Better Streets kicks up its safe streets lobbying efforts with launch of new Action Fund

Better Streets cofounder Kyle Lucas addresses the crowd at last night's party. Photo: Steven Vance
Better Streets cofounder Kyle Lucas addresses the crowd at last night's party. Photo: Steven Vance

During the COVID-19 era, a few new sustainable Chicago sustainable transportation advocacy organizations have formed to addresses the challenges of the times. One of the most effective has been Better Streets Chicago, which was founded in early 2020 by Kyle Lucas, Brittney Lane, Jim Hodapp, and former Streetsblog co-editor Courtney Cobbs.

The origins of the group included Lucas’ spring 2020 petition to reopen local trails trails that had been closed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot as a pandemic measure, and/or open streets for walking and biking, which garnered 1,600-plus signatures. Here are a few of their other projects since then:

The group is a great example of how a relative small organizations of passionate volunteers can get a lot done in a short period of time via hard work, strategic networking, and effective media messaging.

Last night Better Streets launched a new effort to shift its advocacy work into a higher gear. They held a launch party for the Better Streets Chicago Action Fund, “a sibling-organization [that] will provide additional flexibility to engage more directly with elected officials.” The event, held downtown at Emerald Loop tavern, drew a sold-out crowd of about 100 people, including Chicago mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson and 44th Ward alder hopeful Nathan Bean.

Lucas kicked off the event with some remarks, followed by Better Streets organizer Alex Nelson. Next group member Michael Podgers discussed how the Action Fund will make the organization’s political lobbying efforts even more effective. They also asked for donations, and sold raffle tickets and cool “Plow the Sidewalks” t-shirts and sweatshirts. All told, the event raised at least $4,000, according to Lucas.

Last night’s fun event was an impressive show of strength by the local safe streets advocacy movement, and an auspicious start for Better Streets’ next chapter. If you didn’t make it to the party, you can donate to the organization here.