Top 5 lists: essential parks, walking, biking and transit stories of 2011

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With a refreshingly ped-, bike- and transit-friendly new administration in power, 2011 was a banner year for sustainable transportation in Chicago. For Newcity magazine’s annual “Top 5 of Everything” issue, I submitted the following lists of the most important or interesting walking, bicycling, transit and parks stories of the year. Did I miss anything?

Top 5 Blossoming Chicago Park District Stories

After a mysterious two-year delay, design work finally starts on the Bloomingdale Trail

Chinatown’s serene Ping Tom Park expands north, nearly doubling in size

To fight obesity, 96 field houses get vending machines stocked only with healthy snacks

Planning starts for North Grant Park rehab; ideas include a skate park and a climbing wall

A freak summer hailstorm ravages the Garfield Park Conservatory, closing several rooms

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The north extension of Ping Tom Park.

 

Top 5 Not-So-Pedestrian Local Walking Stories

CDOT installs pedestrian safety flags at ten dangerous intersections

The city’s drafts the Chicago Pedestrian Plan for release in February 2012

After many dismissed tickets, cabbie Mohammed Ahmed runs over a senior, killing her

32 mannequins installed on Wacker Drive in memory of peds killed by cars last year

6 years after Daley removed the Buckingham Fountain crosswalk, Rahm reinstalls it

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Ped safety flags at Grace/Elston/Bernard

 

Top 5 Wheelie Exciting Chicago Bicycling Stories

Kinzie protected bike lane (PBL) opens; 100 miles of PBLs pledged for Rahm’s first term

Lakeside Velo Works wooden velodrome opens on old U.S. Steel site, 8615 S. Burley

CDOT announces plans to launch 3,000-vehicle bike sharing system by next summer

New bike lane is striped on Madison Street, breaking the ban on lanes in the central Loop

City’s first on-street bike parking corral debuts at the North/Damen/Milwaukee “crotch”

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CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein rides the Madison Street bike lane – photo by Steven

 

Top 5 Rapidly Developing Transit Stories

New Green Line stations slated for Morgan, Cermak, plus Clark/Division makeover

Facing budget shortfalls, Metra raises fares and cracks down on freeloading riders

UK native Adham Fisher sets record, riding entire CTA el system in 9 hours, 36 minutes

Bus rapid transit corridor along Jeffrey Boulevard slated for 2012 construction

$1 billion earmarked to rehab the Red and Purple Lines, CTA’s busiest route

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Riding Metra – photo by Jellybeanjill13

Published by

John Greenfield

John has lived in Chicago since 1989 and has worked a number of bicycle jobs, from messenger to mechanic to managing the Chicago Department of Transportation's bicycle parking program, arranging the installation of over 3,700 bike racks. He writes regularly for Time Out Chicago, Newcity, Momentum and Urban Velo magazines and works at Boulevard Bikes in Logan Square.

14 thoughts on “Top 5 lists: essential parks, walking, biking and transit stories of 2011”

  1. PLEASE! Please let us work on a route associated with Western Ave for cyclists. There are portions where it could be done so easily. I want to ride Western but it’s crazy dangerous. And I see other cyclists making the effort too but I always worry for their safety!

  2. PLEASE! Please let us work on a route associated with Western Ave for cyclists. There are portions where it could be done so easily. I want to ride Western but it’s crazy dangerous. And I see other cyclists making the effort too but I always worry for their safety!

    1. I have biked Western from the suburb of Blue Island up to North Avenue and lived to tell the tale. It was surprisingly smooth, fast and fun! But, yes, bike accommodations on Western would be sweet…

        1. It has fewer stoplights than Ashland, long stretches in Beverly bordered by forest preserve and golf course land, and more industrial sections.  There’s less cross traffic from side streets.  The boulevard section tends to spread out the traffic a bit more.  It has a few big intermodal yards, so there’s plenty of truck traffic, although lots of them are deadheading.  Drivers on the boulevard side can avoid the buses.  It’s an unusual combination of property uses and traffic patterns for a Chicago street.

          1. I think my trip was fast (maybe 17 MPH, which is blazing for me) for a few reasons: smooth pavement, a constant backdraft from the auto traffic, maybe an actual tailwind, and the fear of being struck keeping me moving like a hellhound on my trail.

          2. I did a lot of field work along Western Avenue (especially near Columbus and further south) and “the fear of being struck keeping me moving like a hellhound on my trail” also kept me going. 

          3. The boulevard section is ripe for bikeways. The western Western has the wide outer lanes and could have bike lanes, while the eastern Western could have a road diet and protected bike lanes. Then the intersections with Garfield/55th and Pershing/39th would need major improvements. 

      1. I know others who have ridden it from Beverly to Evanston.  I wouldn’t, and I definitely wouldn’t call it fun.  Too many reckless drivers going too fast.

        If you wonder why I’d ride Vincennes but not Western, it has everything to do with traffic density.  At the hours when I ride Vincennes, there’s plenty of room to stay clear of the cars.  That’s a lot tougher to do on Western.

      1. Steven, yes, thank you. I did attend the SFC2020 meet and have been following on fb. 

        Just trying to make this squeaky wheel (to wit, Western Ave as bikeway) extra squeaky so it can get some grease!
        Keep up the good work my friend.

    1. Millennium Reserve is not just a great plan to preserve green space and create jobs in the Calumet region, it would also be a good name for an 11-year-old Scotch!

    2. It should be noted that the plan for open space doesn’t create much new park space, but is more of a branding effort to relate all the existing parks and preserves to each other. It does seem that new trails will be constructed. 

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