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Mayoral hopeful Robert Earnshaw says he’d champion sustainable transportation

5:06 PM CDT on October 12, 2022

Earnshaw on the 35-Bronzeville-IIT platform, near his workplace, the Chicago Police Department headquarters.

Streetsblog Chicago has invited all Chicago mayoral and alder candidates to send us their positions on transportation and traffic safety issues for possible coverage. Previously we've looked at state rep Kam Buckner's transportation plan.

We recently heard from the Chicago Police Department’s Freedom of Information Act officer Robert Earnshaw, who also hopes to occupy the fifth floor of City Hall. Earnshaw describes himself as a public servant due to his current position and former jobs as a teacher and a reporter for The Times of Northwest Indiana, The Post-Tribune, and the Daily Southtown.

Earnshaw told us that during his time as a reporter, he often worked with the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission, particularly their non-motorized transportation czar Mitch Barloga. "He turned me on to Complete Streets, or [livable] streets, where roads are safe and functional for everyone: [drivers], pedestrians, and cyclists. I’d like to see more [livable] streets in Chicago."

Let's take a look at some of his other positions. Earnshaw said he sees bus-only lane as a “no brainer.” When I reached out to him for details, he specified that he’d prioritize Michigan Avenue for bus lanes.

Looking south on Michigan Avenue from Chestnut Street. Photo: John Greenfield
Looking south on Michigan Avenue from Chestnut Street. Photo: John Greenfield
Looking south on Michigan Avenue from Chestnut Street. Photo: John Greenfield

Earnshaw said building building more protected bike lanes is also an obvious choice for improving the city. He also wants existing painted bike lanes to be better marked, and called for more ticketing and towing of cars parked in bikeways. "I’d also like to see more enforcement on double parking – which is also very dangerous." He's also interested in creating more secure bike parking, such as bike lockers.

The candidate added that he supports installing more traffic calming and pedestrian infrastructure improvements, especially at intersections. He wants "more plazas [and] streets where no vehicles are allowed, which is common in Europe." 

Earnshaw bringing a bike on a South Shore Line train.
Earnshaw bringing a bike on a South Shore Line train.
Earnshaw bringing a bike on a South Shore Line train.

"I would love to see more roads, or new roads, sunk" so as to put a park, green environment, plaza or something else on top," Earnshaw wrote. "How wonderful it would be if [DuSable] Lake Shore Drive was underground, kind of what they did in Boston with the Big Dig."

He's also interested in piloting platform barriers at 'L' stations. "It seems like more people are either being thrown onto tracks, going on tracks to get their dropped cell phone, throwing bikes on tracks, etc." He also favors adding more police to the system to address rising violent crime rates, or having a dedicated transit police force if possible.

Earnshaw says he's a skateboarding fan and views it as a legitimate form of transportation. "I’d love to see some events around that, such as [the city] hosting skate seshes down streets. 

The candidate also supports the creation of more public restrooms, which he says is a transportation-related issue.

Earnshaw emphasized the importance of hiring transportation experts to help him make his ideas a reality, as well as soliciting feedback from residents. "I believe one of the most important jobs of a mayor is [the ability to] identify talent. I believe I have that. Everything above involves experts in those fields. I have ideas, but I’m not an expert... I’d be interested in listening to everyone, including citizens."

If you'd like to learn more about Earnshaw, check out his campaign website.

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