Riders for Better Transit launches infographic touting Bus Rapid Transit benefits

As we push for better transit funding, we're excited about Chicago's plans for Bus Rapid Transit. Active Trans analyzed some of the benefits and put together a nifty infographic that shows what a big a difference BRT can make. We sent out a news release touting this infographic today, and you can check out the graphic below.

To mobilize transit riders, we are urging people to sign our BRT petition and attend public meetings next TuesdayWednesday, and Thursday (Oct. 16-18) to support BRT. We encourage you to attend and let the CTA know you support bus-only lanes in the center of the street and maintaining wide sidewalks and on-street parking. We believe this will provide the best options for Chicago's BRT. 

Learn more about the public meetings here.


single-lanes on Western

I have concerns about the single-lane traffic proposals for Western and Ashland. I am all for efforts to make Western more pedestrian friendly and fully support the idea of BRT because having to go all the way to the Loop to transfer to a different train line is ridiculous. I also believe the BRT may take some cars off of the road, but some people will still need to drive. So, I do not think single-lane Western or Ashland is realistic and envision terrible traffic back-ups. I think there is a place in the city for streets that people can use to get around more quickly. (And the North Avenue road diet in Wicker Park, e.g., has just made that street impossible--and I don't think it's that much easier to get across on foot than it used to be.)

I get that the goal is to encourage alternatives to driving, but I caution us against creating nightmare driving scenarios which I think might result from single lanes. Removing buses from one of the traffic lanes would help (and I guess BRT does not necessarily replace local buses, in which case single-lanes are a non-starter), but I think the congestion could be too great with only one lane (I fear a Saturday afternoon when a stalled car blocks the only traffic lane). I am not sure that narrow streets blocked in by lots of dead-ends/cul-de-sacs (as one commenter suggested) are always the best approach either. I was hit by a cab during rush hour when riding in the bike lane on Halsted when it was fairly new (and I believe, but could be wrong, that the street was previously two lanes each way). I am fairly certain the cabbie was trying to pass in the bike lane (his only "option" for passing) and noticed me too late. So, I think as we contemplate narrowing roads, we should just pause to think about what that will mean on a Saturday afternoon or during rush hour so that we can give people outlets so that they aren't trapped in terrible traffic jams. I get discouraging driving, but let's not make it totally miserable.

All of that said, if there was a way to fit in a protected (i.e. separated with concrete) bike lane, I would be all over that. Otherwise, I can't see a bike lane on Western being a good idea and would suggest fortifying the existing lanes on California, Damen, etc. Key fortifications would include making safe protected lanes at the highway underpasses, bridges, etc.

This is a little too

This is a little too nearsighted. You can see the same type of "nightmare" scenario every time there is freeway work: People change their behavior to adapt. An excellent example was last year's "Carmageddon" in Los Angeles. Because of all the hype and media talk about the freeway closure, people modified their behavior. I'm hoping that by making Western and Ashland slower and more "complete" streets, people will modify their behavior and maybe take the bus or bike instead of driving. Chicago is a city that you do not need to drive in. Tons of people do it every day. We need to adapt to a future that is less dependent on a car getting you everywhere.

So while there may be some congestion for a while I think that people might modify their behavior in the long-run. We can't plan projects like this if we think about what will happen initially, you have to think long-term.

Any positive change on Western or Ashland is welcome because cars travel way too quickly on these streets as it is. I really do not like crossing either of these streets.

bicycling on ashland+western

i am saddened by the willingness of almost everyone in dismissing the bike-ability of ashland and western ave. i ride my bicycle on ashland quite literally everyday...in terms of getting north and south in the city - from division to 95th - ashland avenue is vital for myself and bicycle. i would be incredibly sad should that resource be made less bike-able.

additionally, western avenue already has a bike lane in several places on the south side. north siders need to consider the vast and expansive chicago south of the eisenhower.

Do it right

Super happy as a Chicagoan and a resident who lives off of Western. Western Ave. used to serve as a ring road for Chicago some 100 years ago when the city just about reached that far West and not further... thus the name of the street. Well, now its cuts smack in the middle of the city and dense urban areas. The street needs to change from its original purpose. Its time to add BRT, and safety islands, greenery, road diet, neighborhood signage and other features that will transform the street into resident friendly, help the businesses and empty store fronts, remove pollution, noise etc. I vote for dedicated lanes for Buses and only one lane in each direction for cars. If that is too much, we can have one dedicated Bus lane that is shared, the Buses would have to have some space to maneuver so to avoid head on collisions. GPS systems can take care of this issue and serve as switching used for trains to share tracks.
Finally, many side streets must be closed off and transformed into Cu de sac streets so that cars done use them to circumvent the additional traffic caused by the road diet. This will also create extra space for pedestrians, more parking spots and spots to plant trees as there will be no space for islands.

BRT's goal is to maintain automobility

BRT's primary goal is to keep bikes off the streets of Chicago, as evidenced by this project. It's just a massive greenwash by the auto industry. Look at the evidence.

As for whether a street is a good street to bike on or not -- ummmm -- that happens when someone other than the tooth fairy _makes_ a street a good street to bike on -- with protected bike lanes, ideally. This is not magic or mysticism -- we know exactly how to do it -- we just need to know whether Chicagoans want the ability to bike, or if they want to be forced to drive or ride the bus. Life is full of decisions.

I seriously doubt that the

I seriously doubt that the auto industry wants to see steps taken toward mass transit.

I would also like to think that successful BRT implementation would demonstrate the viability for turning those lanes into trolley rail lines. In any case, I think simply removing a lane of traffic in each direction will boost commerce for the businesses on these roads by making them a little more comfortable for pedestrians.

Yes, but any biker with even

Yes, but any biker with even a fraction of a brain knows to never ride on either Western or Ashland, the two proposed BRT streets.

I ride on Ashland almost

I ride on Ashland almost daily as part of my commute. It isn't that bad, and during rush hour, it's actually much better because you get home faster than driving. That being said, I would feel safer with a protected bike lane, or Paulina made into a bike thoroughfare from Armitage south. Bikes were here first. Drivers should not feel entitled to the roads over bicycles.

Brave soul! Between the

Brave soul! Between the double parking and the many parked cars, Ashland is not a street I hit with my bike. And I am always stunned to see riders on Western--though in some places I agree it is not the craziest idea.

Bicycle Lanes

Will there be no room for bicycle lanes on these streets with a BRT system? That would be a disappointment.

Bike Lanes

We're certainly interested in ensuring the city considers the impact of plans like this on creating a more complete bike network, and it's on the city's radar too.

For the Central Loop BRT project, which is ahead of Western/Ashland in the process, the city considered both parallel bikeways and bikeways in the same right of way as the BRT. We expect protected bike lanes will be a part of that project. You can see the presentation here: http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/cdot/CDOTProjects/Ce...

For Western and Ashland, it's likely bikeways will need to be on parallel streets. The Streets for Cycling Plan 2020 already outlines streets where these bikeways could go, and that plan already has significant federal funding for implementation. You can see the draft network plan here: http://www.chicagobikes.org/pdf/CitywideSFC2020Network2012.pdf .

We'll be advocating for implementation of the Streets for Cycling Plan 2020 and monitoring the BRT planning process to ensure the plans are coordinated.

We'll continue following the plans as they develop further and providing feedback to the City, and we'd encourage you to do the same. Hope to see you at a public meeting!

Bicycle Lanes

I won't really be disappointed. Western and Ashland don't currently have bike lanes, and they're not really bike avenues. They are sandwiched triple decker style with major streets that have fair to good bike lanes. I think it makes sense, Ashland and Western are faster auto-thoroughfares which should attract auto traffic and allow/keep Damen, California, and Southport/Sheffield as slower, calmer, more bike friendly streets.

I'm not an accredited urban planner, but if unprotected lanes were put on Western/Ashland I would think cars would blast down during non-heavy traffic hours with a bike lane as opposed to the current calming effect of a parking lane.

How would you plan out the bike lanes? Maybe there is room to keep a BRT lane, car lane, bike lane, and parking lane, but not in my vision.

Also, I know this applies to the North Side, but I guess I see more cyclists use Western around 18th street so maybe that's a different case.

If ActiveTrans gets their way

If ActiveTrans gets their way and removes a lane of traffic in each direction, it will be crawling at about 5 MPH on Western and Ashland anyway. That would be fine for bikes. I'd much rather see the on-street parking removed. Storage of private property in the ROW seems like a lower priority to me than mobility (even car mobility).

Narrowing the sidewalks would

Narrowing the sidewalks would help too.

Ashland and Western ought to

Ashland and Western ought to be more than in-city highways. The changes we make to them should, above all else, encourage the revival of streetlife in the city. They ought to have a lot of businesses and provide attractive locations to develop high-density housing, and they ought to provide a nice environment to wait at the BRT platform. The fact is both these streets right now are completely miserable unless you're inside a car. The best way to address that and remake these streets as centers of community life instead of barren strips of car culture is to keep the traffic-calming parking and cut the traffic to one lane.

What about the drivers?

Everyone is thinking about bikes, stores, parking, and buses. What about the thousands of drivers who use those 2 streets to go to work everyday. I am a triathlete and I use my bike to commute frequently during the summer, but only a few brave bikers would do that during the cold season nor in Ashland or Western; I am not one of them. Bike lanes in Western and Ashland don't seem to add utility because you have to take something to give something. You take more out of drivers and bus riders (who use these streets 52 weeks a year) than you give to bikers (most of them would use these streets less than 30 weeks a year).

Now, coming back to my point of defending the rights of the drivers. The argument favoring the dedicated bus lanes is that it will save bus commuting time. I want to see a full analysis of the other side of this proposal, the loss of commuting time on the drivers. Someone said that car traffic in Western and Ashland in only one lane will be really slow and he/she is completely right. According to the numbers published, 70% of commuters in those streets do so in cars vs 30% using the buses. You need to cut the committing time of bus riders by more than double of the time delays imposed on car drivers because time is money.

For example, now it takes me 20 minutes to drive to my office. The proposed dedicated lane for buses will delay me 10 minutes going and 10 minutes coming from work (that's conservative). A total of 20 minutes a day times 240 days of work a year is 80 hours a year. If I make $50 an hour, I am losing $4,000 a year. I assume that 70% of the drivers will suffer a similar loss every year. For me to buy this proposal I need to see that the savings of the bus riders are larger than the losses of drivers like me. It would be nice to see this analysis with the differences in average salary (drivers vs bus riders) included. Last time I checked Chicago was in America and we have a capitalistic system where everyone's time value is different.

I'll go to the open houses to find friends in the drivers who see this as a threat to their time, in other words, their money.

By the way, the CTA would save more time and money if they put their act together and use today's technology to minimize the average ride time. Last week while driving southbound in Western, I passed 5 buses in less than 500 street numbers (4 blocks) from Augusta Ave. to Grand. That's unacceptable, even for a car commuter like me. Can you imagine faces of the people waiting for the bus? And that was summer, making those logistic mistakes during winter should be a punishable crime!

You drive a car, and by my

You drive a car, and by my calculations you make 6 figures, which means you have a bunch of options about how to get to work. You probably don't HAVE to drive Ashland, for instance. Contrast that with many of us poorer working shlubs, who make $12 or $14 an hour, and may not even own a car. Taking one lane out of one street in the city to provide better public transit for a whole lot of people is a step in the right direction. The previous commentator is right. Drivers will adjust. So will you.

You just did a very good job

You just did a very good job of perfectly caricaturing automobile drivers. If you make fifty dollars an hours, it seems to me you afford to lose $4000 over the course of year for the general populace's health, physical and mental.

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