City leaders, promote public transit and more shared streets

Bicyclists ride in the bike lanes on Milwaukee Avenue near California Avenue in Logan Square, Sept. 14, 2020.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Every day, tens of thousands of suburban residents drive cars to Chicago for our city’s cultural attractions, civic institutions, jobs and more. Those cars degrade the streets, air, safety and mobility of the people who live in Chicago. 

So while we applaud the desire to have visitors help support the infrastructure they enjoy, the recent proposal from mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson to tax suburban Metra users will only drive more people into cars, further degrading residents’ quality of life. Instead of erecting barriers to public transportation, we must encourage Chicagoans and visitors to park their cars and use mass transit.  

Perpetually clogged streets, soaring traffic crashes, sickening pollution and mounting deaths and injuries are the result of a decades-long love affair with personal cars. Since 2018, over 1.2 million people — the equivalent to nearly half of Chicago’s population — have been in a traffic crash. In 2022, over 200,000 people were involved in one of the 100,000 traffic crashes that occurred in Chicago. (City Traffic Data was analyzed for these statistics.)

The high number of crashes not only results in millions of dollars in damages, they also injure and kill hundreds of people simply trying to travel through the city. In 2022, over 150 people were killed by traffic violence.

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To get suburban visitors to support the infrastructure that they use, consider a congestion tax on drivers coming into the city, particularly downtown. Many cities have successfully implemented congestion taxes, unclogging streets, boosting transit use and raising revenue all at the same time.

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Walking and rolling

Surely, there is much to be done to rebuild our anemic public transit systems, historically among the best in the nation, and a recent poll conducted by WBEZ underscores public frustration with CTA cleanliness, reliability and safety. Many of those interviewed have abandoned the system because it no longer serves their needs. Rebuilding transit will require building cleaner, safer and more reliable systems, but city leaders must also discourage residents from driving. This is especially true for short trips.

For these shorter trips, it is crucial that Chicago develop a system of shared streets. The Chicago Department of Transportation successfully rolled out dozens of shared streets during the pandemic. Before the program was shuttered, nearly 55% of people wanted to see Shared Streets expanded. Our vision at Chicago Bike Grid Now! is to designate 10% of the city’s 4,500 miles of streets as a shared street system that prioritizes people walking and rolling (on wheels) over those in …read more

Source:: Chicago Sun Times

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