Business as usual: Wells Street bridge closure detour falls short of “8 to 80″ bike planning

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A variable message sign on Wells Street at Hubbard directs traffic to LaSalle Street. There was no sign directing bicyclists, which is odd because this route on June 26, 2012, saw 679 riders from 7-9 AM at Chicago Avenue. 

The Wells Street bridge closed on Monday, November 5, to all traffic (the sidewalks were open in the morning) so that the bridge can be rebuilt; a new concrete deck will be constructed providing a safer surface for bicycling. The Chicago Department of Transportation estimates construction will finish by December 1, 2013. To reroute traffic, CDOT posted a map and plan showing different detour routes for different transportation modes: one each for pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers, and bus operators.

Information on the street, however, doesn’t match the plan. People on bikes are directed by the map to turn left from Wells Street onto Kinzie Street and then use Clark Street to cross the river. Yet a variable message sign on Wells Street directs Wells Street traffic to use Illinois Street. One Grid Chicago reader told us that changing lanes on his bicycle, during morning rush hour, from the bike lane on Wells Street to make a left onto Kinzie Street was difficult because many drivers were not turning left onto Illinois Street; in the subsequent days he took Clark Street from the north but found traffic to be worse. Continue reading Business as usual: Wells Street bridge closure detour falls short of “8 to 80″ bike planning

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Fatality Tracker: Hit-and-run of pedestrian on Damen overpass, but charges filed

2012 Chicago fatality stats*:

Pedestrian: 19 (9 have been hit-and-run crashes)
Pedalcyclist: 4 (1 is a hit-and-run crash)
Transit: 6

Robert Butler, a 51-year-old resident of Bellwood, Illinois, was killed in a traffic crash on Friday, September 7, at 4:30 AM, on the Damen Avenue overpass of the Stevenson Expressway. He was a pedestrian in probably the least-pedestrian friendly area in the region. The driver and his passenger were arrested; the driver, Anthony Castillo, 23, was apprehended less than a mile away in the McKinley Park neighborhood and charged with:

  • Reckless Homicide-Motor Vehicle
  • Leaving the Scene of an Accident w/Injury or Death
  • Possession of Controlled Substance
  • Failure to Reduce Speed

The passenger was charged with misdemeanor possession of cannabis. This story was originally reported by the Chicago Tribune. See a Google Street View image of the crash location after the jump, and more information on this type of highway intersection.  Continue reading Fatality Tracker: Hit-and-run of pedestrian on Damen overpass, but charges filed

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CDOT responds to our questions about the Streets for Cycling plan

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John and Mike Amsden at a Streets for Cycling public meeting last winter. Photo by Serge Lubomudrov.

For many months now Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) project manager Mike Amsden and his team have been working hard preparing the Streets for Cycling Plan 2020. The plan now calls for creating 110 miles of protected bike lanes and 40 miles of buffered lanes by 2015, and a 640-miles bikeway network by 2020. A revised map of the network, based on input received at recent public meetings, will be unveiled on Wednesday June 15 at the Bike to Work Rally, 7:30-9 am at Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington. The final map will be officially released with the rest of the bike plan at a later date. You can read more details about the plan here.

I had some of my own questions about the plan, and I’d also seen and heard comments from others in the comment sections of Grid Chicago and The Chainlink, and in conversations with other cyclists. Mike took some time out from his busy schedule to sit down with me at the CDOT offices, look at maps and respond to my inquiries, based on my own questions and concerns I’d heard from others. We discussed whether the plan is too ambitious, or not ambitious enough; whether the West and South Sides will get their fair share of facilities; whether the protected bike lanes offer enough protection; and what CDOT is doing to fix metal-grate bridges.

Our conversation will make more sense if you take a look at a map of the proposed 640-mile network – here’s a link to a PDF of the map. The current Chicago Bike Map is available here. Below is a map of the proposed locations for the first 150 miles of protected and buffered bike lanes – click on the image for a larger view.

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Continue reading CDOT responds to our questions about the Streets for Cycling plan

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When you build for youngest, you build for everyone

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A young boy on his bike waits for the red light to change on Logan Boulevard in Logan Square.

I’ve been participating in a design collaboration this summer called Moving Design: Call To Action. This year’s “Call To Action” is about bicycle safety in Chicago, focusing on Logan Square. The group comprises over 40 designers, and two urban planners, including myself.

My role has been to provide “policy insights” – read and see them on the Moving Design blog. Since I’ve been in Utah for last Wednesday’s and tonight’s meetings, I created videos. Think of them as a satellite feed of an actor giving their Oscar acceptance speech from the set of the movie they’re filming.

This video policy insight is about 8 to 80. I connect the concept of “designing biking facilities for all” to ways cyclists have been divided and then bring it around to a discussion last week between Adolfo Hernandez of Active Transportation Alliance and Rob Forbes, CEO of Public Bikes.

Watch the video after the jump. 

Continue reading When you build for youngest, you build for everyone

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