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Earth Day Transportation Roundup

By Lindsey Miller in News on Apr 22, 2010 7:40PM

Photo by jp_42
Maybe it's Earth Day or something, but lately it seems like everyone is clamoring to be a friend to the environment. Or, at least they're clamoring to say they're a friend to the environment. In honor of the, er, "holiday," we take a look at some greening efforts related to transportation.

Lawmakers will vote this week whether to clarify the existing crosswalk laws. Currently, drivers are required to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk, and stop only when necessary. A new law would require drivers to come to a complete stop. The Active Transportation Alliance, which supports the measure, notes that it may be a close vote - so call your congressman. By the numbers, they say "more than 6,000 pedestrians are hit in Illinois each year. Those crashes result in more than 1,000 serious injuries and 170 fatalities a year."

Bicyclists got a vote of confidence yesterday from Springfield. A new bill, which passed both houses and is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Quinn, would make it a crime for motorists to drive "unnecessarily close to, toward, or near a bicyclist." An amendment adds pedestrians, or a person riding a horse or driving an animal drawn vehicle to the bill. If these actions do not result in great bodily harm, it's a misdemeanor. If they do, it's a felony. It's also now a misdemeanor to throw things at bicyclists.

The CTA put up a new section of their website which details their greenness. The board voted last week to continue its sustainability initiatives into the future. It also debuted an "EcoBus" (a 40-foot hybrid) that will teach riders more about hybrid buses and the importance of public transit. Did you know that a 60-foot CTA bus replaces 78 cars? The CTA says, "That's a line of traffic that would stretch from the Merchandise Mart to the John Hancock!" (You may have seen this fact on your commute this morning). As a counter, though, Cecil Adams, of the Straight Dope Chicago, believes that the CTA has no environmental advantage over cars. It's a disturbing - but compelling - argument.

If you insist on or have to drive, The Expired Meter local has a post about being responsible with maintaining your car, including a list of places to take your used motor oil, anti-freeze, old car batteries, tires, and old cars so they don't pollute the sewer-system, street, or fill up landfills.