Trying to get in the last word about speed cameras, before Wednesday’s vote


Photo of a speed hump in Logan Square from the point of view of someone bicycling by Andrew Ciscel. 

The following is a conversation between co-writer John Greenfield and myself and was derived from an email chain between him and me on Sunday. 

Dear John,

By reading all my articles about speed cameras, you may find yourself confused on my position. I’ve figured it out. I want city council to not pass the ordinance. I think the surveillance and revenue aspects leave too much room for abuse and I believe that we should pursue human-scale strategies to reduce speed and change our culture that accepts speeding and the injuries and fatalities it leads to. -Steven

John replies:

What is the potential for abuse? Is this just anti-Big Brother paranoia? It’s true that the Tribune reported that a longtime Emanuel campaign contributor is a consultant to a traffic camera manufacturer. But I still don’t really see a downside. I’m not concerned about the surveillance aspect. Continue reading Trying to get in the last word about speed cameras, before Wednesday’s vote

Shifting view of car ownership driving younger users to car sharing


I-GO member Angel Collazo. Photo by Kimiteru Tsuruta

This post was contributed by Kimiteru Tsuruta, a grad student at Nortwestern’s Medill Journalism School. During his time in Tokyo, Tsurata was amazed by the efficiency and coverage of its public transit system. He has a B.A. in economics from the University of California, Irvine, and now covers Chicago’s transportation news with the Medill News Service. This piece originally appeared on Medill Reports.

Practicality and economics may be the main reasons increasing numbers of people use car-sharing services, but there also seems to be an underlying shift in how young people perceive car ownership.

“Car-sharing members tend to have attitude,” said Joseph Schwieterman, professor of public service and director of the Chaddick Institute at DePaul University. “They see their lifestyle choices not only as a matter of just convenience, but as a rejection of the notion that a privately owned vehicle is important.” Continue reading Shifting view of car ownership driving younger users to car sharing

Chicago announces bike sharing vendor (updated)


Cycling on a Capital BikeShare in  Washington, D.C. Photo by Michael Jantzen. 

Updated 11:18: The press release is now online. I’ve been trying to pay attention to the City Council live video feed and transcript, but I’m not sure if they’ve discussed the proposed ordinance yet.

Alta Bicycle Share and Public Bike System Co. were just announced on the Chicago Tribune’s website as the Chicago bike sharing operator and equipment vendor, respectively. From John Hilkevitch:

City Hall estimates the total capital and start-up costs at $21 million, adding that $18 million will be covered by federal funding aimed at improving air quality and easing traffic congestion [CMAQ] and the remaining $3 million will be provided by the city.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is set to introduce an ordinance at Wednesday’s City Council meeting seeking aldermanic approval to enter into an agreement with Alta Bicycle Share, officials said.

The losing entries were offered by Bike Chicago [also known as Bike and Roll] and its equipment provider, B-Cycle; and I-GO and its equipment providers, Tracetel and Schwinn, officials said.

Continue reading Chicago announces bike sharing vendor (updated)

Speed cameras: There’s more than meets the eye (updated)


This map shows that 58.8% of Chicago streets, excluding highways, are eligible for speed camera enforcement. Open the map.

The Expired Meter has been tracking the speed camera issue very well. (Here’s our coverage.) Along with reporting that an ordinance would be introduced to alderman at tomorrow’s monthly City Council meeting, it reported Monday on an interview with Alderman Waguespack who had been briefed on the city’s speed camera goals:

Originally, city officials claimed existing red light camera locations would be utilized to do double duty and be retrofitted to also do speed enforcement.

But, according to Waguespack’s understanding of the briefing presented by officials from the Mayor’s office, Chicago Police Department and Chicago Department of Transportation, the city’s long range goal is to install speed cameras at 1,800 intersections near school and parks under the auspices of slowing down drivers through $50 to $100 fines for speeding near these intersections. The state law calls for cameras to be used within a 1/8 of a mile safety zone surrounding the schools and parks. [They can be used in those areas, and in no other areas.] Continue reading Speed cameras: There’s more than meets the eye (updated)

How to create your own online map: BatchGeocode for spreadsheets


Maps can be digital, too! The Streets for Cycling Plan 2020 process disappointingly hasn’t included online map crowdsourcing as a strategy to gather input from residents and to easily collect data digitally so that it could be more quickly collated, analyzed, and shared. Photo by Serge Lubomudrov. 

We constantly use maps on Grid Chicago, displaying photos of them, or embedding and linking to them. Here’re all the articles with embedded maps. This is the second of four tutorials on how to create your own online maps.

We use maps as a communication tool and a way to enhance our articles. I’m going to give you some basic knowledge to create your own map using online tools so that you can identify issues and solutions where you live, which you can easily share afterwards. I’ll describe four simple ways to create a map. Before that, though, I’ll describe how to choose one. Since there are four tutorials, I’m going to break them up into four articles (vote in the comments for the next tutorial I should write).

Continue reading How to create your own online map: BatchGeocode for spreadsheets

Introducing the Bike 2015 Plan Tracker


One of the strategies in the Bike 2015 Plan is to “establish 2 north-south bikeways and 4 east-west bikeways to and within the Loop by 2010” (see strategy details). No bikeways were built until the Madison Street westbound bikeway in 2011. Photo by Joseph Dennis. 

I was frustrated after a short bicycle ride on Lincoln Avenue Saturday night to the Heritage Bicycles party. A long stretch of the bike lane in the 43rd Ward received brand new striping and bicycle symbols last year but there were many “features” on the ride I didn’t appreciate: taxi drivers blocking the bike lane and making sudden u-turns, valets putting traffic cones in the bike lane, a pinch point under the ‘L’ viaduct at Lincoln and Wrightwood (created by the too-long parking lane), a long crack in the pavement where I wanted to ride to avoid the door zone, odd bike lane designs*, and lots of potholes. Dottie wrote about this sorry bike route in August.

Continue reading Introducing the Bike 2015 Plan Tracker