Active Trans takes an active role in supporting the growth of green lanes


Lee Crandell in the Kinzie Street protected bike lane. This photo and Jackson bike lane image are by John; all others are by Steven.

[This piece also runs on the website of the Green Lane Project, an initiative that is promoting protected and buffered bike lanes nationwide, sponsored by the national advocacy group Bikes Belong. The term “green lanes” refers to protected and buffered lanes and other innovative bikeways.]

After a lull earlier this fall, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) is moving full speed ahead expanding the city’s bikeway network. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has committed to building 150 miles of green lanes (110 miles protected and 40 miles buffered) by 2015. Earlier this year CDOT bikeway project director Mike Amsden told me he hoped to reach a total of thirty miles of green lanes before construction season ends this year.

The department recently striped several new stretches of buffered lanes on Chicago’s North, South and West sides. Crews are currently finishing a 1.3-mile section of protected lanes on 31st Street, as well as a continuous 3.5-mile network of protected lanes along the city’s historic boulevard system. Another ten miles of green lanes are still on the table for this fall, including a “game-changing” two-way protected lane on Dearborn Street through the heart of downtown. With the current flurry of activity it’s very possible CDOT will win its race against time.

Continue reading Active Trans takes an active role in supporting the growth of green lanes

Making bus transit a priority on Western and Ashland Avenues


Active Trans staffer Lee Crandell talks to Enrique Rico. The three poster boards are displayed at the bottom. 

Riders for Better Transit is reaching out to bus riders across the city to inform them about plans to build better bus service on Western Avenue or Ashland Avenue (or both?). They visited six bus stops last week with informational posters. Lee Crandell, campaigns director for Active Transportation Alliance, was staffing the exhibit at 18th Street and Ashland Avenue in Pilsen when I visited last Wednesday. One goal of the outreach, Crandell said, was to “make a public meeting in the street for those who couldn’t attend” the static meetings.

When I arrived, Enrique Rico was waiting for the northbound Ashland 9 bus. I noticed the next bus was coming so I tried to ask Rico a quick question before leaving, starting with if he had heard of BRT (bus rapid transit) before now. He said he hadn’t, but Crandell informed me that Rico had told him earlier he was familiar with the enhanced bus services in Mexico City. The Metropolitan Planning Council, a major sponsor of this traveling exhibit, had sent a few of its staff members to Mexico City to explore the 4 line Metrobús system that opened in 2005. Continue reading Making bus transit a priority on Western and Ashland Avenues

Riders for Better Transit comments to Metra board


This supports the article It’s fare increase time again at Metra.

Lee Crandell, a manager for the Riders for Better Transit campaign at the Active Transportation Alliance, spoke at both the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and Metra board meetings this month. He published his comments to the CTA board and I’m posting his comments to the Metra board below (they’re nearly identical).

Thank you for the opportunity to speak today. My name is Lee Crandell and I manage the Riders for Better Transit initiative at the Active Transportation Alliance. We have 6,800 members across the Chicago region who support our mission to improve conditions for biking, walking and public transportation.

It’s become a Chicagoland tradition that every year around this time, transit riders cross their fingers and hope they won’t be hit with service cuts and fare increases. Unfortunately, it looks like the tradition will continue this year.

There are no winners when our transit agencies are forced to make these tough decisions. As you already know, the consequences of fare increases and service cuts would be far-reaching, impacting our mobility, our economy, our quality of life, our environment, the congestion on our streets. The impact on our daily lives would be very real, making everyday activities more difficult for people from all walks of life—from a child trying to get to school, a worker getting to their job, and a grandmother trying to visit her grandchildren.

As a world-class region, we deserve better. Our transit service should be improving and expanding, not slipping backwards.

Criticizing Metra in this situation is a normal reaction—and certainly on behalf of the riders we represent, we urge you to explore every possible efficiency to prevent fare hikes or service cuts—but ultimately, it’s our elected leaders who hold the purse strings and decide whether our transit agencies will have enough funding to make ends meet. Transit is significantly under-funded because our elected leaders at the local, state and federal levels have put it on the back-burner. And that means we, as transit riders and as voters, also bear some burden of responsibility. Riders for Better Transit will be asking our elected leaders to end the cycle of service cuts and fare increases by increasing investment in transit.

I’m here today to tell you that transit riders are ready to speak up, and we hope you will join us.

Please ask our elected leaders: how are you supposed to fulfill your duties as a Metra board member if they don’t adequately fund transit for our region?

Thank you.

Photo is of an outbound Metra Milwaukee Division North line leaving Glenview, Illinois. Photo by Eric Pancer.

Transit riders to gain a louder voice in new campaign

Updated August 24/27, 2011: Active Transportation Alliance launched the Riders for Better Transit campaign today. Read the full agenda, which talks about different funding sources and modernizing Union Station. Take their survey by Sept. 30 and be entered into a raffle to receive a $100 Visa gift card. Ron Burke and Jennifer Henry (see her statement below) write a letter to the editor about the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority’s toll increase. 


The Wilson Red Line CTA station was recently voted the worst station “for the third year in a row” by Chicago RedEye readers. Photo by Jeff Zoline.

In the next couple of days, the Chicago-based (but Chicagoland-focused) advocacy organization, Active Transportation Alliance, will launch a new permanent campaign called Riders For Better Transit. This is the Alliance’s first large-scale endeavor into improving transit since they changed their name and mission in late 2008 from focusing solely on bicycling. Their other transit advocacy includes supporting transit-friendly legislation in Springfield.

I sat down with Lee Crandell, Director of Campaigns, at his office (9 W Hubbard) on August 1, 2011, to learn more about this effort.

Continue reading Transit riders to gain a louder voice in new campaign