Talking Transportation With Alderman Bob Fioretti

Bob Fioretti by the Dearborn protected bike lanes at Monroe. Photo: John Greenfield

[This article also ran in Checkerboard City, John Greenfield’s column in Newcity magazine, which hits the streets in print on Wednesday evenings.]

Second Ward Alderman Robert “Bob” Fioretti reelection chances got tougher after last year’s ward remap. His district currently includes portions of several neighborhoods on the Near South and Near West sides, but in 2015 his territory will flip to the Near North Side, which means he has to win over a whole new set of voters in the next election.

Perhaps because he has an uphill battle anyway, lately he’s had no qualms about going against the mayor’s wishes on issues ranging from charter schools to the renegotiation of the city’s reviled parking-meter contract. As part of a series of interviews with aldermen about their view on transportation issues, I recently had coffee with Fioretti downstairs from his law firm, a stone’s throw from the Dearborn protected bike lanes.

John Greenfield: I thought you did a great job speaking out against the meter deal reboot. Your opposition was mainly financial, right, that [despite the introduction of free parking on Sundays] Chicago Parking Meters could be making even more money from extended meter hours on other days?

Robert Fioretti: One, they were still getting a good deal out of it. Two, it was almost as if we were putting the nail in the coffin for the long term here. It was a bad deal in the first place and now we’re ratifying it by making amendments to the contract. We’ve leased our sovereignty to an outside entity, and that has a negative impact on many things we do in the city.

I did vote for the meter deal the first time around. I had assurances from the [Richard M. Daley] administration that the money was going to be a long-term, rainy-day fund. [Most of the nearly $1.2 billion CPM paid the city was spent to patch the budget deficit before Daley left office.] That’s why nowadays I’m very hardcore that, when the administration says they’re going to do things, I want it in writing.

JG: Ashland Avenue runs through your ward. What do you think about the city’s plans to do bus rapid transit on Ashland, replacing car lanes with dedicated lanes for high-speed buses?

RF: I’m not sure yet. Conceptually it’s a good idea but I want to take a closer look at what they’re proposing, since it’s going to cost $10 million a mile. I use public transportation as often as possible—I have my CTA card in my pocket. The question is, how do we break the hold of the car on the minds of so many of our traveling public? People want safe, reliable, on-time transportation. When they believe the CTA is able to provide that, they’ll be willing to give up their cars.

Fioretti, right, at the ribbon cutting for the Dearborn protected lanes in December. Photo: John Greenfield

JG: What kind of support for the BRT proposal have you been hearing from community members and business owners?

RF: Very little. I’ve heard nine-to-one against it, a lot of negative feedback. That’s why I think it’s very important to study this some more. The CTA has to show people the benefits of BRT and demonstrate why they would want to use it.

JG: The Circle Interchange [of the Kennedy, Eisenhower and Dan Ryan expressways] is in your ward. The Illinois Department of Transportation wants to build a flyover ramp that would run right by a residential building at 400 South Green.

RF: It would run close to several buildings and negatively impact Greektown. It would probably destroy the view of the National Hellenic Museum. I don’t know if the state is ready to compensate people for the loss in property values. We have condominiums nearby that are already under water and this will only make it worse. There are alternatives. I think they could build underground. I sent a letter to the governor and IDOT did consent to additional hearings on the project.

JG: The Divvy bike-share program is supposed to launch by the end of the month. What kind of effect do you think that’s going to have?

RF: I hope it’s going to be a good program. If the people who use it are educated about bike safety and are comfortable riding on city streets, it will be a good thing for Chicago. It can help cut down the amount of pollution and help people get some exercise.

JG: Do you ever ride a bike in the city?

RF: I ride all the time. This morning I went out and took a ride. I started my Bike the Ward ride several years ago. It’s a historic ride: we visit several different historic sites, like the park where the Cubs won their last World Series [in 1908], the site of Mrs. O’Leary’s barn, and a Civil War prison camp where 6,000 Confederate soldiers died.

JG: I saw you at the ribbon cutting for the Dearborn protected bike lanes in December. How do you think those have worked out?

RF: To be honest, sometimes [the Chicago Department of Transportation] gets a thought in their mind and decides where they’re going to put bike lanes without really getting enough community input to see if they’re the best locations. I think we should be repaving the streets and making sure they’re safe before we put in bike lanes. There’s some potholes on Dearborn and there are some terrible drainage issues. They need to work on snow removal as well. You hate to hit a patch of ice when you’re on your bike.

  • What timid responses about better transit, bike-share, and safer bike lanes from a guy who supposedly has nothing to lose.

  • Joseph Musco

    Ald. Fioretti: According to CTA reps quoted on this website, Ashland BRT is going to cost $116M for the initial 5.6 mile stretch including equipment or more than $20M per mile.

    IMHO NYC’s Select Bus Service (actual costs of existing service ~ $3-5M per mile inclusive) is a lot better format for improving service for a larger number of Chicagoans. Maybe you only achieve half the time savings with SBS vs. consultant Gold Standard BRT but if you can deploy 4x the route coverage for the same total cost and maintain a more resilient and versatile bus fleet (no need to purchase special left opening buses) it’s hard to see how BRT as currently proposed is the best solution for Chicago.

  • BlueFairlane

    It’s more expensive than I would prefer, but personally I’m glad to see it come, just to see how it plays out. I think this is a test that needs to happen, as it will eliminate a lot of what-ifs, and will prove or disprove some long-held beliefs on all sides of transit issues.

  • Anonymous

    I find it ironic that on the same day that many people, including the Chicago Tribune’s editorial staff, lament the $450,000 spent on Metra’s departing CEO as wasteful, others can argue with a straight face that spending $116 million on a 5.6 mile bus route – an inherently flawed project which evidently 9/10 people who are directly affected by OPPOSE – is somehow a prudent use of taxpayer money.

  • BlueFairlane

    First off, that’s not irony. That’s two different groups of people talking about separate issues that don’t relate.

    Second, just because some things are expensive doesn’t mean other, unrelated less expensive things aren’t wasteful.

    Third, I think this site can do a better job defending the Ashland BRT than I, but I will say that if this is done correctly, it could significantly alter the way many tens of thousands travel every day. Some investments are worth making, some aren’t. I personally think this one is.

  • Anonymous

    Well you’re 100% right about one thing: it will significantly alter the way many people commute. It will make things worse. The icing on the cake is the outrageous cost. Even if the BRT worked as proposed – which I’d bet my life it wont – I’m still not even sure how any remotely fiscally responsible person could believe it to be a wise idea given the city’s finances. Look, it’s not a coincidence, or grand conspiracy, or narrow-minded thinking that are causing so many people (9/10 by Ald. Fioretti’s count!!!) to oppose the BRT. I’m greatly looking forward to it going nowhere.

  • $116 million for a project that could revolutionize transportation in Chicago is outrageous compared to what? The half-billion dollars IDOT is ready to spend for the destructive Circle Interchange Expansion project?

  • David Altenburg

    You keep citing the 9/10 number as though it’s more meaningful than it is. First, that’s 9/10 people who Bob Fioretti’s heard from, which implies that it’s primarily his constituents. The Ashland BRT will “directly” affect far more than those who live in his ward. Second, that number consists of those who contacted the Alderman or his office. It’s safe to assume that those who are going to be (or expect to be) impacted negatively are more likely to contact the alderman at this point because the perceived negatives (loss of parking, increased congestion for cars) are clearer than the positives (faster commutes, more people choosing CTA over driving), which can’t be certain until the route has been in place for some time. The point is that number doesn’t come out of a scientific poll. That’s a number of people who contacted a single alderman. If you’ve spent any time following city projects, it’s clear that those opposed to new things are nearly always more vocal than those who are excited about them.

  • Anonymous

    I think what disappoints me the most about the alternative transportation fanatics is the relentless delusional grandiosity of their beliefs. Supposedly, the Ashland BRT will improve the speed of the a single 5.5 mile bus lane (out of over 2,000 miles of CTA bus routes) to a speed that while faster than before, is still slower than the speed of cars. Even ignoring the insane cost, for this pathetically underwhelming achievement you are claiming that it will “revolutionize” transportation. REVOLUTIONIZE. HA! You like this stuff, I get it, but come back to earth.

  • Guest

    I think what disappoints me the most about the automobile transportation fanatics is the relentless delusional grandiosity of their beliefs. Supposedly, traffic congestion comes from a lack of roadway space dedicated to vehicular traffic. Thus, we have ever expanding highways and 5-lane proto-highways running through dense central cities that were thriving long before cars existed.

    Congestion is not the problem, it is the solution. When you give something away for free, people will use it until there isn’t any more left.

  • Michael Weiser

    The Alderman is correct to hesitate on the BRT and wrong to waffle on his support for the parking meter deal.

    California, Florida, and Nevada recently legalized self-driving cars. Self-driving car technology is extremely promising, and very successful companies like Google, Volvo, and Ford are investing a lot of money and time into making it work for city travel.

    By luck, the parking meter deal could become one of the greatest deals in Chicago’s history as self-driving car technology changes the equation of the need for street parking.

    Of course, the BRT plans invests far too much money in far too old technology that serves far too few people. It’s much better to keep the system as it is and then catch the new technology as it arrives.

    Investing in the BRT is like investing in rotary phone technology. On the other hand, if the city plays its cards well by encouraging self-driving technology, the company currently controlling the city parking spaces will within decades be begging to get out of the deal.

  • Correct, NIMBYs often form a vocal minority, as was the case at this meeting for the Milwaukee bike lanes:

  • BlueFairlane

    Now there’s a technological absurdity I’m not looking forward to.

  • Michael Weiser

    Depending on their shapes and abilities, cars, buses, and bikes are all often highly appropriate, but when used incorrectly they can be worse than absurd. They can be downright damaging to the soul.

    The intelligent city carefully contemplates all choices and invests wisely without putting too much money or plan into one pot. After all, there was too much money and effort poured into car technology in the first place. A new era of auto innovation will bring far more progress, promise, enjoyment, opportunity, and open space to the city than restricting street lanes for buses only.

  • BlueFairlane

    That all sounds very pithy, but I tend to live closer to the ground where I frequently have to deal with the consequences of overconfidence among tech people. Tech people never imagine a failure in their surprisingly fragile technology until it happens, and they forget about it immediately after it passes. It’s one thing when a computer crashes your hard drive. It’s another thing entirely when it crashes your car.

    In short, while I’m generally okay with cars and buses damaging my soul, I’m less willing to let a self-driving car damage anything else. We’re not there yet. By a long shot.

  • Michael Weiser

    I work in the tech industry. Although tech and transportation are different, there are many similarities. It’s no surprise to me that Google founder Sergey Brinn was recently quoted as saying he’s spending most of his time on cars now. It’s clear Elon Musk is succeeding with the Tesla, too.

    Regarding systems not working, what about the BRT plan? If it doesn’t work, we’re stuck with those stupid gargantuan buses and knocking down all of those platforms. With individual transportation units, replacement and improvement is much easier.

    To me, self driving cars suggest freedom. Bus only lanes suggest segregation and restriction.

    The BRT plan is backwards thinking. As the saying goes, we’re not where we could be, we’re not where we should be, but, thankfully, we’re not where we used to be.

    Let’s not go back to where we used to be.

  • BlueFairlane

    If BRT doesn’t work, we tear down some platforms. If a self-driving car doesn’t work, we wind up driving into some platforms. I’d prefer not to be killed by robots.

    But ultimately, our discussion comes down to this: I just now figured out you’re that skinny car guy. You work in tech, and you look at a lot of Popular Mechanics covers. I will therefore bid you a good day and let you dream.

  • Fred

    Being faster than a car has NEVER been the goal of public transit, nor will it ever be. Its an unrealistic goal. Public transit offers massive cost saving and certain conveniences over a car, which are its draw. By most estimates, it costs $8-10k/year to own a car. 12 monthly CTA passes cost $1176 (even less if you are using a transit benefit to buy pre-tax). What is $7-9k and never getting a DUI worth to you? If you can make public transit even a little bit faster, that makes it just that much more appealing. For the times I need the speed of a car, I can take a cab and still end up WAY ahead financially.

  • Michael Weiser

    The sad fact is, if the BRT doesn’t work out, it would take incredible political will to tear down existing platforms. It’s far better not to build them at all and work on the new technology.

    Don’t worry, BlueFairlane, I’m sure you won’t be killed by robots. With that type of paranoid Luddite comment, I’m surprised you participate in internet discussions.

    Nice attempt to characterize me as “the skinny car” guy. Let me add some more information about myself . I’m a married, suburban father of two who commutes to downtown Chicago every weekday, and I, like you, have resources by which I attempt to inform myself about transportation options. I also don’t look at a lot of Popular Mechanic covers, although I would read an article about transportation if I came upon it.

    But, thank you very much for allowing me to dream. Do let me know when I’m not allowed to dream. With your support of the BRT, I’ll be awaiting your direction when the “Dream” and “Non-Dream” lane restrictions come into play.

  • Michael Weiser

    Congestion is not the solution. Progress is the goal.

    Congestion is caused by lack of width on roadways. There’s two ways to add more space, widen the road or narrow the vehicles.

    Congestion is easily solved by legalizing safe lane splitting for motorcycles, bicycles, and any vehicle narrow enough to get through the same way. Recent studies show that trading 20% of the cars with passenger sides with lane splitting narrow vehicles would get traffic flowing again in congested places. Then, and only then, would it be a good idea for roads to be widened. But, by the time that narrow vehicles fill up the available space, other technologies and choices will become available that will make the entire system work much better.

  • Michael Weiser

    It’s not an unrealistic goal to have faster public transportation. With the advent of self-driving car technology, many public systems including driving, parking, and bus and train driving will change dramatically in a short time.

    Since you’re concerned about your money, just think about all the money that would be spent on that wasteful BRT plan. It’s investing in old technology.

    Save the money for now and invest it in a much better system for the future.

  • Anonymous

    Hey, if the city wants to conduct a real poll to gauge support, I’m all for it. And while we’re at it, we can hire an independent 3rd party instead of the MASSIVELY conflicted CTA to study the effects of the BRT.

    I live off Ashland and my block had a summer block party meeting last week. Somehow the BRT got brought up and I found it amusing that the people on my block, a decent mix of liberals and conservatives and what not, unanimously hated the BRT. As in *vehemently* opposed across the board.

  • Fred

    You are right, it is not an unrealistic goal to have faster public transportation: its unreasonable to expect public transit to be faster than car transit. Are you expecting the city to buy 20,000 self driving cars that you can order with a phone app to take you where you want to go, completely replacing all cabs and other forms of public transit? How many BILLIONS of dollars is that going to cost?

    You, a technology person of all people, should know that there is perpetually a much better system in the future. Don’t buy an ipad 1 because ipad 2 will be out in a year. A year later don’t buy an ipad 2 because an ipad 3 will be out in a year, ad nauseaum. At some point you just have to jump in and make a purchase. Currently buses are a proven, reliable method of transportation that is going to help move people around faster in the immediately foreseeable future. Its anyone’s guess as to how far out we are from self driving cars. At least a decade or two before its at the same level as buses and trains are today. I’d certainly argue that $116m BRT is well worth the money to bridge between current and whatever the next great transportation revolution is.

  • Michael Weiser

    There’s a very large difference between the BRT proposal and segregating bike lanes, so it seems to me a false correlation. Where are the vocal back yard supporters for the BRT plan?

  • Michael Weiser

    The cost of the BRT is way too much when the promise of the new technology is just around the corner. Leave it the way it is now and spend the money to introduce the new technology. Don’t invest in a huge rotary phone program because they are “reliable” for the next 20 years.

    Work for the future systems because we’ve worked with getting on and off buses and let me tell you, it’s not going to attract anyone to this city.

    If we spent a small percentage of the BRT money on a small self-driving car program started here, it’s something for people to get behind, get interested in, take pride in, and it’s certain to attract the kind of people we want as our neighbors in Chicago.

    Yes to new technology. No to old.

  • I agree with you on one count: it would be awesome if private car ownership and parking become so uncommon that CPM loses a lot of money on the meter deal.

  • I see little risk of robust BRT failing here when it has a proven record in dozens of cities around the world.

    Chicago used to have about a million more people than it does today, and big reason that worked was a higher rate of public transportation use. The mode split in bustling, vibrant, modern-day European cities is a lot more similar similar to the Chicago of yesteryear than our auto-bound status quo.

    Back to the future, I say. It’s private cars, not public buses, that are destined for the dustbin of history.

  • Michael, which Metra line do you currently use for commuting from the ‘burbs? I’m sure your commute from the train station to your office will become a lot more convenient and fun once Divvy bike-share launches on Friday! Did your key arrive in the mail yet?

  • Active Trans has collected over 1,300 signatures in support of the BRT plan.

  • bedhead1, of course the 5.5 mile stretch is just the tip of the iceberg for the BRT plans here, which will eventually include Ashland from 95th to Irving Park and the Central Loop Corridor, and these projects will pave the way for more BRT in the future.

    Yes, the Ashland buses will still be a bit slower than driving on average, but they’ll save riders a wide range of expenses, hassles and frustrations associated with driving, and when factor in not having to search for parking or dig out your car during winter, the overall bus trip may well be quicker than driving.

    I think “revolutionize” is an apt word. Making it tougher to move cars through the city in order to make it easier to transport people is indeed a revolutionary concept, one it’s clear you haven’t wrapped your head around yet. But no worries, once BRT on Ashland is a big success, I’m confident you’ll come around to the right side of history.

  • Anonymous

    1,300 signatures? Do you even understand how insanely, pathetically small that is? You’re boasting this like it’s supportive of the BRT when in reality the number is so minuscule it’s actually condemning the BRT.

  • BlueFairlane

    You remind me of this friend of mine who spends enormous quantities of time debating in great detail issues like which is the most efficient propulsion technology, Warp or Hyperdrive, and whether either was used to power the ship that crashed at Roswell. He completely missed the fact the neither exists. It’s kind of funny.

    Unfortunately for your dreams, you’ll have to convince a very large number of Luddites just like me that your robot cars are safe and reliable. Somehow, I don’t think your PR skills are up to the challenge.

  • Michael Weiser

    I tried it for awhile, but unfortunately, John, due to my work shift and Metra’s schedule, I lose an hour of time if I take the train. I drive to work, park, walk to work then return the same way.

    I support the Divvy bike-share program, and I hope it succeeds. It’s obviously better for the city for people to be travelling in narrow vehicles to get to where they need to go.

  • Glad to hear you support Divvy Michael, but make that “narrow *non-motorized* vehicles” if you’re talking about space efficiency. You don’t need to use the two-second rule when you’re riding a bike:

  • Michael Weiser

    It won’t be just me attempting to show people a better way. Self-driving car technology is already legal and active in the states of California, Florida, and Nevada, and car companies are going to spend millions of dollars perfecting and promoting self-driving tech.

    You may stubbornly try to avoid the incredible influence the technology will have on society, but my guess is you and your friends will like self-driving technology just fine.

  • Michael Weiser

    Two-second rule sounds good for riding the bike, but even better for riding and traffic congestion reduction for all vehicles is lane splitting:

  • Jakub Muszynski

    First BRT is for the citizens of Chicago to use. Yes the system will be used by tourists and other visitors, but the goal is to first better serve and connect our residents.

    I do like the idea of the self driving car(SDC) because it can bring forth cars that can drive better than humans can. The general public will first have to be pretty convinced of their safely if they want to purchase such a vehicle. On the topic of general public use of these SDCs, Google’s SDC system costs $75,000 per car and you still have to include the cost of the car. At the price point of around $100,000 and the lack of laws allowing such cars in Illinois, I don’t see how they are currently a feasible alterative to BRT because of their cost and rapid changing SDC technology.

    This is not an issue about technology, we are smart enough not to still be using the first design for the car or train as the gold standard of technology. We improve on our current systems and add completely new systems(SDCs) all the time. Yes for new stable and tested technology, when SDC are proven and are adopted by the masses and not just early-adopters they will be welcomed on our streets as viable new technology. This isn’t a waiting game for either public or private transit, it’s time for new technologies and transportation systems. For Chicago BRT is new and tested around the world.

  • Michael Weiser

    The cost of BRT is way too much for too little in return. Current residents are better served with keeping the system like it is and making incremental changes which include more biking, scooters, and motorcycling. Again, it’s very surprising to me that bikes would not be allowed on BRT buses. It appears to be a ridiculous way to attempt to drum up business for the Divvy bikes.

    Yes, SDCs are currently expensive. Like all technology, the price will go down as it becomes widely available.

    This is indeed an issue about technology. Part of the reason that the BRT plan exists is, apparently, to attempt to reduce traffic congestion. However, in direct opposition to your assertion, we are indeed using the first iteration of the car and the train as the gold standard. The key component of the device in regard to traffic congestion is it’s width, and the basic width of cars and buses haven’t changed at all in 100 years.

    As the bike riders in this blog know, single width vehicles filter on limited roads space best. At the same time, restricting lanes is absolutely the worst possible way to filter traffic. Even a person commuting to work in a double-wide trailer allows bikes, motorcycles, scooters, and cars to travel behind it. Restricting lane space is a complete blockage.

    Since there is no call from Ashland’s back yard for this proposal, it’s a bad idea to pronounce “Now’s the Time”. Now is the time to wait for better technology to come along, and Alderman Fioretti is smart to side with the 9 out of the 10 people he’s spoken with who are not in favor of the plan.

  • Logan Square Driver

    I like the way you think, Michael, and couldn’t agree more that bikes and buses can be damaging to the soul. Not to mention the self-esteem! The problem with these anti-car fanatics is that they’re always limiting themselves to ideas that have already been implemented in some form. Those ideas all require us to change our lifestyle in some manner that involves more sweat and interaction with strangers, two things I like to avoid! You and I know, however, for all of our problems – congestion, dangerous streets, pollution, etc. – the solution is easy! Just wait for someone to invent a solution! Then, folks like you and I won’t need to change a thing until we’re handed some awesome piece of new technology that revolutionizes the world by allowing us to keep the status quo!

  • Fred

    I call shenanigans on being able to get a small self-driving car program started for less than $116m. Unless by small, you mean 1 or 2 cars, in which case you are helping 1 or 2 people instead of the thousands BRT will help.

    I also call shenanigans on BRT not being something “people to get behind, get interested in, take pride in, and it’s certain to attract the kind of people we want as our neighbors in Chicago.”

    Why do you hate people who ride buses? I like riding a bus. Does that make me a bad person, the kind you wouldn’t want to have as a neighbor?

  • Anna Schibrowsky

    Have you even ridden the #9 or former #X9 bus?

    Those buses are filled with students, commuters, and people traveling to the medical district for healthcare. The buses are slow, and we lost the slightly faster #X9 to budget cuts.

    You’re asking people who take the #9 bus on a regular basis, people who would benefit greatly from BRT, to instead wait for self-driving-car service to not only come to Chicago but also be affordable.

    You yourself drive in from the ‘burbs so you don’t lose an hour of time. But you want to deprive #9 bus riders of hours of their time as the #9 continues to crawl along at 8.7 mph.

  • Josh K

    Alderman Fioretti was pretty vocal against bikeshare/Divvy. In fact, he was the only Alderman to vote against it ( ). Seems odd that you completely ignored that in your questions.

  • BlueFairlane

    And my guess is that my friends and I won’t be faced with the choice within my likely lifespan … though I’ll give you the possibility that whatever technological leaps allow safe and reliable robot cars might coincide with technology that allows my consciousness to be downloaded into a mechanical brain, thus extending my lifespan by several centuries.

  • Thanks for pointing that out; I never noticed that fact in Steven’s post about the bike-share vote last year. Well, it looks like the alderman has at least partially come around to supporting Divvy.

  • Michael Weiser

    Glad to see you and your middle school friends discovered sarcasm as a form of communication.

    To clarify:

    ~ Bikes are great. Buses suck.
    ~ Interaction with strangers is great. Buses are terrible at promoting civic togetherness..
    ~ Don’t wait for someone to invent a solution. Find the solution and promote it.

  • Michael Weiser

    I haven’t ridden the #9 or #X9 bus.

    I’m not asking people to wait for self-driving car service. I’m saying investing in bus technology is like investing in 100 year old technology. It’s better to keep the system as it is and wait for a real change then to attempt to resolve congestion in this way.

    Here’s a question for you Anna: New parents have twins. One is a student and one works at the medical district They ask your advice on which type of stroller to use, inline or side by side.

    My guess is you would suggest they buy an inline stroller because that lets them pass single-width people as well as be passed by others on the narrow sidewalk.

    That’s my take on this proposal. I look at it as a debate about which method resolves traffic congestion the best way.

    Buses and cars with passenger sides are arrogant machines that don’t allow single width humans to pass them or be passed. I’m in favor of all single-width vehicles like bikes, motorcycles, scooters, walkers, runners, narrow-cars, self-driving narrow cars, and in-line strollers. I’m against anything that is more than single width like cars with passenger sides, buses, and strollers with side by side seating.

    Eventually the world will wake up to realize that the unused passenger sides of cars significantly screw up the human quality of our lives. Once people start using self-driving cars, they will see, more than ever, how damaging side by side seating is.

    Until then, I’m against purchasing new buses, and certainly no segregation of lane use. After all, lane restriction is the absolute worst type of traffic congestion. There will be literally no way for any traffic except buses to ride on those lanes. I suggest those people currently taking the buses keep looking for new ways to get to where they want to go faster including the Divvy program, bike lanes, and motorcycles. For instance, today I saw three bikes in the city easily pass a city bus. There are solutions for their commutes, but BRT is not the right one.

    Still, for the sake of the folks you’re concerned about, I suggest they check in with the alderman. Right now he thinks it’s 9 to 1 against BRT.

  • Michael, I don’t know why you’re getting snippy with Logan Square Driver. If you check out his or her blog, you’ll realize that you fit squarely into the ranks of LSD’s True Warriors for Automobile Transportation:

    Buses are terrible for promoting togetherness? Don’t tell that to some of the “Metra-sexuals” I know who met their mates through public transportation. No one needs a license for love!

  • Michael Weiser

    It’s all about the width, Fred. Any vehicle that is more than a single-width wide is bad for traffic congestion. Any vehicle that is single width I support. To resolve traffic congestion, I support the building and leasing of ultra-narrow cars that can eventually be converted to self-driving cars.

    I don’t hate people who ride buses. I simply hate buses. To me, riding a bus is boring and herky jerky.

    Except for the cheap shot about hating people who ride buses, I’ve found your posts to be respectful and honest. No joke – I would definitely like to have you as a neighbor, Fred. I just would rather sit with you at a bar or at a park than in a bus.

  • Michael Weiser

    The blog gets a “meh” from me. Although I don’t agree with him, Kass’s “little bike people” columns are funnier and more provocative.

    On the other hand, I did smile when reading the “metra-sexuals” link. To drum up support, maybe BRT supporters should float out changing the name to “The Love Bus”.

  • Michael Weiser

    The BRT will not help thousands of people any more than what they have now.

    I don’t hate people who ride the bus. I hate buses.

    I would be happy to have you as my neighbor.