Fatality tracker: speeding cab flips, kills young man on his way to work


Workers repair a stoplight on the traffic island that was damaged in the crash.

2012 Chicago fatality stats*:

Pedestrian: 11 (6 have been hit-and-run crashes)
Pedalcyclist: 4 (1 is a hit-and-run crash)
Transit: 6

Once again a taxi has taken the life of an innocent bystander, but it may be too soon to say whether the driver is to blame. According to witnesses, shortly after 6 am Tuesday morning John Kesse, 64, was driving his cab with one passenger southeast on Milwaukee Avenue in River West, traveling far beyond the speed limit.

By the time Kesse reached the complex intersection of Milwaukee, Chicago Avenue, May Street and Ogden Avenue, a seven-way junction, he had lost control of the vehicle, which veered east across Milwaukee. The taxi struck a light pole on the triangular traffic island in the middle of the intersection, which houses an entrance to the Blue Line’s Chicago stop, and flipped several times, according to witnesses.

The vehicle careened into the southeast corner of the intersection, slamming into a large sign for the CVS Pharmacy and a nearby advertising bench, and striking Eric Kerestes. A thirty-year-old engineer and MBA student, Kerestes lived just a few blocks away on the 600 block of North Racine.

Continue reading Fatality tracker: speeding cab flips, kills young man on his way to work

Taste of Chicago brings 5-day bike blackout on Metra, Wednesday through Sunday


Visitors deboard a Metra train at the North Western Station, 500 W Madison Street. Photo by Tripp. 

Starting tomorrow, Wednesday, July 11, Metra will disallow bikes on all trains at all times, with the exception of folding bikes in a protective cover (essentially in its own luggage). The blackout period ends with the last departing trains of the Sunday, July 15, service date (some trains may leave after 12 AM Monday, but are still included in the blackout).

Our website, Can I bring my bike on Metra right now? always has the most up-to-date answer to that question as well as a simple breakdown of the additional rules Metra imposes on those who want to travel with a bicycle:

  • Bring a bungee cord, waist belt, or rope to secure bike inside train
  • Folding bikes are allowed at all times (even during blackout dates), on all trains, in a bag or luggage
  • Not all train lines operate on weekends, Sundays, or holidays – check the schedule!
  • Heritage Corridor allows only folding bikes.

For those who want to attend the Taste of Chicago, transit is always a great choice. There are CTA, Metra, and South Shore train stations within the Grant Park venue, and within a couple blocks. Several CTA bus lines stop at Grant Park.

Bike parking is available at various locations around Millennium Park, and around and within Grant Park. The City of Chicago has more information on planning a visit.

Bike-of-the-Yards: an interview with 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas


On Saturday I dropped by the 9th annual Bike the Boulevard health expo, bicycle ride and bike rodeo hosted by 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas. His Near South district includes parts of Back-of-the-Yards, Brighton Park, McKinley Park, South Lawndale and Little Village. This fun block party took place in the parking lot of a big box store at 47th Street and Western Boulevard, which demonstrates that you can make interesting, positive things happen when you commandeer a few dozen parking spaces.

The bike ride was an inspiring sight, with about a hundred kids from the community, family members and neighbors taking to the street. We cruised north on Western and then west on 31st Boulevard, led by the alderman on his bike and shepherded by police on bikes and in squad cars, pausing for a water break by The Hub, a housing co-op founded by cyclists, before backtracking to the expo. Before the ride departed I asked Cardenas a few questions about why he does this event, and his thoughts on the city’s bike plan.

Continue reading Bike-of-the-Yards: an interview with 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas

Infrastructure updates: 18th Street bike lane and inaccessible sidewalk ramp to be modified


A person drives their car in the 18th Street separated bike lane. 

Grid Chicago gathered photos, videos, and reports from neighbors in April and May about parking and driving in the 18th Street separated bike lane (from Clark Street to Canal Street) and discussed the situation with 25th Ward Alderman Solis’s office in June. Lauren Pacheco tells us that the bike lane design will be modified and that police will pay more attention to the street:

A series of CDOT and Aldermanic driven initiatives will be launched in ensuring bicycle lane safety along this route inculding bike ambassadors educational outreach at the site for drivers, moving the bollards closer to the sidewalk thereby narrowing the bike lane preventing automobile use, and increased police district enforcement requests by Alderman Solis.

How much closer to the sidewalk the bollards will be moved is not known; we are waiting for a response. The bike lane is currently 7 or 8 feet wide and there is a 2 or 3-feet-wide buffer between the bike lane and 10-feet-wide travel lane. The bollards are currently closer to the travel lane, on the left side of the buffer (in the direction of travel). Continue reading Infrastructure updates: 18th Street bike lane and inaccessible sidewalk ramp to be modified

MBAC terms of reference and list of official council members

The following text is from a handout delivered to attendees at the June 2012 MBAC meeting

I. Objectives

The Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council shall assist the city in all maters related to bicyclists. Objectives of the Council include but are not limited to:

  1. Promoting policies and practices that will advance bicycling as a desirable and viable form of transortation and recreation.
  2. Working for improved bicycling safety and access to public transit, schools, workplaces, shops, libraries, parks, including roads, and other public spaces.
  3. Providing guidance in the formulations of Chicago’s Bike 2015 Plan and asisting the city departments in implementation.
  4. Ensuring that a review process is in place so that bicycling accommodation is inlucided in all projects and at all stages of design. Providing comments and recommendations on major city-side projects or projects with policy significance.
  5. Providing a forum for input and participation on bicycling issues in Chicago.
  6. Promoting safe and responsible practices to bicyclists and other road users.
  7. Serving as an advisory, resource, and information support body on all bicycling-related matters.

Continue reading MBAC terms of reference and list of official council members

Gimme shelter: pedestrian improvements to Congress Parkway


New crosswalk with pedestrian refuge island at Congress and Dearborn.

[This piece also appeared in Checkerboard City, John’s weekly transportation column in Newcity magazine, which hits the streets in print on Wednesday evenings.]

Folks who walked to the Printers Row Lit Fest last weekend were a little less likely be killed by cars than in previous years. The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) is currently wrapping up the $18 million Congress Parkway Reconstruction Project, from Wells Street to Michigan Avenue. The rehab has already brought a slew of pedestrian safety improvements, including new pedestrian refuge islands, making it safer, easier and more pleasant to walk across and along the massive street that forms the southern boundary of the Loop.

Construction on Congress began in October 2010 and the road reopened to traffic on May 15, just in time for the NATO summit. CDOT expects the final tasks, including finishing planter medians and installing decorative trellises and lighting, will be done by June 30.

Congress has long been an iconic Chicago street, but it has also been a major barrier to foot traffic. Originally called Tyler Street after tenth U.S. President John Tyler, the name was changed to honor the U.S. Congress after Tyler became unpopular because he joined the Confederacy during the Civil War. The road originates as a freeway at the Circle Interchange, the junction of the Dan Ryan, Eisenhower and Kennedy Expressways, and then continues east to become an eight-lane surface road at Wells Street, dumping high-speed traffic into the street grid.

Continue reading Gimme shelter: pedestrian improvements to Congress Parkway