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Here’s how to overcome obstacles to building a protected bike lane network in Chicago – Streetsblog Chicago

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Right here’s how you can overcome obstacles to constructing a protected bike lane community in Chicago – Streetsblog Chicago

Yesterday the Lively Transportation Alliance outlined 4 boundaries to creating extra protected bike lanes in Chicago and options to beat these obstacles. Together with a blog post regarding the four barriers, ATA is asking residents to e-mail their native officers urging them to help planning and funding for a protected lane community. Let’s dive into the 4 boundaries:

Lack of devoted capital funding

There are a variety of current metropolis insurance policies and plans to create safer situations for biking and strolling, reminiscent of CDOT’s Complete Streets policy, Chicago Streets for Cycling Plan 2020, and Vision Zero Action Plan, however these plans have fallen flat as a consequence of an absence of devoted funding. Presently, metropolis officers depend on restricted, native discretionary funds and inconsistent, extremely aggressive state and federal grants to fund protected lanes. A devoted native supply of funding is required to create high-quality biking and strolling infrastructure.

Despite former mayor Rahm Emanuel and Mayor Lori Lightfoot's promises to build a total of 150 miles of protected lanes, Chicago still has less than 30 miles.
Regardless of former mayor Rahm Emanuel and Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s guarantees to construct a complete of 150 miles of protected lanes, Chicago nonetheless has lower than 30 miles.

ATA proposes an annual $20 million Chicago Protected Streets Fund with a concentrate on high-crash corridors on the South and West facet. Mayor Lori Lightfoot precise dedicated to doing simply this throughout her election marketing campaign — it was one of the planks in her transportation platform –however thus far has taken no seen motion.

Staffing scarcity at CDOT

Protected lanes require design and engineering assets which are presently briefly provide. ATA writes that the Chicago Division of Transportation “presently has one full-time metropolis planner devoted to advancing Imaginative and prescient Zero infrastructure tasks and the town’s bike and pedestrian program.” Consultants that come and go are assigned extra work. The revolving door of consultants doesn’t create an the surroundings crucial for long-term planning. As we have a look at different cities which are lapping Chicago with regards to the creation of protected bike lane networks, these cities have well-staffed departments of planners and engineers who’re dedicated to creating safer streets. Our spending priorities should match the rhetoric that we help safer and extra sustainable streets. ATA’s answer to this downside is the funding of a number of new full-time positions at CDOT, together with extra bike, pedestrian, and transit planners, and no less than two new site visitors engineers.

Lack of cooperation from Illinois Division of Transportation on state-jurisdiction roadways

In Chicago, most of the main streets that hook up with well-liked locations are state-controlled. This leads to most of the key routes recognized within the Streets for Biking Plan being basically off the desk for protected lanes, as a result of IDOT has historically been detest to make modifications to streets which may trigger any inconvenience to drivers. State-jurisdiction streets routinely prime the checklist of high-crash streets, most of that are situated in Black and Latinx communities.

The state of Illinois has a Full Streets legislation but it surely lacks tooth. The Illinois Complete Streets Policy permits IDOT to make use of poorly outlined “exceptions” to get across the guidelines. ATA additionally states the 2007 legislation has by no means been evaluated or reviewed to find out whether or not it’s resulting in the development of extra protected streets infrastructure, together with PBLs. Regardless of lobbying in 2019 that result in protected lanes being added to the IDOT design handbook as a really useful kind of bikeway, the division hardly ever really approves them.

CDOT recently installed non-protected bike lanes on North Avenue, an IDOT-controlled street, but it's still not a safe or comfortable place to ride. Photo: Alyssa Iovanelli
CDOT not too long ago put in non-protected bike lanes on North Avenue, an IDOT-controlled avenue, but it surely’s nonetheless not a protected or comfy place to experience. Picture: Alyssa Iovanelli

This situation was obvious within the latest redesign of North Avenue in Humboldt Park. Whereas the four-lane avenue bought new crosswalks, pedestrian islands, and non-protected bike lanes, this was a missed alternative to create a really protected biking hall by putting in protected lanes. ATA proposes passing laws to strengthen the state’s Full Streets legislation, and electing extra state officers who help sustainable transportation with a view to advance IDOT reform.

Neighborhood and political opposition

ATA acknowledges the notion amongst bike advocates that group opposition is the principle cause extra bike lanes don’t get constructed. In actuality, structural boundaries stop most tasks from reaching the ultimate approval stage. Nevertheless, opposition from residents, enterprise house owners, and aldermen does generally derail protected lane tasks.The metropolis’s outreach assets are restricted so the people and organizations with the time and energy to speak out on their very own have probably the most affect underneath the present course of.

Former aldermanic candidate John Garrido grandstands against CDOT's proposal protected bike lanes on Milwaukee Avenue on the Far Northwest Side in 2014. The plan was ultimately watered down to buffered bike lanes. Photo: John Greenfield
Former aldermanic candidate John Garrido grandstands in opposition to CDOT’s proposal for a highway food plan with protected bike lanes on Milwaukee Avenue on the Far Northwest Facet at a group assembly in 2014. The plan was finally watered right down to buffered bike lanes with no journey lane conversions. Picture: John Greenfield

Usually the voices of residents in high-need Black and Brown communities on the South and West facet are missed. ATA sees community-centered planning as essential to designing and constructing efficient tasks. They suggest numerous options to make sure that the group enter CDOT receives is reflective of the group:

  • Strengthen the group outreach processes by way of the lens of a complete plan targeted on racial fairness.
  • Leverage current group infrastructure like particular service areas, neighborhood teams that function delegate companies for the town, and park advisory councils.
  • Conduct Racial Impact Equity Assessments for main capital tasks, like highway reconstructions.

Collectively, the Emanuel and Lightfoot administrations promised extra a complete of 150 miles of protected bike lanes, however thus far we haven’t even damaged 30 miles. We can’t count on to considerably improve the variety of individuals biking for transportation or recreation with out creating safer situations to take action. Together with constructing extra protected, we should make sure that they’re equitably distributed across the metropolis.

Click here to email your elected officials and ask them to support protected bike lanes.

Observe Courtney Cobbs on Twitter at @CourtneyCyclez.


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