The Chainlink

Here are a few other more recent examples of City Council members using aldermanic privilege to block, downgrade, or delay sustainable transportation projects:

  • In 2013, 24th Ward Alderman Michael Chandler approved protected bike lanes on Independence Boulevard, and then ordered CDOT to convert them to buffered lanes after residents balked at the non-curbside parking configuration.
  • In 2016, 5th Ward alderman Leslie Hairston and 5th Ward alderman Michelle Harris vetoed CDOT’s proposal to install protected bike lanes on Stony Island Avenue in their districts, arguing that they would cause traffic jams.
  • In 2018, several aldermen on the Near North and South sides insisted that their wards be excluded from the Car2go car-sharing pilot area because they were worried about the impact on parking for private cars.
  • In January, 3rd Ward alderman Pat Dowell tried to block the construction of an ‘L’ stop at 15th and Clark, and succeeded in forcing the developer who proposed it to relocate the facility.
  • Earlier this month, 4th Ward alderman Sophia King finally allowed CDOT to start building bike improvements in the South Loop after delaying the project for a year due to her focus on maximizing car parking.

When aldermen block sustainable transportation improvements in their wards, it’s not just a source of frustration for city planners and transportation advocates. It can also put the safety of everyday Chicagoans in jeopardy. Last year cyclist Luster Jackson, 58, was doored and fatally struck on Stony Island in the area where Hairston and Harris refused to let CDOT install protected lanes.

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Aldermen limiting building heights (61 E Banks in 43rd ward) or blocking development (400 N Lake Shore Drive in 42nd ward) also reduces the amount of property tax revenue that the city and county collect.



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