See where Illinois Secretary of State candidates stand on active transportation issues
Election Day is fast approaching in Illinois. The Active Transportation Alliance recently released its 2022 sustainable transportation voter guide for the Secretary of State position. The secretary of state oversees the Illinois rules of the road, the driver education services exam, and various traffic safety initiatives, among other duties. Six candidates – four Democrats and two Republicans – are vying for the Secretary of State position which is being vacated by outgoing Secretary of State Jesse White, who is retiring after 23 years in office.
The Active Transportation Alliance, Ride Illinois, and the Metropolitan Planning Council jointly created a questionnaire that was sent to all candidates. The candidates’ responses make up the voter guide. It’s worth noting that as non-partisan 501(c)3 not-for-profit organizations, ATA, Ride Illinois, and MPC do not endorse candidates or evaluate their positions. The guide is intended as an educational resource to inform the public and candidates for statewide office about current priorities for improving public transit, walking, and biking as identified by members, supporters and staff of these organizations.
We’ll provide an overview of the candidates’ responses. Let’s start with the Democratic candidates
Giannoulias, served as Illinois treasurer from 2007 to 2011, says he lives in a walkable neighborhood, and appreciates being able to walk to restaurants, parks, and other local businesses. He uses active transportation as much as possible given that it helps reduce congestion and is better for the environment.
When asked about the role of transportation in addressing public health challenges, climate change, racial and social inequities, he states that he sees the secretary of state as having a responsibility to advocate for alternative modes of transportation to help Illinois residents move beyond car dependency, and to educate drivers about the importance of sharing the road to improve safety and protect the environment. He says an expansion of sustainable transportation options, with a special focus on underserved communities, can help the state address equity issues.
Giannoulias wants to advocate for a more multi-modal approach at the Illinois Department of Transportation. His desire to transform state-controlled roads into more multi-modal thoroughfares with bike lanes, improved walkability, and dedicated transitways” stood out to me.
Additionally, Giannoulias wants to work with stakeholders and other state agencies and create a state sponsored plan similar to Vision Zero, designed to reduce vehicle related crashes, injuries, and fatalities, which could be implemented statewide.
Giannoulias was asked if he supports requiring drivers to answer questions related to driving safely near pedestrians, cyclists, and other vulnerable road users in order to complete their exam and he says he strongly supports this requirement. He is aware that crashes involving cars and bicycles are far too common. If elected, he says he would ensure that questions related to vulnerable road users appear on written driving tests.
Giannoulias supports changing Illinois law and the Secretary of State Rules of the Road around jaywalking to significantly reduce or eliminate fines for violating this law. He also supports increased disclosure for ticketing that “would allow local governments, citizens, and advocacy groups track where enforcement is occurring in order to provide improved accountability.”
Giannoulias’ answers seem to indicate he supports significantly reducing or eliminating fines for cyclists when they perform an “Idaho Stop” at an intersection where no other traffic is present. He supports cyclists being able to perform an “Idaho Stop” yet has concerns about the possibility of a crash. He reiterated his support for protected bike lanes.
David Moore is currently the alderperson for the 17th Ward. In response to the first question he states that most of his bike riding is for “exercise” and community biking events like Roll N Peace. His responses in the “notes” area of the survey include a lot of fluff, but things that stood out was the mention of a report from StreetLight Data, a private company that conducts transportation analysis, that ranks Illinois as one of the top five best states for bicyclist safety. I am very skeptical of this ranking. Moore mentions this in relation to the disproportionate ticketing of Black cyclists. He then mentions Roll N Peace as a way to foster better relationships between Chicago police and residents. To me that’s not a very strong argument.
Moore states he would like to create Youth Engagement Offices in the 122 motor vehicle facilities across the state. He says these offices would serve to educate young people about how to be a more conscientious driver around cyclists and the benefits of biking.
When asked if he supports requiring a question on the Illinois written drivers test re: driving responsibility around pedestrians and cyclists, Moore indicates he strongly supports this. He added a note that states the increase in cyclist deaths can be attributed to drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians ignoring traffic laws. (Of course, when you’re piloting a fast, multi-ton vehicle with blind spots that can easily kill other people, your responsibility to travel safely is exponentially higher.)
Moore supports reforming laws against jaywalking and supports reviewing the state’s stop sign laws as it pertains to people on bike.
Anna Valencia, currently Chicago’s city clerk, indicated she walks with her daughter to the park and nearby areas for play dates, shopping, etc. She believes the state should expand transportation options and thinks one way we can do that is by educating drivers on how they should share the road with people on bike; advertising and funding public transportation; and creating incentives for people to use non-car travel modes.
Valencia says she strongly supports requiring driver exams to have questions related to driving safely near pedestrians, cyclists, and other vulnerable road users in order for potential drivers to complete their exam. She also strongly supports reforming Illinois’ jaywalking laws and stop sign laws as they relate to cyclists.
Sidney Moore, the other Democratic candidate for Illinois Secretary of State has not yet responded to the survey.
Brady indicated that he uses a bike for shopping or errands and for recreation. He uses public transportation to get to recreational activities.
When asked about how he sees transportation addressing climate change, health and safety, and equity, he indicated he is conducting more research. Brady says he strongly supports requiring driver exams to have questions related to driving safely near pedestrians, cyclists, and other vulnerable road users in order for potential drivers to complete their exam. He also strongly supports reforming Illinois jaywalking laws and stop sign laws as they relate to cyclists.
John Milhiser, the other Republican candidate for Illinois Secretary of State has not yet responded to the survey.
If you would like to read the candidates’ responses more in depth, you can do so on the Active Transportation Alliance website.