Alderman Dowell goes to Denmark


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

Infrastructure updates: 18th Street bike lane and inaccessible sidewalk ramp to be modified


A person drives their car in the 18th Street separated bike lane. 

Grid Chicago gathered photos, videos, and reports from neighbors in April and May about parking and driving in the 18th Street separated bike lane (from Clark Street to Canal Street) and discussed the situation with 25th Ward Alderman Solis’s office in June. Lauren Pacheco tells us that the bike lane design will be modified and that police will pay more attention to the street:

A series of CDOT and Aldermanic driven initiatives will be launched in ensuring bicycle lane safety along this route inculding bike ambassadors educational outreach at the site for drivers, moving the bollards closer to the sidewalk thereby narrowing the bike lane preventing automobile use, and increased police district enforcement requests by Alderman Solis.

How much closer to the sidewalk the bollards will be moved is not known; we are waiting for a response. The bike lane is currently 7 or 8 feet wide and there is a 2 or 3-feet-wide buffer between the bike lane and 10-feet-wide travel lane. The bollards are currently closer to the travel lane, on the left side of the buffer (in the direction of travel). Continue reading Infrastructure updates: 18th Street bike lane and inaccessible sidewalk ramp to be modified

Alderman Solis helps show the link between the Netherlands, Chicago, and safe transportation


Photo of Alderman Danny Solis by Serge Lubomudrov.

Last night, about 40 people gathered in Simone’s (960 W 18th Street) to hear Alderman Solis (25th Ward) talk about his October trip to the Netherlands. Also speaking was another member of that study tour, Randy Neufeld (note 1, 2), SRAM Cycling Fund director. The Netherlands is a great place in which to investigate successful bicycling planning, policies, and infrastructure. They have the highest share of people cycling, for all trip purposes, in the world, as well as the lowest injury and fatality rate in any kind of traffic. I was hoping the two would ask how many people in attendance have themselves visited the Netherlands. From what I know, at least six people, including myself, have gone there. Continue reading Alderman Solis helps show the link between the Netherlands, Chicago, and safe transportation

Upcoming events, Dec. 7 through Dec. 17, including John’s book signing


Cyclocross event on Sunday, December 4, 2011, at Montrose Beach. 

So many events coming up soon. All of these are also listed in the October to December events page. Last update was 12-09-11, adding three events.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011 (two events)

(1) Alderman Solis will discuss his recent fact-finding mission to one of the most bicycle-friendly countries in the world – the Netherlands – and share with us some of his observations that could be applied to Chicago’s bikeway network.

6 to 7:30 PM
960 W 18th Street
Chicago, IL 60608

(2) Get the first glimpse of how the planned multi-million-dollar overhaul of Daley Bicentennial Plaza is taking shape. Read more about this project at the Chicago Sun-Times.

6 to 8 PM
Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park, Gold Room
200 N Columbus Drive
Chicago, IL 60601
Continue reading Upcoming events, Dec. 7 through Dec. 17, including John’s book signing

Alderman Solis goes to Amsterdam


Alderman Solis in Zolle, Netherlands – all photos courtesy of Bikes Belong

[Background info for this post came from a write-up of the trip by Washington D.C. Department of Transportation Bicycle Program Specialist Mike Goodno.]

Earlier this month when I interviewed 25th Ward Alderman Danny Solis about sustainable transportation projects in his ward, he mentioned that he would be taking a trip to the Netherlands from October 1 – 8 to study bike facilities. The bike industry-funded advocacy group Bikes Belong sponsored this fact-finding mission for transportation officials from Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Miami, and Solis says that staffers from Working Bikes Cooperative recommended him to Bikes Belong as a bike-friendly politician. Joining him from Chicago were former Active Transportation Alliance executive director and current SRAM Cycling Fund director Randy Neufeld, as well as Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) bike program staffers David Gleason and Mike Amsden. Continue reading Alderman Solis goes to Amsterdam

Talking transportation with 25th Ward Alderman Danny Solis


This is the second of a series of interviews I hope to conduct with all fifty Chicago aldermen about walking, biking and transit issues in their ward. Earlier this year I talked to 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett. Last month I spoke with 25th Ward Alderman Daniel “Danny” Solis, whose district includes such diverse neighborhoods as Pilsen, Chinatown, University Village and Little Italy. The different ethnicities of his ward are reflected by the artwork in his City Hall office, including works by Mexican, Italian, African-American and Chinese artists, including a life-size replica of a terra cotta soldier from the mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang.

We discussed Solis’ efforts to improve pedestrian safety in his ward after a hit-and-run pedestrian fatality at 18th and Halsted, the upcoming protected bike lane on 18th between Canal and Clark and the pros and cons of the Pink Line conversion. We also talked about his dream of a bike/ped path along 16th, the new sustainable streetscape in his ward, and his upcoming trip to Amsterdam to study bike infrastructure. Continue reading Talking transportation with 25th Ward Alderman Danny Solis