John Discusses Active Trans’ Candidates Survey on WBEZ’s Morning Shift

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Mayoral candidates Walls, Fioretti, Emanuel, García, and Wilson. Photo: Chicago Sun Times

This morning I pedaled down the Lakefront Trail to WBEZ’s studios at the end of Navy Pier to talk with “Morning Shift” host Tony Sarabia about a questionnaire the Active Transportation Alliance sent to all of the mayoral and aldermanic candidates. Listen to the full recording of our on-air conversation here.

The survey asked the candidates what modes they and their family members use for work commutes, errands, and work commutes. It asked whether they support expanding the bike network, and earmarking money for transit and pedestrian infrastructure. The questionnaire also covered automated traffic enforcement, separation of pedestrians and cyclists on the lakefront path, and indoor bike parking at office buildings.

Since the survey was mostly in a yes-or-no format, it’s not surprising that it resulted in nearly identical responses from mayoral contenders Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Alderman Bob Fioretti, Cook County Commissioner Jesús “Chuy” García, and former Harold Washing aide William “Dock” Walls. Businessman Willie Wilson didn’t return the questionnaire.

Obviously, none of the respondents was going to say “no,” they’re not in favor of better conditions for walking, biking, and transit. The only place where the responses varied was on the subject of red light and speed cams — Emanuel was the only one who voiced support for more of them.

If you want to learn anything new about the mayoral hopeful’s viewpoints on transportation, you need to look at the PDFs of the additional comments on the surveys from Emanuel, Fioretti, and García — Walls simply checked the “yes” and “no” boxes. Emanuel has the most extensive responses, since he’s got four years of transportation achievements to boast about. However, it’s a little disappointing that he promises to continue pursuing state and federal grants for pedestrian infrastructure but doesn’t commit to creating a line item in the city budget.

Fioretti deserves credit for being the only candidate to reference the recent campaign for a more equitable distribution of bike resources for the South and West Sides. But his claim that cameras that ticket traffic scofflaws are “an unfair burden on taxpayers” is pretty laughable.

García had nothing additional to say about walking, biking, or transit, but he wrote that, before adding more traffic cams or traffic cops, “I would… look to other jurisdictions for the best, most effective strategies that can be used to increase compliance.” Actually, that’s already been done — there’s no doubt that red light and speed cameras save lives.

While I was on the air, we got several nice tweets from Streetsblog readers who were excited to hear our take on the mayoral race. (Note to self: Turn off the text message alert chime on your cell phone before doing radio interviews.) One reader lamented the fact that, due to our current funding shortfall, we haven’t been able to do original reporting on a regular basis.

Thanks for the contribution, Carmin! The good news is, we’re closing in on reaching 50 percent of the $75K we need to fund a year of operations, and we’re hoping to garner some major donations and grant money in the near future. If you haven’t already done so, please consider donating to the Streetsblog Chicago Resurrection Fund. If the site does not return to daily publication of original reporting by April 8, all money will be returned. Thanks again for your support.

  • SarahChicago

    So what about the Tribune investigation (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/watchdog/redlight/ct-red-light-camera-safety-met-20141219-story.html#page=1) about red light cameras not being effective?

  • Here’s our response: http://chi.streetsblog.org/2014/12/22/why-the-tribunes-red-light-camera-story-is-garbage-journalism/ In a nutshell, the Trib focused on crash numbers, but ignored the fact that while red light cams may lead to an increase in rear-end fender-benders, they’re effective in reducing the number of right-angle crashes, which are far more dangerous.

  • JacobEPeters

    Number of accidents does not equal effectiveness in improving safety, it’s all about the severity of accidents, and dismantling the dangerous driving culture we have developed. One in which tailgating fellow drivers, speeding, and running red lights are viewed as flexible guidelines, rather than rules that when obeyed prevent accidents and fatalities.

    The red light camera is not responsible for the rear end collision, the person speeding without a proper following distance is responsible.

    The Tribune has gotten lazy in its investigations, it only digs until it finds what it wants to believe. It rarely digs, finds something, analyzes it, and then impartially presents the facts about what it found.

  • Actually, García is probably on to something. There are plenty of infrastructure treatments that can be used to keep down speeds both through intersections and around parks/schools. Roundabouts can lower collisions and especially the severity while improvements like speed tables, choke points, pedestrian crossing islands, or even restricting access to areas can keep people from speeding past the most sensitive of road users. Of course, several of those things might cost more than cameras/more cops, but they should be the goal. The infrastructure should not require threatening people with a ticket to get them to drive sensibly for conditions.

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