As Long As We Are Warning ‘Chuy’…

Background Reading

Summary

The Queens intersection in which Edgar Torres was struck and killed by a bus. The Queens intersection in which Edgar Torres was struck and killed by a bus. (Jim O'Grady/WNYC)

The Queens intersection in which Edgar Torres was struck and killed by a bus. (Jim O’Grady/WNYC)

Mayoral hopeful Jesus “Chuy” Garcia has framed himself as a champion of the underdog. But if he really wants to help low-income and working-class Chicagoans when it comes to transportation, he needs to rethink his opposition to automated traffic enforcement and bus rapid transit.

The Cook County commissioner has pledged to shut down all the city’s traffic cameras on his first day as mayor. “It’s time to end the red-light ripoff,” he told reporters. “(The cameras) will go because Chicagoans want them gone.”

Of course, nobody likes to get a ticket for blowing a red light or speeding. And, while the current administration generally has done a good job of promoting a safe, efficient transportation network, a number of Rahm Emanuel’s questionable actions have made automated enforcement—a good thing—look bad.

However,Garcia has accused Emanuel of lying about his reasons for installing cams. Personally, I don’t care what the mayor’s motives are. If we can prevent serious injuries and deaths, punish scofflaws and raise revenue for our broke city, that’s a win-win-win. Should Garcia be elected, he ought to make the traffic cam program as effective, transparent and fair as possible rather than abolishing it.

WHY BUS RAPID TRANSIT WORKS

Likewise, if he’s interested in transportation equity, he needs to embrace the city’s plan for bus rapid transit on Ashland Avenue. The system would run between 95th Street and Irving Park Road, and include dedicated bus lanes and other time-saving features. These would nearly double bus speeds from the current, glacial 8.7 mph average to 15.9 mph, comparable to the el.

Unfortunately, since the proposal calls for converting two of the four travel lanes to bus lanes and banning most left turns, there has been loud opposition from some merchants and neighbors. It appears the anti-BRT Ashland-Western Coalition caught Garcia’s ear because he recently told the Sun-Times, “This project cannot be approved in its current
form, and frankly, may never be appropriate for approval.”

In a recent op-ed in the paper, transportation advocates noted that the coalition, which believes it’s more important to maintain the status quo than to expand the rapid transit network, is selling “false populism” to politicians like Garcia. One-quarter of households within a half-mile of Ashland don’t own cars. Creating a fast, reliable bus line that connects many train lines, job centers, schools and hospitals would make it much easier for low-income and working-class people to get where they need to go.

The commissioner ought to look at what Mayor Bill de Blasio is doing in New York. He’s installing speed cams all over the city as part of the Vision Zero campaign to eliminate traffic deaths and has ordered the transportation department to create 13 BRT corridors within four years.

If Garcia truly wants to put the needs of regular people first, he should overhaul his transportation policies before the April 7 runoff. Right now, his positions have more in common with the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity lobbying group, which helped kill Nashville’s plan for a rapid bus route, than with progressive leaders like de Blasio.


TakeAways

Having been born and raised in the City of Chicago I think it is patently naive of John Greenfield to assume that so-called Progressive Agendas are worthwhile for the less-affluent in this city. They are not and probably never really will be.

What has changed here in Chicago and in places like Indianapolis is that people have moved far beyond the ploys of the Conservative Right and Liberal Left as they squabble over how to protect the central sections of the political support.

The Liberal Left has decided that for some reason NYC Mayor de Blasio is their sort of leader. But the problem is that this is no longer his sort of political and economic landscape. And that fact is being portrayed for all the world to see, right here in Sweet Home Chicago.

Bike Share Is The Canary In The Mine

Liberals are nearly bereft of ideas on transportation. Their first salvo has been to push hard for bicycles as the primary form of transportation in terms of city commuting. But as is being demonstrated in both NYC and Chicago that idea is losing ground.

The notion of riding a bike in summer is great! It makes a lot of sense. The problem is that in climates like ours winters are devastating. If you cannot keep your bicycle commuter base throughout the entire year, it is difficult to have to return in spring.

Already both of these cities have had to find new revenue streams to prop up the sad financial state of their BikeShare scenes. And even more telling is the fact that the Pope of Bicycling is not a very big fan of how these sorts of systems are currently designed.

Liberal Dogma Is Being Driven By Financial Decline

BRT is not in and of itself anything new to Chicago. It like the red light and speed camera fiascos are being driven by greed. Big city mayors are forced to live with their hands out towards the Federal Government. That is a fact.

But the really tragic thing is the pandering that is going on to try and get more money from the sticky mitts of Washington DC. Liberals have decided that everything they do going forward is going to be because it ‘saves lives‘.

They are going to slap up red light cameras to supposedly save lives. And emotional types like John are going to suck up the BS and wear it on their sleeves. And say silly things like this:

However,Garcia has accused Emanuel of lying about his reasons for installing cams. Personally, I don’t care what the mayor’s motives are. If we can prevent serious injuries and deaths, punish scofflaws and raise revenue for our broke city, that’s a win-win-win. Should Garcia be elected, he ought to make the traffic cam program as effective, transparent and fair as possible rather than abolishing it.

Herein lies the real problem between the current crop of Liberal Leftists and their message. People-of-color are not clamoring for transportation equity. They certainly are not clamoring for Divvy or Citi Bike BikeShare.

Take for instance Detroit. Folks there are faced with mass foreclosures because the system has collapsed and now without jobs and income they are going to lose their homes. What place does a system of protected bike lanes play in their future?

But John and his ilk will continue to whine about lives saved from red light cameras and unfortunately I think they believe the BS. This is part of the problem in dealing with the emotional types that haunt the various Movements that have cropped up in cities.

This sort of thinking is reinforced when groups like Active Transportation Alliance make the same dumb pleas he core of their fundraising activity. I can however understand where they are coming from. Their greed is naked and understandable.

But when a city uses red light cameras to fleece the various areas where the poverty is the greatest and guys like John whine that they could care less about the motives, then something is sadly wrong in Liberal Land.

BRT Is Not About Efficiency It Is About Money

Now the cold hard facts are that Liberals would never have adopted bicycling as a centerpiece for their transportation platform were it not for the fact that the trending showed it was something new that could bring in more revenue from the Feds.

Mass Transit has just about run its course with the Conservatives who control the purse strings in DC. And with the Highway Trust Fund all but defunct everyone starting casting around for new revenue streams. Bicycles were thought to be the ticket.

But we are learning very quickly that bicycle infrastructure is ‘about as useless as tits on a bull‘ when it comes to providing real and lasting safety. Far too many deaths have occurred at intersections in NYC which had just be revamped with infrastructure money and people now want to know, why?

Couple this with the stark realization that bicyclists themselves are as dangerous as cars given the right circumstances. Everyone knew a car could kill you, but it now has been revealed that bicycles can as well. And the behaviors that make this a reality are not ones that concern even those who are supposed bicycle advocates.

We keep making videos that glorify scofflaw behavior and when discussions erupt over the efficacy of this trend the response looks like this:

Reply by Jim Reho 5 hours ago
Do people who ride like this really help the cause?

Reply by Tricolor 5 hours ago
But it’s EXTREME!

Reply by Bob Kastigar 4 hours ago
Part of “the cause” is to promote the idea that “Bikes are Fun!” – so, yes this does expand the publicity about bicycles.
Any publicity is good.

Now I cannot think that these sorts of responses are evidence of uncaring. They are evidence however that we are missing the point. Bicycling is not as popular as we would like. If the things we do to prop up a failing initiative are in any way destructive that will cost us in the long run.

This is exactly why the red light camera fiasco is just that. You can never afford to simply ignore motives. The statistics behind these cameras are showing that lives are not being saved and in fact intersections are made more dangerous. This is an unintended consequence but something you could expect when the primary motive is the generation of funds and that is being allowed to supersede the values of the community itself.

Chuy Garcia is the newest canary in the mine for Liberal Notions. The Conservatives will not have to lift a finger in the long run, they will merely need to sit back and watch Progressives and Liberals destroy themselves. And it will all have been in the name of money.