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Advocate For Adding Bus Lanes to North Lake Shore Drive Without Widening the Highway

The best scenario for the drive: Convert two of the existing mixed-traffic lanes to bus-only corridors.

This is a sample letter I wrote to help Streetsblog Chicago readers come up with ideas on what to say to their Chicago alder as well as the Illinois General Assembly because of their respective influence over the Chicago and Illinois Departments of Transportation. -Steven

Dear Honorable [legislator name],

A group of public agencies are collaborating to redesign and rebuild the north portion of Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, starting at Grand Avenue and going to the north terminal at Hollywood Avenue called "Redefine the Drive". The highway is under state jurisdiction. The Illinois Department of Transportation, Chicago Department of Transportation, and the Chicago Park District are leading the design process. The group recently presented several redesign scenarios.

It is in our city's, state's, and environment's best interest to choose the scenario that adds bus lanes without increasing the number of lanes. Here's why:

    • Zero percent of the highway is dedicated to buses, yet bus riders comprise 20 percent of the users. With bus lanes, they would have more reliable and shorter travel times because buses wouldn't share lanes with the vast number of people driving alone.
    • Keeping the number of lanes the same won't add to the maintenance costs that the city and state already struggle to pay for.
    • Keeping the number of lanes the same will preserve our revered lakefront's open and green spaces.
    • Keeping the number of lanes the same and turning one of them into a bus lane has the potential to reduce carbon emissions and pollution downtown and along the lakefront because more people would be taking buses instead of driving.

[To your Chicago alder:]
Additionally, you and your colleagues in City Council adopted a Climate Action Plan, and Mayor Emanuel's administration has adopted the Paris Agreement despite the President rejecting it. Increasing the number of lanes on Lake Shore Drive runs counter to the goals to reduce carbon emissions. The additional lanes will also subject current and future residents to a worsened environmental quality.

I would like your support in steering IDOT, CDOT, and the Chicago Park District to choose a build scenario that includes creating a bus lane for the 65,000 people who ride efficient transit each day without increasing the number of lanes on North Lake Shore Drive.

You can learn more about the scenarios on Streetsblog Chicago at and the official project website


[your name]

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