Highlights from December’s Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council meeting


Bicycle signals on Dearborn Street at Madison Street were turned on as of Wednesday. Photo by Kevin Zolkiewicz. 

Meeting minutes for the September 2012 can be downloaded (.pdf); read our recap of it.

Streets for Cycling Plan 2020

Download now (.pdf).

A few months late, the Streets for Cycling Plan 2020 will be released today, including a Bicycle Facilities Guide designed for all Chicagoans that shows the new facility types being installed on Chicago roadways and how to use them (no matter your transportation mode).

Bike sharing

The current focus is on finalizing the contract with Alta Bicycle Share. Chicago Bicycle Program coordinator Ben Gomberg said they would finish selecting the sites for bike sharing stations in January or February. Gomberg mentioned that Alderman Pawar is using menu funds to purchase 5 stations for the 47th Ward; Bill Higgins, a transportation planner in Pawar’s office, said that the “shortening” of the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) 11-Lincoln bus route (eliminating it from a 3 mile stretch between Western/Lawrence and Fullerton Avenues) was a basis for buying the stations. Alderman Moreno is also using menu funds to purchase 2 stations for the 1st Ward. DePaul University, Gomberg said, was interested in purchasing 3 stations.

No mention was made of the investigation by the Chicago Inspector General. Jane Healy, an activist from Blue Island, Illinois, and a board member for Active Transportation Alliance, asked if there was a timeline. Luann Hamilton, Deputy Commissioner of Project Development at the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), replied that there wasn’t one.

The cost of purchasing an additional station (there will be 300 purchased by the City in the first year an additional 100 kiosks in the following year) is $56,000, which includes 19 docks and 15 bicycles; there’s a discount if you buy more than one. CDOT will not be charging an operating fee to those entities who purchase kiosks, a policy in place at the Washington, D.C.-centered Capital Bikeshare program.

CDOT is looking for an organization to sponsor the bike sharing program. Citibank paid $41 million for the naming rights in New York City: “Citibike”.  Continue reading Highlights from December’s Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council meeting

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Red all over: the 95th Street station rehab and other delights


Double-decker bike racks were added to the 95th Street station earlier this year.

[This piece also appeared in Checkerboard City, John’s weekly transportation column in Newcity magazine, which hits the streets in print on Thursdays.]

After sprinting east down Fullerton Avenue on my bicycle, I make it to the turnstiles of the eponymous Red Line stop just before the 4 p.m. bike-and-ride cutoff. As I relax on board with my wheels, the train passes through the Near North Side, the Loop and the Near South Side, then decreases in speed as we pass through slow zones, sometimes decelerating to walking pace. In all, the 15-mile rail trip takes 45 minutes, with an average speed of only 20 MPH.

When we reach the end of the line at 95th Street, the roar of traffic assaults my ears, since the platform sits in the median of the Dan Ryan Expressway. I’m on my way to a CTA open house at the Palmer Park fieldhouse to learn about the 95th Street Terminal Improvement Project. It’s estimated to cost $240 million in federal, state and CTA funds, about half the total bill for Millennium Park. The formal design process is slated for later this year, with construction in late 2014, after the Red Line South Track Renewal Project is completed.

Continue reading Red all over: the 95th Street station rehab and other delights

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Grid Bits: CTA modifies Red South plan, hearing Tuesday; bike crashes at intersections


Bonus: The Chicago Transit Authority is building an auxiliary entrance at the Roosevelt Green and Orange Lines station, on the south side of Roosevelt, near the Starbucks, Jewel, and dry cleaners. This was previously exit-only. The new entrance will speed up trips for those who transfer from the eastbound #12 Roosevelt bus to this train station. Photo by the CTA. 

There are six stories (five transit, and one bicycling) mentioned in this September 4th edition of Grid Bits. The Chicago Transit Authority has been very busy in the past few months.



Chicago Sun-Times will sponsor three years of the “first day of school free rides” program that gives all Chicago Public Schools students a free ride today and in 2013, and 2014.

Sun-Times Media is contributing more than $150,000 to the program, designed to promote first-day attendance for CPS elementary and high school students.

Continue reading Grid Bits: CTA modifies Red South plan, hearing Tuesday; bike crashes at intersections

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Grid Bits: CTA bus job fair, pay with smartphone on Metra, new federal transit safety regulations


A Metra train crosses Canal Street in downtown Chicago. Photo by David Wilson. 

There are 6 articles in this transit-focused edition of Grid Bits, a sporadically occurring category of posts that summarize and link to recent articles in other news media. At the end you’ll find two Grid Chicago-authored commentaries. The first attempting to explain the logistical reasons why CTA’s Blue and Red Lines, the busiest, don’t have 5000-series cars; the second recommending a possible weekend-only pilot project to allow bicycles on South Shore trains.

In the federal transportation bill that was signed into law in early July, a provision was included that requires the Federal Transit Administration to work with state departments of transportation to develop safety regulations for transit providers across the country (including the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra, and Pace). No such regulation currently exists, as it does for intercity bus travel, air travel, and highways, among other modes. Transit agencies, understanding consequences of poor emergency responses, have been self-regulating. It remains to be seen if such regulation will be an improvement over past self-regulation. The Chicago Tribune reports: Continue reading Grid Bits: CTA bus job fair, pay with smartphone on Metra, new federal transit safety regulations

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Grid Bits: Red Line south closure, Bombardier trains under construction, universal fare card


Photo of a Metra train by Sam Dickey

There are 5 stories from 8 sources in this edition of Grid Bits, all about transit.

CTA Red Line south track renewal project

The Chicago Transit Authority’s Red Line south project to shut down 9 Red Line stations (Cermak-Chinatown to 95th) for five months in 2013 to replace 100% of track is generating uninformed controversy. The CTA will be holding at least 5 meetings across the south side to meet one-on-one with neighbors and community groups. The first meeting was Monday; the second meeting is tonight.

Coverage and commentary of the Red Line south project:

The CTA has posted an extremely detailed webpage dedicated to informing people about the project’s goals, alternative service, and why it chose to avoid a 4-year-long weekend-only shutdown to complete the same work.

Continue reading Grid Bits: Red Line south closure, Bombardier trains under construction, universal fare card

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Talk, Forrest, talk! The CTA chief responds to our transit questions


Steven and Forrest Claypool.

Yesterday the Chicago Transit Authority gave a handful of transportation bloggers the opportunity to meet with CTA President Forrest Claypool at the agency’s headquarters and ask him about the state of the agency and its future projects. Steven and I were joined by our colleagues Patrick Barry, filling in for Kevin O’Neil from CTA Tattler, and Kevin Zolkiewicz from Chicago Bus, who also contributes to Grid Chicago.

During the freewheeling 45-minute discussion Mr. Claypool patiently answered any and all of our queries about the transit authority’s sometimes controversial decisions. He was particularly candid about the upcoming Jeffery Corridor Bus Rapid Transit initiative, volunteering his opinion that this pilot project isn’t really bus rapid transit, but rather a step in the right direction. Here are a few of Steven’s and my questions and Mr. Claypool’s responses.

Continue reading Talk, Forrest, talk! The CTA chief responds to our transit questions

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