Mayor Lightfoot’s Budget Proposal Includes New Speed Camera Fine

Last week Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot introduced her 2021 city budget. As usual, there was quite a bit of anticipation, but more so this year due to shortfalls that have come with the Covid-19 pandemic.

One interesting proposal includes a new speed camera fine that would ticket drivers going 6 mph over the speed limit. Speed cameras were originally introduced by pervious mayor, Rahm Emanual. They were implemented with a lot of skepticism despite Emanual’s repeated statements that they were implemented for safety reasons only. He was adamant that they were not a money grab for the city. Lightfoot has stated the same: speeding is “clearly a public safety issue” and stricter speed enforcement was necessary to keep motorists and pedestrians safe. She said “exponentially” more “speed-related accidents and deaths” in 2020 was the justification for the new ticket standard, which would start with a warning followed by a $35 ticket for a repeat offense.

This is interesting as data published by the Chicago Tribune , indicates that so far this year there are 20,000 less car crashes in the city compared to this time last year. There have been 28 more Chicago traffic fatalities this year compared to this time in 2019.

I think it is clear that the mayor is doing everything she can to come up with money for the budget shortfalls. I don’t necessarily blame her. But be aware as you’re driving around the city. There may be a camera tracking you and you may receive a ticket in the mail. Speeding, even slightly, could cost you money.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago car accident attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Chicago Inspector General Rips City’s Traffic Light Management

The Chicago Sun-Times reported this week on local Inspector General, Joe Ferguson’s, blistering report about multiple traffic management inssues within the city. The report states, in part, ““Rather than proactively maintaining and retiming traffic signals, [the city] conducts most of its work in response to 311 complaints, aldermanic requests and major construction projects,” the report concluded. “This approach to maintenance limits [Chicago’s] ability to address problems before they become hazardous or unnecessarily expensive to repair.”

The report also states that the traffic light management in Chicago is woefully understaffed. Chicag has four traffic signal engineers while federal recommendations say it should have 28, the report said. Also, Chicago has 27 traffic signal technicians, compared with a federal recommendation of 71.

This is not encouraging news for several reasons. First, this report reveals the lack of progress needed to meet previous mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “Vision Zero” plan, which aimed at eliminated all pedestrian fatalities. Second, based on the city’s response, there doesn’t appear to be any urgent plan to correct these issues due to budgetary deficites. There were plans to install monitoring technology to 229 intersections, but that has been put on hold and will implemented over the next several decades.

I would like to wait and see Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s response to this report before casting too much blame. She has only been in office for a year and has had to respond to a global pandamic, protests and riots. I believe she will respond, but this was not a good report. Based on earlier budget decisions, it appeared that Lightfoot was focused on decreasing traffic congestion and making our streets safer for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists. This report sheds light on issues that need to be addressed before the city can fully say they are committed to improving traffic safety, decreasing congestion and pollution. The ball is in her court.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

IDOT Releases April Traffic Numbers

Anyone who looks out their windows or gets in their cars and drives around Chicago’s expressways can see that motorist traffic is a fraction of what it was two (2) months ago. The Illinois Department of Transportation (“IDOT”) confirmed what we see everyday as they released April traffic numbers. No surprise, they are way down.

According to IDOT traffic on Chicago area expressways was down anywhere from 29 to 45 percent this April compared with April 2019. IDOT said that on the Kennedy Expressway, the number of work week inbound vehicles dropped from 1.1 million vehicles to 626,000, a 45 percent drop. Statewide traffic is estimated to be down about 37 percent. Illinois Toll Highway Authority said April saw a reduction fo 55 percent in traffic volume, resulting in $52 million less in tolls than expected

For essential workers or those who choose to go into their offices are obviously seeing much faster commute times. According to IDOT the outbound evening rush hour are an average of 21 to 24 minutes faster. 

IDOT to not release any information regarding Illinois traffic accidents for April.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron J. Bryant for a free legal consultation.

Chicago Mayor Proposes Rideshare Tax Increase

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot addressed the city council and the media earlier this week to discuss her proposed budget. I wrote about part of her plan in my last post. As discussed, Lightfoot has earmarked $20 million towards Chicago’s department of transportation to help improve bus lines in and around downtown. The goal is to make bus trips quicker and to encourage for CTA riders, which in turn will hopefully decrease the amount of traffic congestion downtown.

Lightfoot also proposed drastic increases to rideshares that take place in the downtown loop corridor. Her reasoning is first to raise money to fill a budget gap, and also to hopefully decrease the amount of Uber and Lyft vehicles clogging the dowtown area.

Chicago Curbed provided a nice of summaary of the proposed increases: ” Across the city, single riders will pay $1.25, about 53 cents more than they do now. In a special downtown zone, single trips fees will add up to $3 which will total to $2.28 more than riders pay now. Opting for a shared trip in the downtown zone will cost riders $1.25 in fees, about 53 cents more than now. The only riders to pay less in fees, only 7 cents, are those selecting shared rides in neighborhoods outside the downtown zone. “

I understand that many local residents will be upset about this new fees should the proposal pass. But similar fees are already going on in big cities like New York and San Francisco. There is a clear traffic congestion problem downtown, which has been caused, in party, by the increase in the number of rideshare vehicles swamping the loop during rush hour. I understand Lightfoot’s reasoning hear and would not be opposed seeing this within the new budget.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a Chicago traffic accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076

Chicago Aims To Combat Downtown Traffic Congestion

Multiple news outlets, including Chicago Curbed, reported last week that Chicago’s new Mayor Lori Lightfoot is looking decrease downtown traffic congestion with improvements to the CTA bus system and an overhaul of ride sharing laws.

First, the city announced a $20 million budget for the Bus Priority Zone Program. This budget aims to add additional bus-only lanes, queue jump signals, and better traffic light timing to some of Chicago’s highest ridership routes. These traffic improvements aim to remove slow zones, bottlenecks, delays, and bunched up buses that come one right after the other.

Safety improvements will make it easier to walk and bike to bus stops as well. Riders will notice new pavement markers, clearer street-level and overhead signs, safer bus stop locations with curb extensions and pedestrian refuge islands.

This is a huge step by the city’s Department of Transportation as it continues to battle ride sharing companies for ridership. The amount of congestion seen on our roads can easily pointed to the number of rideshare vehicle on the road. Commuters don’t mind paying a few extra dollars for an Uber or Lyft ride in order to avoid a packed bus that is constantly in traffic gridlock during peak rush hours. Why not attempt to improve buse rides with bus only lanes, which will then lead to a quicker commute. This will then lead to less congestion on the road which is decrases commute time and better for our environment.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago bus accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076

Navy Pier Flyover Lane Closed This Week

Those who use the lakefront path for biking, running or walking have notice all the construction that has occurred over the last four (4) years. This included a flyover lane that was raised above lake shore drive parallel to Navy Pier. This lane, which a portion was opened at the end of 2018, has lanes available for both bicyclists and pedestrian joggers and walkers.

I was pleased to see this addition to the lakefront as it prevents bicyclists and joggers from having to occupy a much more dangerous stretch of sidewalk below (Lower Lake Shore Drive), which is directly adjacent to traffic exiting and entering Lake Shore Drive. Not only is the sidewalk below close to vehicle traffic, but it is incredibly narrow and hard from bicycles and pedestrians to occupy it at the same time, especially on busy days.

The city announced late last week that the flyover lane will be closed today, June 24 through June 27, as workers lay down permanent lane striping. Along with the rest of the lakefront, the flyover will now also have separate lanes for bicyclists and pedestrians.

The entire bridge is expected to be completed by the end of 2019. The flyover will span from at Ohio Street Beach and hug Lake Point Tower, clear the Ogden Slip, bypass Dusable Park and span the mouth of the Chicago River.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago bicycle accident or Chicago Traffic Accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Chicago Department of Transportation Launched New Traffic App: ChiStreetWorks

Those who live in Chicago know how bad traffic is in this city. It can be incredibly stressful, especially during summer months as there seem to be an abnormally high number of people on the road. The cities’ Department of Transportation (“CDOT”) has launched a new web based application call ChiStreetWorks with the purpose of helping drivers plan their trips in order to avoid major traffic jams.

The new App allows you to see past, current and future projects, as well as view permits for water, sewer, gas or electrical projects impacting City streets. The website went live to the public on Tuesday.

The map also provides users with features such as bus routes and stops, parking impacts, bike lanes, viaduct heights, speed and red light camera locations, and current traffic conditions. It also allows you to view where special events are taking place. 

Users can browse specific areas of the city by searching by neighborhood, ward, ZIP code, street intersection, or address and then select which categories of data they want to see: construction projects, utility-related permits, resurfacing memorandums, events impacting traffic, street closures, and detours. There’s also a tool to filter results by time to show activity from the past month or up to one year in the future.

This is a great initiative by the city, which provides much more detail than a typical Google or Apple Maps. We will see if it helps free up traffic and hopefully decrease the number of traffic accidents in the area.

If you or a loved on have been seriously injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then please call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Is Elon Musk’s High Speed Underground Tram In Chicago Moving Forward?

Last year, outgoing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel held a press conference with transportation and tech entrepreneur, Elon Musk, regarding a high speed, underground tram system that would cart passengers out to O’Hare airport. The tram was touted to take about twelve (12) minutes and would cost approximately $25 for a one way trip. It was stated that Musk’s boring technology would dig the necessary pathway in between the downtown loop and the airport. The goal of this new transportation system was to help ease the gridlock on I-90/94 and free up space on the always packed Chicago blue line. Also, it would provide an opportunity for commuters to avoid the often hour long automobile commute or forty-five (45) minute train ride. Even more enticing was that Musk told the press that his boring company would be shelling out the 1 billion dollars in necessary construction costs.

A lot has changed in Chicago since September 2018. Rahm Emanuel decided not to run for a third term as mayor and there is now a runoff election for his spot set for April between Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle.

News outlets have reported within the past month that neither mayoral candidate are very excited about this project. Lightfoot doesn’t include the Musk tunnel in her transportation plan, and Preckwinkle said at a candidate’s forum that the tunnel was “definitely something I would put on pause.” Both have cited the need to expand and improve the CTA red line and Metra train systems on the south side.

This was and is an incredibly innovative idea. Obviously we don’t know all the details of financing, but if Musk and his company are paying for the entire construction, and the city splits a portion of the revenue, I do not see how the city does not move forward with this project. The added benefit of freeing up traffic above ground and the job creation seems to make this a no-brainer for the incoming mayor. This is assuming the technology would actually work in Chicago and the city and county are not putting up any of the money. If so, I would like to the see the incoming mayor reconsider their position(s) on this matter.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, please call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron J. Bryant for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Chicago Police Ramping Up DUI Patrols For St. Patrick’s Weekend

St. Patrick’s Day weekend is one of the most congested weekends
of the year for both automobile and foot traffic . This year includes the downtown parade and dying of the Chicago River on Saturday, along with the south side parade on Sunday. On top of all this the Big 10 basketball tournament is taking place all weekend at the United Center. Based on all the extra traffic, and most likely copious alcohol consumption, Chicago Police are taking extra precautions.

Patch.com reported this week that the Chicago Police Department’s 6th District (Gresham) will be adding DUI saturation patrols. Police officers will monitoring traffic for signs of impaired driving, speeding and safety-belt violations.

The Breath Alcohol Testing (BAT) Mobile Unit is also expected to be to deployed. BAT allows officers to expedite the process of charging a person with driving under the influence before driving them to the nearest lockup. The BAT mobile also allows for I-bonds to be issued at the site of the DUI saturation patrol.

If you are heading downtown or to the south side, remember that there are multiple options for public transportation, along with cabs and ride shares. There is no reason to get behind the wheel if you are drinking. Even if you don’t plan on drinking, there is no reason to drive through the middle of all the expected congestion.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Chicago Mayor’s Office Initiates Mobility Task Force

Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to oversee a mobility task force for the city of Chicago. The purpose of the task force was to create a vision for the ever changing transportation systems including: roads; trains; buses; electric scooters; ride sharing; and bicycles. More specifically, the mayor’s office asked the task force to look at the following aspects of transportation:

  • Establishing clear mobility goals and effective governance that serve as a framework for planning for, evaluating and managing current and future mobility options and identifying the appropriate City leadership to ensure future decisions align with such goals.
  • Proposing changes to technology, policy, and public way use management to support the City’s mobility goals, including regulatory incentives, transit improvements, curbside use policies and data-sharing requirements/infrastructure.
  • Reviewing the areas of autonomous, connected and electric vehicles; enhancing CTA and other City transportation assets; promoting low and no carbon mobility choices; and finding sufficient and sustainable funding sources.

Secretary LaHood’s task force has recommended that the city hire a “mobility chief,” who would oversee all aspects of improving transportation and how to pay for it. I think this makes sense as the type of overhauls this task force is recommending would need some sort of CEO type to oversee the implementation of these new infrastructures and programs.

I am all for improving the city’s transportation infrastructure. This includes reducing traffic, reducing the carbon imprint, reducing costs etc.. But to be honest, this entire task force seems to be more of a question mark than answer. The media reports state that the task force’s report recommend “50 specific actions, policy changes or studies.” I have not seen a press release showing us what these “specific actions” include. There have merely been snippets, such as hiring mobility chief, adding toll roads and possibly a gas tax and new mobility services and technology, with “smart lanes” dedicated to bicycles, van pools and other shared rides.

This is all great, but there has been no explanation on how to achieve these “50 specific” actions. I will be anxiously awaiting more information from the mayor’s office on how to achieve these goals, and whether the new mayor (Lightfood or Preckwinkle) will carry the torch and follow through on what the task force has recommended.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.