[flickr]photo:6052421155[/flickr] [All photos courtesy of the Chicago Department of Transportation, except where noted.]
Last Tuesday evening when I first pedaled down the new Madison Street bike lane, crisp white lines on fresh, smooth asphalt, my initial emotion was exhilaration. Just like the first time I rode the Kinzie Street protected bike lane, I was experiencing something that had never been done before in Chicago, and it was a liberating sensation.
For years I’ve wished the city would stripe bike lanes within the central Loop, defined by the Chicago River, Michigan Avenue and the Congress Parkway, but until now this seemed verboten. The taboo against downtown lanes has always struck me as typical of the conservative way the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) did bike improvements under Mayor Daley. The attitude seemed to be that the Central Business District (CBD) was too congested to have bike lanes, when in reality the Loop is too congested NOT to have lanes encouraging people to bicycle instead of driving.
So I was thrilled last week when Steven forwarded a newsletter from 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly announcing that CDOT was striping lanes on Madison from Michigan to Wells. But I confess that a couple blocks into my maiden voyage down the new lane I became a little disappointed. I realized that many cyclists will not feel comfortable riding in the lane because it is marked to the left of a bus-only lane. This means cyclists will be pedaling between two lanes of moving traffic with no protection except paint on the road.
Continue reading Mixed feelings about Chicago’s first Loop bike lane
Thank you, Alan Brake.
Klein also reiterated the Emanuel Administration’s commitment to building the Bloomingdale Trail. While that project is routinely compared to New York’s High Line park, the Bloomingdale Trail is being conceived as a transportation artery, not a merely as a place for a romantic promenade. It will be the most protected bike lane of all. I can’t wait to take a spin down it, preferably using a shared bike.
From Share The Road, Slash The Parking.
I love the grittiness (c’mon, this is Chicago) of the old Soo Line along Bloomingdale Avenue.
New York City’s High Line is a place to see and be seen, but the Bloomingdale Trail will be a place to use. Ride a bike (bikes are banned from the High Line), jog, push a stroller, walk your dog, etc…
High Line designers were so concerned with cleaner aesthetics, the abandoned railroad viaduct is now beautiful enough to film a commercial (or something) featuring people doing Tai Chi.
[flickr]photo:6054914196[/flickr]Fencing installed to keep pedestrians from crossing LSD at Queen’s Landing
[This piece also appears in Time Out Chicago.]
Gabe Klein’s words were eerily prescient. In July I asked the new Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) chief if he’d consider re-installing the signalized crosswalk that had allowed pedestrians to safely cross from Buckingham Fountain to Monroe Harbor for 17 years until Mayor Daley removed it. “I would like to put it back,” he said. “People are crossing anyway and they’re running across Lake Shore Drive.”
On August 6, during Eminem’s set at Lollapalooza, as dozens of kids ran across the drive attempting to jump the fences on the east side of the festival, two young men were struck by a car, sustaining serious-to-critical injuries, as they tried to sprint across the ten lanes of traffic east of the fountain.
Continue reading After Lolla crash CDOT says Queen’s Landing crosswalk will re-open
Two participants take the community Voicebox quadricycle for a test drive in the park.
Community Voicebox is the winning project of Bill Vassilakis and Jeff Munie from The Air We Breathe competition. It’s about listening to and recording the stories and thoughts of residents when it comes to two major and visible sources of pollution in the Lower West Side neighborhoods of Bridgeport, Little Village, and Pilsen: the Fisk and Crawford coal-burning power plants.
When it comes to documenting residents’ responses to the environmental hazards surrounding them, the Community Voicebox keeps it simple: a quadricycle and an iPad. Read more about the concept and my interview with Bill on Steven Can Plan – today on Grid Chicago I’ll be exploring how Bill and Jeff get the Community Voicebox around town.
Continue reading Quad bike: How the Community Voicebox travels in Chicago
Proposed location for the North Shore Channel Trail bike bridge
[This piece also runs in Newcity.]
The other day I was pedaling with friends under azure skies to Evanston’s Blind Faith Cafe when I was reminded of an old political fight. We were riding on the North Shore Channel Trail, a scenic, nearly car-free route from Albany Park to Evanston, when we came to the notorious gap in the path just north of Lincoln. The trail ended abruptly, so we spun north on Kedzie a few blocks, turned west and rode on hectic Devon Street across the channel, then turned north to continue on the bike path into Lincolnwood.
Continue reading Will the new 50th Ward alderman build the bike bridge Berny blocked?
Silversmith and fur trader John Kinzie was one of Chicago’s first settlers, so it’s appropriate that a pioneering bicycle facility was built on his namesake street. Yesterday was the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Kinzie Street protected bike lane, the city’s first, which runs a half mile between Milwaukee Avenue and Wells Street.
Staffers from the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), downtown alderman Brendan Reilly’s office, the Active Transportation Alliance and SRAM, a local bike parts company, were there to celebrate. There were only a handful of civilian cyclists present, partly due to the 11 am start time. The city’s Bicycling Ambassadors and Junior Ambassadors were out in force and the freaky marching band Environmental Encroachment provided a spirited soundtrack.
With the fragrant Blommer Chocolate factory as a backdrop, CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein, nattily dressed in a white suit, gave opening remarks. He stressed the importance of the new bike lane, which protects cyclists from moving traffic via flexible bollards and a line of parked cars, in encouraging more people to try urban cycling. “If you want to change people’s behavior and make if feel like it’s safe to walk and bike, you’ve got to make it safer,” he said.
Continue reading It’s official: Kinzie is ready to ride