Better Streets kicks up its safe streets lobbying efforts with launch of new Action Fund
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:
- Advocating for a bold transformation of eight-lane DuSable Lake Shore Drive into a people-friendly boulevard.
- A successful push for adding concrete protection to the Clark Street bike lanes in Edgewater.
- The widely publicized Plow the Sidewalks campaign for a municipal sidewalk snow clearance program.
- Lobbying alderpersons to ask for safe streets initiatives in the 2023 Chicago budget.
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.
Had a wonderful time building with the good people @chi_streets last night for their Chicago Action Fund launch! We cannot truly be a world class city until we are a world class transportation city, working collaboratively toward safer roadways, railways and sidewalks for all. pic.twitter.com/yRB2uRNMIK
— Brandon Johnson (@Brandon4Chicago) December 9, 2022
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.
plow those damn sidewalks! make our streets better for everyone not in a car! support @chi_streets! pic.twitter.com/3R5MQD0Gmq
— erica (@braiine_lice) December 8, 2022
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.