Flags at Francisco and Devon – all photos courtesy of CDOT, taken the day the flags were installed
[This piece also runs in Time Out Chicago magazine.]
This fall the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) used a shock-and-awe strategy to raise awareness of pedestrian safety issues. As part of its $495,000 “It’s Up To You” safety campaign, funded by a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, CDOT placed scary ads on trash receptacles and buses, illustrating the devastating effects of reckless driving. The department also installed 32 dead-white mannequins along Wacker Drive representing Chicagoans killed by cars last year.
CDOT’s latest ped safety initiative is also in-your-face, but in a kinder, gentler way. On December 8 the department zip-tied canisters of blaze-orange safety flags to poles at ten uncontrolled (no stoplight or stop sign) intersections near senior centers, schools and hospitals all over town. Since state law requires cars to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk, you’re supposed to grab a flag, wave it to signal drivers to stop, cross the street and leave the pennant in the container on the other side.
On the Monday three days after the flags were installed, I visited locations around the city to find out whether people were actually using the flags, or just stealing them.
Continue reading Is anybody actually using Chicago’s new pedestrian safety flags?
With a refreshingly ped-, bike- and transit-friendly new administration in power, 2011 was a banner year for sustainable transportation in Chicago. For Newcity magazine’s annual “Top 5 of Everything” issue, I submitted the following lists of the most important or interesting walking, bicycling, transit and parks stories of the year. Did I miss anything?
Top 5 Blossoming Chicago Park District Stories
After a mysterious two-year delay, design work finally starts on the Bloomingdale Trail
Chinatown’s serene Ping Tom Park expands north, nearly doubling in size
To fight obesity, 96 field houses get vending machines stocked only with healthy snacks
Planning starts for North Grant Park rehab; ideas include a skate park and a climbing wall
A freak summer hailstorm ravages the Garfield Park Conservatory, closing several rooms Continue reading Top 5 lists: essential parks, walking, biking and transit stories of 2011
[This piece also runs on the Chicago web publication Gapers Block.]
As part of an ongoing project to interview all 50 of Chicago’s aldermen about sustainable transportation issues in their districts, I recently caught up with Scott Waguespack at the 32nd Ward service office, 2657 N. Clybourn. His ward includes parts of Ukrainian Village, Wicker Park, Bucktown, Goose Island, Lincoln Park, Lakeview and Roscoe Village.
In 2007 Waguespack defeated Richard M. Daley-backed incumbent Ted Matlak and soon gained a reputation as an independent voice in City Council. Most famously, he was the leading critic of Daley’s push to privatize the city’s parking meters, a move that the former mayor would eventually admit, “we totally screwed up.” Continue reading Talking transportation with 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack
This post is a little different than all of our past event reviews: here we display a bunch of photos and beneath them captions from Anne Alt, who volunteered as a map docent and conversed with many visitors. At any time, you can just browse our respective photo galleries: Steven’s photos or John’s photos. Visitors added a few thousand data points on maps for nine planning districts; we’ll talk about some of them.
As Calvin explained in Monday morning’s post, the event was partly about sharing knowledge. Mike Amsden at the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) explains the next steps for this project:
We were extremely excited to see the level of turnout at our first meeting. Now we will start to go through all of this feedback and incorporate it into our existing conditions analysis. We will be working on this analysis through January and February as we continue the initial public outreach phase of the project. All of this feedback will be used to help us develop the eventual network.
Continue reading Chicagoans shared much information at the Streets for Cycling Plan open house on Saturday
Photo of Alderman Danny Solis by Serge Lubomudrov.
Last night, about 40 people gathered in Simone’s (960 W 18th Street) to hear Alderman Solis (25th Ward) talk about his October trip to the Netherlands. Also speaking was another member of that study tour, Randy Neufeld (note 1, 2), SRAM Cycling Fund director. The Netherlands is a great place in which to investigate successful bicycling planning, policies, and infrastructure. They have the highest share of people cycling, for all trip purposes, in the world, as well as the lowest injury and fatality rate in any kind of traffic. I was hoping the two would ask how many people in attendance have themselves visited the Netherlands. From what I know, at least six people, including myself, have gone there. Continue reading Alderman Solis helps show the link between the Netherlands, Chicago, and safe transportation
The Chicago Cycling Club’s Bagel Ride – photo courtesy of Kathy Schubert
[This piece also runs in Newcity magazine.]
Christmas is a great time to be in Chicago, even if you’re not a Christian. As a mostly nonobservant Jewish person, I usually make a point of staying in town during the holiday because I always have a blast. It’s the best of both worlds. I get to enjoy the spirit of brotherhood and good cheer that prevails, and pedal the nearly traffic-free streets, but there’s no pressure to gather with relatives (Thanksgiving is when we do that) or exchange gifts. For me Christmas is a chance to spend quality time with members of my family of choice, my longtime friends from the local bicycling community.
Continue reading A secular Chicago cycling Christmas