How do cities get more women to ride bicycles? Photo by Mike Travis.
The Grid Chicago comments section is full of great ideas about how to improve transportation and transportation policy in Chicagoland.
The “Outside the Box” challenge presented by George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, should be all the motivation you need to gather and present your ideas in an essay, video, slideshow, or other media form “to convey a viable and actionable plan that may be implemented to solve a current transportation or transportation policy problem. A maximum of five pictures or illustrations may be included to enrich your presentation. Entries will be reviewed by an executive committee of professors, executives, entrepreneurs and public servants, all of whom are interested and distinguished members of the transportation policy community.”
The first prize is $10,000. Second prize is $5,000 and third prize is $2,500. You must submit your entry by February 15, 2013, and the contest is open to individuals and teams 34 years old and younger.
Get full rules and details.
West Town Bikes hosts women and trans night each Wednesday. Photo by Kim Werst.
At the end of every year, non-profit organizations make an appeal to be the source of your charitable donations. Giving to these organizations is needed at all times, though, and not just for December holidays. John and I have always highly regarded West Town Bikes on our blog. Briefly, West Town Bikes is a direct-service and community-learning bike shop in Humboldt Park. Lengthily, West Town Bikes and its executive director and founder Alex Wilson played a large part in my advocacy-tinged personal development, and in my transition to live car-free. West Town Bikes has also served me more selfishly: it hosted both Cargo Bike Roll Call block parties; and their tools and volunteers’ expertise helped me repair a bike I stupidly broke*.
Alex Wilson leads a BickerBikes youth group on an excursion.
I asked John to chime in:
West Town Bikes represents the very best aspects of the Chicago bike scene. As a bike education center that’s a terrific resource for people of from all walks of life, it’s one of the most democratic cycling organizations in town. It’s a powerful example of how bicycles can be a tool for positive change, especially in the way its youth programs have helped literally hundreds of underserved young people get on the right track towards leading healthy, productive lives.
Alex Wilson is a true teacher of teachers who has helped get dozens of other people started in the bike education field. He’s also had a major influence on my own life in bicycling. Heck, the last time I broke a frame he gave me a replacement for free and helped me switch over the parts. It’s not an exaggeration to say bicycling in Chicago would not be nearly as far along as it is today without Alex and West Town.
Make a donation online. It’s also tax deductible.
* While still learning how bikes work, I once wiped off the grease from a seat tube. Later on, when I tried to adjust the seat height, I realized the seat post was permanently stuck. A several months long process, during which I manually removed the stuck seatpost, ended with using a reamer to make the seat tube new again.
Santa rides the train outside! Photo by CTA.
Every November and December the Chicago Transit Authority operates the Holiday Train, a revenue service train with a flatbed car and a brave Santa Claus (brave because he rides outside!).
The experience has become very popular in Chicago, akin to the cachet of the Rockefeller Center’s Christmas tree in New York City. Saturday was the final day of operation for 2012.
No space is left un-transformed for the special ride. This spot is usually reserved for service changes and announcements. Photo by CTA.
See more photos by the CTA on their Flickr.
The Holiday Train passes over the Wabash Avenue bridge. Photo by Drew Baker.
People wait to board the Holiday Train at the Forest Park Blue Line station. Photo by Jeff Zoline.
Post a link to your photos in the comments.
ClearStreets’s new look.
Last January I told you about ClearStreets, an alternative to the City of Chicago’s Plow Tracker website. The main difference is that Plow Tracker shows the current location of snow plows while ClearStreets tracks where they’ve been. Both sites have been updated today in time for our first winter storm, but since the world is ending tonight, you better look at them quickly.
Photo of mobile-friendly Plow Tracker by Dan O’Neil.
Plow Tracker has been updated to better display on mobile devices, at a different URL: http://m.cityofchicago.org/plowtracker. If you load it on a desktop browser, it doesn’t appear correctly.
During my conversation with lead creator of ClearStreets, Derek Eder, I told him that I believe there’s a weak relationship with the focus of Grid Chicago – sustainable transportation. The updates don’t change that, but we had a good discussion about the future of ClearStreets, and the implications and potential it has, as a platform, for other ideas and apps where that relationship could improve. Also, I’ve been exploring technology and transportation with this blog for some time as I’m a programmer myself. Continue reading Updated ClearStreets, alternative to Plow Tracker, brings new features and mobile-friendly design
One of Salt Lake City’s “saner” downtown streets with one travel lane each direction and left-turn lanes where needed. There’s one light rail lane in each direction. A bicycle priority lane is marked in the two travel lanes.
Possible extended title: They have so many persistent disadvantages even after several (but weak) mitigation attempts
Preface: Utah law says that people driving automobiles must yield for pedestrians in or approaching crosswalk (stop if in a school zone and the school zone light is flashing). Drivers and bicyclists in Illinois must stop to let people cross the street, in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.
If you read my last “Dispatches from Utah” post you remember that I took a ride on the inaugural Frontrunner South train from Salt Lake City to Provo, Utah. Then my laptop died and things got hairy. I’ve been back in Chicago for over a week now. Riding the trains, both light rail and the commuter rail, was one of the transportation highlights of my trip. The second was walking a couple of miles from one TRAX light rail station to my family’s home. This walking experienced was then followed by a driving trip to meet my cousin at a “local” Thai restaurant. (When your city is as spread out like Salt Lake City, and less dense than Chicago, your definition of “local” is expanded.)
I drove for 20 minutes to meet him. I drove down Salt Lake City’s State Street for a majority of the way. It’s 102 feet wide, with 3 lanes in each direction, a center turn lane, parallel parking on both sides, and sidewalks. There are no bikeways. Many of the city’s and region’s streets are like this. I had an immediate problem: I was driving southbound but the restaurant was on the northbound side of the street. Under no circumstances did I feel safe slowing down and turning left across 3+1 northbound lanes into the restaurant’s parking lot – I didn’t even know if this was legal. I couldn’t even see the addresses of the buildings on the opposite side of the street. After passing the approximate address, I turned left at a signalized intersection and then did a full roundabout drive through a neighborhood for 3-5 minutes before coming back to State Street, now driving on the same side of the street as the restaurant. Continue reading Dispatches from Utah: Why wide streets are unpleasant
Active Transportation Alliance posted a 1:50 video showing before and after conditions.
The Dearborn Street two-way protected bike lane looks to be the biggest deal, nationally, in bicycle infrastructure since the City of Chicago built the Kinzie Street cycle track three weeks after Mayor Rahm Emanuel took office. If it had an account on Twitter, it’d be competing with Justin Bieber.
Here’s a collection of “chatter” about the project from within the short 90 hours it’s been open.
“More than just bike benefits”
The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) produced their own 1:50 video interviewing Chicago transportation commissioner Gabe Klein about the economic benefits of building bicycle infrastructure and showing scenes from the press conference and of people bicycling in the Dearborn Street bike lane.
“Back to the Future moment”
Architecture “observer” Lynn Becker reviewed how this new piece of infrastructure fits into the history and culture of Chicago, then and now. The following are unconnected excerpts.
On Friday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein dedicated the city’s most ambitious commitment yet to the ideal of taking biking beyond the recreational to make it an integral part of Chicago’s transportation system.
It was a Back to the Future moment, as Chicago rose the crest of the first major bike boom back in the 1890’s, when the introduction of the affordable safety bicycle set sales soaring. It also created a new industry, with Chicago at its center.
The Trib’s John Kass, as part of his ongoing battle against the 21st Century, rails against “elitist politically coddled bicyclists” by indulging his usual habit of seeing everything in Chicago he doesn’t like as a Rahm Emanuel plot, raising spectres of traffic tickets and tolls for bikers.
It’s like having to learn a new language, relearning how we “read” the city as we move through it. No doubt about it, it’s a bold initiative, and a real gamble. It not only serves a constituency, but aims to shape behaviour.
Read on for Becker’s full commentary and a video of Klein and Emanuel’s speeches. Continue reading Dearborn Street’s celebrity status skyrockets