End of year donation appeal for West Town Bikes

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West Town Bikes hosts women and trans night each Wednesday. Photo by Kim Werst. 

At the end of every year, non-profit organizations make an appeal to be the source of your charitable donations. Giving to these organizations is needed at all times, though, and not just for December holidays. John and I have always highly regarded West Town Bikes on our blog. Briefly, West Town Bikes is a direct-service and community-learning bike shop in Humboldt Park. Lengthily, West Town Bikes and its executive director and founder Alex Wilson played a large part in my advocacy-tinged personal development, and in my transition to live car-free. West Town Bikes has also served me more selfishly: it hosted both Cargo Bike Roll Call block parties; and their tools and volunteers’ expertise helped me repair a bike I stupidly broke*.

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Alex Wilson leads a BickerBikes youth group on an excursion.

I asked John to chime in:

West Town Bikes represents the very best aspects of the Chicago bike scene. As a bike education center that’s a terrific resource for people of from all walks of life, it’s one of the most democratic cycling organizations in town. It’s a powerful example of how bicycles can be a tool for positive change, especially in the way its youth programs have helped literally hundreds of underserved young people get on the right track towards leading healthy, productive lives.

Alex Wilson is a true teacher of teachers who has helped get dozens of other people started in the bike education field. He’s also had a major influence on my own life in bicycling. Heck, the last time I broke a frame he gave me a replacement for free and helped me switch over the parts. It’s not an exaggeration to say bicycling in Chicago would not be nearly as far along as it is today without Alex and West Town.

Make a donation online. It’s also tax deductible.

* While still learning how bikes work, I once wiped off the grease from a seat tube. Later on, when I tried to adjust the seat height, I realized the seat post was permanently stuck. A several months long process, during which I manually removed the stuck seatpost, ended with using a reamer to make the seat tube new again.

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Final Bloomingdale Trail meeting presents nearly final designs and plans

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The Bloomingdale Trail design team, a consortium of engineers, planners, artists, and horticulture experts from Chicago and around the country, presented their latest designs at the final public meeting on Monday night at the Humboldt Park field house. The elevated park’s design was divided into 7 segments and printed on enormous posters in two rooms. An eighth segment summarized the phenology planting concept and artwork scattered across the Bloomingdale Trail.

I inspected many of the designs and listened to people express their admiration, excitement, as well as lingering concerns. They included:

  • How tall is the privacy screen? 10 feet; the privacy screen consists of a metal mesh wall covered in plants.
  • Will traffic configurations change on Lawndale Avenue or Bloomingdale Avenue? Nope.
  • How are fast cyclists going to be slowed down? This question has been answered identically at every meeting: the design team has implemented a variety of solutions including horizontal and vertical “deflection” that serve to calm traffic. In this author’s opinion, the mix of traffic (people walking, jogging, pushing strollers, rolling on mobility devices) will slow cyclists.

Enjoy the designs (view the full set of photos). When available, we will publish the digital versions of these images. A comment card at the meeting indicated that this was the final period for neighbors to make comments about the designs (email them to info@bloomingdaletrail.org). Read our past coverage of the project.

Update: Less than 2 hours after posting, the digital images are available. Download a 3 MB .pdf file Continue reading Final Bloomingdale Trail meeting presents nearly final designs and plans

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Strategies in the Pedestrian Plan: Skinny streets

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This rough drawing shows what could be done with the extra space if Haddon Avenue was narrowed and remained one-way. It doesn’t show what the street would look like if it were two-way. The drawing shows two scenarios with features that use the land reclaimed from asphalt: the first shows a cycle track. A speed limit sign says “neighborhood speed limit” (a number is left off so residents decide what speed is appropriate for their street). The second scenario has a rain garden in the land reclaimed from asphalt, to help with stormwater management. Both scenarios have permeable pavers in the parking lanes. 

The first-ever Chicago Pedestrian Plan will be introducing a lot of new concepts and ideas to Chicagoans (and even this transportation planner) about how to make the pedestrian experience safer, more comfortable, as well as more enjoyable. This post will be one of the occasional articles on strategies in the Pedestrian Plan.

Tool: Skinny streets, page 29

What it says: “After the severe winters of 1978 and 1979, many of Chicago’s streets were converted from two-way to one-way to improve mobility during the winter and to allow plows to go through. However, two-way streets have many advantages over one-way streets. These ‘skinny streets’ reduce vehicle speeds and can also increase connectivity for all users by providing more ways to traverse the city’s grid. Skinny streets should be considered on all one-way streets that are wider than 30 feet.”

Download the Chicago Pedestrian Plan in .pdf format: 15 MB or 100 MB. No web version available.

Continue reading Strategies in the Pedestrian Plan: Skinny streets

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Grid Shots: Food

Here’s an interesting study: people who typically arrive by bicycle to bars visit them more often, spend less per visit, but spend more overall in a month than people who typically arrive there by automobile. We might call that “barbikenomics”.

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A man sells mieles from a cart. Photo as seen from the Bloomingdale Trail by Joshua Koonce.

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The Tamale Spaceship food truck parked on Clinton Street while investigating police park their SUV in the bike lane. Photo by Seth Anderson.

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“Meat snack trailer” on the California Avenue sidewalk in Humboldt Park. Photo by Joshua Koonce.

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If you ever shop at the Trader Joe’s in the South Loop (Roosevelt Road and Wabash Avenue), take note that their bicycle parking is hidden in the back. It’s probably more convenient to lock to a fence on the sidewalk. Does the store have an entrance that’s not oriented to the car parking lot? Photo by Dubi Kaufmann.

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There are sometimes bikes like this parked outside the Hannah’s Bretzel locations in the Loop, but I’ve not heard of them being used for deliveries. Photo by Seth Anderson.

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Design and features of six Bloomingdale Trail access parks are formulated in a single night

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Participants at Tuesday evening’s access parks charrette. Most photos by John. 

In 2015, when the Bloomingdale Trail and parks are complete, no one should be able to say that a feature or two isn’t supposed to be there. In a public planning process that continues to impress, with unprecedented, widespread community involvement, a new step was completed on Monday and Tuesday with the release of the framework plan and a trail access and park charrette, respectively. The residents of Chicago have designed this trail and its accompanying access parks by providing feedback probably totaling several million words. This is a process where votes are cast by showing up and participating; homeowners concerned about privacy met directly with members of the design team, and meeting participants stressing their concerns over people bicycling too fast were among the voters.

The design team, which consists of the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), Trust for Public Land (TPL), the Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail, and TPL and the Park District’s many contractors, held an access park charrette on Tuesday, May 15, 2012, at the Humboldt Park Fieldhouse. Continue reading Design and features of six Bloomingdale Trail access parks are formulated in a single night

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Comment of the day: Even though city may be divided, it’s time to embrace good changes

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Photo of a man riding a bike by Drew Baker, found in the Grid Chicago Flickr group

I prefer to see comments like this in my inbox. This comment was posted by “flashabc” on John’s article, Bike facilities don’t have to be the white lanes of gentrification, regarding new bike lanes on Division Street in Humboldt Park:

I ride my bike everywhere in the city from Logan thru Wicker and Into Pilsen. I document the murals and have painted a few myself. I am Puerto Rican that was born in Humboldt and raised in Logan. It is time for the “My Community” to embrace the changes and the good that comes with generation that is growing in and around Humboldt. This city was very divided as i grew up in these neighborhoods. Its just the way it is. But know for the first time in my 45 years i can ride a bike in the middle of the night on Milwaukee Ave. This is only because of the bike movement of the past few years. People working together is the only way this city will ever go foward. It is time for the Humboldt Park community to grow with the rest of the communities around it and not fall into the old fashion hate that has encircled it.

Thank you for your comment.

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