Watch Commissioner Klein’s recent speech at the City Club

Hear transportation commissioner Gabe Klein address the audience at the City Club of Chicago about the Chicago Fast Forward Agenda, to be released early 2012. Gabe told me that it’s similar to the Washington, D.C., Department of Transportation (DCDOT) Action Agenda.

Continue reading Watch Commissioner Klein’s recent speech at the City Club

Javier Perez’s full speech to the CTA board

It’s probably too late for me to post this, seeing as the Chicago Transit Authority board approved the budget on Tuesday, but here is the full text of Javier Perez’s speech to the board on November 7, 2011, which I wrote about in “There is no typical CTA rider“. But it’s not really too late because the union workers and the management haven’t agreed to the concessions the CTA budget depends on.


Javier Perez, trustee of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 241, speaks while Gregory P. Longhini, Assistant Secretary of the Board, moderates.

Good evening to the public, our riders, the Board and membership of Locals 241 and 308. Good evening Chairman Peterson, Mr. Claypool and members of the public and community groups.

At the last hearing I addressed what I called Mr. Claypool’s myths attacking CTA employees and ATU [Amalgamated Transit Union] members. If CTA’s Budget is based on these fables there are big problems ahead for all of us. A house built on sand will not stand and a budget built on myths will not survive.

Most employers faced with an expanded customer base, increased revenue and being able to do so with more productive employees would be ecstatic. Most employers would reward or at least congratulate their employees for doing more with less. In fact the former head of the CTA did so.

International Vice President Marcellus Barnes* and I had a brief meeting with Mr. Claypool, we both left with hope that there was a change we could believe in.

Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, we heard the mthys and saw the tired old tactics that have failed the public. Tactics that Governors Walker [Wisconsin] and Kasich [Ohio] have obtained a lot of press for but with no results.

Tactics that seek to scapegoat CTA employees, some who fall into the group called the greatest generation, and also blaming other employees who served their country in Vietnam, and some who have served or with sons and daughters currently serving in the Middle East. As the John Fogerty song says “we are not the fortunate one”. We are the 99%. All our members who served and others are the employees who have made the CTA more productive.

Some may find it in vogue to scapegoat public employees be they bus operators, maintenance, general office personnel, teachers, firefighters or police. Some may find it in vogue to scapegoat and decry public investment. Let all remember, the moon landing, the federal highway system, the Internet are but a few examples of how public employees and public investment has helped our country grow and create jobs while doing so.

The Chicago Transit Authority, a musical group now known as Chicago once asked, “Does anyone really know what time it is?”
Isn’t time to leave the scape goating behind?
Isn’t it time to work in partnership with all CTA employees and the Chicago community?
Isn’t time to roll up our sleeves and work together to help our nation reduce our dependence on foreign oil?

We the members of Lcoal 241 in concert with Local 308 and other CTA employees are the artery that carries the life blood of Chicago.

Together we can be innovative and creative in providing a service built on a sound budget. We invite you to belly up to the table. Whatever your choice Local 241 and our sister Local in concert with the public know that together we can and together we will.

*Barnes is also a trustee of Local 241. 

Portland’s Mia Birk gives Chicago a pep talk on handling the bike lane backlash


Mia Birk – photo by Serge Lubomudrov

Last week Steven and I attended Active Transportation Alliance’s 25th anniversary celebration, where we heard legendary transportation guru Mia Birk deliver an inspiring speech to the crowd of city officials, transportation planners and advocates. Birk helped turn Portland, Oregon, into a cycling Mecca when she served as bike coordinator there in the 1990s and now heads Alta Planning + Design, specializing in biking, walking and trails projects.

Birk gave a warning about the media backlash that is likely to result as Chicago implements Mayor Emanuel’s plan to construct 100 miles of protected bike lanes (and launch a large-scale bike share system and build the Bloomingdale Trail and Navy Pier Flyover). She also offered some words of encouragement about how to deal with this criticism.

Continue reading Portland’s Mia Birk gives Chicago a pep talk on handling the bike lane backlash

Moving words at Active Transportation Alliance’s 25th anniversary gala


Steven, Bike and Roll Chicago’s Josh Squire and John (note that the signs were compulsory, so our journalistic credibility should be intact). Photo by Serge Lubomudrov.

Last week dozens of key players in Chicago’s sustainable transportation scene gathered under one roof at the Illinois Institute of Technology (3241 S Federal St) to help Active Transportation Alliance (formerly Chicagoland Bicycle Federation) celebrate 25 years of advocacy.

Joining them was U.S. Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary Polly Trottenberg, there to accept Active Trans’ Extra Mile Award to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood for his leadership in providing safety initiatives and sustainable transportation to local communities. Also in attendance were two legendary transportation gurus: Mia Birk from Alta Planning + Design in Portland, Oregon, and “Gridlock” Sam Schwartz from Sam Schwartz Engineering in NYC.

It was an inspiring celebration and a terrific opportunity for Steven and me to network and learn more about local initiatives. While the $150-a-plate price tag was understandable for an upscale fundraising dinner for Active Trans, it was a bit steep for a couple of humble bloggers. Fortunately, Ben H. and Suzanne C. generously offered us seats at their tables so we could report on the event for you.

Continue reading Moving words at Active Transportation Alliance’s 25th anniversary gala

Rahm’s budget proposal and bike lanes


There might be peace in the downtown streets if Mayor Emanuel’s budget is approved by City Council. He proposes a parking garage fee to discourage driving on weekdays. 

I’m reading the live transcript of Mayor Emaneul’s speech to City Council to introduce the “features” of his administration’s 2012 budget proposal. The speech was later emailed to people who signed up for the campaign mailing list. This article will be updated as I find new information.

The interesting stuff?


“On a typical workday our central business district is jammed with people which makes it harder to do business, so I’m proposing that downtown congestion premium of $2 per day only on weekdays for parking garages and lots downtown and in River North. We would use this new revenue to invest in new and existing stations, and bus rapid transit stations, expand bike lanes, and other efforts to reduce congestion in the downtown area.”

Excellent! Now will this revenue go to a trust fund so that the revenues can only be spent for this purpose? If not, I surely hope that your budget and spending is transparent where we can see how much the City collects from this fee and how much is spent on those congestion-fighting initiatives.

More on this from the press release:

Congestion Premium for CTA: $28 million

On a typical workday, our Central Business District is jammed with vehicles, which makes it harder to do business.  Our streets are crowded, roads in need of repair and pollution created by drivers is unhealthy for Chicagoans.  Suburban drivers who use city services and infrastructure need to help pay the costs for these things.   The congestion fee is an incentive for drivers to take public transportation or pay more to park downtown.

  • Impose a “congestion premium” on all drivers parking in downtown parking garages and lots on weekdays of $2 per occasion, for a total fee of $5 on the top tier rate. ( $3 on weekends).
  • Impose weekly parking fees where the cost is $60 and above, (tax increase from $15 to $25) and monthly parking where the costs is $240 and above (tax from $60 to $100).

Parking garage owners will not like this.

Heavy vehicles will cost more for drivers

“It’s estimated that 80% of the damage to Chicago’s streets is caused by a small share of heavy vehicles like trucks and SUVs. We are proposing a modest increase for heavy vehicles that do the most damage. If you drive a standard size or small car, the cost of your city sticker will stay at $75. 75% of Chicagoans will see no increase. Heavy vehicle owners will pay $135 for a city sticker, up from $120. Some of the additional revenue will go to fill an additional 160,000 potholes in 2012, nearly a 40% increase over this year.”

Upcoming hearings

The first budget hearing will begin at 9 AM on Wednesday, October 19, 2011.

The public hearing will begin at 11 AM on Wednesday, November 2, 2011.


Rahm also said, “All all these reforms will be guided by principle, by pragmatism, and by progress. Not politics.”