- Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation and Illinois Congressman Ray LaHood will lead a transportation and mobility task force for the city of Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced in a Medium post.
- The city announced that the task force will also include Brenna Berman, executive director of City Tech Collaborative, the city’s technology testing ground. Other members of the task force will be named later, and will come from government, business groups, advocacy organizations, academics and neighborhood developers.
- The task force is expected to present recommendations to the city by 2019 on topic areas including mobility goals that can act as a policy framework, promoting low-carbon transportation sources and policy changes to accommodate autonomous technology.
The waves of new technology in transportation, from ride-hailing apps to autonomous vehicles (AVs) to bike-share, have left cities scrambling to keep pace. Even though apps like Uber and Lyft have been operating for nearly a decade, cities and states are still figuring out how best to regulate and tax ride-sharing. The flurry of reactions to dockless scooters — from impounding vehicles to hurried new rules — illustrates that governments are still trying to be nimble as new options are dropped seemingly every month.
Chicago itself has passed new rules as part of a dockless bike pilot, which prompted provider ofo to exit the city because of a requirement that the bikes have locking mechanisms. Two Chicago aldermen have also moved to impose ride-hailing regulations similar to those passed in New York City, although that does not have the support of the mayor’s office.
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfield said the “explosion of new options” means good opportunities for citizens, “but it also presents new challenges.”
“It’s pushing us to think differently about how we have traditionally managed transportation systems for the city and the associated infrastructure,” added Scheinfield, who will be on the task force. The hope is that a collection of experts and city residents can come up with policy recommendations that will allow for a framework to guide future decisions as new options come online. The city said the task force will specifically look at regulatory incentives, improvements to public transit, data-sharing requirements and curbside use policies, as well as funding streams for city-backed infrastructure.