Does aldermanic prerogative undermine Chicago’s Pedestrian Street ordinance?

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Ed. note: This post was written by Steven Vance and Christopher Gagnon, a Logan Square resident.

“So who is the amazing architect who designed the new McDonalds…with a utility door facing Milwaukee Ave.?  Is there some sort of safety reason for an ugly utility door being placed at that spot, in the front of the restaurant??”

Good question. This message, posted December 6 to the Logan Square Yahoo! Group, a neighborhood online discussion board, can be read as more than a criticism of the architecture of the newly rebuilt McDonald’s at 2707 N Milwaukee Avenue, as it recalls a controversial decision – and some unfinished business – for Logan Square pedestrians.

For those unfamiliar with the issue, a quick primer:

Chicago’s City Council established the “Pedestrian Streets” (“P-Streets”) ordinance to “preserve and enhance the character of…pedestrian oriented shopping districts…[and] to promote transit, economic vitality and pedestrian safety and comfort,” and this designation was applied, among other locations citywide, to Milwaukee Avenue between Kedzie and Sawyer.

When the owners of the McDonald’s located within this area decided to build a new store at their existing location, they turned to Alderman Colón for relief from restrictions imposed by the P-Street designation that would have prohibited their drive-thru operation.  In November 2011, Alderman Colón introduced a controversial ordinance (adopted June 2012) removing the area from the list of P-Streets so McDonald’s owners could obtain the necessary permits for the curb cuts and drive-thru.

Continue reading Does aldermanic prerogative undermine Chicago’s Pedestrian Street ordinance?

Thoughts on car sharing and the folding car

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Rendering of the MIT CityCar by Franco Vairani. Post updated 9:57 to add commentary on parking. 

This morning, RelayRides will announce it is updating its system on how neighbors share cars. Before, only cars with OnStar and smart card systems could be used (like how I-GO and ZipCar operate now). The change is that anyone with a car can sign up to lend it, for as little as $5 per hour, using a key exchange: the owner and the renter arrange to transfer the key.

I’m looking forward to seeing how this works in practice. I’m going to convince my roommates and friends to sign up their cars. Individual car ownership does not bode well for our society, economy, and environment. The kinds of cars we own have a less significant impact than how we drive them. How we drive is what makes our car culture. The one that costs us more than we can afford, pollutes the environment, and sustains a sedentary lifestyle. Continue reading Thoughts on car sharing and the folding car

Don’t forget those bike parking awards nominations

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There are six categories for Ding Ding Let’s Ride-Grid Chicago bike parking awards: four “bests” and two “most in need of”. Nominate a location now!

  • Best Civic
    Government building, library, community center, etc.
  • Best Grocery Store
    National chain, local chain or store or corner bodega/deli
  • Best Non-Grocery Store business
    Retail store, restaurant, tavern, gym, medical office, etc
  • Best Multi-Unit Housing
    Either public or private housing
  • Most in need of Bike Parking
    A location from one of the above categories that has NO bike parking at all, and desparately needs it
  • Most in need of Improvement
    A location from one of the categories above that desparately needs it’s existing bike parking repaired or improved

Continue reading Don’t forget those bike parking awards nominations

Awards for the best bike parking in Chicago

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Bike parking at the new, LEED-certified Dominick’s at Foster and Sheridan. This installation has several good qualities: it’s near the entrance, sheltered, has good clearance, and an acceptable rack style. Please nominate the best bike parking! 

At the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council on Wednesday afternoon at City Hall, Bicycle Parking Program manager Christopher Gagnon recapped the year by saying the City installed 749 standard u-racks on sidewalks (more than usual because 2010 saw few installations), Wicker Park-Bucktown Special Service Area (SSA) donated 20+1 racks (including the City’s first bike corral), and Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce donated 20 racks (you can see some on Clark Street).

That’s great! But what about that little part of the zoning code that requires property owners to provide bike parking? What do we know about them? Continue reading Awards for the best bike parking in Chicago