Talking transportation with 39th Ward Alderman Margaret Laurino

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Laurino walks home from the opening of the Sauganash Trail in 2008. Image courtesy of 39th Ward.

[This piece also appeared in Checkerboard City, John’s weekly transportation column in Newcity magazine, which hits the streets on Wednesday evenings.]

As “mini mayors,” Chicago aldermen have a huge influence on the kinds of projects that are built in their districts. For example, a handful of aldermen have opted to use “menu money” discretionary funds to stripe additional bicycle lanes in their wards or bankroll innovative transportation projects, like the Albany Home Zone traffic-calmed block in Logan Square. On the other hand, they can stand in the way of progress, as when former 50th Ward Alderman Berny Stone put the kibosh on a bike bridge over the North Shore Channel in West Rogers Park.

39th Ward Alderman Margaret Laurino’s Far Northwest Side district includes parts of the Albany Park, North Park, Sauganash, Mayfair, Independence Park and Old Irving Park neighborhoods. The chairman of the City Council’s Pedestrian and Traffic Safety Committee, she’s probably best known to cyclists as the sponsor of a new ordinance that bans texting and talking on cell phones while cycling. But she’s actually one of City Hall’s outspoken advocates for sustainable transportation.

As part of our ongoing project to interview all fifty of Chicago’s aldermen about sustainable transportation issues in their districts, I recently caught up with Laurino at her ward service office, 4404 West Lawrence, to get her views on walking, biking and transit issues in her ward and citywide.

Continue reading Talking transportation with 39th Ward Alderman Margaret Laurino

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Speed cameras: Aldermen express their concerns at hearing (part 3 of 3)

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Speed cameras have been used around the world for decades, reducing speeding everywhere they’re installed. This speed camera is installed in Switzerland. Photo by Kecko. 

The adoption of a speed camera system in Chicago is multi-faceted: it goes beyond encouraging people to speed less (which would increase the safety of all people in the streets), but touches on other issues like surveillance and how contracts and bidding are conducted. It has also induced people to think about other ways the city can achieve the same safety goals (fewer crashes, injuries and fatalities).

This post is part 3 of 3 about the hearing in council chambers on Wednesday, April 11, 2012, I will synthesize the concerns the aldermen discussed, their frustrations with how the automated speed camera enforcement system would work, and disappointment in being unable to receive (for weeks) the information they requested. I apologize profusely if there’s inaccurate information (like, are there really 85 schools with basketball programs?); I may have written that information down incorrectly as it’s hard to understand everyone if they don’t speak properly into the microphone.

Read part 1, part 2, or read all of our coverage on speed cameras. In this hearing, aldermen on the Pedestrian and Traffic Safety committee aired their questions alongside aldermen not on the committee – I’ve noted which aldermen are not on the committee. Continue reading Speed cameras: Aldermen express their concerns at hearing (part 3 of 3)

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Speed cameras: Aldermen express their concerns at hearing (part 2 of 3)

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Speed cameras have been used around the world for decades, reducing speeding everywhere they’re installed. This van is a mobile speed camera enforcement “device” used in Nottingham, England. Photo by Lee Haywood. 

The adoption of a speed camera system in Chicago is multi-faceted: it goes beyond encouraging people to speed less (which would increase the safety of all people in the streets), but touches on other issues like surveillance and how contracts and bidding are conducted. It has also induced people to think about other ways the city can achieve the same safety goals (fewer crashes, injuries and fatalities).

This post is part 2 of 3 about the hearing in council chambers on Wednesday, April 11, 2012, I will synthesize the concerns the aldermen discussed, their frustrations with how the automated speed camera enforcement system would work, and disappointment in being unable to receive (for weeks) the information they requested. I apologize profusely if there’s inaccurate information (like, are there really 85 schools with basketball programs?); I may have written that information down incorrectly as it’s hard to understand everyone if they don’t speak properly into the microphone.

Read part 1, part 3, or read all of our coverage on speed cameras. In this hearing, aldermen on the Pedestrian and Traffic Safety committee aired their questions alongside aldermen not on the committee – I’ve noted which aldermen are not on the committee. Continue reading Speed cameras: Aldermen express their concerns at hearing (part 2 of 3)

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Speed camera hearing generates a new question for every one answered (part 1 of 3)

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At the head of the room, from left to right: Kelly, Kubly, Klein, Quinn, Laurino, an assistant, Colón, and Cappleman. They are all referenced in the text below. Updated April 13, 2012, 12:35 to add that it passed 7-3. 

I am trying a different method to write this article. The hearing I attended for three hours conveyed a lot of complex information and sentiments and it’s going to be very difficult for me to communicate all of those things, especially for those who’ve never attended or watched a city council meeting or committee meeting. I want Grid Chicago readers to have the best information so they can converse with their aldermen in the next few days about speed cameras before the ordinance goes to the full council for voting on April 18, 2012. With that in mind, I have broken the information into easy to follow sections about what happened (what, when, where, who, why) and, in a second post later today, into categories for what people said (operations, contracts, safety). At the end will a full list of aldermen who spoke and my interpretations of their concerns.

This post is part 1 of 3 about the speed camera hearing. Read part 2 and part 3 (both published Friday, April 13, 2012).

What happened Wednesday

There was a hearing to consider Mayor Emanuel’s proposed update to the existing “automated traffic enforcement system” ordinance in Chicago, more commonly known as the speed camera ordinance, but officially titled “Establishment of Children’s Safety Zones program” (see our full coverage of speed cameras). It’s extremely important to note that there was a revised ordinance that was completed moments before the hearing for the committee to consider. 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman expressed his displeasure at being unable to read the revised ordinance because he didn’t receive it until 5 minutes before the hearing began.

The ordinance passed the committee with a 7 to 3 vote. I am awaiting a roll call for that vote.  Continue reading Speed camera hearing generates a new question for every one answered (part 1 of 3)

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Important Chicago city council committee meeting today on bike sharing and speed cameras

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A raised crosswalk is one traffic calming device that hasn’t been tried beyond the two installations in the Lincoln Square pedestrian area at Lawrence and Lincoln Avenues. 

Updated 23:53: Today’s meeting was a hearing only about speed cameras. A second meeting is scheduled for Friday, April 13th, 2012, at 10 AM, to consider an ordinance to enter into a contract with Alta for bike sharing and the other agenda items (pdf). Updated Friday, April 13, 2012, 17:15: The committee approved the ordinance to enter into a contract with Alta Bicycle Share. 

The Pedestrian and Traffic Safety committee rescheduled their important meeting from last week to today at 1 PM in City Council Chambers, 2nd floor of City Hall, 121 N LaSalle Street. The committee, chaired by 39th Ward Alderman Margaret Laurino, will receive a presentation from Chicago Department of Transportation Managing Deputy Commissioner Scott Kubly on bike sharing.

The committee will also be discussing speed camerasContinue reading Important Chicago city council committee meeting today on bike sharing and speed cameras

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Highlights from MBAC, and room for improvement

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Alderman Laurino, 39th Ward, talks about her proposed ordinance that would ban texting and other tasks while bicycling. See “More topics” below. 

These are the highlights from the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council (MBAC) meeting last Wednesday, September 13, 2011. The next meeting is Wednesday, December 14, 2011, at City Hall, 121 N LaSalle Street.

New protected bike lanes

These two protected bike lanes (PBL) will be installed in 2011. These were announced by Chicago Bicycle Program Bikeways Engineer David Gleason and Bikeways Planner Mike Amsden. Continue reading Highlights from MBAC, and room for improvement

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