Check out the recent transit-related posts on the Active Trans blog, Write of Way. 

 

Let's ensure suburban candidates support biking, walking and transit

Let's ensure suburban candidates support biking, walking and transit

As voters in Chicago prepare to vote in runoff elections on April 7 for mayor and 19 city council seats, suburban voters will go to the polls that same day to elect leaders with the potential to shape the future of biking, walking and public transit in the suburbs.

Based on input from our members and supporters throughout the region, we have released our 2015 Suburban Active Transportation Platform.

Like our city platform, the suburban platform urges candidates to support building safer streets and trails for everyone, and promoting safe and responsible among all users of the road.

Specific action items include the following:

  • Develop and implement bike plans that give priority to networks of family friendly bikeways, such as protected bike lanes, bike boulevards, sidepaths and off-street trails.
  • Commit to making pedestrian safety improvements a priority at the most dangerous intersections and crossings.
  • Support regional efforts to identify new revenue sources to support maintenance and expansion of public transit.
  • Identify targeted funding for police to increase education and enforcement around distracted driving and Illinois’ must stop for pedestrian law.

While Active Trans does not endorse candidates, we encourage suburban members and supporters to talk to members of their communities about these critical bike/walk/transit issues and ask candidates to share their views.

Social media and your local bike shops and clubs can be great venues to connect with members and supporters in your community.

We’ve compiled the following list of possible questions for suburban candidates as a guide, and we urge you to develop your own based on local insight and information.

  • Do you support the development of a community bike network that is safe and comfortable for all to use?
  • Do you support prioritizing pedestrian safety improvements at our most dangerous intersections?
  • Do you support efforts to increase regional investment in new public transit infrastructure?
  • Do you support increased enforcement of traffic laws, including photo/video enforcement?
  • Do you support efforts to encourage children to bike and walk to school through education and infrastructure improvements?

You can register to vote or update your registration on the State Board of Elections website until Tuesday, March 7, and grace period registration continues through April 4.

More information about your local suburban election can be found on your county board of election website: suburban Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will.

Photo courtesy of bikepedimages.org; Dan Burden. 

Crain's op-ed: Rauner's budget aims to run transit funding off the rails

Crain's op-ed: Rauner's budget aims to run transit funding off the rails

Our Executive Director Ron Burke has a strong op-ed in today's Crain's Chicago Business about Governor Rauner's proposed transit cuts:

"With more Chicagoans of all ages choosing to ride transit every year, we should be investing more to build a transit system that better serves our neighborhoods and connects people to job centers in the city and suburbs, rather than slashing funding for an already underfunded system."

Read and share Ron's op-ed with your network.

Then take action against the cuts today by signing a letter to the Governor's office and your state legislators.

We can't afford to allow our region's transit system to fall further behind.

//bit.ly/19E7NwJ @activetrans

Photo courtesy of Accelerate Illinois. 

Chicagoans are hopeful Loop Link will make it easier to travel across Loop

Chicagoans are hopeful Loop Link will make it easier to travel across Loop

The challenge of moving east or west across the Loop is familiar to anyone who has ever battled the daily congestion downtown, particularly during the morning and evening rush.

A new rapid transit corridor is designed to make those trips faster, safer and more convenient, whether you're walking, riding your bike or riding transit.

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Chicago Transportation Authority (CTA) unveiled the branding for the Loop Link Monday, and released a construction schedule for the new rapid transit corridor scheduled to be completed in 2015. Features include dedicated bus lanes on Washington and Madison, and connections to Ogilvie and Union Stations in the West Loop, as well as improved space and safety for people walking and riding bikes.

You can see maps and images here and more details here in these materials from the city agencies.

Construction is scheduled to begin March 16th and prep work is already underway. We’ll continue to advocate for CDOT and CTA to efficiently proceed with construction so the corridor is operational as soon possible, and work to ensure the final project delivers the results promised to people riding transit, walking and riding bikes across the Loop.

I recently spoke with transit riders from neighborhoods throughout Chicago about the project and what they’re hoping to gain from it. We’ll incorporate this feedback into our continued advocacy for downtown transportation improvements. Contact me to add your own thoughts.

Courtney Cobbs, 24-year-old social worker from Edgewater
“I ride the 20-Madison bus often and always add at least 20 to 30 minutes to the estimated travel time due to the congestion. The city needs to continue to invest more in transit to attract millennials, save money and improve access to jobs.”

Ian Adams, 29-year-old Ukrainian Village resident who works in the Loop
“Getting to the Loop is pretty straightforward but transit within the loop is really lacking. I’ll likely ride the bus more often with the new corridor and ride my bike in the new protected bike lanes when the weather is good. I’m in business school in Streeterville and need to get across the Loop in the evenings when the streets are totally jammed.”

John Aquilina, 64-year-old architecture and construction project manager
“I often need to make east-west trips across the Loop on a tight schedule and will likely ride the bus more often with the new corridor. Sometimes I avoid the Loop during rush hour because the congestion is so bad.”

Ian Magargee, 31-year-old Lakeview resident
“The only way to get more Chicago residents to take public transit is to make it faster and less congested. I used to live in New York City and when I lived there I felt like no neighborhood was off limits to me. That’s what I want to feel like in Chicago."

Curtis Kuhn, 36-year-old consultant from Edgewater
“I never take the bus across the Loop because I can walk faster. If the bus was faster and more consistent, I’d be much more likely to consider it.”

Joe Olson, 25-year-old engineer from Bucktown
“I work a block away from the new corridor and nine times out of 10 I just walk east-west because the buses go so slow. It will also cut down my travel time considerably when going to the lakefront parks or the West Loop.”

Matt Carley, 27-year old Lakeview resident
“I frequently travel to Ogilvie and Union Stations to ride Metra to the suburbs to visit family and friends and the dedicated bus lanes will save me time. I don’t have a car and rely on public transit and my bicycle to get around and truly experience the city."

Above images courtesy of the CTA. 

Take action: Say NO to Governor Rauner’s proposed transit cuts

Take action: Say NO to Governor Rauner’s proposed transit cuts

On Wednesday Gov. Rauner unveiled a budget proposal that would further damage the Chicago region’s already underfunded transit system, while bolstering the road fund statewide.

Now you have a chance to fight back and show your support for public transit.

The proposed budget would slash nearly one-third of state funding for the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) -- almost $130 million -- while adding $120 million to the road fund. These proposed cuts directly affect the budgets of CTA, Metra and Pace, and likely would lead to service cuts and fare increases.

Rauner's proposal to eliminate the state funding for paratransit and the RTA's reduced-fare program would make things even worse. Seniors, people with disabilities and low-income families rely on transit even more than others to access jobs and get around. Moreover, state spending on these efficient programs is small and would do little to solve the state's financial crisis while punishing our most vulnerable residents.

Stand up for transit-dependent residents by taking action today.

Now is not the time to cut transit funding; we should be looking to increase funding with a capital program and new revenue.

Transit improvements and expansion are long overdue during a time when more Illinoisans of all ages are choosing to ride transit, walk and ride bikes, rather than driving inefficient private vehicles.

Revenue for these investments could be raised in a variety of ways, such a modest increase in the gas tax and indexing it to inflation, or increasing transportation user fees.

We can't afford to attempt to balance our state's budget by decimating our transit systems.

Tell Gov. Rauner and your state legislators you support improving and expanding public transit.

More than 12,000 residents tell Gov. Rauner to kill the Illiana Expressway

More than 12,000 residents tell Gov. Rauner to kill the Illiana Expressway

On the day Gov. Rauner delivered his first budget address, more than 12,000 Illinoisans highlighted a way he can save taxpayers money and support efficient regional development: end the Illiana Expressway boondoggle.

Active Trans joined a diverse coalition of advocates and Will County residents in delivering 12,865 petition signatures against the Illiana to the Governor on Wednesday. Our partners included No Illiana 4 US, Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC), Sierra Club, Openlands and Illinois PIRG.

You can still join the effort by sending a message to the Governor’s office today.

After taking office in January, Gov. Rauner put the ill-conceived tollway on hold pending a “careful review of costs and benefits.”

Our members and supporters have spoken out against the project for months, making the case for why the sprawl-inducing project would not be an efficient use of limited taxpayer dollars.

The proposed highway would link Interstate 55 with I-57 and I-65, serving only 8,000 vehicles per day at a cost of over $1 billion.

The state is proposing to build the project as a public-private partnership with the state guaranteeing a private operator's costs, but there are lots of questions and skepticism about the politically motivated project’s actual financial viability.

We believe taxpayer dollars could be better spent on infrastructure priorities that carry far greater benefits, like upgrading rapid transit and commuter rail lines, and critical projects like CTA’s planned Red Line South Extension.

Sign our petition to the governor in support of efficient regional development and against the Illiana.

Excited about better rapid transit in the Loop? Get involved!

Excited about better rapid transit in the Loop? Get involved!

Most commuters, visitors and residents in Chicago’s Loop can quickly identify the biggest transportation challenge: moving east-west across downtown.

Whether you’re walking, biking or riding transit, getting across the Loop is often frustratingly slow and unpredictable, particularly during peak rush hour times.

That’s why the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) is installing a new rapid transit corridor this year with dedicated bus lanes on Washington (image below) and Madison, and connections to Ogilvie and Union Stations in the West Loop.

Fill out this brief survey if you’d like to learn more about how you can get involved.

In addition to transit riders, the project also will benefit people walking and riding bikes. Existing bus shelters will be relocated from the sidewalk and replaced with new stations on the corridor, opening up sidewalk space for people walking. People riding bikes will be able to take advantage of new protected bike lanes on Randolph and Washington.

The data shows the vast majority of people are riding transit, walking or biking to get around the Loop. Buses carry nearly half of all travelers in vehicles on Washington and Madison, yet travel as slow as 3mph during rush hour, or walking speed.

With construction beginning this spring and service scheduled to launch later in 2015, we’re stepping up our advocacy efforts to help ensure the project is implemented efficiently with the benefits promised to people riding transit, walking and biking.

We are looking for Loop commuters and residents who use the corridor regularly and can provide feedback on their experience. Activities may include sharing their stories with our members and supporters, speaking with a reporter about transportation in the Loop or signing on to a letter of support.

Complete this brief survey to learn how you can help.

Images courtesy of the CTA. 

Where do Chicago candidates stand on active transportation? Check out our 2015 voter guide

Where do Chicago candidates stand on active transportation? Check out our 2015 voter guide

With election day three weeks away, we’ve released our 2015 Active Transportation Voter Guide so Chicago voters can learn about the views of candidates in their ward on walking, biking and public transit issues.

The voter guide is composed of responses from mayoral and aldermanic candidates to a questionnaire we sent to all candidates.

In the linked spreadsheets, click on a candidate’s name to view their complete response, including any additional comments they provided to each question.

As a non-partisan 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, Active Trans does not endorse candidates.

This voter guide is an educational resource to inform the general public and candidates for local office about current priorities for improving biking, walking and public transit, as identified by our members, supporters and staff.

We used publicly available contact information and multiple rounds of phone and email outreach to attempt to reach the campaigns of all candidates that will appear on the ballot. Candidates that have yet to respond can still contact us with their responses and we'll update our voter guide.

You can learn more about the city elections taking place on February 24 and how you can vote from the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. Early voting starts Monday February 9.

If you live in the Chicago suburbs, stay tuned to the Active Trans blog for resources that will help you know where candidates stand on active transportation issues in the coming spring election. 

Pace proposes bold rapid transit expansion plan in Chicago suburbs

Pace proposes bold rapid transit expansion plan in Chicago suburbs

On Tuesday Pace – the suburban bus division of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) – unveiled a proposal it has submitted to the federal government to “change the suburban transit environment” with expanded bus rapid transit (BRT) service.

The proposed network would build upon the agency’s bus on shoulders and arterial bus rapid transit (ART) programs, connecting communities across the six-county area that currently lack quality rapid transit options through express bus service.

See the map of the proposed network in the Chicago Tribune.

These relatively affordable options are a critical aspect of solving the region’s persistent suburban connectivity challenges. As we and other advocates have said for years, our current hub and spoke transit system feeds Chicago’s downtown area well but fails to connect many other neighborhoods and communities where the vast majority of Chicagoland residents live, work and visit.

Despite the relatively modest price tag for this type of high-impact network, Pace leaders have said the likelihood of it being fully funded by the federal government is slim, considering the country’s current budget limitations and gridlock in Washington, D.C.

That’s why we continue to work with the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) to advocate for a dedicated revenue stream locally to help fund transit improvements and expansion in Cook County. You’ll notice many of the ART routes in our Transit Future vision are the same or similar to the routes featured in Pace’s most recent proposal.

You can support rapid transit expansion and projects like those outlined in Pace’s proposal by signing our petition to the Cook County Board of Commissioners. You can also volunteer to help spread our message and organize transit supporters in your area or donate to the campaign.

Photo courtesy of Pace. 

Active Trans sends questionnaire to candidates for mayor and alderman in Chicago

Active Trans sends questionnaire to candidates for mayor and alderman in Chicago

With the 2015 municipal elections in Chicago approaching, we have asked candidates running for mayor and alderman in all 50 of the city’s wards to respond to a candidate questionnaire on bike/walk/transit issues.

As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Active Trans does not endorse candidates for public office. The purpose of the candidate questionnaire is purely informational.

View the questions we asked candidates for mayor.

View the questions we asked candidates for alderman
.

We will publish all responses we receive on our blog in advance of the Chicago elections on February 24, 2015. If no candidate receives an absolute majority in a particular race, a runoff between the top two candidates will be held for that seat on April 7, 2015. The deadline to register to vote is January 27, 2015.

In the 43rd Ward, we've partnered with Bike Walk Lincoln Park (BWLP) on a ward-specific attachment to our questionnaire for all four aldermanic candidates. Co-BWLP leaders Michelle Stenzel and Michael Reynolds are working with other neighborhood advocates to raise the profile of active transportation issues in the local election.

For questions about our Chicago election outreach and to learn about how to get involved in your local race, contact Campaign Director Kyle Whitehead at kyle@activetrans.org.

2015 Chicago Active Transportation Platform calls for safer streets

2015 Chicago Active Transportation Platform calls for safer streets

Based upon input from thousands members and supporters from across the region, Active Trans has released its 2015 Active Transportation Platform for the upcoming elections for mayor and alderman in the City of Chicago.

The platform features specific action items to achieve progress on five core goals:

  1. Design streets that work for everyone whether they walk, bike, use transit or drive
  2. Commit the city to reaching and exceeding the milestones of the Chicago Streets for Cycling Plan 2020
  3. Grow education and enforcement programs that improve the behavior of all road users
  4. Improve active transportation access and movement along the lakefront
  5. Connect people to jobs and educational opportunities by expanding investment in and access to public transit

Highlights include calling on leaders to expand and maintain the city’s growing network of protected bike lanes; establish a sustainable funding source for pedestrian infrastructure improvements at the city’s most dangerous intersections; and increase investment in transit to fund improvements and expansion of the existing network.

The platform also advocates for leaders to support low-cost, near-term improvements on Chicago’s Lakefront Trail, such as creating separated space for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Members and supporters provided feedback on our advocacy priorities at our 2014 Member Meeting & Advocate Summit. Following the summit, we released an online survey to collect ideas from supporters who were unable to attend the meeting.

The 2015 municipal elections in Chicago will take place on February 24, 2015 to elect the mayor and aldermen in all 50 of the city’s wards. If no candidate receives an absolute majority in a particular race, a runoff between the top two candidates will be held for that seat on April 7, 2015. The deadline to register to vote is January 27, 2015.

Active Trans will be releasing a Suburban Active Transportation Platform ahead of municipal elections in suburban communities in Spring 2015.

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