Transit reform really just transit features


Riders on this bus will have access to new, to the region, features that make taking transit more convenient and pleasurable. Photo by Eric Pancer.

Governor Quinn’s office issued a press release last Thursday calling House Bill 3597 “major transit reform legislation.”

What he signed into law today was not reform, but a package of new, “cool” features that the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra, and Pace – collectively called the service boards – are now required by law to implement.

This post is a summary of the legislation he signed today. Analysis of the universal fare system will be published later on Grid.

Continue reading Transit reform really just transit features

Making strides: can the Chicago Pedestrian Plan create safer streets?


[This piece also appears in Newcity.]

This June evening is too pretty for the subway, so I bicycle south to the Pink Line’s California station to meet up with the Active Transportation Alliance’s Tony Giron (in the photo above, far right). He’s leading a march across the largely Mexican-American neighborhood of Little Village to Farragut High School for the first of seven public input meetings on the Chicago Pedestrian Plan.

Similar to the Bike 2015 Plan, this Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) document will be a roadmap for making the city a safer and easier place to walk. The goal is to reduce pedestrian injuries by half and fatalities by one hundred percent. “Chicago is a great city for walking,” says Giron. “But along with park paths and tree-lined streets, we still have roads that are difficult to cross, dangerous intersections and places that are inaccessible to people walking.”

Continue reading Making strides: can the Chicago Pedestrian Plan create safer streets?

Making construction areas and detours bike-friendly

Updated June 28, 2011, to add link and photo about how citizen cyclists are accommodated in Copenhagen, New York City, and San Francisco (at end of post). Updated July 8, 2011, to add a section about “shared responsibility.”


When roads or bridges are reconstructed, bike lanes and people riding in them lose. The photo shows where a section of the bike lane has been removed and the remainder of the bike lane has been closed, without notification.

I wanted to renew my driver’s license Monday and I had two choices: downtown or northwest side. I looked at the map to find that the Illinois Secretary of State’s Drivers Services Facility called “Chicago North,” at 5401 N Elston Avenue, was only 4 miles from my house. It’s about 4 miles to downtown, but I believed going north would be easier and faster on my bike.

It was. Aside from an infrastructural design issue on Elston Avenue that makes right-hooks really easy, almost inviting, and a bike-unfriendly construction detour, I got there in great time. Going to downtown would mean more lights, more traffic.

Continue reading Making construction areas and detours bike-friendly

Recap for the June 2011 MBAC meeting

Updated June 15, 2011: Added section on snow removal for the Kinzie Street bike lane. Updated October 16, 2011, to add quotes protected bike lane planning. This was originally posted to Steven Can Plan.

Every three months, staff from the Chicago Department of Transportation and Chicago Bicycle Program come to Room 1103 in City Hall to tell the bicycle community at large what they’re up to – it’s the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council. Other organizations get an opportunity to speak as well (especially Active Transportation Alliance) but a majority of the time is dedicated to the divisions of the Bicycle Program (namely bikeways, bike parking, and education).

Wednesday’s meeting was the only one I’ve been to where I felt that CDOT was doing something new, different, and interesting. And I’ve been to many, all as an employee of CDOT – at least 10 meetings since 2007. A LOT of new information was imparted at this meeting.

Thanks to Jim Limber, you can watch the meetings live. Or watch the recordings: Part 1, Part 2.

Here’s my MBAC recap, originally written for the weekly Chainlink newsletter:

Streets for cycling and protected bike lanes

Ben Gomberg introduced Mark de Lavergne of Sam Schwartz Engineering who will be leading the new Streets for Cycling planning process that will include 3-6 public meetings across the city to talk about future locations of Chicago’s bikeway network. The plan will include a toolbox of ideas and implementations adapted from the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide. The report will be completed by Bike To Work Day 2012.

The first 25 miles of protected bike lane locations has apparently already been assessed and will be done right away, without waiting for the plan to be completed. The starting place for these protected bike lanes is getting people in and out of downtown.

7. Bicycle Program coordinator Ben Gomberg said that the location of 25 miles had already been assessed. Deputy Commissioner Luann Hamilton said,

We’re being asked to be creative and come up with new information quickly by the new mayor, but we already did some planning before the new mayor. Our starting place: How to get in and out of downtown.

People interested in providing their ideas before the public planning process begins can send them to Mike Amsden.

Neighborhood Bikeways Campaign

Adolfo Hernandez from Active Transportation Alliance announced the Neighborhood Bikeways Campaign, to be led by John Lankford (not present). Here’s a paraphrasing of what he said: “There will be a fight early on about bikeways. The people in this room love these things. Businesses to be supportive of this, our local alderman. This isn’t on every alderman’s radar. As cycling advocates, we need to talk to our neighbors, businesses, churches, and schools. As part of the campaign for 100 miles, we are going to meet with people to do some organizing, spreading messages, building support, before the backlash. People are going to be upset, not going to like it.”

Kinzie Street snow removal

When a meeting attendee asked how snow would be dealt with on the Kinzie Street protected bike lane, CDOT Deputy Commissioner Luann Hamilton mentioned that new CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein built similar lanes in Washington, D.C., where it also snows, and will bring his experience in this to Chicago. 

Poor bicycling conditions on Vincennes

Anne Alt showed in a slideshow and described the reasons why Vincennes Avenue is a great bike route (even if bike lanes were removed and never reinstalled) but it has a lot of problems. She highlighted problems, especially at the train viaduct at 83rd and Parnell. Luann said that CDOT would help Anne identify the responsible railroad as a first step to getting the nearly invisible potholes under the viaduct repaired.

She posted her narratives and photos on The Chainlink.

I took a lot more notes so if you have any questions about something else that was said or wasn’t said, let me know and I’ll update it. I picked these as the most interesting and important parts of the meeting. One more thing: The Bicycle Program officially announced the on-street bike parking in Wicker Park, which I discussed a couple weeks ago.


Gin and I rode on the Kinzie Street protected bike lane together right after the meeting. Notice how wide it is! I’ve said it before: bikes are social. I’d already written over this a few times prior to the meeting, but I wanted to ride with someone else to see that experience. There’s normally not enough room in the bike lanes to ride next to someone, but here there is. I’m very excited about the opportunities this kind of facility opens up.