Should I reconsider my support for the Damen-Elston-Fullerton intersection plan?


An overhead view of the new design. View all images and site plans

Ed. note: In the spring of 2011, I suggested friends and readers of my blog Steven Can Plan write letters to the Chicago Department of Transportation about the distinct lack of bicycle infrastructure in the plan to redesign the intersection and streets at Damen Avenue, Fullerton Avenue, and Elston Avenue. It’s more than an intersection overhaul.  I then reported that it appears the letters you and I sent were positively received and bicycle infrastructure was added to the plan. The project, now set forth, will have three separated intersections (which should reduce the complexity of traffic signal cycles and automobile turning movements) all connected by roads with four travel lanes. Elston and Damen Avenues will have protected and conventional bike lanes, respectively. A Grid Chicago reader emailed us three weeks ago to ask us to reconsider our support for that design.

Tony Horvath lives in Lakeview and is a business analyst for Merrill Corporation. He doesn’t own a car but remembers the intersection from when he used to own a car and drove through it often. He commutes by ‘L’ but has also biked through the intersection and in the area. -Steven Continue reading Should I reconsider my support for the Damen-Elston-Fullerton intersection plan?

Mileage mystery: what does “90 miles outside Chicago” actually mean?


Photo by Eric Stuve.

[This is a variation of a piece that also runs in Time Out Chicago magazine.]

Q: When a highway sign tells us Chicago is a certain number of miles away, from what point in the city is it measuring: the outermost boundary line or from, say, State and Madison, the zero point of the street grid?

A: Good question. The first lines from the 1999 earworm “Someday We’ll Know” by New Radicals have always bugged us: “90 miles outside Chicago / Can’t stop driving / I don’t know why.” Is the singer talking about the distance to the city limits or downtown? Illinois Department of Transportation spokesman Josh Kauffman says it’s the latter. “Highway signage typically refers to the distance to the main business district of city,” he says. “So in Chicago that would be the center of Loop.”

Kauffman couldn’t pinpoint exactly what intersection IDOT considers to be Chicago’s epicenter, but Amy Krouse, spokeswoman for Skokie-based Rand McNally, says mileage between cities is usually calculated from one city hall to another. Accordingly, both Rand McNally’s online mapping service and locate their Chicago pushpins at LaSalle and Randolph, spitting distance from Rahm’s office. Now we know exactly what Elwood Blues meant when he said, “It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark… and we’re wearing sunglasses.”

Mileage measurements are important to bicycle touring: when you see a sign that your destination town is X miles away, you want to know if that’s to the city center or the edge of town, because every mile counts when you’re pedaling.