48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman, CDOT Deputy Commissioner Scott Kubly, 47th Ward Alderman Ameya Pawar, and Active Transportation Alliance staff member Lee Crandell stand in front of a crowd of over 60 local residents to discuss a recent aldermanic trip to Copenhagen.
Earlier this year, three Chicago alderman along with two staff members from the Department of Transportation traveled to Copenhagen to learn about the city’s cycling infrastructure. Last Thursday, two of the alderman who took part in that trip – Ameya Pawar of the 47th Ward and Harry Osterman of the 48th Ward – held an event at the Swedish American Museum in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood to discuss their experience. They were joined by CDOT Deputy Commissioner Scott Kubly, one of two CDOT staff members whom accompanied the aldermen to Copenhagen. The other was Bicycle Program Coordinator Ben Gomberg.
Scott Kubly began the presentation by discussing the history of Copenhagen’s cycling movement and describing some of the infrastructure elements that have allowed cycling to become so successful in the city. Kubly said that his biggest takeaway from the trip was that the city wasn’t always a bike utopia.
“If you go back as recently as the 1970s, it was very much a car-culture,” Kubly said. “They were building freeways. There was a time when all of this fantastic public space that we saw was dominated by parked cars. They’ve spent the last 30 to 40 years incrementally improving their infrastructure.” Continue reading Bringing a bit of Copenhagen to Chicago: two north side aldermen discuss their recent trip to the cycling mecca
Alderman Dowell with 3rd Ward bike campers.
[This piece also appeared in Checkerboard City, John’s weekly transportation column in Newcity magazine, which hits the streets in print on Thursdays.]
3rd Ward Alderman Pat Dowell wasn’t always a bicycle-friendly politician. But she says a recent visit to bike-crazy northern Europe opened her eyes to the potential benefits of cycling for her South Side constituents.
Dowell’s Near South district includes parts of Bronzeville, Kenwood, Oakland, Douglas, and the South Loop. Last February, as part of Rahm Emanuel’s plan to build one hundred miles of car-protected bike lanes within his first term, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) proposed installing protected lanes along Martin Luther King Drive in her ward. But local church leaders opposed the lanes because they feared they would impact Sunday parking and because they felt the white posts used to delineate the lanes would detract from the aesthetics of the historic boulevard, says CDOT project manager Mike Amsden. As a result, the project stalled.
Continue reading Alderman Dowell goes to Denmark
As part of our ongoing project to interview all 50 of Chicago’s aldermen about sustainable transportation issues in their districts, I recently sat down with Harry Osterman at the 48nd Ward service office, 5533 N. Broadway. His ward includes most of Edgewater and parts of Uptown.
The son of the late former 48th Ward alderman and community activist Kathy Osterman, for whom Hollywood Beach was renamed, he got started in local politics as an aide to recent 48th Ward Alderman Mary Ann Smith. During the last decade he served as state representative for the 14th District, showing a particular interest in public safety as he advocated for gun control and tougher penalties for domestic violence and unlicensed driving. After Smith chose not to run for reelection in conjunction with Richard M. Daley’s retirement, last year Harry Osterman won the election to replace her.
Osterman recently launched the year-long community input process for the 48th Ward Master Plan, a planning roadmap for the rest of the decade. We talked about how sustainable transportation might fit into the plan, his opposition to the CTA closing any of the ward’s six Red Line stations, and his ideas for promoting walking, biking and transit in the area, including on-street bike racks on Andersonville’s main drag.
Continue reading Talking transportation with 48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman