Where’s the next Bloomingdale Trail?


Looking west on the Bloomingdale Trail from approximately Leavitt and Milwaukee. The Blue Line towards O’Hare crosses here. Photo by John Tolva. 

The first public meeting for the Bloomingdale Trail, an elevated abandoned railroad line, soon to be an elevated linear park, happened last Thursday at the Congress Theater in Logan Square. This was the first meeting where members of the public got to hear from and meet the consultants the City of Chicago hired through a competitive bidding process.

The City awarded ARUP North America the contract to do Phase I engineering and Phase II design over a year after the company was selected. ARUP has nine subcontractors, several of which are based in Chicago (see page two of the FAQ). They are collectively called the “design team.”

Continue reading Where’s the next Bloomingdale Trail?

A very initial look at 2010 bike crash data for Chicago


The intersection of Grand/Milwaukee/Halsted has the third highest incidence of collisions between automobiles and bicycles at Milwaukee Avenue intersections. Will bicycle crash data help city planners focus their attention on improving safety at the spots with the most frequent crashes? 

I recently obtained from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) the 2010 vehicle crash data, which includes collisions between automobile drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians. I plan to update the Crash Portal with this information. But I also plan to do something more than make a map; Derek Eder*, myself, and others will dig deeper into the data to see what story we can tell with it. We’ll do that in addition to listing and visualizing statistics that citizen cyclists are more accustomed to, like the change in crash rates year after year. Continue reading A very initial look at 2010 bike crash data for Chicago

A visitor’s guide to biking in Chicago


A view of downtown from Promontory Point, about 55th Street and the Lakefront Trail. 

Back in 2008, Momentum magazine invited me to write a roundup of the Chicago bicycle scene. The current issue of Momentum features this new guide to biking in Chicago, especially geared for visitors to the city but hopefully of interest to locals as well. Comparing the two pieces shows there have been a lot of exciting developments here in the last three years! Print space was limited so I couldn’t include every great cycling event, not-for-profit, bike shop, etc., that I would have liked to, but feel free to to comment if you think I left out anything crucial.

The city of Chicago by the numbers, courtesy of the Chicago Department of Transportation Bicycle Program:
2.7 million people
227 square miles
.5 miles of car-separated cycle tracks
123 miles of on-street bike lanes
33 miles of marked shared lanes AKA “sharrows”
50 miles of paved, off-street bike paths
12,265 on-street bike parking racks, more than any other U.S. city
60,000 people educated about safety by the city’s Bicycling Ambassadors in 2010
100 B-cycle bike share vehicles at six kiosks
300 parking spaces, showers and lockers at the Millennium Park bicycle station Continue reading A visitor’s guide to biking in Chicago

Kidical Mass, a critical mass of family friendliness

Children riding bikes in Kidical Mass

Children and their parents ride on the streets of Chicago in Kidical Mass, on August 13, 2011. Photo by Ash Lottes. 

Kidical Mass is coming up this Saturday! “Kidical Mass is a slow-paced group ride for families with kids of all ages.” It started in Eugene, Oregon, in 2008, and spread across North America (there are two in Canada) and Hungary. In Chicago, the ride happens every month, year round, on the second Saturday, starting near the playground in Palmer Square Park at 10:30 AM, rolling at 11 AM. I haven’t ridden with the families yet, but Ash Lottes, a Logan Square mom and passionate Kidical Mass promoter gives the scoop of Chicago’s ride on her blog, One Less Minivan. Continue reading Kidical Mass, a critical mass of family friendliness

Interview with Maria Barnes from Uptown Bikes


[This piece also runs in Momentum magazine.]

Great bicycle shops often feel like community centers and Uptown Bikes definitely fits that mold. It’s located in the ethnically and economically diverse Uptown neighborhood on Chicago’s north lakefront, where Charlie Chaplain once made films at Essanay Studios and Al Capone held court at the still-popular Green Mill jazz club. The store sits on a gritty stretch of Broadway under Chicago Transit Authority elevated tracks. A lit-up cruiser bike mounted on the roof greets train commuters, and an Indonesian pedicab with a volcano painted on it sits outside the front door.

Uptown Bikes focuses on affordable repairs and bikes for practical transportation to keep all community members rolling. The small, scruffy but well-organized shop sells new Raleigh, KHS and Rocky Mountain bikes, plenty of rehabbed rides, Planet Bike accessories, Detours panniers and other useful commuting gear. Collections of old cruiser saddles and rear-wheel “pie plates” line the walls. I talked with owner Maria Barnes about the store’s history and philosophy, and her perspective on the local bike scene.

Continue reading Interview with Maria Barnes from Uptown Bikes

Grid Bits: Electric car charging network; pinup chicks calendar


One of the new electric vehicle charging stations popping up at Walgreens around Chicago. 


Walgreens is adding charging stations for electric vehicles at many of its Chicago-area stores and around the country. I read about a Chargepoint station at the Walgreens nearest me (2744 N California) when I was browsing my block on EveryBlock. Then I read about this and other stations around the city, including at Soldier Field, on Curbed Chicago. Continue reading Grid Bits: Electric car charging network; pinup chicks calendar