Cyclist on Douglas Boulevard in the 24th Ward before protected lanes were installed.
Eboni Senai Hawkins, founder of the local chapter of the African-American cycling group Red Bike and Green, recently emailed me that some local residents are “up in arms” about the protected bike lanes being built along the West Side boulevards. This 4.5-mile route leads from Garfield Park to 24th Street in Little Village. 24th Ward Alderman Michael Chandler has asked the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) to suspend construction of the lanes on Independence Boulevard, which runs south from Garfield Park, until these issues are resolved. I called Eboni last night for more info and her perspective on the situation.
So what are people’s concerns?
Basically they’re creating a protected bike lane on one side [of Independence] by moving the parked cars to the middle on [the southbound] side, and on the other side going north they’re just doing it as a buffered bike lane, with the bike lane to the left of the parked cars. So essentially they started implementing this particular design for these bike lanes and then there was ticketing that wasn’t supposed to happen that all of the sudden happened because people didn’t know where to park. The lanes are half constructed. So all these tickets were issued and everyone’s up in arms in this particular community, which is mostly Lawndale. [The tickets have since been dismissed.]
A special concern is the number of churches that are along this corridor. They’re concerned about their congregation and their ability to park. And there’s also this concern about safety. Basically people kept saying at the meeting, you have to get out of your car in the middle of the street.
Continue reading Concerns from locals about protected lanes on the West Side boulevards
B-Cycle, a small-scale bike share system that launched here in 2010. Photo by Michael Malecki.
[This piece also appeared in Checkerboard City, John’s weekly transportation column in Newcity magazine, which hits the streets in print on Thursdays.]
There’s a common misconception that transportation biking is only for privileged white folks. Recently Tribune columnist John Kass expressed this attitude when he dismissed cyclists as “the One Percenters of the Commuter Class,” but in reality people from all walks of life use bikes to get around. Many of these folks are the so-called “invisible riders,” low-income individuals who ride, not because they’re looking to get exercise or save the planet, but because they need cheap, efficient transportation.
Chicago’s new bike-sharing system, slated to launch next spring and grow to 4,000 vehicles by the end of the year, is a great opportunity to broaden the demographics of cycling here to include more residents from underserved neighborhoods and communities of color. By providing cycles for short-term use, to be ridden from one automated rental kiosk to another, it will function as a second public transportation system and remove some of the major obstacles to cycling: the need to purchase, store and maintain a bike, plus fear of theft.
The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) will first install rental kiosks in the Loop and nearby neighborhoods, but coverage will eventually expand to serve an area generally bounded by Devon Street, California Avenue, 63rd Street and Lake Michigan. The roughly 400 kiosks will be located at transit stations, retail and employment centers, schools, hospitals and other convenient places. Citizens can suggest locations at Share.ChicagoBikes.org.
Continue reading Bike share, not white share: can Chicago’s program achieve diversity?
Oboi Redd and Eboni Senai Hawkins at Daley Plaza. Photo by Vincent Carter.
Last month I collaborated with Oboi Reed, founder of The Pioneers Bicycle Club, and Eboni Senai Hawkins, founder of the local chapter of Red Bike and Green (RBG) to create a Critical Mass map highlighting African-American landmarks on the Near South Side. Since the majority of Massers live on the North Side, the ride tends to gravitate in that direction, so Oboi, just back from a study abroad trip in Brazil focusing on health and social justice issues, proposed ending the ride south of Madison for a change.
I thought the ride was a great success, with a huge turnout, beautiful weather and a very positive vibe from participants and bystanders. I think many of the riders appreciated visiting communities like Bronzeville, Douglas and Oakland where they may not have spent much, or any, time before. It would definitely be great to see more Critical Mass rides travel to the South and West sides, and to see more involvement from folks who live in these areas. Oboi and Eboni share their impressions of the ride below.
Continue reading Thoughts on August’s Critical Mass by Oboi Reed and Eboni Senai Hawkins