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Mayor Lightfoot, Here’s My Wish List for the Next CDOT Commish

The CDOT headquarters at 30 North LaSalle. Image: Google Maps

Chicago’s new Mayor Lori Lightfoot has a big job ahead of her in choosing a new Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner. (Here's some info about current acting CDOT commissioner Tom Carney.) Chicago's streets are dominated by cars, both moving and idle. Plenty of people would like to ride a bike for transportation but they're rightly concerned about aggressive drivers. CTA Bus ridership is falling because the buses get slowed down by private vehicles and run infrequently. Streets that could otherwise easily accommodate dedicated bus lanes or protected bike lanes lack them because too much street space is reserved for storing empty automobiles. Another lost opportunity is our boulevards, which are often too wide for the amount of car traffic they carry.

My hope is that the next transportation commissioner will bring positive equitable and transformative change to Chicago’s streets. This person will:

    • Happily challenge car dominance culture like this commissioner in Portland, Oregon.
    • In light of the current climate emergency, implement policies that reduce vehicle miles traveled and the rate of single-occupancy vehicle use while increasing the rate of active transportation utilization.
    • Fight for more dedicated funding for active transportation. 
    • Understand the intersection of our land-use policies and the impact they have on housing affordability, people's transportation decisions, public health, and the environment.
    • Challenge the idea that free on-street parking is a given in a dense urban city, especially near our city's rail stations and high-frequency bus lines.
    • Work with expert planners in the city to eliminate free on-street car parking in an equitable way. I like that the city of Portland invests half of its parking revenue into active transportation.
    • Work with other city officials to successfully renegotiate Chicago's parking meter deal to free up street space for much needed bus-only lanes and barrier-protected bike lanes.
    • Work with Mayor Lightfoot to end aldermanic interference when it comes to bike lanes -- aldermen are not city planners or transportation engineers, therefore they should not have veto power bike lanes.
    • Ride on all the routes listed on the city's bike map and survey them in terms of comfort and safety from the perspective of a child, young adult, older adult, and person with disabilities. Even better would be to ride these routes with the aforementioned folks and get their feedback.
    • Recognize that ridership follows investment. We cannot expect thousands of Chicagoans to switch to active transportation is we don't commit to investing in the level and quality of service that attracts and grows transit and bike riders.
    • Commit to building and maintaining 50 or more miles of barrier-protected bike lanes, the lanes that have proven effective and popular with riders of all ages and abilitiesThese lanes should be seen as the standard treatment for streets.
Screen Shot 2019-07-09 at 5.20.34 PM

Source: iBikeSafe Twitter

    • Call for more enforcement efforts to keep vehicles out of the painted lines designated for folks on bikes.
    • Bring innovative bike parking to all corners of the city. Here's an an example I'm pretty geeked on, a semi-portable on-street bike parking fixture that can be placed in a parking space on a test or seasonal basis.
Screen Shot 2019-07-09 at 5.22.18 PM

Source: Modacity

    • Support a downtown congestion fee that will be implemented equitably and will be used to support mass transit, biking, and walking.
    • Commit to working with Illinois legislators to pass a law allowing camera enforcement of bus lanes.
    • Work with state lawmakers to incentivize the purchase of e-bikes for individuals and businesses.
    • View walking as a valid and important form of transportation and work to improve the city's sidewalks.
    • Actually uses active transportation to get around Chicago.

What are some things you want to see from our next transportation commissioner? Let us know in the comment section.

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