How Thought You Knew and Grid Chicago match up

This is a continuation of Grid Bits from Thursday, September 2, 2011. 

I talked with founder Alexis Finch about how Grid Chicago and TyK might have similar aims. We compared the Grid Chicago mission statement to that of TyK and the results surprised me.

Our mission statement starts out with, “Grid Chicago is an outlet for news, commentary, and photography about sustainable transportation-related events, projects, and ideas.” How does Thought You Knew relate to that definition?

TyK is a photography project depicting local Chicago women. TyK will be hosting monthly events to bring more women into cycling with our Monthly Cycles hosting ladies at bike shops to teach them flat fixes and meet their local mechanics.

The next line talks about Grid Chicago being a platform for sustainable transportation. 

Since women have been found to be the primary agents of change in communities, the main source of “word of mouth” communication and the dominant users/writers on the internet, TyK’s target of bringing more women to the cycling conversation, who have otherwise felt disincluded, uninvited or intimidated fits well with your goal of being a platform.

Then our mission statement talks about the culture around sustainable transportation.

I’d say that TyK has become a part of Chicago’s culture already, and stands to be more so soon.


Miss September 2012. Photo by Kimberley Capriotti. 

Okay, enough about us, tell me more about TyK. How will TyK expand its own mission?

TyK has shifted over to being offered to shops on wholesale. This turns us into an incredibly appealing Christmas item, particularly for bike shops trying to get folks in during the slow season. More sales means more pinups on more walls, spreading the good word. We’re also selling internationally now, which means the “powerful pinup” will be able to become a part of the global vernacular. Tokyo and Shanghai already love us and are really excited at the strong and sassy example we’re providing for the ladies out there. We’ll just hint vaguely at what that means in the next few years.

Will TyK launch in other cities?

There aren’t any plans for the calendar to be a “city by city” calendar. However, there are some plots afoot for next year giving some ladies in the rest of the United States the chance to be nominated to strut their stuff.

In the meantime, we’ll be working to expand The Monthly Cycle [a women-only bike repair class] to cities across the USA. It’s not just shops in Chicago who need more female customers, and who need their customers to feel comfortable. This is an issue everywhere. So, we’ll be working to make sure women everywhere get the chance to learn a bit about their bikes and get welcomed into the cycling world one local shop at a time.

Aside from the calendar and The Monthly Cycle, what else is happening this year?

TyK will be rolling through Interbike (September 14-16 in Las Vegas) filming another section of our documentary. Depicting how women are represented in the industry is an important facet of our mission. We’ll also be participating in the Chrome/Momentum Fashion Show!

This will also be one of our main times to do our wholesaling to shops outside Chicago. Since everyone is already in Vegas, it’s a great time to get the word out and get some orders in. Oh, and we’ll have stickers. Possibly spoke cards too…

How I answered the Riders for Better Transit Survey


A Chicago Transit Authority bus in 1968 on Irving Park Road. The bus has since been replaced. 

Would you like to see transit in our region improved? Help us win transit improvements that matter to riders. Please tell us what issues are most important to you. Take the Active Transportation Alliance survey by October 5 and be entered in a raffle for a $100 Visa gift card.

For question 9, “Please *rank* the following transit priorities in order of importance,” I ranked them in the following order:

  1. Speeding up transit travel. I think this, along with frequent service, are the best two ways to increase ridership. People don’t want to wait for the bus or train to come, and they don’t want to be on that bus or train for long. To speed up buses, there’s one strategy we can implement that will have the highest effect: reduce the number of non-bus vehicles on the road, starting with what we have the most of, singly occupied automobiles.
  2. Adding new transit routes. If this means installing bus rapid transit (BRT), or some semblance of that, I want it. I also think the Red Line to 130th Street is a good idea. I also like Metra’s plan for the STAR Line.
  3. Increasing the frequency of service. See #1 above.
  4. Extending the hours of service. I think the hours are mostly pretty good, but the frequency at off-peak hours should be increased.
  5. Other. I think the way bicycles are stored on trains (both CTA and Metra) should be improved. Read how.
  6. Keeping fares low. I think they’re pretty low to begin with. I’d like the Chicago Card/Plus bonus to come back. I think this will encourage more adoption of the stored-value RFID cards and that adoption will stick around when universal fare and media system comes around in 2015. Metra fares seem high, though.
  7. Improving safety. Isn’t the CTA pretty safe? You’re definitely safer riding a bus or train than bicycling, walking, or driving/riding in an automobile.

For question 12, “Please tell us about the most pleasant or helpful experience you’ve had while riding public transportation.”, I answered,

When it starts raining or when my bicycle cannot be ridden, I always appreciate being able to take it on a CTA bus or train to the bike shop or to home.

For question 13, “If you had one message for your transit agency or elected officials for public transportation in Chicagoland, what would it be?”, I submitted,

Dissolve the RTA and create a new agency that replaces all three service boards.

With a single agency managing all transit in Chicagoland, duplicative efforts would be (theoretically) eliminated. For examples to follow, see Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York (MTA). They operate buses and trains (both rapid transit and regional rail) in 12 counties in New York (including all 5 boroughs) and two counties in Connecticut, as well as seven toll bridges and two tunnels.

Someone else who doesn’t want the High Line in Chicago

Thank you, Alan Brake.

Klein also reiterated the Emanuel Administration’s commitment to building the Bloomingdale Trail. While that project is routinely compared to New York’s High Line park, the Bloomingdale Trail is being conceived as a transportation artery, not a merely as a place for a romantic promenade. It will be the most protected bike lane of all. I can’t wait to take a spin down it, preferably using a shared bike.

From Share The Road, Slash The Parking.


I love the grittiness (c’mon, this is Chicago) of the old Soo Line along Bloomingdale Avenue. 

New York City’s High Line is a place to see and be seen, but the Bloomingdale Trail will be a place to use. Ride a bike (bikes are banned from the High Line), jog, push a stroller, walk your dog, etc…


High Line designers were so concerned with cleaner aesthetics, the abandoned railroad viaduct is now beautiful enough to film a commercial (or something) featuring people doing Tai Chi. 

USPS responds to our letter

Last week Grid Chicago received a letter from the United States Postal Service (USPS) in response to our correspondence with them where we advised them of the illegality of parking in bike lanes. I attached photos of two separate USPS vehicles parked in the Kinzie Street protected bike lane sent to me by a Grid Chicago reader.

Then, today, I received a copy of a letter 42nd Ward Alderman Reilly wrote to USPS. As you can tell, he was a bit more stern in asking the organization to respond, saying:

USPS employees have repeatedly been witnessed parking in dedicated bicycle lanes- posing a risk to cyclists who utilize these busy lanes.

Please report back to my office the steps that the USPS will take to address this serious public safety concern.

Our original article on the matter has been the most popular since we began, with over 1,600 views. Please send in your photos of USPS and other delivery vehicles parked in the Kinzie Street bike lane. Our first and only protected bike lane should be that, a protected bike lane, and not another strip of asphalt for people to park in.


Let us know if USPS is still blocking the bike lane.

Chicago pedestrian study roundup

John wrote about the City of Chicago’s pedestrian plan and public meetings in June. On Sunday, the Chicago Tribune wrote about a study released by the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), the 2011 Pedestrian Crash Analysis.

Skip over the “Key Findings” section on pages 7 and 8 (PDF). You’ll find useless factoids that, when you read them twice, tell nothing. For example, “The Chicago Transit Authority rail stations with high numbers of nearby pedestrian crashes were along the Green Line, Red Line – Dan Ryan branch, and Blue Line – O’Hare branch.” That statement is as precise and informative as telling a pizza delivery driver you live within two miles of Western and Diversey Avenues.

In the news

  • Chicago Tribune – Posted online yesterday with today’s date (to coincide with a Monday press release from CDOT), the Tribune “exclusively” analyzed some of the findings. The actual report is better than this article (some paragraphs are lifted straight from the report), but the article adds some juicy bits about taxis and their drivers.
  • The Architect’s Newspaper – Its metaphorical headline could be slightly misleading – “City of broadening sidewalks” – as sidewalks in Chicago have generally been narrowed instead of widened. But I get the relationship to the Sandburg poem and the Pedestrian Plan vision.
  • Let’s Go Ride A Bike – After reading the Tribune article, Dottie said, “Improving the safety of pedestrians by working to change the culture of speeding and recklessness will naturally improve the safety of bicyclists.”

Resources and related items

  • Pedestrian Crash Analysis technical report – You won’t find the raw data here, but it is more detailed than what you read in the summary report.
  • 3D pavement markings on Clark Street – CDOT in partnership with Western Michigan University and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration applied markings to the roadways in an experiment to see if their color and 3D effect would make that intersection safer for pedestrians to cross.
Read more policy insights from Steven Vance. 

Milwaukee from Ashland to Paulina construction timeline

As I try to better understand construction timelines and processes in Chicago, I’m going to keep track of this project that annoyed people cycling for six months.

Project: Underground utility construction [not sure what kind]

Location: Milwaukee Avenue between Ashland and Paulina


February 2011 – Construction project begins (I’m not certain it started in February, but I took my first photo of the project this month).

Sometime here the construction project ends and the surface is replaced with rough concrete. Two points to make here: The construction crew could have floated the concrete more to make it smoother; the concrete only needs a week to cure, and can then be removed and replaced with asphalt.

July 25, 2011 – Rough concrete is replaced with asphalt.

August 2011 – Center and parking lines are striped.

August 13, 2011 – Bicycle shared-lane markings still don’t exist.

September 21, 2011 – Bicycle shared-lane markings added, but incorrectly: they’re too close to the parking stripe.


Someone riding a bike rolls in and out of construction zone barriers, presumably to avoid the car traffic and the little room between the cars and barriers. 

Unanswered questions

  • Who is responsible for this project?
  • What is the city’s policy on “floating” temporary construction concrete?
  • Do construction projects like this have deadlines?
  • Why aren’t people cycling accommodated better in road construction projects?


A Chicagoan riding her bike in the construction zone waits for the light at Ashland Avenue to turn green.

What is floating concrete?

Draft: Floating concrete, or to float the concrete, means to drag flat objects over the concrete to push aggregate downwards and bring liquid upwards. The more times this is done, depending on the float tools, the concrete surface will become smoother. A concrete floor in a restaurant has been “finely floated” to create a smooth, shiny finish.

Sidewalks are floated more than road surfaces. After a sidewalk is floated, it is often brushed to create a texture.


Using a brush to float concrete and add texture. 


Hand floating the concrete.