What bike sharing might look like on the streets of Chicago. Photo of Capital BikeShare, in Washington, D.C., by M.V. Jantzen.
Updated 11:11 AM: I should have mentioned originally that I believe this is a good idea for Chicago, and the RFP presents a solid plan on how the City expects it to be implemented and operated. 22:46: Added more information about potential bidders, Alta Bicycle Share and B-Cycle.
I just finished reading the request for proposals (RFP) for Chicago’s first (er, second) bike sharing program. For the uninitiated, most bike sharing programs allow members unlimited free trips per day up to 30 minutes with a low fee for each 30 minute period after that. Locks are not provided so users are expected to secure the bikes by docking them at stations rather than locking them to bike racks or sign poles.
Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein and his managing deputy commissioner Scott Kubly together launched a 1,100 bikes and 100+ stations bike sharing system in September 2010. It had its one year birthday on Tuesday, September 20, 2011. Now the pair have come to Chicago to do it again. Continue reading Bike sharing will come to Chicago in 2012
Alderman Laurino, 39th Ward, talks about her proposed ordinance that would ban texting and other tasks while bicycling. See “More topics” below.
These are the highlights from the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council (MBAC) meeting last Wednesday, September 13, 2011. The next meeting is Wednesday, December 14, 2011, at City Hall, 121 N LaSalle Street.
New protected bike lanes
These two protected bike lanes (PBL) will be installed in 2011. These were announced by Chicago Bicycle Program Bikeways Engineer David Gleason and Bikeways Planner Mike Amsden. Continue reading Highlights from MBAC, and room for improvement
[flickr]photo:6052421155[/flickr] [All photos courtesy of the Chicago Department of Transportation, except where noted.]
Last Tuesday evening when I first pedaled down the new Madison Street bike lane, crisp white lines on fresh, smooth asphalt, my initial emotion was exhilaration. Just like the first time I rode the Kinzie Street protected bike lane, I was experiencing something that had never been done before in Chicago, and it was a liberating sensation.
For years I’ve wished the city would stripe bike lanes within the central Loop, defined by the Chicago River, Michigan Avenue and the Congress Parkway, but until now this seemed verboten. The taboo against downtown lanes has always struck me as typical of the conservative way the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) did bike improvements under Mayor Daley. The attitude seemed to be that the Central Business District (CBD) was too congested to have bike lanes, when in reality the Loop is too congested NOT to have lanes encouraging people to bicycle instead of driving.
So I was thrilled last week when Steven forwarded a newsletter from 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly announcing that CDOT was striping lanes on Madison from Michigan to Wells. But I confess that a couple blocks into my maiden voyage down the new lane I became a little disappointed. I realized that many cyclists will not feel comfortable riding in the lane because it is marked to the left of a bus-only lane. This means cyclists will be pedaling between two lanes of moving traffic with no protection except paint on the road.
Continue reading Mixed feelings about Chicago’s first Loop bike lane
Silversmith and fur trader John Kinzie was one of Chicago’s first settlers, so it’s appropriate that a pioneering bicycle facility was built on his namesake street. Yesterday was the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Kinzie Street protected bike lane, the city’s first, which runs a half mile between Milwaukee Avenue and Wells Street.
Staffers from the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), downtown alderman Brendan Reilly’s office, the Active Transportation Alliance and SRAM, a local bike parts company, were there to celebrate. There were only a handful of civilian cyclists present, partly due to the 11 am start time. The city’s Bicycling Ambassadors and Junior Ambassadors were out in force and the freaky marching band Environmental Encroachment provided a spirited soundtrack.
With the fragrant Blommer Chocolate factory as a backdrop, CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein, nattily dressed in a white suit, gave opening remarks. He stressed the importance of the new bike lane, which protects cyclists from moving traffic via flexible bollards and a line of parked cars, in encouraging more people to try urban cycling. “If you want to change people’s behavior and make if feel like it’s safe to walk and bike, you’ve got to make it safer,” he said.
Continue reading It’s official: Kinzie is ready to ride
[This piece also runs in Time Out Chicago.]
Traditionally the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) has focused on making it easier to drive in the city, but new commissioner Gabe Klein has a different philosophy. Klein, a former executive with national retailer Bikes U.S.A., as well as Zipcar car sharing, came to town fresh from a stint as transportation director for Washington, D.C. There he launched a streetcar system, installed about 100 leading pedestrian interval traffic signals, introduced a circulator bus route and built the nation’s largest bike-sharing system.
Klein and Mayor Emanuel are promising big improvements to walking, biking and transit here, including building the Bloomingdale Trail elevated greenway, creating 100 miles of car-protected bike lanes, and rolling out a robust bike sharing system. They’re also working on creating bus rapid transit corridors and considering novel approaches to improve conditions for walking, including “pedestrian scramble” intersections.
I recently met with Klein, 40, in his CDOT offices, where he’d parked the bike he rode in on, a single-speed Masi cruiser with a beer-carrying crate. He discussed possible locations for ped scrambles and bus rapid transit corridors, the feasibility of the Bloomingdale and bike lane projects, the possibility of reopening the Queen’s Landing crosswalk, and whether he’d ever consider riding in Critical Mass.
Continue reading An interview with CDOT’s Gabe Klein
[This piece also appears in Newcity.]
This June evening is too pretty for the subway, so I bicycle south to the Pink Line’s California station to meet up with the Active Transportation Alliance’s Tony Giron (in the photo above, far right). He’s leading a march across the largely Mexican-American neighborhood of Little Village to Farragut High School for the first of seven public input meetings on the Chicago Pedestrian Plan.
Similar to the Bike 2015 Plan, this Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) document will be a roadmap for making the city a safer and easier place to walk. The goal is to reduce pedestrian injuries by half and fatalities by one hundred percent. “Chicago is a great city for walking,” says Giron. “But along with park paths and tree-lined streets, we still have roads that are difficult to cross, dangerous intersections and places that are inaccessible to people walking.”
Continue reading Making strides: can the Chicago Pedestrian Plan create safer streets?