Grid Bits: Speed camera testing, CTA riders don’t own cars, I-90 bus lanes, driver’s license legislation


SAFETY ZONE painted on California Avenue, immediately south of North Avenue. 

There are four news stories in this edition of Grid Bits.

Speed cameras

The Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications announced two weeks ago that it will be testing speed cameras from Monday, December 3 (yesterday), to Thursday, January 3.

“City officials are testing both mobile camera systems and permanent camera systems, which will be temporarily installed at:”

  • McKinley Park, at approximately 2223 W. Pershing Road
  • Warren Park, at approximately 6541 N. Western Ave
  • Dulles Elementary School, at approximately 6340 S. King Drive
  • Near North Montessori School, at approximately 1446 W. Division

The Department of Transportation will install signs that tell drivers no citations will be issued.

You may have noticed “SAFETY ZONE” being painted on roads around some parks or schools. All grade and high schools, and all Chicago Park District properties, have a 1/8 mile “safety zone” buffer where it’s possible automated speed enforcement cameras could be installed. Lake Shore Drive and expressways are excluded from this monitoring. Signs must be posted 30 days prior to issuing tickets in the zones. Via Chicagoist. Read our past coverage of speed cameras.

Many CTA riders and Chicagoland households don’t have car access

The Chicago Tribune published a series of charts on Sunday describing how many transit riders and households in Chicagoland have access to a car. “Only 44 percent of CTA riders say they own a car, despite Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s suggestion last week that they have a ‘choice’ of whether to take public transit or drive.”

The U.S. Census Bureau has estimates for a different metric, according to the Tribune’s charts, measuring car access for all transit riders in a given locale:

  • Across the United States, 37.2% of workers 16 and older take transit and don’t own a car
  • In Chicago, 38.8% of workers 16 and older take transit and don’t own a car
  • In Chicagoland, 28.3% of workers 16 and older take transit and don’t own a car

One of the questions in the American Community Survey (ACS) is “How many automobiles, vans, and trucks of one-ton capacity or less are kept at home for use by members of this household?” In the 2009-2011 3-year estimates of the ACS, 748,592 households had 1 or more workers. 15% of these households didn’t have a vehicle available. In all households (0 or more workers) 27% didn’t have a vehicle available*.


Charts about transit and car ownership in Chicago, its suburbs, and the United States, by Katie Nieland for the Chicago Tribune. 

Traffic safety bills in Illinois legislature

1. The Illinois Senate may vote on a bill this week that would allow the Illinois Secretary of State to issue a driver’s license to illegal immigrants provided they pass the same exams as everyone else. The bill is SB0957 and sponsored by Illinois Senator John Cullerton. It would amend the Illinois Vehicle Code to allow a person to apply for a temporary driver’s license when they are “unable to present documentation issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services authorizing the person’s presence in this country” (see bill text); the person, in their application, would have to provide a valid, unexpired passport from the person’s country of citizenship, or consular identification. The design of the license issued to this person would explicitly communicate that it cannot be used for identification. Read our previous articles on this topic.

Updated: The Illinois Senate passed the bill this morning 41-14. It now goes to the Illinois House and then Governor Quinn. Here’s the vote record (.pdf).

2. Illinois Senator Dan Duffy (26th District, far northwest suburbs, Lake County) has introduced a bill (SB3926, November 14, 2012, “Gabby’s law”) that extends the amount of “grace period” a driver has to stop and return to the scene of a crash (or report it at the nearest police station) in which they are involved for it to be considered a hit-and-run. The period would increase from 30 minutes to 48 hours. It would classify the failure to return as a “Class 1 felony and shall be sentenced to a mandatory term of imprisonment of not less than 10 years”. If there was a fatality, the prison term would be 20 years minimum.

The existing state statute classifies hit-and-runs differently, as Class 4 and Class 2 (if there’s a death) felonies. It doesn’t have a mandatory prison sentence.

Bus lanes on I-90 expressway

Construction will begin in 2013 to rebuild and widen the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (also known as I-90). Pace suburban bus operator runs two routes on I-90 and plans to add four more. “Pace has obtained nearly $39 million in federal funding to develop the Addams bus service”, according to a Chicago Tribune article last month.

Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), a federally-designated regional planning organization, advocates for using the new lanes for buses and charging a higher price to allow drivers opt for a congestion-free trips (called HOT lanes).

CMAP recently launched a congestion pricing campaign to implement express toll lanes on five GO TO 2040 expressway projects, including the additional new lane planned for I-90, to manage traffic and give drivers choices. The Tollway received federal funding last year to study the potential for managed lanes on I-90.

The Tribune article mentions the demise of Metra’s STAR Line, saying funding has “all but disappeared”. Pace also plans to build four park-and-ride stations along the tollway. The Illinois Tollway Authority’s CEO Kristi Lafleur recognizes the need to diversify uses of the highways:

Lafleur said she’s not worried [about having fewer drivers and cars on the highway, its primary revenue source]. As the northwest region continues to grow, the need for mobility will continue as well, she said.

Construction actually begin this year; it will continue until 2016, and stretch from Rockford to Rosemont.


A Metro Transit articulated bus is driven in the HOT lane of I-394 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A HOT lane is a high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane that can be used by vehicles that fail to meet the HOV requirement for a toll. It’s typical that transit buses can use them for free. In some jurisdictions, other vehicles or user classifications can use the HOT lanes: drivers of hybrid or electric vehicles; motorcyclists; emergency vehicles. Photo by Andy Tucker.

* The ACS table is called NUMBER OF WORKERS IN HOUSEHOLD BY VEHICLES AVAILABLE / B08203. Updated 09:35 to add more information about Duffy’s bill. 21:47 to add immigrant driving bill as passed in Illinois Senate.

23 thoughts on “Grid Bits: Speed camera testing, CTA riders don’t own cars, I-90 bus lanes, driver’s license legislation”

  1. Duffy’s bill to extend the grace period from 30 minutes to 48 hours for returning to the scene of a crash is confusing to me. What could possibly be a good argument for this?

    1. Kevin, I’ve updated the post under Duffy’s paragraph to add what the existing state statute says. Essentially, the felony class would be higher and there would be a mandatory prison sentence (there isn’t one now).

      1. Thanks, and I am fine with the upgrade of the felony class. The point of my post, though, is in this bill’s intent to increase the grace period for returning to the scene of a crash. I don’t understand how extending this grace period is a necessary change? What’s the argument against the current 30-minute grace period?

        1. Background: I was searching the latest bills from the Illinois Senate to find the one about issuing driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants. I came across this bill. I thought it was appropriate to list because we talk about hit-and-run crashes a lot. I didn’t see it in other news media or inquire with Duffy’s office.
          My thoughts? If you’re going to make the penalties a lot harsher, you’ve got to give people more time to turn themselves in.

          1. OK, I think I see your point. But wouldn’t providing a much longer grace period (2 days) give the offender a chance to clean/manipulate the evidence and/or construct an alibi for why they were not involved. Also, in some crashes of the late hour or remote areas, the person who is able to leave the scene may in fact be the only person within the near time-frame to aide and assist the person(s) who are injured and unable to help themselves. So, allowing for a 2 day cool-off period removes the incentive that may otherwise keep the offender at the scene and able to assist.

            I just don’t see a good reason why a crash offender needs a grace period of more than 30 minutes to address the situation they have caused, even if the penalty they are facing is higher.

        2. It seemed strange to me at first too, but I think because the severity of punishment is increasing it makes sense to allow a larger window to turn oneself in. Hit and run seems to be a huge problem so I’m glad they are cracking down.

    2. What would be the point of returning to the scene of the crash after nearly two days? It’s not like a cop will be waiting there to arrest the offender. Why not go to the police station instead?

  2. So are the HOT lanes actually going to be implemented or are they merely being suggested at this point? I don’t see the point of simply widening the highway all the way to Rockford. There isn’t much traffic once you get past Elgin anyway. Wouldn’t providing frequent, high-speed Amtrak service to Rockford be better? I wonder how many people living in the Rockford region commute to Chicago for work.

    1. I was a bit confused about this myself and I probably could have done more research. From what I understand, new lanes will be built but their purpose and design hasn’t been finalized.
      What’s clear, though, is that Pace will be running 4 more routes on I-90, and building 4 park-and-rides. (It sucks when transit agencies get into the business of building and managing parking lots.)

          1. So are you anti park-and-ride altogether or would you prefer a private contractor run the lots? I think park-and-ride lots are a good thing in the suburbs because they encourage people who would otherwise drive all the way downtown to shorten their car travel to just the train station, and take transit instead.

          2. I think that the burden should be held by the municipality that hosts the parking lot so that they will be motivated to design and build the best possible lot in a location where it will not harm them if transit ridership tanks and the lot is not generating enough fees to cover its costs. The municipality can also use “parking lot downtime” to serve its own functions, by placing it near uses that are compatible with the train schedule (like a farmer’s market on Sundays when transit ridership is usually low). Or the municipality can use existing lots, like pay a church for half of its spaces.

    2. How would the people in Rockford get to the train station?

      How would the people from Rockford get from the train station to work?

      How much faster would high-speed rail be than conventional speed rail?

      1. Are those serious questions?

        1. Park-and-ride lots (Rockford is a car-dependent city) or buses (I think Rockford has a metro bus system).

        2. CTA ‘L’ or buses

        3. High-speed rail can reach speeds upwards of 200 MPH, while conventional rail is typically capped around 60-75 MPH and frequently gets stopped by freight trains.

    3. Some people in the greater Rockford area might actually commute to the NW suburbs or something. And there’s the summer holiday Chicago-Wisconsin Dells traffic to consider, as well, much as I hate the OMGtrafficthatonedayoftheyear planning mentality. (Do families in minivans count as HOVs?) Plus the “Hey, let’s all drive to UW-Madison this weekend because Amtrak doesn’t go there, thank you Scott Walker” traffic.

  3. Just a note, in the stats part you say “The U.S. Census Bureau has a different estimate”, but their estimate is completely different. CTA says 44% of *CTA riders* don’t have a car, Census says 38.8% of *workers over 16 in Chicago* take transit and don’t own a car. Those are completely different stats, so it’s not that the census has a different estimate, they measured something completely different

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