Open thread: Should the Illinois legislature grant driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants?


Photo of Wacker Drive traffic in Chicago by John Iwanski. 

The Illinois legislature is expected to consider a bill to allow people here illegally to obtain a driver’s license after going through the same procedures as people who are currently allowed to obtain a driver’s license (exams and fees, etc.). The bill is still being drafted.

This is an “open thread”, designed to spark a discussion. I’ve attempted to present all the latest news and facts on this issue, but I’ve not found any opposing viewpoints except for a debate in Michigan (see Further reading at the end). 

On Friday, November 16, the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board called for legislation to be passed, citing these benefits:

  • To get the licenses, illegal immigrants would have to pass the same vision, written and road tests as someone getting a regular license. If that leads to more driving training, it could make the roads safer.
  • Police officers making a stop would know who is driving the car. With the threat of deportation lessened, illegal immigrants would have less of a motivation to leave the scene of an accident.
  • Families would be less likely to see a family member deported after a routine traffic stop.
  • Health care providers would have an easier time identifying patients. If an illegal alien with contagious spinal meningitis goes into a coma, for example, it’s difficult to identify the patient’s contacts, who need to be treated. A visitor’s license would make that possible because it would contain personal data.
  • Backers of the measure say New Mexico experienced a huge drop in the number of uninsured drivers after licenses were made available in 2003. That doesn’t square, however, with numbers from the Insurance Research Council, which lists New Mexico as the state with the second-highest number of uninsured drivers. But if granting visitor’s licenses persuades even some illegal immigrants to get insurance, that could lower rates for all of us and benefit accident victims.

Continue reading Open thread: Should the Illinois legislature grant driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants?

Weekend open thread: Which bike issue concerns you most?

My main goal in writing for Grid Chicago is to get more people interested in improving conditions for sustainable transportation in Chicagoland. That first starts with education and awareness. I tell you what’s up. This post features several bicycling issues I’ve recently been bothered by. Which bike issue concerns you most?

Is it people driving in protected bike lanes, like these Chevy Malibu and BMW drivers on 18th Street this past week?


Watch this video on Vimeo.


Or something else? Continue reading Weekend open thread: Which bike issue concerns you most?

Weekend open thread: Speed cameras, yea or nay?

Watch this video of a small experiment conducted by Volkswagen in Sweden where people who sped funded a lottery that those who didn’t speed were automatically entered into.


Watch The Speed Camera Lottery on YouTube.

Will speed cameras successfully reduce speeding and injuries in Chicago? Would you support such a speed camera lottery? Do you ever think the speed camera lottery would “die”, meaning that people would stop speeding and the lottery would no longer have revenue? Continue reading Weekend open thread: Speed cameras, yea or nay?

Weekend open thread: What videos did you watch this week?


NYC Ave. by Shawn Brown

Last weekend’s open thread asked you to post a link to an article you read. This weekend I want you to post a link to a video about some kind of sustainable transportation that you watched. I’ll go first. Here’s a vigorous and dramatic view of New York City streets, traffic, and buildings, from a very low-to-the-ground point of view, shot all from cameras mounted on bicycles. I really like the first minute, where the camera is (in what seems like slow  motion, but isn’t) wrapping around objects and people.

Open discussion: What suggestions do you have for bikes on trains?

Update: Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) blogged a new report about this connection. I haven’t read it yet, though. 

I am passionate about the nexus of bicycling and transit, and I’ve written often on Steven Can Plan about how bikes are stored on trains in the United States and around the world. When I travel, I look at this relationship closely.


Bikes on the subway in Seoul, South Korea. Photographer unknown. 

Recently I’ve had several discussions with people (the latest while volunteering at Pitchfork Festival in early July 2011) about getting bikes on the South Shore Line that goes to Indiana. What I’ve learned is that it will probably take an act of legislation to make this happen, as well as a reconfiguration of the trains. This is what forced Metra to change its policies, but they caved before the legislation passed. Continue reading Open discussion: What suggestions do you have for bikes on trains?