In the wake of yet another death of a cyclist I can't help but think about some of the laws I came across while living in Europe which proved to be very beneficial to cycling safety. I am by no means well versed in city laws and politics and things like that so I'm hoping someone can help me figure out what the first steps would be to trying to make these things happen.
In London there is a congestion charge to enter the city center in a motor vehicle. It's definitely an extra push to inspire people to bike or use public transit. They also started a great program a few years back which takes HGV drivers (Heavy Goods Vehicles) out on bikes through the streets to show them what it's like to navigate the streets as a cyclist.
In Paris they also have a ban on HGV's in the city center and I believe there's a general ban on them during rush hour.
I realize some of these things are probably a bit of a pipe dream but I've honestly had it. This morning during my morning commute on Milwaukee bikes pretty much outnumbered the cars. When will this city realize that we're not going anywhere and it's time to seriously rethink laws that favor cars before we see even more people loose their life? Biking should be fun, not scary.
One weird thing about Chicago is that the ring roads around the city are toll roads, while the interstates through the middle of the city are not. That seems completely backwards, as it perversely encourages congestion through the city center.
I'd read that 30 years ago, Amsterdam, probably the bike friendliest city in the world, wasn't that way at all. It's people like you and me, this site and activism that will make it happen. (I leave out Critical Mass because I don't advocate their tactics.)
Maybe within 30 years, it will happen here, too.
The way to do it is a "slow and steady" approach. In 2008 there was a big shift in Chicago and statewide with some changes. Then in Chicago there were some tweaks to the City ordinances and obviously the construction of the bike lanes throughout the city. If you look back in hindsight, we have made a lot of progress. But there is always more that can be done.
The best thing you can do is get involved with Active Trans and attend the bike meetings at City Hall with the Mayor's Advisory Council. Here is a link to sign up for alerts for the MBAC: http://chicagocompletestreets.org/getinvolved/mayors-advisory-counc...
The London-style congestion charge was floated recently and smacked down hard. I doubt very much if anything like a HGV ban or cap would fly here. Getting bus and truck drivers to be on bikes in the city as part of their licensing would be awesome. That, or some version of that, might happen.