• Erin Hegarty
    MAR 03, 2023

    Aldermen to consider Lightfoot’s proposal to use cameras for bike and bus lane traffic enforcement

    A bike lane is blocked by a vehicle. [Erin Hegarty/The Daily Line] 

    The City Council Committee on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety will meet virtually Friday to consider a proposal from Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the Chicago Department of Transportation and some aldermen that would establish a pilot program for automatic bike and bus lane violation enforcement. 

    Friday will mark the first time an ordinance (O2023-874) proposed by Lightfoot is considered by aldermen since she faced a defeat in Tuesday’s election, capping her term as mayor at four years. 

    Related: Vallas, Johnson headed to runoff as Lightfoot is denied second term as mayor 

    The traffic safety committee is set to meet at 11 a.m. to consider the proposed ordinance and a proposal (O2022-1980) from Ald. Matt Martin (47) that would require the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) include bike and pedestrian improvements when resurfacing arterial roads. 

    Lightfoot’s proposed Smart Streets Pilots Ordinance would create two pilot programs that would set up automatic enforcement of parking violations including cars parked in bike lanes, bus lanes and crosswalks and allow for camera enforcement of parking violations in commercial loading zones, according to a January news release from Lightfoot’s office.  

    Lightfoot has touted the pilot as one that would “discourage drivers from illegally parking in places that put our most vulnerable road users — people walking, biking, rolling, and taking transit — in dangerous situations, such as forcing bicyclists to merge with motor vehicle traffic,” according to the January news release.  

    The program would additionally pave the way for more efficient and reliable bus service so long as drivers are deterred from parking or standing in designated bus-only lanes.  

    “One driver illegally parked in a dedicated bus lane creates slowdowns for dozens of passengers stuck behind the parked car, creates longer wait times for people waiting at bus stops, and ultimately makes bus trips longer and less predictable,” according to the news release. “Free-flowing bus lanes without illegally parked or idling cars will improve rider experience and operational performance of Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) buses.” 

    Under the proposal, cameras could be installed on city poles or on the front of CTA and city vehicles. Violation data would be reviewed and sent to the city’s Department of Finance for processing. 

    A 30-day warning period would be in place for first-time violators and people who receive violations within 30 days of a new camera being installed.  

    “As we continue to invest heavily in infrastructure safety improvements, including expanding our network of bike and bus lanes, this program will make our transportation system safer, smarter, and more efficient,” Department of Transportation Comm. Gia Biagi said in the January news release.  

    Ald. Brendan Reilly (42), Ald. Brian Hopkins (2), Ald. Daniel La Spata (1), Martin and Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36) are also sponsors of the ordinance. 

    Separately, Martin’s ordinance proposes to include improvements for all users of the public way when conducting planning, design, construction, rehabilitation and maintenance work. 

    Under Maritn’s proposal, CDOT would be required to prioritize and incorporate bike, pedestrian and transit facilities when resurfacing arterial roads.  The department would be required to use updated design standards for bike, pedestrian, transit and highway facilities and collaborate with CTA and the Regional Transportation Authority to prioritize transit options.

    The ordinance will help ensure “every intersection across Chicago has infrastructure improvements for walking, biking and public transit,” Martin told The Daily Line

    The updates are “really reflecting how people are using all of our different intersections” and ensure the city is “adding safety improvements with them in mind as often as we can," Martin said.

     Any exemptions under the ordinance would be required to be made publicly available and submitted to the pedestrian and traffic safety committee.  

    Martin’s proposed ordinance is also sponsored by Ald. Daniel La Spata (1) and Ald. Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez (33). 

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