Near North and Northwest Side (Wards 1, 43, and 44) candidates talk transportation

As part of our 2023 Election Coverage, Streetsblog Chicago sent a questionnaire out to every candidate running for alderperson. Today, we’re sharing responses from candidates in South Lakefront and Mid South Side districts, including wards 1, 43, and 44.

We asked about their plans to restore CTA ridership, what actions they would take to reduce fatal crashes, and if they supported additional protected bike lanes in their ward. We also asked if they supported more affordable housing options near transit, including Equitable Transit Oriented Development, and allowing Accessory Dwelling Units and three-flats to be built in every neighborhood. See the full set of questions at the bottom of this post.

You can see the full responses from candidates in every ward here.

Ward 1: Logan Square, Wicker Park, Humboldt Park, and West Town

Incumbent alder Daniel La Spata and challenger Andy Schneider.

About the race: Chicago’s 1st Ward covers portions of Logan Square, Wicker Park, Humboldt Park, and West Town. Streetsblog received responses from Daniel La Spata, the incumbent, and Stephen ‘Andy’ Schneider, a community advocate and president of Logan Square Preservation. Sam Royko and Proco “Joe” Moreno are also running but did not respond to outreach from Streetsblog. Block Club is covering the race here.

CTA Ridership:

La Spata pointed to efforts during his term to add a substation in Wicker Park to improve speed on the Blue Line. He also expressed support for a return to GPS tracking for CTA busses (to address ghost buses), as well as additional investment in service and fare reductions.
Schneider observed that hiring was the driving issue behind the CTA’s issues and suggested that the agency needs to “intensify hiring,” although he didn’t provide details on how that might be accomplished. He also expressed support for a resolution requiring CTA representatives to appear regularly before the City Council.

Traffic Safety: Both candidates expressed support for additional safety upgrades.

Schneider observed that Chicago’s traffic violence is “absolutely unacceptable.” He pointed to his efforts to develop proposals for a bike and pedestrian priority network along the city’s historic boulevard system, and his advocacy for “Safe Streets” infrastructure on Logan Boulevard.
La Spata commented that he uses a bike as his most common form of transportation. He noted that he has been a strong advocate of protected bike lanes, and secured barrier-protected lanes on Milwaukee Ave. and Logan Square Boulevard during his term.

Bike Lanes: Both candidates also endorsed expanded bike lanes.

La Spata observed that he is the only council member that bikes to City Hall and suggested protected lanes on Armitage and California Avenues.
Schneider also expressed support for additional lanes, although he didn’t mention any specific sites in the ward. He backed lower speed limits and camera enforcement to protect cyclists.

Equitable Transit Oriented Development:

Schneider wrote that “my track record speaks for itself” on ETOD, pointing to his advocacy for the development of the Lucy Gonzalez Parsons Apartments in Logan Square. He argued that the TOD rules should go even farther, with further reductions in parking near transit and greater density incentives.
La Spata noted that he was a lead sponsor of the Connected Communities ordinance which recently expanded TOD incentives citywide, and that he was now working to ensure TOD-developments emerge across the ward. He also highlighted the fact that TOD can’t succeed without transit—and that it remains important to hold the CTA accountable to its reliability goals.

Accessory Dwelling Units: Both candidates endorsed a citywide ADU expansion.

La Spata celebrated the success of the ADU pilot in the 1st Ward to-date and noted that residents have been “incredibly eager” to make use of the program. In addition to expanding the program citywide, he noted that the city should provide financial assistance to help turn applications into units.
Schneider also expressed his support for a citywide expansion.

Legalizing 3-Flats:

Schneider commented that 2- and 3-flats are the “backbone” of Chicago’s housing stock, and a critical piece of ensuring affordability. He noted that even after the most recent zoning changes, 2-and 3-flat construction should be more widely allowed and easily permitted.
La Spata agreed that 2 and 3-flats should be legalized citywide. He also pointed out that he created the first minimum density thresholds in the city near The 606/Bloomingdale Trail, to help prevent de-conversions and preserve existing housing supply.

Ward 43: Lincoln Park, Old Town, and Gold Coast

Rebecca Janowitz, Steve Botsford, and Steven McClellan.

About the race: Chicago’s 43rd Ward covers Lincoln Park, Old Town, and Gold Coast. Streetsblog received responses from Rebecca Janowitz, a public safety and community leader, Steve Botsford a partner in a small real estate investment business, and Steven McClellan, a community leader and member of the Local School Council at Lasalle Language Academy. Recently appointed incumbent Timmy Knudsen, Brian Comer, and Wendi Taylor Nations are also running, but did not respond to outreach from Streetsblog. Block Club is covering the race here.

CTA Ridership: Candidates were all over the place on their suggestions to address the CTA’s woes.

Janowitz suggested lowering fares and ensuring it was easy for cyclists to more their bikes on buses and trains.
Botsford pointed to two key problems for the CTA: safety and reliability. He suggested replacing funds spent on private security with additional uniformed CPD officers who can enforce rules directly, and adding panic buttons to CTA stations. On reliability, he suggested that the CTA condense the number of bus lines while increasing the frequency of service, reducing travel times and increasing reliability overall.
McClellan highlighted the CTA’s hiring woes, a key contributor to the agency’s reliability issues. He suggested the agency offer greater hiring incentives and also stressed the importance of improving scheduling accuracy.

Traffic Safety: Candidates differed on the best ways to protect cyclists and pedestrians.

Janowitz said she would emphasize improved lighting, and the prosecution of dangerous drivers.
Botsford noted a series of infrastructure upgrades that he’d support, including protected bike lanes, crosswalk improvements, and automated ticketing for cars parked near bike lanes or too close to crosswalks.
McClellan expressed concern about pedestrians, writing that “both cyclist[s] and drivers tend to think the other is at fault when both parties need to focus on making sure the road is safe for pedestrians.” He endorsed better education for cyclists and drivers.

Bike Lanes: All three candidates support a protected bike lane on Clybourn.

Janowitz said she’d ask cyclists for suggestions, proposed Clybourn, and that while the Dickens Greenway has been controversial, “where ever the 606 passes through our ward to connect to the park and lakefront we need to make sure that cyclists are protected.”
Botsford laid claim to being in the top 1 percentof Divvy riders, and said he’d be interested in protected lanes for Lincoln, Clark, Clybourn Sheffield, and Larrabee.
McClellan suggested “Clark, Armitage and/or Clybourn.”

Housing: All three candidates expressed support for Equitable Transit Oriented Development and the Citywide ADU Expansion. Janowitz and Botsford both endorsed legalizing three flats.

Janowitz endorsed legalizing 3-flats, and also expressed expedited review for TOD applications.
Botsford noted that he happily lives in an Accessory Dwelling Unit. As a bonus, he also supported ending mandatory parking minimums citywide.
McClellan didn’t respond to the 2- and 3-flat question, but he expressed support for measures to increase affordability and economic opportunity citywide.

Ward 44: Lakeview

Bennett Lawson and Nathan Bean.

About the race: Chicago’s 44th ward is largely comprised of Lakeview. Streetsblog received responses from both candidates running: Bennett Lawson, outgoing alderperson Tom Tunney’s Chief of Staff, and Nathan Bean a paralegal and student at DePaul. Bean was kicked off the ballot after the Chicago Board of Elections ruled he failed to file the proper paperwork. Bean is challenging the ruling in court and will run as a write-in candidate if he’s unsuccessful. Block Club’s coverage is available here.

CTA Ridership:

Lawson said that he would focus on improving CTA reliability, increasing staffing for both CTA and CPD personnel, and improving technology. In the longer term, he suggested expanding service, fare incentives for low-income riders, and partnerships with community groups to promote the CTA and concerns or misconceptions.
Bean would require CTA leadership to meet with the City Council, and increase pay for staff. He also suggested working with the federal government to declassify Marijuana as a schedule 1 drug, “so that CTA employees won’t be fired for enjoying a little during their time off.”

Traffic Safety:

Both candidates endorsed additional protected bike lanes.

Lawson expressed support for additional protected bike lanes but wrote that “we need to have a conversation as a community” to determine where those lanes should be located. Lawson also the expansion of pedestrian-only zones and increased enforcement of traffic laws to crack down on speeding and reckless or distracted driving.
Bean suggested protected lanes on Halsted, Broadway, Clark and Southport.

Equitable Transit Oriented Development:

Lawson expressed support for ETOD and highlighted the Red Purple Modernization program as an opportunity to add density near transit and increase affordability in the neighborhood.
Bean endorsed additional ETOD efforts and suggested that all new buildings reserve 20 percent of units to be rented at $1800/month.

Accessory Dwelling Units: Both candidates agreed that the ADU pilot program should be expanded citywide.

Lawson also suggested some thoughtful ways to increase the program’s scope. He proposed adding attic conversions to the program, as well as allowing residents to convert coach houses larger than 700 square feet as part of the program.

Legalizing 3-Flats:

Lawson hedged, writing “yes,” but then noted that he was “concerned about the impact in a specific area of my ward.” He noted that the quadrant of Sheffield/Racine/Diversey/Belmont, has been zoned for single-family homes, and worried that legalization of 3-flats might prompt teardowns of older affordable units.
Bean expressed unqualified support for legalizing two- and three-flats.

The Questions We Asked

We asked all candidates the following questions:

CTA Ridership: The CTA has faced ongoing concerns about reliability and safety. Ridership still hasn’t recovered from the pandemic and ended 2022 at just 57 percent of 2019 levels. What actions would you take to improve CTA performance and ridership?
Traffic Safety: In 2022, there were more than 31,000hit-and-run crashes in Chicago, and 31 pedestrians and 8 cyclists were killed on city streets. Do you believe the city should do more to protect pedestrians and cyclists? If so, what additional traffic safety measures would you support in your ward?
Protected Bike Lanes: In 2022, the Chicago Department of Transportation added just 7 miles of protected bike lanes, falling short of its own goal. Do you believe Chicago should add more protected bike lanes, and if so, what streets in your ward would be good candidates?
Equitable Transit-Oriented DevelopmentEquitable Transit Oriented Developmentcan help ensure more Chicagoans can benefit from living near CTA stations and high-frequency bus lines. Do you believe more should be done to support development (including of affordable units) near transit in your ward? If so, what specific actions would you support?
Accessory Dwelling Units: The City’s Additional Dwelling Unit (ADU) ordinanceallows homeowners to add a coach house, or backyard apartment to their property. This can help increase affordable housing options and reduce displacement, but the program is currently limited to five pilot areas. Do you support expanding the ADU ordinance citywide?
Legalizing 3-Flats: 2- and 3-flats are Chicago’s most affordable housing stock. But in many neighborhoods near CTA and Metra stations, particularly on the North, Northwest and Southwest sides, 2 and 3-flats are illegal to build due to single-family zoning rules. Do you support legislation legalizing 2-and 3-flats citywide?
Other: Please add any other positions you have on transportation or related housing issues that you think voters should know about.

South Lakefront and Mid South Side candidates (Wards 4, 5, 16, 20) talk transportation

As part of our 2023 Election Coverage, Streetsblog Chicago sent a questionnaire out to every candidate running for alderperson. Today, we’re sharing responses from candidates in South Lakefront and Mid South Side districts, including wards 4, 5, 16, and 20.

We asked about their plans to restore CTA ridership, what actions they would take to reduce fatal crashes, and if they supported additional protected bike lanes in their ward. We also asked if they supported more affordable housing options near transit, including Equitable Transit Oriented Development, and allowing Accessory Dwelling Units and three-flats to be built in every neighborhood. See the full set of questions at the bottom of this post.

You can see the full responses from candidates in every ward here.

Ward 4: Downtown, Bronzeville, Oakland, Douglas and Kenwood

Paul Pearson and Matthew “Khari” Humphries

About the race: Chicago’s 4th Ward runs along the lake from Downtown to Kenwood. Incumbent alder Sophia King is vacating the seat to run for mayor, and 7 candidates are running. Streetsblog received responses from Paul Pearson, a doctoral candidate at DePaul, and Matthew “Khari” Humphries, who most recently served as the Mayor’s Director of Youth Policy. Also running are Prentice Butler, Lamont Robinson, Ebony Lucas, Tracey Bey, and Helen West. Block Club coverage can be found here.

CTA Ridership:

Pearson suggested that the CTA add passenger assistants on each bus and train.
Humphries wrote that “We don’t need leaders who propose quick-fixes as much as we need strategic solutions that strike at the heart of the problem.” He suggested a wide-ranging effort to understand rider needs and the perspectives of Chicagoans, to then inform a redesign of the network. He also proposed one-on-one engagement with administrative staff “to address long-standing issues that impede progress.”

Traffic Safety: Both candidates endorsed additional protected bike lanes in the ward.

Pearson proposed more education for drivers to address road safety generally. He also noted the importance of safe paths for families to access parks and lakefront in the Ward, as important tools to build community and reduce traffic. In particular, he suggested Cottage Grove and Lake Park as protected bike lane options.
Humphries mentioned the fear he feels biking in the ward with his young sons. He suggested using aldermanic menu money and partnering with the Chicago Department of Transportation and Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities to design road diets on major arterials in the ward. While he didn’t name specific streets, he promised to solicit input from residents and cyclists and proposed major arterials, connections to the lakefront, and efforts to link bike lanes with adjacent wards.

Equitable Transit Oriented Development:

Pearson noted that public transportation “sustains livelihood” in the Ward, and that rising costs are pushing families out of homes that they have lived in for generations. In addition to ETOD investments, he proposed a reparations fund to close housing insecurity gaps.
Humphries agreed that ETOD efforts merited more support. He said he’d work with advocates citywide to identify opportunities and prioritize rehab opportunities rather than new construction to control costs.

Accessory Dwelling Units and Legalizing Three-Flats:

Pearson expressed support for expanding the ADU pilot citywide and wrote that the ward currently has residents living in garages today—and in addition to expanding housing options, legalization would make it easier to ensure current dwellings are safe. He also endorsed legalizing 2 and 3-flats and proposed additional city services to help Black and Hispanic residents construct 2 and 3-flats in their communities.
Humphries also backed the ADU expansion and three-flat legalization. In addition, he wrote that he previously worked with an affordable housing provider and suggested the Chicago Housing Authority could increase its supply of available units by utilizing vacant properties and purchasing additional buildings. He pointed to the strong credit rating of the CHA as evidence the agency could do more to address the city’s affordable housing shortage and suggested that a focus on rehabs and a partnership with the Cook County Land Bank Authority could help minimize costs.

Ward 5: Hyde Park, Woodlawn, and South Shore

Top Row: Jocelyn Hare, Kris Levy, and Tina Hone. Bottom Row: Robert Palmer and Desmond Yancey.

About the race: Chicago’s 5th Ward covers portions of Hyde Park, Woodlawn, and South Shore. 11 candidates are running to replace retiring alder Leslie Hairston. Streetsblog received responses from Jocelyn Hare, Kris Levy, Martina “Tina” Hone, Robert Palmer, and Desmon Yancy. Also running are Marelene Fisher, Wallace Goode, Gabriel Piemonte, Dalika “Dee” Perkins, Joshua Gray, and Renita Q. Ward. Block Club coverage is here.

CTA Ridership: There were a wide range of answers on ways to rebuild CTA ridership.

Hare suggested working with residents to understand their safety needs, and end ghost buses. She also suggested that routes and transport times must be easily available, and that “CTA facilities must be clean, brightly lit, staffed, and have bathroom access.”
Levy proposed making stops brighter, shorter waiting times, and schedule adherence. He also proposed better technology, and to “share better rider practices” to encourage riders to do things like sit near aisles, avoid doors, and not wear expensive jewelry.
Hone raised the possibility that ridership may never recover, but also offered a detailed set of actions to address safety, cleanliness, and operator shortages. For safety, she proposed more operators on trains. To improve cleanliness, she suggested ensuring adequate garbage cans at stations, and doing more to serve unhoused residents, including potentially offering warming buses to provide alternatives for residents riding trains at night. To address worker shortages, she suggested more aggressive recruiting, efforts to rehire retirees, and eliminating the current system of awarding the least desirable routes to new hires. She also disputed CTA CEO Dorval Carter’s claim that he can’t afford to crack down on chronic absenteeism—arguing that failing to do so hurts morale and encourages absenteeism by other workers. Finally, she also noted how hard the job has been for operators over the last few years, and suggested a public service campaign to promote better treatment of operators.
Palmer suggested fare cuts, trained violence operators, and to have police officers ride trains more often.
Yancy wrote that ridership may not fully recover, but that “as a CTA passenger and South Sider, I know that many of my community members have not had the luxury of abstaining from public transportation.” He didn’t make any specific suggestions, but proposed to analyze the problems facing the CTA and improve reliability, transparency and safety.

Traffic Safety: Candidates universally endorsed more physical protection for pedestrians and cyclists but differed on the level of specifics provided.

Hare endorsed lowering speed limits and adding speed bumps, as well to “ensure streets, bike lanes, and sidewalks are paved and well-lit at all hours.”
Levy proposed increasing bike and walking paths, as well as determining if more stop lights or yield signs are required.
Hone started by noting the uptick in reckless driving. She called for better police enforcement of traffic laws, but also noted that officers also need to abide by traffic laws, writing that “I have never seen a CPD SUV stay at a stop light.” She also expressed support for bump-outs and protected bike lanes, with the caveat that they come with community consultation and approval. In particular, she flagged Stony Island as an especially dangerous street for pedestrians.
Palmer expressed support for additional bike lanes, and better enforcement of rules against parking in existing lanes.
Yancy agreed that more needed to be done and said that he would work with CDOT to “advocate and fight for the presence and accessibility of clearly marked bike lanes and sidewalks that are protected from the main areas of motorized traffic.”

Bike Lanes: Candidates were unanimous in their support for more bike lanes, and most suggested 71st and Jeffrey Avenue as good options.

Hare wrote that protected bike lanes were “essential” but pointed to the Obama Presidential Center construction and traffic issues as a reason to hold off on making specific recommendations until a traffic impact study could be done
Levy proposed Jeffrey Avenue, Stony Island Avenue, and 71st Street
Hone noted the importance of community engagement, and that it was necessary to “normalize” the value of bike lines across the ward. She suggested lanes for Lake Park and Stony Island, 63rd Street, South Shore Drive, Jeffrey Ave, as well as potential lanes on 72nd Street and South Chicago Avenue. She worried that 71st was too narrow and would be complicated given the presence of the Metra on the Street.
Palmer endorsed more bike lanes and suggested 71st Street as an option.
Yancy noted the impact of transportation disinvestment in the ward, which has left South Side residents with limited transportation options. He also expressed support for lanes on 71st Street and Jeffrey Boulevard

Equitable Transit Oriented Development: ETOD received strong support from most candidates, while Yancy provided a more qualified response.

Hare wrote that “TOD is a proven economic development mechanism to increase density, improve urban commuting, and build housing that meets the needs of today’s residents,” and committed to work across the Ward to support ETOD investments.
Levy expressed support for “more multi-use properties near transit.”
Hone called out the importance of Metra to the ward, and that funding also needed to be available for redevelopment of existing storefronts. She noted the importance of a balance of affordable and market rate housing, and the necessity to support a healthy retail base.
Palmer endorsed zoning changes to aid in ETOD developments.
Yancy hedged a bit, endorsing ETOD “when it is done so transparently and in partnership with community members.”

Accessory Dwelling Units and Two- and Three-Flat Legalization: All candidates endorsed expanding the ADU ordinance, and all candidates except Levy and Hone provided unqualified support for legalizing Two- and Three-flats.

Hare wrote “strongly support” for both questions. More broadly, she pointed to her work to address housing concerns stemming from the Obama Presidential Center, surveying residents to understand their needs. She also expressed support for “the housing policy recommendations of the South Shore Compact, Woodlawn East Community and Neighbors (WECAN), and the Washington Park Residents’ Advocacy Coalition.”
Levy was a yes for the ADU expansion but wrote that his support for 2- and 3- flats was “pending neighborhood approval.”
Hone was a yes on ADUs but raised concerns that most parts of the ward have small yards, and that she worried about “the increase in density in an already dense ward.” She suggested the best approach to increasing affordable housing was to target investors siting on blighted properties waiting for prices to rise. Her answer was more ambiguous on 2- and 3-flats, where she wrote that “The 5th Ward is filled with 2 and 3 flats,” but raised concerns about absentee landlords and investors. She proposed a program to help residents acquire 2 and 3-flats to build wealth and support community stability.
Palmer was a “Yes” on both questions, and suggested housing and employment set-asides be provided by the Obama Foundation for South Shore.
Yancy endorsed expanding the ADU ordinance and legalizing 2- and 3-flats. He also argued that “the city should not solely rely on everyday people to fill in the housing affordability gap.” He also endorsed a more city-provided affordable housing, an increase in the minimum wage, an expanded universal basic income, and the Bring Chicago Home ordinance.

Ward 16: West Englewood, New City and Chicago Lawn

Dr. Carolynn Crump

About the Ward: Chicago’s 16th Ward covers portions of West Englewood, Chicago Lawn and Back of the Yards. Three candidates are running here. Streetsblog received a response from Dr. Carolynn Crump, a Chicago Police Officer. Also running are incumbent Alder Stephanie Coleman, and Eddie Johnson. Block Club coverage can be found here.

CTA Ridership: Pointing to the Fair Transit South Cook Pilot, which cut Metra fares in South Cook County, Dr. Crump she suggested fare reductions for CTA ridership in low-income parts of the city. She also noted that the CTA needed to get rid of “ghost buses” and ensure real-time transit data is available on Ventra, the Transit App, as well as Google and Apple maps. She also noted the agency needs to accelerate hiring.

Traffic Safety:  Dr. Crump wrote that new technology could be part of the puzzle to protect cyclists and pedestrians, including roadside detection, and side guards to protect vulnerable road users. She committed to incentive safety upgrades by manufacturers if elected, as well as ensure City vehicles are upgraded with modern safety equipment to protect other road users. She also endorsed greater road safety training, redesigning hazardous intersections, and additional protected bike lanes in the 16th Ward.

Equitable Transit Oriented Development: She expressed support for additional residential development near transit, noting that “public transit provides one of the best means for households to save money and help sustain a carbon-neutral environment.” She also observed that development near transit can help reduce traffic and parking headaches.

Housing: Dr. Crump had a detailed set of answers on housing. She endorsed expanding the ADU program and legalizing 3-flats citywide. She also laid out a range of policies to strengthen affordability and support the economic foundations of the ward. Those included dropping minimum lot sizes to reduce construction costs, and streamlining the rezoning of vacant non-residential buildings, to accelerate the redevelopment of closed churches and schools. She also suggested increasing density bonuses to encourage the provision of more affordable units, and down-payment assistance for low-income homebuyers. Finally, in a rare recognition that alderpersons govern the entire city rather than just their own wards, Crump also raised concerns about deterioration of commercial activity in the Loop, and the risks this posed for the city. If elected, she would work with business leaders to reduce vacancies, convert office buildings to other uses, and support the creation of affordable housing downtown.

Ward 20: Woodlawn, Hyde Park, Englewood, Fuller Park and Back of the Yards

Ald. Jeannette Taylor

About the ward: Three candidates are running in the ward, which stretches from Back of the Yards to Woodlawn. Streetsblog received a response from incumbent Alder Jeanette Taylor. Also running are Jennifer Maddox and Andre Smith.

CTA Ridership: Taylor wrote that CTA leadership needs to be “more in touch” with riders and suggested quarterly meetings around the city to get feedback. She also suggested reaching out directly to solicit input from line-level CTA workers, since they’re the workers who interact with riders every day. Finally, she suggested direct funding for the CTA to address homeless individuals seeking shelter in CTA stations and trains and buses.

Traffic Safety: Taylor agreed that the city “must do more to protect cyclists and pedestrians,” but said that specifics would need to be determined in consultation with constituents, and that she would rely on the participatory budgeting process to determine the location of bike lanes. She did endorse clear markings for pedestrian crosswalks, and traffic calming measures based on street studies. She suggested “a combination of education and fines,” including public education campaigns to reduce distracted driving.

Housing: ETOD received strong support from Taylor, and she committed to continuing to push for additional affordable development near transit. She wrote that “I have a strong record of expanding affordable housing in my ward,” pointing to passage of the Woodlawn Housing ordinance. However, she declined to take a position on expanding the ADU pilot or legalizing 2- and 3-flats instead writing for both that “if my constituents are in support of it, yes I would.”

The Questions We Asked

We asked all candidates the following questions:

CTA Ridership: The CTA has faced ongoing concerns about reliability and safety. Ridership still hasn’t recovered from the pandemic and ended 2022 at just 57 percent of 2019 levels. What actions would you take to improve CTA performance and ridership?
Traffic Safety: In 2022, there were more than 31,000hit-and-run crashes in Chicago, and 31 pedestrians and 8 cyclists were killed on city streets. Do you believe the city should do more to protect pedestrians and cyclists? If so, what additional traffic safety measures would you support in your ward?
Protected Bike Lanes: In 2022, the Chicago Department of Transportation added just 7 miles of protected bike lanes, falling short of its own goal. Do you believe Chicago should add more protected bike lanes, and if so, what streets in your ward would be good candidates?
Equitable Transit-Oriented Development: Equitable Transit Oriented Developmentcan help ensure more Chicagoans can benefit from living near CTA stations and high-frequency bus lines. Do you believe more should be done to support development (including of affordable units) near transit in your ward? If so, what specific actions would you support?
Accessory Dwelling Units: The City’s Additional Dwelling Unit (ADU) ordinanceallows homeowners to add a coach house, or backyard apartment to their property. This can help increase affordable housing options and reduce displacement, but the program is currently limited to five pilot areas. Do you support expanding the ADU ordinance citywide?
Legalizing 3-Flats: 2- and 3-flats are Chicago’s most affordable housing stock. But in many neighborhoods near CTA and Metra stations, particularly on the North, Northwest and Southwest sides, 2 and 3-flats are illegal to build due to single-family zoning rules. Do you support legislation legalizing 2-and 3-flats citywide?
Other: Please add any other positions you have on transportation or related housing issues that you think voters should know about.

Did you appreciate this article? Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to help fund Streetsblog Chicago’s next year of publication. Thanks!

USDOT Announces First Grants from its Safe Streets and Roads for All Program

Note: GJEL Accident Attorneys regularly sponsors coverage on Streetsblog San Francisco and Streetsblog California. Unless noted in the story, GJEL Accident Attorneys is not consulted for the content or editorial direction of the sponsored content.

A new USDOT program, the Safe Streets and Roads for All Program, announced its first grants yesterday. The announcements covered the first $800 million of the $5 billion, five-year program. California communities are set to receive $133 million.

As pointed out by Streetsblog USA, the majority of the money will go towards creating local safety plans, which have been completely missing from many communities. While fewer actual projects were funded in this round, those projects that did get money received most of the program’s funding. In California, six large “transformative” projects will receive about $100 million all together.

The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) congratulated the administration on the grants, which largely are for small scale investments in improved safety to help curb traffic deaths and improve equity where communities have been disconnected from each other. NACTO was especially pleased that USDOT collaborated with cities to design the program. USDOT took to heart many of the recommendations and suggestions [PDF] made by NACTO. These included ideas such as incorporating Vision Zero principles; evaluating the proposals based on goals and qualitative benefits rather than just a cost-benefit analysis; funding a wide range of construction and project-related activities; and encouraging the adoption of up-to-date design guidance.

The grants make up less than one percent of the total cost of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Meanwhile plenty of the BIL’s other investments will be in projects such as road widenings that can decrease safety for bike riders and people on foot.

In addition, the many smaller grants going to cities to help them begin planning for safer streets shows just how far there is to go before measurable safety benefits are on the ground. In some California communities, despite state-level policy support, there will likely still be an uphill battle to get projects built.

In other words, this is a welcome start, but it is just a start.

NACTO expressed the hope that the program will serve “as a model for future funding decisions across the U.S. transportation system–including informing how $300 billion in ‘formula’ federal funds are spent directly by U.S. states and territories every year.”

The California grants, for a total of almost $133 million, will go towards:

Contra Costa Transportation Authority: $29 million for bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements “to improve equity countywide.” Projects include closing gaps in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure along transit routes or linking to transit centers; enhancing bicycle and pedestrian signing and marking; installing loop detection upgrades for bicycles at traffic signals; modifying traffic signals to include leading pedestrian intervals; planting street trees; and installing bicycle lanes, ADA-compliant curb ramps, 12 rectangular rapid-flashing beacons, and a bike garden to provide bicycle and pedestrian safety education to groups and individuals.
Los Angeles County: $21 million for Florence-Firestone for All, a Vision Zero plan along corridors with high collision rates. ADA curb ramps, curb extensions, raised crosswalks, raised medians, pedestrian refuge islands, speed cushions, high-visibility crosswalks, sign improvements, and removing sections of roadway to reduce conflicts are all included, as are two demonstration projects and a teen driver education campaign in schools.
City of San Francisco: $18 million for Western Addition Community Safe Streets Project, which proposes traffic signal upgrades; pedestrian signal and crossing improvements; speed management strategies; quick-build strategies such as changes to parking, loading and transit stops; and other safety improvements at sixteen intersections along three corridors.
Alameda County: $15 million for the San Pablo Avenue Safety Improvements Project. San Pablo Avenue provides access to more than twenty schools, ten community centers, four libraries, six food banks, and other community gathering spaces. The project includes multiple multimodal safety improvements, including bus bulb-outs and bus stop relocation, in-lane transit stops, and the creation of parallel bike routes along the fourteen-mile corridor (note that advocates have pushed for separated bike lanes ON the corridor, but some cities crossed by the corridor have balked at the idea).
Modoc County: $13 million to improve safety along two corridors in rural disadvantaged communities and Tribal areas that have the County’s most dangerous crash history: County Road 91 and County Road 1. The project will implement community requests for bicycle lanes, pedestrian crosswalks, speed control, and mobility-assisted support infrastructure, and update crash data.
City of Los Angeles: $9 million for La Brea Avenue Complete Streets Project. New pedestrian crosswalks and signals; sidewalk repairs; upgraded markings; street tree plantings; and upgrades to the transit user experience to support the city’s Vision Zero goals.
City of Wildomar: $2 million for Sedco Blvd. Improvements. Bicycle lanes, sidewalk improvements, and three roundabouts along a 0.19-mile segment that link two planned bicycle corridors.

In addition, local and regional safety plans supported by the federal grants are:

Los Angeles Metro Comprehensive Safety Action Plan: $6 million
City of San Diego Safe Streets for All San Diegans: $680,000
San Diego Regional Comprehensive Safety Plan: $2.5 million
City of Modesto Safety Action Plan: $1 million
BART Safety Action Plan: $1 million
County of Orange Local Road Safety Plan: $808,000
Yuba-Sutter Regional Safety Action Plan: $800,000
Butte County Safety Action Plan for Bikes, Pedestrians and Motor Vehicles: $788,000.00
Palm Desert Vision Zero Strategy: $720,000
Santa Cruz County Safe Streets for All Action Plan: $688,000
City of Stockton Comprehensive Vision Zero Action Plan: $646,000
Riverside County Action Plan for Unincorporated Communities: $640,000
City of Costa Mesa Safe Routes to School Action Plan: $631,000
Town of Apple Valley Complete Streets Plan: $600,000
County of Madera Comprehensive Safety Action Plan: $492,000
City of Santa Clara Vision Zero Plan: $450,000
City of Moreno Valley Action Plan: $436,000
City of Fresno Vision Zero Action Plan: $400,000
City of Napa Complete Streets Improvement Plan for High-Injury Corridor: $400,000
San Francisco County Transportation Authority Vision Zero Freeway Ramp Intersection Safety Study: $360,000
City of Dinuba Vision Zero Action Plan: $344,000
San Luis Obispo Regional Safe Streets Action Plan: $320,000
City of La Habra Safe Routes to School Action Plan: $320,000
City of Rialto Action Plan: $320,000
City of Fresno Safe Streets for All Action Plan: $303,000
City of Redding Safe Streets and Roads For All Action Plan: $300,000
City of West Sacramento Comprehensive Safety Action Plan: $280,000
City of Pleasant Hill Action Plan: $240,000
Robinson Rancheria Action Plan: $200,000
City of Fullerton Safe Streets and Roads For All: $200,000
City of South Lake Tahoe Vision Zero Action Plan $200,000
City of Laguna Beach Safety Action Plan: $200,000
City of Laguna Niguel Active Transportation Safety Plan: $200,000
City of Colusa Comprehensive Action Safety Plan: $200,000
City of Pasadena Safe Streets for All Action Plan: $200,000: $200,000
City of Monterey Safe Streets for All Complete Action Plan: $200,000
City of Seal Beach Safety Action Plan: $200,000
City of Irwindale Safe Streets and Roads for All Action Plan: $184,000
Trinidad Rancheria Safety Action Plan: $168,000
Palo Alto Safe Streets for All Action Plan: $160,000
Colusa Indian Community Council Safety Action Plan: $128,000
City of Colton Citywide Comprehensive Safety Action Plan: $96,000

The Ultimate Gamble: Hochul Fills MTA’s Fiscal Hole (But With Casino Money)

ALBANY — Gov. Hochul’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget would keep the MTA from falling over the fiscal cliff, but the search for more transit service and a way to head off a pair of upcoming fare hikes is now up to the state legislature. But the bottom line? It’s all a gamble.

Hochul’s plan calls for a one-shot $300-million check from the state this year and an expected $800 million per year that would come a hike in the payroll mobility tax — a regional 0.34-percent tax on employers in the MTA service area. Hochul’s proposal would increase the tax to 0.5 percent.

The state is also kicking in $150 million per year for “additional MTA safety personnel,” which Hochul’s budget officials said would cover the increased costs for NYPD overtime on the subway and security technology on transit.

Additionally (and somewhat controversially), Hochul is counting on New York City to kick in $500 million per year, covering the costs of paratransit, student MetroCards and entities that are exempt from paying the payroll mobility tax.

Beyond that, Hochul proposes to cut in the MTA on upcoming gambling-related revenue. First, Hochul would give the MTA some of the $1.5 billion the state will raise when it awards three downstate casino licenses. And once the downstate casinos are up and running (and turning desperate and dashed dreams into casino profits and then casino profits into tax money), the MTA will get some of that cash, too. The state estimates the “Let it ride” money will be between $462 million and $826 million per year.

“We’re going to continue to expand our public transit access, affordability, safety,” Hochul said during her budget address. “And for many, many New Yorkers, the MTA is the lifeblood. And if we don’t invest in that, then we will not be looked upon favorably by future generations. So, we must continue to invest in the MTA, invests in transit, invest in railroads.”

MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber, who’s spent the last year asking for public transit to be funded like other essential services such as sanitation or fire response, suggested the governor had done just that.

“Gov. Hochul has stepped up for millions of riders using the MTA’s subways, buses, and commuter railroads, preserving the frequent and reliable service that New Yorkers depend on,” he said in a statement. “This is a balanced plan — the MTA has got to be more efficient without service cuts, the city and state are contributing, and the business community would be stepping up to support essential, top tier transit services every day of the week, even though their employees may be commuting less frequently.”

Hochul’s budget proposal keeps buses and trains out of the scrap yard and fills in the fiscal Sarlacc Pit in such a way that the MTA is able to spread its remaining COVID-era federal aid until 2026, which is what the agency has been asking for help with since July of last year.

The MTA’s yearly budget options through 2026, proposed to the MTA Board in November last year. Graphic: MTA

However, the budget doesn’t identify new sources of funding beyond the politically fraught casino licenses and revenue that even the budget summary notes “are not anticipated until 2026 or later.” The budget also does not expand service or help the MTA avoid a proposed 5.5-percent fare hike. Asked why she didn’t use the budget to expand service, which experts have said could increase ridership as much as 15 percent, Hochul seemed to suggest she was constrained in what she could include.

“You have to look at the various parts of funding that are available,” the governor said.

Some advocates saw this as an opening gambit and not an end point.

“This is the first offer,” said Riders Alliance Director of Policy and Communications Danny Pearlstein. “We hope the legislature will do more, but we know that the governor drives the process. So thank you for the first tranche but let’s see what else we can get, because that’s where we get the gains to the other things the governor cars about: a safer city, climate resilience, a more equitable future and more riders. This doesn’t move the needle on ridership in the way that more frequent service does.”

State legislators also expressed some skepticism, with Assembly Member Robert Carroll (D-Park Slope) calling looming fare hikes “disconcerting and unnecessary” and Assembly Member Zohran Mamdani (D-Queens), who’s flogging his own MTA funding fix that would expand service and establish free buses, issuing a lengthy brickbat against the budget.

“Gov. Hochul’s plan for the MTA does not make New York safer, more affordable or livable: it does the opposite,” Mamdani said. “At a time of skyrocketing inflation, the governor’s budget proposal increases the fare to $3, rubber-stamps 10-minute waits and ensures that New York fails to support working people left behind by the rising cost of living. For the 24 percent of low-income New Yorkers who already forego essential activities like healthcare due to the cost of the fare, these policies are a travesty.”

Hochul’s idea to get New York City to kick in more money for the MTA is also facing an initial eyebrow raise from City Hall, though we haven’t made it to the level of full-scale war that happened the last two times a governor asked a mayor to kick in more money for MTA.

“The city annually contributes approximately $2 billion to the MTA in direct and in-kind contributions and, while we recognize the significant fiscal challenges the MTA faces, we are concerned that this increased commitment could further strain our already-limited resources,” Mayor Adams said in a statement on Hochul’s proposal.

City Comptroller Brad Lander also joined Adams in questioning why the city was shouldering a half-a-billion-dollar burden to shore up a regional transit system with tentacles to distant Orange and New Haven counties.

“Just as the shift to remote and hybrid work hit the MTA’s farebox revenues, so too it hit the city’s commercial property tax revenues and redistributed them to the rest of the region,” Lander said in a statement. “Rather than fare hikes, an increased share of payroll taxes, revenue from new casinos, and the implementation of congestion pricing are the right ways to replace farebox revenue and make long-overdue upgrades to ancient signal technology and repairs. The state should not stick the city with the bill to sustain our regional public transit system.”

Half of Americans Are Getting Local Vision Zero Plans After New Federal Grant

More than half of the U.S. population will live in cities or counties with a Safe Streets action plan in place, thanks to a wave of new funding from Washington — but advocates say it will take sustained community pressure (plus a lot more money) to ensure those plans are realized.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced the first-ever recipients of the new “Safe Streets and Roads For All” grant program, which will provide $5 billion across five years to help U.S. communities end traffic violence their roads.

The first $800 million will be distributed to a staggering 510 communities across America, with the vast majority of them (473) receiving grants to create or augment their local “action plans” to reduce or eliminate car crash deaths. Only 37 grantees received money to actually build the life-saving infrastructure for which action plans typically call, but those projects tended towards the large and transformative, and will receive 60 percent of the total funding.

Moreover, 80 percent of the implementation dollars will explicitly benefit bicyclists, and a whopping 90 percent benefit walkers.

Street safety advocates applauded the news, even as they acknowledged that the program makes up less than 1 percent of the funding authorized under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs act, and far more needs to be done to stem the rising tide of national road deaths. Car crash fatalities reached a 16-year high in 2021, and pedestrians, bicyclists and people of color experienced a disproportionate share of the violence.

“This amount of money isn’t going to be enough to change everything, but this is an encouraging start — and hopefully, will highlight a different way of doing things and really make the case for a Safe System approach,” said Leah Shahum, founder and director of the Vision Zero network.

A map of all grant recipients, excluding Alaska. Visit USDOT for a complete interactive version (though Iowa is a bit glitchy).

Shahum is particularly encouraged by the sheer number of U.S. communities that received funding to develop new safety strategies, many of which are explicitly called Vision Zero plans in reference to the famous Swedish safety model that aims to achieve zero traffic fatalities through systemic interventions. An alarming number of U.S. cities have been slow to embrace the model, or else have struggled to find the resources to comprehensively analyze where their car crashes most often happen — never mind actually taking steps to slow drivers down to safe speeds with hard infrastructure.

“I think we’re seeing a shift more broadly,” Shahum said. “People aren’t as afraid as they used to be to talk about slowing cars down; ‘slow’ isn’t a bad word anymore. We tended to say, ‘Yes, we want safety, but we also want to solve congestion and move things as fast as possible at the same time.’ But we can’t.”

Even the best-laid plans, though, don’t always lead to real safety results — and Shahum fears that when push comes to shove, some communities may not be willing to make the bold decisions necessary to turn every road project into a safety project, as Secretary Buttigieg urged elected leaders to do at the recent U.S. Conference of Mayors.

“Vision Zero is not just a sexy new program name you can slap on your existing work,” Shahum added. “We’re talking about fundamental change, and we must be willing to slow down and prioritize people’s movement above the speed that cars travel. Is there a potential for [grant recipients] to just talk the talk and not walk the walk? Yeah, that’s a certainly a risk. … I think everybody has a role to play in keeping the pressure on and ensuring that there’s accountability.”

Atlanta is getting $30 million for safe streets projects.

$20 million for street trees, raised medians, other good stuff on 122nd Ave. — one of Portland’s most dangerous streets@USDOT is like “you get safety funding, you get safety funding…” You love to see it. pic.twitter.com/rQPGc5Cma6

— Families For Safe Streets (@NYC_SafeStreets) February 1, 2023

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Moreover, Shahum points out that even the most dedicated Vision Zero cities may still face challenges from state departments of transportation and metropolitan planning organization that don’t share their point of view, as well as from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration itself, which she says has been “asleep at the wheel” on regulating the large, heavy vehicles that experts say are accelerating America’s pedestrian death crisis, even after the roads they drive on have been redesigned for safety.

Still, she and her fellow advocates are cautiously optimistic that the new program will make a difference — if only by providing a blueprint for future initiatives.

“The unconscionably high and widely inequitable traffic death toll demands a new approach to how we plan, fund, and build transportation infrastructure in the U.S.,” said Corinne Kisner, Executive Director of NACTO, in a release. “Safe Streets and Roads for All provides a model for how to align transportation investments to the safety, equity, and climate crises on our roads. By making walking, biking, and taking transit safer for the millions of Americans who do so every day, we can make the U.S. healthier, more prosperous, and resilient.”

Here are some of the notable implementation grants that received funding this year: 

$20 million for a slate of pedestrian improvements across Tampa, plus another $19 million across the Hillsborough county at large
$30 million to transform a key section that connects the south side of Atlanta. with its downtown, adding bike lanes, configuring roads, and more
$30 million to improve two major streets in underserved communities in Philadelphia
$28.7 million to improve crossings and intersections along the Bissonnet Corridor in Houston
$27.2 million to augment the urban trail network in Providence
$25.6 million for a “vast array of safety treatments to address pedestrian collisions” in Seattle
$24.8 million to address traffic violence along Detroit’s High Injury Network
$22.8 million for a citywide lighting study, roundabouts, and much more in Austin
$21.4 million to redesign the notoriously dangerous Delancey Street in New York City
$20 million for a redesign project in Portland, Ore., which the city is calling “a model for humanizing arterial streets”
$17.6 million for a range of safe streets projects in the low-income Western Addition neighborhood of San Francisco
$15 million in walking and biking improvements in Springfield, Mass.
$9 million in Complete Streets projects throughout the city of Boston
$9 million to rehabilitate pedestrian facilities along LaBrea avenue in Los Angeles

California Grants Billions for Transit Projects

Note: GJEL Accident Attorneys regularly sponsors coverage on Streetsblog San Francisco and Streetsblog California. Unless noted in the story, GJEL Accident Attorneys is not consulted for the content or editorial direction of the sponsored content.

Billions of dollars were awarded to big transit capital projects in California yesterday. $2.54 billion, to be precise, for projects in the Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP) that need ongoing funding to remain eligible for federal assistance.

These grants are for large long-term capital projects that expand or improve “transformative” transit. This first round of grants will go to projects that have already received some TIRCP funding, and another $1.14 billion in grants will be announced in April for “new projects and high priority grade crossing improvement and separation projects.”

Applications for those grants are due on February 10. They will include:

$522 million for new projects and major project development in Southern California (Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura counties)
$270 million for new projects and major project development in the rest of the state
$350 million for high priority grade crossing improvements and separation projects statewide

TIRCP is funded by Senate Bill 1 (the gas tax) and the California Climate Investments (cap-and-trade). In addition, money was added to the TIRCP budget from last year’s General Fund surplus.

This year’s budget promises to be tighter, and Governor Newsom has proposed pulling back $2 billion from the TIRCP’s future rounds of funding. This would not affect these 2023 allocations, however. Also note that the proposed cuts have not been adopted, and may not take place if the General Fund has enough money in 2024 to keep last year’s promise (that is, $15 billion over several years for infrastructure improvements).

Even if the $2 billion in cuts do take effect, the TIRCP would still have a budget of at least $6 billion just from the General Fund over the next three years.

The sixteen projects that were awarded grants yesterday are listed below. All of them are ongoing projects, and this TIRCP funding will help ensure they meet matching fund obligations for other grants, including federal and state programs.

Some of the Southern California projects are detailed here, and also see Streetsblog LA’s coverage of LA Metro’s expectations for the program.

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)’s Transbay Corridor Core Capacity Program: $250 million. This project will add capacity and frequency to BART service.
Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority’s Sacramento to Roseville Third Track Project: $30 million. The project which will increase the number of roundtrips on this segment from one to three per day.
City of Inglewood’s Inglewood Transit Connector: $407 million.
L.A. Metro’s East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor: $600 million. This project is a 6.7-mile initial light rail segment between the Orange Line and San Fernando Road.
LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency (Los Angeles – San Diego – San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor), corridor hardening project: $6.6 million for repairs to the Ventura County Rincon Point slope and $10.4 million for repairs near Santa Barbara County Hollister Ranch and piers project.
LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency, Central Coast Layover Facility: $14 million. Once complete in 2026, the project will increase total overnight storage and maintenance capacity in San Luis Obispo to allow for service growth on the Central Coast both north and south of SLO.
Orange County Transportation Authority’s OC Streetcar: $150 million. This project is adding 4.15 route miles of new rail transit in Orange County in Santa Ana and Garden Grove.
Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board’s Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project: $367 million. This will help fully fund the project to electrify Caltrain rail service and acquire new electric multiple unit trains for improved and more frequent service.
San Bernardino County Transportation Authority’s project to convert to zero-emission engines on the Redlands “Arrow” Passenger Rail Project: $15.7 million.
San Bernardino County Transportation Authority’s and Omnitrans’ West Valley Connector Bus Rapid Transit Phase 1 and Zero-Emission Bus Initiative: $18.7 million. This project will connect Rancho Cucamonga, Ontario Airport, Ontario, Montclair and Pomona with a nineteen-mile BRT system.
San Diego Association of Governments’ University Bikeway Project: $4.2 million. Active transportation and bus corridor improvements in San Diego’s urban core, including the communities of City Heights, Eastern San Diego, and La Mesa.
San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority and San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission’s Valley Rail project: $142 million. Components of the project include Natomas and Elk Grove stations in the Sacramento region, the Stockton Diamond grade separation, North Lathrop Transfer Station, Manteca, Modesto, Ceres, and Madera station projects, and ten-car ACE platform extensions at Lathrop/Manteca, Tracy, Vasco Road, Livermore, and Pleasanton stations.
Santa Barbara County Association of Governments’ Goleta Train Depot improvements: $5.5 million. Upgrading to a modern multi-modal station with improved customer amenities and better active transportation and transit access
Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, BART Silicon Valley Phase II Extension Project: $375 million. Will bring BART service to downtown San Jose and Santa Clara.
Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART), Larkspur to Windsor Corridor: $34 million. Completion of Sonoma County Airport-to-Windsor construction and preparation for construction to Healdsburg.
Metrolink’s El Monte station improvements, Fullerton Junction reconfiguration and new track, and Simi Valley double track: $106 million. These three critical project components will provide key capacity and safety improvements in Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties.

2 hit-and-run drivers fatally struck delivery driver Jennifer Kelleher, 25, in Austin

Last Thursday afternoon, a hit and run SUV driver fatally struck an unidentified 93-year-old woman, on the 300 block of South Laramie Avenue in Austin. The next day two other drivers struck and killed food delivery driver Jennifer Kelleher, 25, in the 5000 block of West Washington in Austin, only about six blocks away from the previous crash.

According to police and her family, at around 5:45 p.m. on January 27, Kelleher was making a delivery for Uber Eats at Washington and Lavergne Avenue to help raise money to raise her one-year-old son. In this location, Washington is a five-lane, street, which encourages speeding. As she walked south across Washington, the westbound driver of a white SUV struck her. She fell in the street, where she was run over by the westbound driver of a black sedan. both motorists fled the scene.

Diagram of the collision from the crash report.

Kelleher was taken to Stroger Hospital, where she was pronounced dead, according to police.

As of Monday night no one was in custody, police said. According to the crash report, responding officers were able to obtain video footage of the incident.

A witness told Streetsblog Kelleher’s son was still in the back seat of her car when she was struck, and it appeared the mother had briefly left the vehicle to hand off the food to the customer. The child’s father was contacted via the victim’s cell phone and he rushed to the scene.

Jennifer Kelleher. Photo: GoFundMe

A GoFundMe has been launched to help raise money for Kelleher’s family. “She was a loving mother of a little boy, and fiancee, and left behind her mother, sisters, and many who loved her,” her sister Erika wrote. “Please help with what you can so she can be given a proper burial she deserves.”

Fatality Tracker: 2023 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths on surface streets (including one scooter-on-sidewalk case)

Pedestrian: 6
Bicyclist: 0

Note: Streetsblog Chicago’s traffic death numbers represent fatal crashes on Chicago surface streets, based on media reports and/or preliminary Chicago Police Department data.

[googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/embed?mid=1xqIv0LU_Pewn6pgDa09L5Dwt27ZQu-s&ehbc=2E312F&w=640&h=480]

2023 Chicago pedestrian fatality cases

On January 27, 2023, two drivers collided on the 5000 block of West Washington Street in Austin and fatally struck Jennifer Kelleher, 25, and then both fled the scene.
On January 26, 2023, an SUV driver fatally struck an unidentified woman, 93, on the 300 block of South Laramie Avenue in Austin and fled the scene.
On January 10, 2023, a sedan driver struck and killed an unidentified man, 33, on the 3500 block of West Lake Street in East Garfield Park and fled the scene.
On January 3, 2023, a cargo van driver fatally struck Jaime Cuadra, 47, as he was exiting a vehicle on 87th Street in front of the Red Line station.
On January 2, 2023, a 45-year-old man was crossing Lafayette Avenue at 79th Street in Chatham when a speeding driver ran a red, fatally struck him, and fled the scene on foot.
On January 2, 2023, near 72nd Street and Damen Avenue in West Englewood, Roy Lee, 21, was getting into his car when a driver swerved into oncoming lanes, fatally struck Lee and hit three parked cars, then fled the scene on foot.

If you appreciate Streetsblog Chicago’s coverage of traffic safety issues, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to help us fund our next year of reporting. Thank you.

In 2022, Boston Planners Once Again Approved More Parking Spaces Than Homes

In spite of new rules aimed at curbing the amount of off-street parking built in the city’s transit-oriented neighborhoods, year-end statistics compiled by the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) indicate that developers are still building considerably more parking spaces than homes in the City of Boston.

The BPDA, the City of Boston’s planning agency, approved 91 building proposals over the course of 2022 that could give the city 5,249 new homes*, 8 million square feet of new commercial space, and enough parking to store 8,804 more cars.

More than four-fifths of that new parking – 7,227 spaces – would be built in transit-accessible neighborhoods within a half-mile of an MBTA rapid transit or commuter rail station.

Summary of 2022 BPDA project approvals

“TOD” indicates “transit-oriented development” – projects that are located within a half-mile of an MBTA rapid transit or commuter rail station. This table includes data from “notice of project change” approvals, which are revisions to previously-approved projects. Source: BPDA

Total
In TOD
% in TOD

Number of projects
91
71
78%

Total square footage of new buildings
16.2 million SF
13.3 million SF
82%

Commercial square footage
8.0 million SF
6.8 million SF
85%

Institutional square footage
193,297 SF
97,300 SF
50%

Residential square footage
5.1 million SF
4.1 million SF
82%

Residential units
5,249
4,081
78%

Parking spaces
8,804
7,552
86%

In spite of the city’s pressing housing shortage and ambitious climate goals, which call for fewer cars on Boston’s streets by 2030, the BPDA’s project approvals this year include more parking and less housing compared to last year.

In 2021, planners approved 8,668 new parking spaces – 136 fewer than this year – and considerably more housing (7,887 new apartments). Project approvals in 2022 also included considerably more commercial and lab space compared to 2021.

In 2021, Boston Planners Approved More Parking Spaces Than Homes

Near the end of 2021, under the administration of Mayor Kim Janey, the BPDA adopted new rules that limit the amount of parking that developers will be allowed to build, with stricter limits applying in the city’s most transit-accessible neighborhoods.

But many of the BPDA’s project approvals in 2022 appear were submitted and vetted before those new rules took effect.

25 of the BPDA’s project approvals last year were for “notices of project change” – revisions to projects that the agency had already approved in prior years.

On average, those 25 “notice of project change” approvals would build 0.66 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet of work or residential space, while projects that were approved for the first time ever in 2022 include about 0.57 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet (note in the table above that residential projects generally have roughly 1,000 square feet per apartment – this includes hallways and other common areas).

One of the biggest “notice of project change” approvals was for the multi-block “Seaport Square” project, which was originally approved in 2010, and revised again in 2017 and 2019.

Under this year’s revisions, Seaport Square’s developers won approval to replace a previously-approved high-rise apartment building in the center of the neighborhood with another lab and office building, eliminating 700 homes from their proposal. That change, along with similar revisions in other projects, significantly dented the net amount of housing in the city’s construction pipeline.*

But plans for Seaport Square have also trimmed the project’s parking footprint over the past decade. The original 2010 proposal envisioned the construction of  6,575 new parking spaces in the Seaport, but the latest version calls for 5,700 spaces – a 13 percent reduction.

Among the 66 projects that the BPDA approved for the first time this year – many of which were subject to the agency’s new parking limits – developers are generally planning to build less parking than in projects approved in prior years.

Among purely residential projects, the BPDA’s new project approvals averaged about 0.6 parking spaces per apartment. And among 32 new mixed-use projects, the average parking ratio will be 0.4 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet of retail, office, or residential space.

Summary of 2022 BPDA first-time project approvals

Excluding “project change” approvals for previously-approved developments

“TOD” indicates “transit-oriented development” – projects that are located within a half-mile of an MBTA rapid transit or commuter rail station. This table excludes data from the BPDA’s 2022 “notice of project change” approvals, which are revisions to previously-approved projects. Source: BPDA

Total
In TOD
% in TOD

Number of projects
66
51
77%

Total square footage of new buildings
9.5 million SF
7.3 million SF
77%

Commercial square footage
4.5 million SF
3.7 million SF
83%

Institutional square footage
105,987 SF
83,500 SF
79%

Residential square footage
3.0 million SF
2.1 million SF
71%

Residential units
3,225
2,127
66%

Parking spaces
4,286
3,139
73%

A small handful of these newly-approved projects will actually result in a net reduction of parking in the city, by replacing existing parking lots with new buildings that don’t have any on-site parking whatsoever.

One of those projects will go up in the Fort Point neighborhood, at 17 Farnsworth Street. There, developers are planning to demolish a 361-space parking garage that was built in 1986, and replace it with a four-story lab and office building with no on-site parking, resulting in a considerable net reduction in the number of vehicles able to park in the Seaport.

And in Chinatown, non-profit developers won approval to build 110 apartments for car-free lower-income households on the site of a BPDA-owned surface parking lot on Hudson Street.

That building (pictured at the top of this article) will also include space for a new Boston Public Library branch to serve the Chinatown neighborhood on its ground floor.

*Note: The “5,249 new homes” reported at the top of this article reflects the gross number of housing units that the BPDA approved in 2022. However, because those approvals included changes to a number of projects, like Seaport Square, that considerably reduced the number of homes relative to their previous approvals, the city’s net gain in housing, relative to what had previously been in the development pipeline, will be just 2,647 homes.

Previously on StreetsblogMASS:

In 2021, Boston Planners Approved More Parking Spaces Than Homes

Boston Planners Approved Over 11,000 New Parking Spaces in 2020

City Data Show Almost All Of Boston’s New Housing Is Being Built For Car Owners

Boston Establishes New Limits on Parking in Large Developments

City of Springfield Wins $15 Million to Improve Street Safety Citywide

A new federal grant program that was created under the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will award $15 million to the City of Springfield to improve safety on 10 high-traffic streets and at 15 intersections across the city.

The funding will come from the new federal Safe Streets and Roads for All discretionary grant program, which was established with $5 billion in funding over a 5-year period in the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

In a press statement celebrating the new program, the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) wrote that “Safe Streets and Roads for All unlocks federal dollars to fund some of the most effective safety interventions on streets–small-scale investments deployed at scale–that were previously inaccessible to communities without strong local funding sources.”

This year, for its first round of grants, the program is primarily funding “action plans” to help local and regional governments plan and prioritize safety improvements.

Those action plans are a prerequisite for local governments to be eligible for the program’s implementation grants, which would fund actual construction on street safety improvements.

A map of Springfield highlighting the major streets that will be targeted for safety improvements with the $15 million in funding the city received from the new Safe Streets for All program. Courtesy of USDOT.

Betsy Johnson, a Springfield safety advocate, credits MassDOT for helping Springfield jump ahead of other applicants by fast-tracking an action plan before last year’s grant deadline.

“Springfield was going to put in an application for money to do the road safety plan, which is the first step,” Johnson told StreetsblogMASS in a phone conversation on Wednesday. “But MassDOT said ‘no, Springfield, you need this money now, you’ve got an over-the-top crash rate. We’ll hire the consultant who will in 30 days come up with a road safety plan for you, so you can go ahead and apply for the implementation money.’”

Vigil for Crash Victims Amplifies Need for Safer Streets in Springfield

 

Johnson is hopeful that the federal funding can fast-track projects that the city has already identified as priorities in its complete streets plan.

According to a grant award announcement released today from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Springfield’s grant funding “will implement systemic safety countermeasures at approximately 15 intersections and 10 corridors in the City of Springfield that have a disproportionately high number of fatal and serious injury crashes. These systemic interventions include intersection and signal improvements, pedestrian and cyclist enhancements—such as crosswalk improvements, sidewalk upgrades, lighting, and ADA improvements—roadway conspicuity treatments, and intersection/corridor speed management treatments.

As we’ve reported here previously, Springfield is one of the Commonwealth’s most dangerous cities for traffic violence, according to statewide crash statistics.

The City of Boston also won a $9 million Safe Streets and Roads for All grant to “improve safety at approximately nine intersections in five distinct neighborhoods, the majority of which are underserved communities where residents face high safety risks on local streets.”

A map accompanying the project description highlights the intersections of Stuart and Tremont Streets and Kneeland and Washington Streets in downtown Boston (two adjacent intersections in the theater district), Dorchester Ave. and Boston Street in Andrew Square, two intersections on Blue Hill Avenue, at American Legion Highway and at Columbia Road, and Bennington and Saratoga Streets in East Boston, among others.

15 local and regional governments in Massachusetts – including the cities of Worcester, Somerville, and Salem, and regional planning commissions for the Boston region, the Merrimack Valley, Berkshire County, and Cape Cod – also won funding to prepare their own action plans to be eligible for construction funds from the program in future years.

MassDOT has a similar state-level program to plan and implement street safety projects – the Complete Streets funding program. MassDOT will spread about $12 million for 31 small-scale safety and accessibility projects across the entire Commonwealth this year.

 

 

46th Ward alder hopefuls call for CTA conductors, less car-centric DLSD, and a Bike Grid

I live in Uptown, in the 46th Ward, and this evening I attended a local aldermanic candidates forum as a citizen, simply to make a more informed decision about who to vote for as my City Council representative. But there were a lot of interesting comments about transportation issues, so much so that I decided I might as well write up some of the discussion, since it touched on citywide matters that will be of interest to Streetsblog readers.

One takeaway was that grassroots sustainable transportation advocacy groups like Better Streets Chicago and Chicago Bike Grid Now!, which have been tirelessly lobbying candidates to support their campaigns for a municipal sidewalk snow clearance program, and a citywide network of bike-priority side streets, have been having an impact. The alder hopefuls voiced supports for several ideas that have recently been promoted to them by livable streets advocates.

The panel was hosted by Uptown United (which oversees the local Special Service Area program) and the Uptown Chamber of Commerce at Preston Bradley Center, 941 W. Lawrence Ave. Matthew Ruffi, board president of the upcoming Chicago Market food co-op served as moderator.

Cortez, Lalonde, Walz, Clay, Williams, and Ruffi. Photo: John Greenfield

Participating candidates included activist Angela Clay; real estate agent Michael Cortez; scientific research consultant Marianne Lalonde (who four years ago lost the 46th Ward runoff election to incumbent James Cappleman, who’s now retiring, by 25 votes); executive and former legislative aid Kim Walz; and union bartender and former social worker Roushaunda Williams. The sixth candidate, administrative law judge for the Social Security Administration Patrick Nagle (not to be confused with the guy who did the cover art for Duran Duran’s “Rio” album), was away at a conference.

The hopefuls covered many subjects during the discussion, from public safety, to maintaining housing affordability, to supporting small businesses. But here’s what they had to say when Ruffi asked them, “What policies and practices do you support to improve mobility and safety for pedestrians, cyclists, buses, and [L] riders?”

Kim Walz

Walz began by referencing the tragic crash deaths of toddlers Raphael “Rafi” Cardenas, 2, and Elizabeth “Lily” Grace Shambrook last June on a scooter in Lincoln Square and a bike in Uptown, respectively. “We have to have more protected bike lanes around the city and throughout the ward, so that individuals can feel safe biking to work, biking for recreation… I’ve done four triathlons and I don’t feel safe biking on city streets. It just take one person driving a car recklessly to hit some one and end their life.”

She added that residents are tired of being ghosted by scheduled CTA buses that don’t arrive because staffing shortages means there’s no one to drive them, and feeling unsafe on trains. “Ridership has declined, which is bringing revenue down. It’s creating a perfect storm of unsafe conditions where we can’t afford improvements. There’s a complete lack of accountability to the City Council by the CTA.” Walz called for improving safety on trains through unarmed conductors and stationing police in high-crime areas, and more attention to “unsanitary conditions on trains.”

Walz noted that the CTA’s solution to the ghost bus problem was to recently adjust the schedules of 52 routes to better align with available labor, but drivers have complained this has radically changed their working hours and locations, in some cases making them drive routes they feel are unsafe. The candidate called this approach “completely unacceptable.”

Shen then discussed the North DuSable Lake Shore Drive redesign project, calling it “so car-centric… The more we talking about making driving on [DLSD] easier and faster, it’s just going to bring more cars and more traffic to the area. And then what are we going to do 31 years from now, say, ‘Oh, we need to widen it because now we have more cars’? It’s all about induced demand.” She argued that the final design of the drive needs to instead prioritize transit over driving.

Marianne Lalonde

Lalonde noted that many of the CTA’s current problems are related to workforce issues. “We’re not seeing the reliability or the safety on the CTA that we’re used to from ‘the before times.’” She suggested getting staffing levels up to full strength by partnering with the city colleges and the University of Illinois at Chicago on job placement programs. Like Walz, she supported bringing back conductors, “not only to enforce safety, but also to create an atmosphere of respect on CTA.” She also recommended free fares for Chicago Public Schools students all year, which would increase ridership.

Lalonde said she’s a fan of Chicago Bike Grid Now’s proposal for making 10 percent of Chicago streets traffic-calmed bike-priority routes. She added that she’d like to see protected lanes on the full length of Broadway, Lawrence Avenue, Addison Street, and Buena Avenue in the ward.

Pedestrian and bike paths cross on the Lakefront Trail. Photo: Patrick L. Pyszka, city of Chicago

The candidate argued that the pavement markings on the Lakefront Trail that were added as part of the recent project to create separate bike and pedestrian paths is “really inadequate… On the Lakefront Trail you’ll see areas where you as a pedestrian are being asked to look for cyclists [by text on the pavement reading “Look Bikes.”] This is the wrong order. Pedestrians should be prioritized over cyclists.”

Michael Cortez

Cortez highlighted crime on CTA as a major problem. “I felt so safe when they used to have the K-9 units and armed police onboard… there’s barely any of that anymore.” Last year the city announced increased policing of the ‘L’ system, as well as a $31 million contract to deploy up to 50 K-9 units, with unarmed guards and dogs, on transit.

He noted that passengers are also often late. “The need to fix the schedule.”

“I ride a bike myself,” Cortez added. “I’m for the bike lanes but there are an awful lot of bike lanes. I think they should be on main thoroughfares, the streets that [bike lanes can fit on.] And then have maps that actually show the bicyclists where the routes [are], so they can get from A to B, instead of every street having bike lanes.”

Roushaunda Williams

Williams said she was sympathetic to the CTA’s staffing challenges, but said the agency needs to be held accountable for providing reliable service and solving the ghost run problem. “If my son can order pizza from a restaurant and track it from the restaurant to his mouth, we should be able to do a better job at [tracking] our buses,” she said, eliciting laughter and light applause from the crowd.

She called for a “good, incentivized campaign for biking… but we have to make sure it’s safe, because we don’t want to have another child, or anyone, to get hurt because of bike lanes not being safe, and drivers not paying attention.”

Williams suggested holding promotions to encourage cycling, like merchants offering a discount: “If you bike here, I’ll give you 10 percent off your ice cream.”

“Think about the health benefits” of more cycling in the ward, she added. “We could [pedestrianize] Broadway and have Bike the Broadway.”

Angela Clay

Clay said the question that comes to everyone’s mind regarding the CTA is, “Why is it now our mental health hospital and our shelter?… We first need to look at why people are living on trains.” She said the problem is a lack of affordable housing and shelter beds. “We need to invest in our mental health y’all. We just went through a very tough time together.”

Like Lalonde, Clay endorsed the Bike Grid proposal. “I’m a biker,” she said, adding that her campaign led a ward bike tour, but the journey highlighted how 46th Ward Streets are often intimidating places to ride.

She also called for overhauling the Sheridan Red Line stop, a dilapidated station that lacks elevators. “It is a deathtrap for a lot of our neighbors. [The stairs are] steep, it’s extremely slippery in the winter time, and it’s not accessible for a lot of our neighbors.” She said residents who can’t climb stairs have told her they have to ride the train north to Wilson, and then transfer to a bus to backtrack south to Sheridan. “This is an issue that has been big in our ward for a long time, and I really would attack it.”

Generated by Feedzy