Next South Shore alderman must expand and protect existing transit


A Metra Electric train crosses Yates Boulevard out of the South Shore station. Photo by Jeff Zoline.

Applications are being accepted by Mayor Email until Friday, January 25 at 5 PM.

Alderman Sandi Jackson of the 7th Ward, which includes South Shore, South Chicago, Rainbow Beach, and Jeffery Manor, resigned effective Tuesday. Mayor Emanuel has 60 days from Tuesday to appoint a successor and hinted at the process in which he would vet candidates. A website will be launched today; people can submit applications to be considered for the job by a panel of four – yet unnamed – community representatives.

The Chicago Tribune reported, “The next alderman for the South Side ward must have a record of ‘community involvement and engagement,’ the mayor stated in a news release. Emanuel hopes to pick the replacement by mid-February.” On Sunday, the Chicago Tribune speculated as to who might be jockeying for the position.

I talked to four residents in the South Shore neighborhood about the transportation issues and assets to understand the needs in the community that the next alderman should address. Community members are organizing rapidly: two of the three residents I interviewed, independently, knew of each other through a brand new organization called Reclaiming South Shore for All (RSSA), led by Mia Henry. Henry was planning for an RSSA meeting when I caught her on the phone; she only had time to convey that the Jeffery Jump “was a good move for people” in the neighborhood. Continue reading Next South Shore alderman must expand and protect existing transit

A great leap forward? Riding the entire Jeffery Jump express bus route


7:58am After waking up at an ungodly hour, cycling to the CTA’s Fullerton stop, riding the Red Line south to 95th Street and pedaling a few more miles to the 103rd Street & Stony Island garage terminal, I board a shiny blue J14 Jeffery Jump express bus. As I load my cruiser onto the front bike rack, the driver calls out the open door, “Could you hurry up please? I gotta go.”

Launched on November 5, the Jump is a new service that’s the transit agency’s first venture into bus rapid transit (BRT), systems that create subway-like speeds for buses via car-free lanes and other timesavers. The Jump, funded with an $11 million Federal Transportation Administration grant, isn’t full-blown BRT. But it does include several pioneering features that will hopefully pave the way for bolder bus corridors downtown and on Ashland and Western avenues later this decade. I’m here to ride the entire sixteen-mile route from the Far South Side to the Loop, to see how these elements are working out.

Continue reading A great leap forward? Riding the entire Jeffery Jump express bus route

Fall bike lane construction update


A Marking Specialists work truck in the Marshall Boulevard bike lane it just helped create (they work on weekends, too!). 

Chicago Department of Transportation staff and its contractor Marking Specialists have been busy this summer and fall, striping miles of conventional, buffered, and separated bike lanes in Chicago. This post documents all of the new bike lanes we haven’t yet featured prominently, some of which are likely still under construction as the photos were taken between 1 and 4 weeks ago.

Sacramento Boulevard, 24th Boulevard, Marshall Boulevard

Still to come on this project through Little Village, Lawndale, North Lawndale: Douglas, Independence, and Hamlin Boulevards. It connects with a short, separated bike lane on Jackson Boulevard between Independence Boulevard and Central Park Avenue. The Central Park Avenue bike lane then connects north to separated bike lanes on Lake Street and Franklin Boulevard. Collectively these bike lanes are called “West Side Boulevards”. I like how this new separated bike lane “goes places”: through and to residential neighborhoods, past schools and parks.

People parked their cars in the bike lane, which we’ve found to be typical for under-construction separated bike lanes. The pavement quality issues that Franklin Boulevard suffers from are present on this project as well, in multiple locations (there’s a small bush growing in the bike lane a few feet before your reach a large pothole). I look forward to seeing the ultimate design created at the intersections and high-speed curves in Douglas Park and the pavement issues corrected. This project is likely still under construction.


A separated bike lane on Marshall Boulevard, looking south at a Pink Line viaduct. It’s parking-protected in some locations. In this photo, new parking spaces are created where none previously existed.  Continue reading Fall bike lane construction update

Might as well Jump! The CTA debuts a stepping-stone to bus rapid transit


I’d been looking forward to riding the new J14 Jeffery Jump bus service for a few weeks now. It was a chance to participate in a small but significant turning point in the history of the CTA. The Jump is a new express bus along Jeffery Boulevard (2000 East) on the South Side, incorporating several elements of bus rapid transit (BRT) and hopefully paving the way for full-blown BRT downtown, on Ashland Avenue and/or Western Avenue within a few years.

In a nutshell, BRT brings buses up to subway-like speed via special infrastructure on the existing roadway, at a fraction of the cost of creating new rail lines. Ideally, BRT includes dedicated bus lanes, center running buses, stations in the median where customers pre-pay before boarding, traffic signals that turn green when a bus approaches and other features.

The Jump, funded by an $11 million Federal Transportation Administration grant, is essentially BRT lite, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Dedicated bus lanes only exist on a portion of the sixteen-miles Jeffery route, a two-mile stretch from 67th to 83rd Streets, and only during rush hours. From 7 – 9 am weekdays, parking is banned on the east side of the street to accommodate inbound bus traffic, and vice versa for outbound buses during the evening commute from 4 – 6 pm.

Continue reading Might as well Jump! The CTA debuts a stepping-stone to bus rapid transit

CTA getting neighborhoods ready for Jeffery Jump


A Jeffery Jump station at 67th Street, just south of Jackson Park and where the bus route transitions to Lake Shore Drive. Rendering by the CTA. 

I visited several south side infrastructure projects yesterday, including the 31st Street cycle track (after a week, only two blocks striped) and South Chicago Avenue buffered bike lanes. I also caught some of the new features being built as part of the Chicago Transit Authority’s J14 Jeffery Jump bus service (what is currently the 14/Jeffery Express) that starts in November.


The buses will have dedicated bus lanes from 67th Street to 83rd Street (north of 67th Street the route runs on Lake Shore Drive). New, very wide, lanes were striped recently, as seen here at 72nd Street in South Shore. The lanes are dedicated only in the peak direction, northbound from 7-9 AM and southbound from 4-6 PM. South of 83rd Street there are other improvements (triggering traffic signal to turn green sooner or stay green longer) and queue jumping) to give buses priority and realize 6 minutes travel time savings in the enhanced parts of the route.


The J14 bus stops, every half mile instead of the 15/Jeffery Local’s 1/4 mile stop spacing, feature a blue strip along the curb (for about the length of the bus) to identify this as a Jeffery Jump station. Get more information about Jeffery Jump on the CTA’s website, or write your question in the comments below. Scroll down to see some graphic renderings of the proposed station design.


The CTA advertises the Jeffery Jump service in a bus stop on the 30/South Chicago route, at the six-way intersection of 83rd Street, South Chicago Avenue, and Jeffery Boulevard. 


Looking north along Jeffery Boulevard from 71st Street. The train tracks in the foreground belong to the Metra Electric South Chicago branch. Rendering by CTA. 


This eye-level view shows a Jeffery Jump station at 71st Street. Rendering by CTA.

Talking transportation with 7th Ward Alderman Sandi Jackson


Moving forward with our projectto interview all 50 Chicago aldermen about their views on sustainable transportation, I recently met with 7th Ward Alderman and Committeeman Sandi Jackson at her office, 7123 S. Yates, directly across from a Metra station. Her district includes parts of the South Shore, South Chicago, and Calumet Heights communities on the Southeast Side.

After defeating incumbent Darcel Beavers in 2007, Sandi took her place in Chicago’s influential Jackson family dynasty. Her husband is Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., representing Illinois’ 2nd district, which includes the 7th Ward, and her father-in-law is civil rights activist and former presidential candidate Jesse Jackson Sr. As alderman, Sandi has been a strong supporter of the proposal to redevelop the former U.S. Steel plant site, located on the lakefront between 79th and 92nd. The proposed housing and retail development, called Lakeside, would include the Chicago Velo Campus indoor velodrome and multisport complex.

We discussed her commuting habits, the importance of providing multiple transportation options to Lakeside residents, and why she’s excited about the velo campus idea. We also talked about why she’s supporting the city’s Streets for Cycling and bike sharing projects, as well as her own plans to encourage positive pedestrian activity on the ward’s business strips by hiring security guards to patrol the areas.

Continue reading Talking transportation with 7th Ward Alderman Sandi Jackson