or on the Lakefront or 606 trails, as Active Trans and our partners recommended.   At least half of the scooters must be docked in low-income areas on the South and West Sides. We spoke with community leaders in these “priority zones” after the initial pilot and...

Chicago launches Our Streets as part of COVID-19 response

May 29, 2020 | by Active Trans

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a new program to create more space for people walking and biking during the COVID-19 pandemic.  According to the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), the Our Streets initiative “invites Chicago neighborhoods to request that local roads be converted into corridors for improved, safe travel and healthy activity.”   This includes designating some residential streets as “shared streets” by adding traffic barriers and limiting through traffic to allow for physically distanced walking and biking. The list of streets is still in development, although 47th Ward Alderman Matt Martin announced Leland Avenue in his North Side ward will be the city’s first COVID-19 shared street starting Friday.  Shared streets are a first step to help Chicagoans feel safe walking and biking during the pandemic, but much more needs to be done. To date, the city’s plans fail to address the mobility...

Advocates call for transit agencies to prioritize racial equity in COVID-19 response

Apr 16, 2020 | by Kyle Whitehead

If Chicago’s transit agencies are going to recover from the devastating effects of COVID-19, they need to include riders and other Chicagoland residents in their decision making. CTA ridership is down more than 80 percent from typical April ridership. Pace Suburban Bus ridership is down 68 percent. Metra ridership is down 97 percent – combining for an 83 percent decline system wide. Sales tax and gas tax revenues – two of the agencies’ largest sources of operating and capital dollars – are way down and expected to take a long time to recover. The emergency assistance for transit included in the CARES Act will help, but it’s not nearly enough. CALLS FOR TRANSPARENCY AND RACIAL EQUITY Active Trans joined seven...