Bike sharing in Toronto: a preview for Chicago’s program

On a recent visit to Toronto, I decided to try Bixi bike sharing as a way of exploring the city, getting a taste of the Toronto cycling experience and trying bike sharing, in anticipation of Chicago’s planned launch of a similar system.

Each day, my ride was waiting outside my door.


York station, at York and Queens Quay West.

When I entered my code on the dock keypad, the yellow light flashed, then the green light was accompanied by a bike bell sound.


Members insert their key fob. Lights indicate the bike’s unlocking/locking status. 

The Bixi bike is a sturdy utilitarian model, comparable to a Dutch city bike. Its heavy steel frame and fat tires absorb a good amount of vibration and shock. Its front basket has a built-in bungee cord to keep things in place.  A hub dynamo powers LED blinky headlights on the front of the basket and tail lights on the rear stays.  They worked quite reliably when the bikes were moving, but I found myself wishing that the tail lights were a little brighter.  I supplemented mine with an additional red blinky that I brought from home. Continue reading Bike sharing in Toronto: a preview for Chicago’s program

South Siders check out the draft Streets for Cycling Plan


Checking out information about the “Four Star Bike Routes” concept at the meeting. All photos in this post courtesy of the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT).

Last Thursday’s Streets for Cycling public meeting was the second of several opportunities for input on the recently revealed draft of the Citywide 2020 Network.  The meeting alternated open sessions for reviewing various aspects of the network plan and talking to planners with presentation/Q&A sessions.

It was my first time inside the Gary Comer Youth Center, a very distinctive piece of modern architecture.  The meeting was held in a third floor meeting room, adjacent to a beautiful roof garden surrounded by glass-walled interior space.  We had a great view of the enormous community garden across the street.

Continue reading South Siders check out the draft Streets for Cycling Plan

CDOT’s Gabe Klein announces viaduct repaving project

At a press conference in Englewood Friday, CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein announced a $4.1 million project to repave roads under 14 viaducts in 13 different wards across the city (average cost $250,000 per viaduct).


He explained that seeking federal funding for this project would free up more locally generated funding for neighborhood street repair and repaving projects.  The entire project is federally funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).


Crews are doing complete road reconstruction on approximately 4,500 linear feet of roadway at the following locations (see map below): Continue reading CDOT’s Gabe Klein announces viaduct repaving project

How LaSalle Street Metra station maintains hard-to-find reputation


A new intermodal link at Congress Parkway and Financial Place, leading passengers up to Metra platforms, as viewed from the northwest.

If there were a contest for “best hidden train station in the Loop,” the dubious winner would be Metra’s LaSalle Street station. Have you ever tried and failed to find this station, or had to give extremely detailed directions to help someone else find it? If your answer is “yes,” you’ve got lots of company.

So why is it such a mystery?

Much of the signage directing “potential” passengers is small, placed in mid-block locations far out of visual range from adjacent intersections, and doesn’t follow the design standards of Metra signs. The station itself is tucked and hidden behind the Chicago Board Options Exchange; the platforms are also above ground with a single point of entry. This aerial view gives you a point of reference. Continue reading How LaSalle Street Metra station maintains hard-to-find reputation

Bicycling in Chicago, a view from the south side – part 2


People bike during the Perimeter Ride on Doty Avenue, near 103rd Street and Stony Island Avenue. These street conditions are described below in “Bridging the gaps”. Photo by Eric Rogers. 

In Part 1, I examined some of the challenges for cyclists on the south side. It is estimated that approximately 60% of potential cyclists don’t feel safe on city streets, so they ride mostly on very quiet neighborhood streets, or use cars to transport their bikes to paths miles from where they live – if they ride at all. Let’s take a look at who’s riding now and what can be done to get more of Chicago rolling.

Who’s riding now?

Within bike friendly neighborhood areas such as Beverly and Morgan Park, I see a wide range of people riding: children (with and without their parents), teens, senior citizens, and adults of all ages.  Between neighborhoods, where street conditions are usually more challenging, the riders I see are mostly male and relatively fearless.  I don’t have much female company when I’m riding streets like Vincennes Avenue, Torrence Avenue, or 103rd Street. Continue reading Bicycling in Chicago, a view from the south side – part 2

Bicycling in Chicago, a view from the south side – part 1


Bicycling on 76th Street, a recommended bike route under the Skyway and several railroad viaducts, and some of the poor conditions described below. Photo by Eric Rogers. 

Editor’s note: Anne Alt writes about cycling on the south side of Chicago, in two parts. -SV

Five years ago, I moved from Rogers Park to Beverly when my husband and I bought a house. I’d spent a fair amount of time riding on the south side, but didn’t fully appreciate how much more difficult it would be to ride to other south side destinations until I started doing it from here on a regular basis.

What’s different about riding on the south side? Continue reading Bicycling in Chicago, a view from the south side – part 1