Transition Plan: We’re making the move to Streetsblog Chicago!

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Steven and John collaborated on this post. All photos by David Lepeska

You may have noticed that recently Steven and I have been posting more frequently and have started including a Today’s Headlines section first thing in the morning. Those of you who follow the Streetsblog family of transportation news sites may be experiencing déjà vu. It’s no coincidence: we’ve been gearing up to launch Streetsblog Chicago, which goes live next Tuesday, January 22. Needless to say, we’re extremely excited.

While Grid Chicago will go dormant at that time, we’re going to leave the site up as an archive. With Streetsblog Chicago we’ll be shifting to a bit more news-centered focus, with a higher quantity of more timely posts, covering a broader range of sustainable transportation and public space topics. We’re confident the change is going to result in Chicago’s walking, biking and transit issues getting more attention than ever, both locally and nationwide. Here’s a message from Streetsblog editor-in-chief Ben Fried on why the time is right for Streetsblog Chicago.

We’d like to thank you, our readers, for your loyal support these past two years. We invite you join us in celebrating the new site with a launch party next Thursday, January 24, 6-9 pm, in the second floor lounge of Revolution Brewing, 2323 N. Milwaukee. Hope to see you there!

Read Steven’s perspective on how Grid Chicago came to be, and how we came to be Streetsblog Chicago, after the jump.

Continue reading Transition Plan: We’re making the move to Streetsblog Chicago!

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Cool New York City transportation stuff I’d love to see in Chicago

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One-way protected bike lane leading downtown to pedestrianized Times Square. While NYC has some terrific bicycle facilities, it also has its fair share of bike salmon and bike ninjas.

View more photos from John’s Manhattan bike ride here.

Last week I wrote, “[Chicago is] now the national leader in providing enhanced on-street bikeways.” It’s probably true that we have the highest total number of miles of protected and buffered bike lanes, 12.5 and 14.5 miles, respectively, for a total of 27 miles. (The Chicago Department of Transportation recently started counting both types as “protected,” but I’m sticking with the standard definition of protected lanes as ones with a physical barrier, such as parked cars, between cyclists and motorized traffic.)

But on a visit to New York City a few days later, I found out we still haven’t beat the Big Apple in terms of physically separated protected lanes; there are currently about twenty miles of them in the five boros, according to Streetsblog editor-in-chief Ben Fried. (I’m still trying to track down the number of buffered lane miles.) New York has been building protected lanes since 2007 but Chicago, which only started last year, is currently installing the lanes at a much faster rate, so it’s very possible we’ll overtake them in the near future.

Continue reading Cool New York City transportation stuff I’d love to see in Chicago

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State of Independence: The protected lane will change to a buffered lane

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The city has placed barricades in the protected bike lanes on Independence Boulevard to discourage cycling in them until they are converted to buffered lanes. 

View more photos of the Independence Boulevard bike lanes here.

In December Red Bike and Green’s Eboni Senai Hawkins notified me that residents of Lawndale, an underserved community on Chicago’s West Side, were “up in arms” about the new protected bike lanes on Independence Boulevard. This roughly mile-long stretch connects the Garfield Park green space with Douglas Boulevard and is part of a new 4.5-mile network of protected and buffered lanes leading from the park to Little Village. I interviewed Hawkins for her perspective on the situation.

Hawkins, a Lawndale resident, told me the locals had a number of complaints. After the new lanes, which move the parking lane from the curb to the left of the bike lane, were striped but not yet signed, dozens of motorists who parked curbside were ticketed. Those tickets, and all subsequent tickets were eventually dismissed. Independence is home to several churches and the pastors felt that the new lanes made it difficult for members of their congregations to park.

Although the lanes are designed to reduce speeding and shorten pedestrian crossing distances on the wide boulevard by narrowing the travel lanes, drivers said they felt uncomfortable parking in the new “floating” parking lanes. They said the new configuration made them feel more exposed to the still-speeding traffic as they exited their cars. They found the new street configuration, which incorporates sections of protected as well buffered lanes, to be confusing. And they objected to the removal of some parking spaces as part of the design.

Residents complained to 24th Ward Alderman Michael Chandler. Although Chandler had signed off on the Chicago Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) plans for the lanes a year earlier, at a couple of recent community meetings the alderman blasted the new design and asked CDOT to bring back curbside parking. The department has agreed to use paint to convert the protected lanes to buffered lanes later this winter at an estimated cost in the low $10,000s, according to deputy commissioner Scott Kubly.

Continue reading State of Independence: The protected lane will change to a buffered lane

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