At Grid Chicago, we like to deal with facts and we said before that we would combat bike lane backlash.
The Chicago Tribune published Sunday an op-ed by John McCarron, an adjunct lecturer at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and monthly columnist, about how using bicycles and fast buses to get to work is not practical. I’ve picked 7 misinformed or inaccurate points he makes to tell you what’s real.
1. McCarron says that bus rapid transit won’t work as a practical alternative to commuting by automobile in Chicago.
Bus rapid transit (BRT) systems typically have fewer stops and can reach higher speeds; they may also have priority at signalized intersections, and be able to cross through before anyone else. At least part of the route has a lane dedicated for the buses’ use. There are several cities in the United States that have some form of bus rapid transit; here are their effects: Continue reading Breaking down the battle John McCarron wants to start
The Major Taylor Trail, named for the African-American bike racing champ, in Chicago’s West Pullman neighborhood. Photo by Eliezer Appleton.
On October 12 the article “City Bike Plan Stuck in a Rich Rut” by David Lepeska ran on the website for the Chicago News Cooperative (CNC), a nonprofit news organization which produces the Chicago pages for the New York Times on Friday and Sunday. This piece analyzed Mayor Emanuel’s plan to install 100 miles of protected bike lanes, create a large-scale bike share system and build the Bloomingdale Trail and the Navy Pier Flyover. The original text is at the bottom of this post. An edited version of the CNC article ran in the Chicago edition of the Times as “Chicago Bike Plan Accused of Neighborhood Bias” on October 15.
The original CNC piece included two incorrect statements that I felt were central to its premise that the Mayor Emanuel’s bike plan focuses on the wealthier sections of town and overlooks low-income areas. One of these statements, claiming that the majority of the bike share kiosks are slated for downtown and the North Side, was corrected for the Times version after the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) contacted Mr. Lepeska. The other erroneous statement, which claimed that an upcoming protected bike lane on 18th Street is the only project planned for a low-income community, did run in the Times.
Continue reading John’s letter to CNC about getting the facts straight about the city’s bike plan, and the need for geographic equity
Mia Birk – photo by Serge Lubomudrov
Last week Steven and I attended Active Transportation Alliance’s 25th anniversary celebration, where we heard legendary transportation guru Mia Birk deliver an inspiring speech to the crowd of city officials, transportation planners and advocates. Birk helped turn Portland, Oregon, into a cycling Mecca when she served as bike coordinator there in the 1990s and now heads Alta Planning + Design, specializing in biking, walking and trails projects.
Birk gave a warning about the media backlash that is likely to result as Chicago implements Mayor Emanuel’s plan to construct 100 miles of protected bike lanes (and launch a large-scale bike share system and build the Bloomingdale Trail and Navy Pier Flyover). She also offered some words of encouragement about how to deal with this criticism.
Continue reading Portland’s Mia Birk gives Chicago a pep talk on handling the bike lane backlash