NBC News Chicago reported last week that Chicago’s Active Transportation Alliance, in a groundbreaking ceremony, unveiled five ((5) new bus only traffic lanes. These are in addition to the bus only lanes that currently run in the downtown loop on Madison and Washington Streets.
Construction on the new lanes took place on North May, Chicago, LaSalle and Western Avenues. According to the Transportation Alliance, the new lanes will increase ridership, shorten bus commutes and hopefully decrease traffic congestion. “For Chicago to be a more vibrant, sustainable, and equitable city, we need to move people more efficiently. Bus lanes are a good way to do that,” Ron Burke, the Executive Director of the Active Transportation Alliance, said.
The Active Transportation Alliance says that incoming Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot supports expanding the program, and their goal is to add 50 miles of designated bus lanes over the next four years.
These new loop link lanes downtown look nice, but I think it’s unclear as to whether they have actually shortened commute times or helped with traffic. Part of the problem is that normal vehicles and bicyclists can often be seen using those lanes as well, which in turn can back up traffic. City officials have said they are going to start issuing tickets to drivers who drive in these bus only lanes. There was no mention by city officials as to what they expect the effect these new lanes will have on traffic safety or decreasing traffic accidents.
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