Over a Barrel: Why is City Hall barring Pedal Pub from operating?

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The Emanuel administration has been doing a terrific job of promoting biking, so it’s bizarre that the city seems to be stonewalling a bicycle-powered business that supports local retail districts and helps prevent drunk driving. Pedal Pub leads bar crawls on sixteen-person vehicles, operating legally in 27 other cities. In a few cities they are even permitted to serve beer from a keg onboard, although they’re not proposing to do that in Chicago.

The Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) has twice denied them a license and hasn’t acted on their most recent application for a year, and Pedal Pub says they haven’t been told why. Last summer the business ran trips in Chicago, expecting to eventually get a license. The city wound up fining them $15,000 for operating without a license and for deceptive practices, because they ran a Groupon that failed to mention their status as an unlicensed business. The former charge was eventually dropped and the penalty lowered to $2,000. I called Pedal Pub’s Chicago manager Matt Graham for his perspective on the issue.

Continue reading Over a Barrel: Why is City Hall barring Pedal Pub from operating?

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Highlights from December’s Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council meeting

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Bicycle signals on Dearborn Street at Madison Street were turned on as of Wednesday. Photo by Kevin Zolkiewicz. 

Meeting minutes for the September 2012 can be downloaded (.pdf); read our recap of it.

Streets for Cycling Plan 2020

Download now (.pdf).

A few months late, the Streets for Cycling Plan 2020 will be released today, including a Bicycle Facilities Guide designed for all Chicagoans that shows the new facility types being installed on Chicago roadways and how to use them (no matter your transportation mode).

Bike sharing

The current focus is on finalizing the contract with Alta Bicycle Share. Chicago Bicycle Program coordinator Ben Gomberg said they would finish selecting the sites for bike sharing stations in January or February. Gomberg mentioned that Alderman Pawar is using menu funds to purchase 5 stations for the 47th Ward; Bill Higgins, a transportation planner in Pawar’s office, said that the “shortening” of the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) 11-Lincoln bus route (eliminating it from a 3 mile stretch between Western/Lawrence and Fullerton Avenues) was a basis for buying the stations. Alderman Moreno is also using menu funds to purchase 2 stations for the 1st Ward. DePaul University, Gomberg said, was interested in purchasing 3 stations.

No mention was made of the investigation by the Chicago Inspector General. Jane Healy, an activist from Blue Island, Illinois, and a board member for Active Transportation Alliance, asked if there was a timeline. Luann Hamilton, Deputy Commissioner of Project Development at the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), replied that there wasn’t one.

The cost of purchasing an additional station (there will be 300 purchased by the City in the first year an additional 100 kiosks in the following year) is $56,000, which includes 19 docks and 15 bicycles; there’s a discount if you buy more than one. CDOT will not be charging an operating fee to those entities who purchase kiosks, a policy in place at the Washington, D.C.-centered Capital Bikeshare program.

CDOT is looking for an organization to sponsor the bike sharing program. Citibank paid $41 million for the naming rights in New York City: “Citibike”.  Continue reading Highlights from December’s Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council meeting

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Giro de Gerrymandering: pedaling the perimeter of the new First Ward

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Andrew Bayley’s ward map jigsaw puzzle. This and most photos in this post are by Bayley.

[This piece also runs in Time Out Chicago magazine.]

It was a blast from the past when Andrew “Cooter” Bayley, an old bike messenger colleague of mine, asked me to pedal the torturous boundaries of the newly redistricted First Ward with him. Back in January, just after City Council approved the new ward map, Bayley made headlines by using a computerized laser-cutting program to turn the map into a handsome, 50-piece Baltic Birch plywood jigsaw puzzle.

“I thought the new map was ridiculous, so I turned it into puzzle,” explained Bayley, who currently interns at an architecture firm. “Now I want to explore the interaction between this particular form of gerrymandering and the urban infrastructure that defines it.”

Continue reading Giro de Gerrymandering: pedaling the perimeter of the new First Ward

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Confusing intersection of Milwaukee-Wood-Wolcott to be redesigned and reconstructed in Spring 2013 (was September)

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The photographer, Mike Travis, captioned this photo with “They managed to not get run over at Milwaukee & Wood”. See “Crash stats” below for details on the activity here.

Update September 7, 2012: From the Wicker Park-Bucktown SSA, we get news that this project has been pushed back to spring 2013. It seems IDOT is responsible for this delay. 

The skewed intersection of Milwaukee Avenue, Wood Street, and Wolcott Avenue in Wicker Park will be redesigned and reconstructed this year as part of a project to upgrade the signals. The original project only called for upgrading the traffic signals, which are decades old and very hard to see. Their timing is also awkward, providing no “all red” phase between the red phase of one direction and the following green phase of the cross direction. Construction should begin in September, according to the 1st Ward office.

Confusion is compounded with the addition of a rare slip lane on Wood Street at Milwaukee Avenue, which is created by a small island of concrete that only holds a light signal pole for southbound traffic. More often, islands are used to help protect pedestrians from traffic.

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View the intersection in a larger map on Bing Maps.

Continue reading Confusing intersection of Milwaukee-Wood-Wolcott to be redesigned and reconstructed in Spring 2013 (was September)

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Bike sharing and speed cameras ordinances pass in today’s Chicago City Council meeting

This article will be updated a few times after publishing while I gather all the information. All regular city council meetings are streamed live with video and transcript and that is where I am getting all of the information.

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Alderman Cardenas of the 12th ward speaks in support of the speed camera ordinance.

Bike sharing

Bike sharing passes City Council, 46-1. Alderman Robert Fioretti (2nd) was the sole alderman to vote against the ordinance. The system will launch in September 2012.

Margarent Laurino (39th, chair of the committe on pedestrian and traffic safety) gave a prepared statement.

Colón (35th) talks about his experience in Seville, Spain, in March 2011. The city made investments in bicycle facilities, and bike sharing, and saw an enormous increase in the number of people cycling there.

Continue reading Bike sharing and speed cameras ordinances pass in today’s Chicago City Council meeting

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Active Trans proposes a ciclovía on Milwaukee Ave. Will City Hall help out?

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Active Trans’ Open Streets Manager Julia Kim

Last week bike-friendly 1st Ward Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno hosted an Active Transportation Alliance member social at the Fifty/50 bar in Ukrainian Village. In addition to presentations by other Active Trans staffers about the city’s Streets for Cycling initiative and bus rapid transit pilot, Julia Kim gave an update on this year’s plans for staging “ciclovia” car-free events.

As Grid Chicago readers know, the ciclovia (Spanish for “bike path”) movement started in Bogotá, Colombia, decades ago, with that city shutting down a network of roads to car traffic to allow citizens to stroll, jog, bike, dance and hang out, encouraging healthy recreation, social interaction and commerce. Nowadays Bogotá holds a ciclovia every weekend on a 70-mile network, drawing millions of participants. Continue reading Active Trans proposes a ciclovía on Milwaukee Ave. Will City Hall help out?

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