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Margaret Laurino with constituent and Grid Chicago commenter Bob Kastigar.
Since Checkerboard City, my weekly column that runs in print in Newcity magazine, is limited to about 1,000 words, some good material from my recent interview with bike-friendly 39th Ward Alderman Margaret Laurino wound up on the cutting room floor. She had interesting things to say about bringing bike sharing to her district, as well as plans for extending the North Branch trail 4.2 miles south south to Foster Avenue. The latter will make it possible to bike roughly 25 miles from Belmont and the Chicago River in Lakeview to the Chicago Botanic Gardens in north suburban Glencoe on an almost entirely car-free route. We’ll get you more details on that exciting project in the near future.
Are there any transit improvement projects going on in your ward?
I think that any improvements that have happened have actually already happened. One of them that I happen to be interested in because of the current ward re-map – you know we’re picking up new areas that we hadn’t had before. The one that I’m going to focus on is that Forest Glenn Metra stop where once again I want it to be a little bit more bike-friendly. I want people to once again be able to bring their bicycles to that stop and then hop on the train and go downtown. I don’t know how many people in my community are actually hopping on a bike, getting on Elston Avenue and actually going all the way downtown. I don’t think that’s happening too much. But getting to the train station on your bicycle… what do we call it, the last mile?
The last mile, that’s something that I want to really concentrate on. So I’m going to hopefully do that with Metra in cooperation with the city of Chicago there. And then I’d very much like to see a bike share [rental kiosks] at our universities in our ward. The one that I’m really going to push is going to be at Northeastern Illinois University because it’s a commuter college. I’d like to see a bike share [kiosk] on, say, Bryn Mawr. Then they can just rent their bikes, hop on Kimball, which isn’t a bad street for biking and get to the Brown Line at Lawrence and Kimball.
The dark green lines on the map above show two independent segments of the North Branch Trail that the Chicago Park District and Chicago Department of Transportation want to connect. Starting in Clark Park, a new path would go under Addision Street, along the east embankment of the Chicago River, and then over a new pedestrian bridge to California Park.
Open house details
Tuesday, December 4
6 – 9 PM
Revere Park Fieldhouse Auditorium
2509 W. Irving Park Road
Chicago, Illinois 60618
From the meeting notice:
CDOT and the Chicago Park District cordially invite you to attend this public meeting, which will include an open house, project presentation, and an opportunity for questions and feedback. CDOT is currently designing a new segment of the North Branch Trail, which would link existing segments in Clark Park to the south and California Park (and onward to Horner Park) to the north. The new trail segment would run under the Addison Street Bridge for safe crossing, along the east embankment of the North Branch of the Chicago River, and cross the river on a multi-use pedestrian bridge. The creation of this publicly accessible open space will link major existing parks, create pedestrian and bicycle access that would otherwise be difficult and dangerous, and fulfill objectives of the Chicago Trails Plan and the Chicago River Corridor Development Plan.
Exploring this historic Pullman railcar factory on the Far South Side.All photos by Andrew Bedno.
For the past decade John has led the Chicago Perimeter Ride, a roughly hundred-mile pedal around the approximate edge of the city, visiting historic sites and wacky commercial architecture. This year he handed over the reins to David Gebhardt, who did an excellent job planning and leading the ride, with dozens of people participating over the course of the long day. Andrew Willoughby, a car-free Chicagoan who moved here from Oklahoma two years ago for “the music, architecture and freedom to ride a bike everywhere,” provided the following write-up. Andrew tweets at @willowbeehive.
I had no idea what to expect. I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous. Biking a hundred miles in a day did not seem like an easy thing to do. There was a reason I had never attempted it before: I’m not a professional, I just bike to work every day and around town. Yet, there I was, watching Buckingham Fountain thrust its first drops of water into the air as I waited with fifty other riders, many who were attempting their first century too.