Posts tagged with "active transportation alliance":

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“Transit Future” Wish List Tantalizes Chicago Commuters with $20 Billion in Improvements

Here’s something to meditate on the next time you see three Chicago Transit Authority buses leapfrogging one another on a crowded street, or have to shell out for a cab because the trains won’t get you where you want to go on time: a grand proposal called "Transit Future" that seeks to improve the way Chicagoans get around the region. Imagine a South Lakefront line that connects the South Side to the Loop, running through the University of Chicago campus and South Shore. Or a “West Side Red Line” dubbed the Lime Line that would run along Cicero Avenue, connecting the Blue, Green, Pink and Orange Lines, before jogging East and connecting to the Red Line at 87th Street. Or how about a Brown Line extension connecting the North Side to O’Hare International Airport. Those are just some of the recommendations in the “Transit Future” plan unveiled last week by the Center for Neighborhood Technology and the Active Transportation Alliance, two longtime advocates of sustainable development and alternative transit in the Chicago region. The plans also include a bus rapid transit line along Ashland avenue—a work-in-progress that proponents say will energize commerce along the corridor, but detractors say will clog streets—and an extended Red Line that could relieve pressure on the overburdened 95th Street station, which is slated for renovation. Great, you’re thinking, but it will never happen. Transit Future’s backers say the $20 billion wish list could become a reality if Cook County Board officials “create a robust local revenue stream…[that] will open the door to federal and other financing tools that will pay for the rest.” They point out Los Angeles residents voted in 2008 to raise their county’s sales tax by one half-cent, authorizing $40 billion in new revenue for transit lines over 30 years. That measure passed with nearly 68 percent of the vote. Head over to Transit Future's sleek website to read more about the project. Or check out WBEZ's The Afternoon Shift show that discussed the proposal with CNT’s Jacky Grimshaw Wednesday:
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Civic group calls on Chicago to expand car-free zones

The jostle of potholes notwithstanding, motorists might find nothing unbalanced about Chicago’s public streets. But the Active Transportation Alliance points out while nearly a quarter of the city is in the public right-of-way, cars dominate practically all of it. Citing the city’s Make Way for People initiative, which turns over underused street space to pedestrians, the group released 20 proposals Wednesday, calling on City Hall to create car-free spaces from Wrigley Field to Hyde Park. Their full list is available here. It includes a protected bike lane and landscaped seating area on Dearborn and/or Clark Streets, from River North to the South Loop; a pedestrian plaza on 18th Street in Pilsen, created by a dead-end at Carpenter, Miller and/or Morgan Streets; closing Milwaukee Avenue through the square of Logan Square; and closing portions of the vibrant retail corridor on 26th Street in Little Village to vehicle traffic. “Our hope is to jump-start conversations that lead to further study and the creation of car-free spaces,” writes the Active Transportation Alliance. The civic group said the list is inspired partly by places like Navy Pier, Times Square in New York City, and existing pedestrian plazas like Kempf Plaza in Lincoln Square. A spokesman for Chicago’s Department of Transportation told the Tribune that the agency “agrees with the concept,” but wouldn’t weigh in on any of the Active Transportation Alliance’s specific suggestions just yet. The Make Way for People initiative's so-called “complete streets” have gained traction among urban planners for their inclusion of pedestrians, bicyclists, and green space within the standard two- and four-lane roads that cater almost exclusively to cars. New York has overhauled dozens of public streets and plazas in recent years. Chicago designers, including North Center-based Altamanu, have worked with the city in recent years to draft plans for pedestrian- and bike-friendly streets from Mayfair to the lakefront.
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Groups Call for People-Friendly Lake Shore Drive Overhaul in Chicago

Lake Shore Drive could look a lot different if a local design alliance gets its way. The "Our Lakefront" plan, commissioned by 15 different organizations including the Active Transportation Alliance, the Alliance for the Great Lakes, the Center for Neighborhood Technology, and the Chicago Architecture Foundation, would reduce the speed limit on the north branch of Lake Shore Drive from 40 to 35 miles per hour; carve out lanes for bicycles and either bus rapid transit or rail; and replace parking spaces with greenery. Connectivity is a hallmark of the concept. The plan calls for increased lakefront access for both vehicles and pedestrians, perhaps through programmed parks and plazas “serving as access points across Lake Shore Drive and as iconic gateways between the city and the lakefront.” Unlike the southern segment of Lake Shore Drive, which was rebuilt about 10 years ago, this seven-mile stretch of highway is between of 60 and 80 years old. The “Our Lakefront” team says as long as Illinois Department of Transportation officials are considering restoring infrastructure along the road, including several ailing bridges, they may as well as look at restoring the iconic Drive’s original design. “Redefine the Drive,” as they put it. From the Sun-Times:

Lake Shore Drive was originally designed as “a boulevard. It was a pleasure drive early on,’’ said Lee Crandell of the Active Transportation Alliance, among the 15 groups that helped to write the “Our Lakefront” plan.

“It’s slowly turned into a freeway,’’ Crandell said. “We want it to feel like a boulevard.’’

Read the full conceptual plan here. Three public hearings are scheduled this week:
  • Aug. 6, 6 - 8 p.m., Gill Park, 825 W. Sheridan Road, 3rd Floor
  • Aug. 7, 6 - 8 p.m., Truman College, 1145 W. Wilson Avenue, Atrium
  • Aug. 8, 6 - 8 p.m., Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, 2430 N. Cannon Drive, South Gallery
After the meetings, a formal design team will convene to hash out details. If anything is built, it won’t be for years. Daniel Burnham’s vision for Chicago is often evoked here to lend credibility for urban planning proposals. Amid both shrinking budgets and an urban reawakening, landscape and infrastructure projects have become increasingly common and closely watched. UPDATE Aug. 7: This story originally said the plan considered high-speed rail. That was not accurate. From Lee Crandell, director of campaigns for Active Transportation Alliance:

The platform calls for separating transit from car traffic with bus-only lanes and other public transit enhancements, such as Bus Rapid Transit. BRT vehicles are often designed to look similar to light rail vehicles (this is why BRT is sometimes referred to as light rail with rubber wheels), and the drawing does intentionally leave it open to interpretation whether LSD could include something like BRT or light rail.

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Even More Protected Bike Lanes to Serve Downtown Chicago

In a city where bicyclists may share a lane with Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein, last year’s promise by Mayor Rahm Emanuel of 100 miles of protected bike paths was cause for celebration. Chicago's latest project, announced Sunday, will be a protected lane along Dearborn Street in the Loop that will run in both directions from Polk to Kinzie. The new route connects the near north side with the south loop and is designed to appeal to young, tech-savvy commuters who work downtown. “It will help us recruit the type of people that have been leaving for the coast,” Emanuel said. “They will now come to the city of Chicago.” The Active Transportation Alliance circulated a petition to hold the Mayor’s administration to its word. Others, like the Sun-Times’ Mark Konkol, have called protected lanes a waste of money and decried a faulty “cyclist culture” that makes streets more dangerous for pedestrians and bikers alike. Chicago will add 22 miles of protected bike lanes by the end of the year, bringing the city's total to 33 miles.