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

An introduction to parking requirements: New Walgreens in Wicker Park


Walgreens opened a new store this month inside the Noel State Bank building at 1601 N Milwaukee, at the six-way intersection of Damen, North, and Milwaukee Avenues. Walgreens wonderfully restored the interior and exterior of the registered landmark building. The property acquisition (formerly occupied by MB Financial Bank) included a small parking lot with a driveway entrance on Milwaukee Avenue by Red Hen Bread Co. and an entrance through the alley. The parking lot has 7 car parking spaces, including 1 accessible parking stall. There are 8 bike parking spaces. It appears there would have been 10 but a bike rack wasn’t installed because it would have blocked a doorway that opens only from the inside. (The previous occupant used the parking lot to hold ~15 cars.)

When I first saw that Walgreens was building a parking lot, I asked myself, “Why do they need one? There’re three bus routes, a train line, this neighborhood is very walkable and many people bike around here. Plus, there’s a Walgreens store 0.37 miles away with 35 parking spaces.”* (No, I don’t do distance calculations in my head to that many significant digits – I figured that with an online map.) Continue reading An introduction to parking requirements: New Walgreens in Wicker Park

Fatality Tracker: Two more pedestrian deaths make November a terribly active month

2012 Chicago fatality stats*:

Pedestrian: 27 (12 have been hit-and-run crashes)
Pedalcyclist: 6 (1 is a hit-and-run crash)
Transit: 8
Skateboard: 1 (1 is a hit-and-run crash)

Two pedestrian deaths since Friday’s Fatality Tracker update make for 5 this month.

On Saturday, November 17, 2012, Christopher Cooper, 44, of Bronzeville, “stepped into northbound traffic on the 7900 block of South Stony Island Avenue at about 11:15 p.m. Chicago Police Department News Affairs Officer Amina Greer said.” “Police have issued the driver of the Cirrus, 23-year-old Frederick Jackson, a citation for failing to exercise due care.” (Chicago Tribune)

On Monday, November 19, 2012, 8:27 AM at 1501 W Cermak Road. A messaged emailed to me from the Chicago Police Department News Affairs office said:

A private dump truck ran over a 48-year-old male pedestrian as he was crossing in a crosswalk at Laflin & Cermak Rd. The victim was later pronounced DOA at Stroger Hospital.

The 48-year-old driver of the truck, Eduardo Cantu, of the 1800 block of Gunderson Ave, Berwyn, IL, was cited with Running a Stop Sign, Striking a Pedestrian in the Roadway, and Failure to Yield to a Pedestrian in a Crosswalk. At this time, Mr. Cantu is scheduled to appear in Traffic Court December 27, 2012.

This location is the site of the new Cermak and Blue Island Sustainable Streetscape project. This intersection received newly marked, international style crosswalks and a pedestrian refuge island. It’s directly in front of Benito Juarez Community Academy in Pilsen.

Inexpensive gas this week, and the Thanksgiving holiday, means more driving, so November might be as deadly as August was this year.

* The information is only accurate as of this post’s publishing time. View previous Fatality Tracker posts. The Illinois Safety Data Mart reports 28 pedestrian crashes (likely excluding the two in this update) but their information is incomplete until it’s fully processed.

Fatality Tracker: Two senior citizens killed in separate traffic crashes Friday night

2012 Chicago fatality stats*:

Pedestrian: 25 (12 have been hit-and-run crashes)
Pedalcyclist: 6 (1 is a hit-and-run crash)
Transit: 8
Skateboard: 1 (1 is a hit-and-run crash)

The Chicago Tribune reports this morning about two fatal pedestrian crashes.

Crash 1

Friday, November 16, 2012
6 PM
5000 block of N Western Avenue, Lincoln Square

A vehicle struck two people, both of whom were taken to Saint Francis Hospital in Evanston.

One of them, 85-year-old Evanston resident Raymond Lending, was pronounced dead at 9:09 p.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. [It’s not mentioned where the pedestrians and vehicle were when the collision occurred, nor if the driver received any citations.]

Crash 2

Saturday, November 17, 2012
12:43 AM
5200 block of S Cicero Avenue, Archer Heights

[A] 61-year-old man was struck by a vehicle about 12:43 a.m. while crossing the street, [Chicago Police Department News Affair Officer Ron] Gaines said. The man was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he was pronounced dead at 1:33 a.m.

The driver in the Archer Heights collision is in police custody, but no charges have been filed yet, Gaines said.

At the end of the year I will be collating the statistics from our Fatality Tracker; a majority of the people who’ve been killed, as pedestrians, are older than 50 years old.

* The information is only accurate as of this post’s publishing time. View previous Fatality Tracker posts.

Once in a decade opportunity: ride the ‘L’ in a private, chartered tour


A photo from the Soul of Chicago Express tour in 2006. 

There are only a few spots left (just a bit more than 10) on the Central Electric Railfan’s Association “inspection tour” of the Chicago Transit Authority’s ‘L’ system on 2200-series and 5000-series cars on Sunday, November 18. From CERA’s website:

This event will involve a morning enjoying the CTA 2200-series cars on routes they initially served in 1969, and will finish with a tour via the 5000-series ‘L’ cars, now in service on CTA’s Pink and Green Lines.

We will visit parts of the Blue, Pink, Green, Orange, Red and Yellow Lines, visiting various stations for photo opportunities and affording a chance to enjoy a ride on both the system’s oldest and newest train cars for a compare-and-contrast event not been done in recent memory.

CTA has confirmed that the train will pick us up at Jefferson Park on the Blue Line, a break at about 2:30 PM where you’ll be able to go get a bite to eat downtown, and more fun on the train and visiting the CTA’s newest stations at Oakton and Morgan, wrapping up at about 5:30 PM at Morgan/Lake (with access to the ‘L’ system, of course, to return to Jefferson Park).

Tickets are $42 each. If you’re interested, please contact (email preferred) charter organizer Tony Coppoletta immediately to confirm availability: tony@coppoletta.net / 312-685-2446. You will be able to pay in person when you check in at Jefferson Park. Graham Garfield of Chicago-L.org is helping to host this charter, and I will be assisting. This will be my third chartered tour and they provide a unique opportunity to explore the trains and stations, chat with other train enthusiasts, and take tons of photos that at other times might seem weird to fellow passengers.


If not for the Soul of Chicago Express chartered tour in 2006, I’d probably have never visited the 63rd/Ashland Green Line station in Englewood to see its unique design characteristics. 

Since this is a chartered tour, the route doesn’t have to follow what normal, revenue service trains take. This tour will use the no-longer-used incline between Racine and Illinois Medical District Blue Line stations.

Sunday, November 18, 2012
1030 to ~1730 hours
Time for a lunch break, in the Loop, will be made available.

Meeting location: Jefferson Park (CTA Blue Line station)
Check-in will begin at 0945 hours (receive tickets there, check-in closes after 1015, as the train departs at 1030)

Why Clark Street in Lakeview wasn’t a protected bike lane: it’s 1 foot too narrow


Clark Street buffered bike lane just north of Diversey Avenue. Photo by Adam Herstein. 

CDOT responded today to my inquiry asking why Clark Street between Diversey Avenue and Addison Avenue received a buffered bike lane and not a protected bike lane. Bikeways planner Mike Amsden writes:

Clark Street (Diversey to Addison) was striped as a buffer protected bike lane, and not a parking protected bike lane, because it is a 51′ roadway throughout the project limits. As you might know, the minimum roadway width for installing barrier protected bike lanes on roadways with one travel lane and one parking lane in each direction is 52′, and the preferred minimum width is 58′. A 52′ roadway allows for a 5′ bike lane, a 3′ buffer zone, an 8′ parking lane and a 10′ travel lane in each direction. However, even when a roadway is 52′, other roadway characteristics and operational considerations must be assessed before installing parking protected bike lanes. These characteristics include the amount of bus, truck and bicycle traffic, loading and delivery needs of local businesses, emergency vehicle access and maintenance requirements.

These standards come from the NACTO* Urban Bikeway Design Guide. If you have not read this guide I recommend doing so as it will likely answer many other questions you may have. The guide can be found here. http://nacto.org/cities-for-cycling/design-guide/

To answer your final question, if we were to recommend a parking protected bike lane on a 51′ roadway, all curbside uses (parking, standing, loading, valet, etc.) would have to be eliminated on one side of the roadway for the entire stretch in order to do so.

1 foot is all it takes, it seems. You can see the relevant NACTO standard in this image. Notice items 4, 5, and 6, that describe the minimum widths for the bike lane, buffer area, and parking lane, respectively.

One-Way Protected Cycle Tracks
Design guidance for One-Way Protected Cycle Tracks in the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide.

Update: Why can’t certain lanes be narrower?

Someone asked in the comments this question, which Amsden anticipated: “We can’t go with a 7′ parking lane because then you’d have a 7′ parking lane next to a 10′ travel lane. People wouldn’t be able to get out of their cars, buses/trucks wouldn’t be able to maneuver, emergency vehicle access would be restricted, etc. That’s why even a 52′ roadway (with a 8′ parking lane next to a 10′ travel lane) is considered really tight.”

* National Association of City Transportation Officials, the yin to American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials yang (AASHTO).