On open metal grate bridges

It’s raining as I write this which means many bicyclists in Chicago who want to travel over one of the 25 open metal grate bridges without a bike-friendly deck treatment have to decide: risk the slippery conditions on the bridge that cause your bike to feel wobbly and possibly fishtail, or ride on the sidewalk across the river.


A photo I took last night showing the new anti-slip metal plates over the bike lane on the Kinzie Street bridge. These plates cover the metal grates that make bicycling dangerous, especially when wet. 

Riders no longer have to make that choice today if they bicycle through the Kinzie Street protected bike lane as the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) installed a metal deck over the bike lane portion of the bridge. This is the third bridge in two years that CDOT has treated to make bicycle friendly. (The ribbon cutting ceremony is Monday, July 25, at 11 AM, on the southeast corner of Kinzie and Jefferson.) The other two bridges treated recently are Harrison Street bridge in 2009, and Randolph Street bridge in 2011.

But we still have 25 more dangerous bridges. And CDOT knows this. Continue reading On open metal grate bridges

An interview with CDOT’s Gabe Klein


[This piece also runs in Time Out Chicago.]

Traditionally the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) has focused on making it easier to drive in the city, but new commissioner Gabe Klein has a different philosophy. Klein, a former executive with national retailer Bikes U.S.A., as well as Zipcar car sharing, came to town fresh from a stint as transportation director for Washington, D.C. There he launched a streetcar system, installed about 100 leading pedestrian interval traffic signals, introduced a circulator bus route and built the nation’s largest bike-sharing system.

Klein and Mayor Emanuel are promising big improvements to walking, biking and transit here, including building the Bloomingdale Trail elevated greenway, creating 100 miles of car-protected bike lanes, and rolling out a robust bike sharing system. They’re also working on creating bus rapid transit corridors and considering novel approaches to improve conditions for walking, including “pedestrian scramble” intersections.

I recently met with Klein, 40, in his CDOT offices, where he’d parked the bike he rode in on, a single-speed Masi cruiser with a beer-carrying crate. He discussed possible locations for ped scrambles and bus rapid transit corridors, the feasibility of the Bloomingdale and bike lane projects, the possibility of reopening the Queen’s Landing crosswalk, and whether he’d ever consider riding in Critical Mass.

Continue reading An interview with CDOT’s Gabe Klein

Wicker Park-Bucktown SSA moving ahead with bike rack installations

The Wicker Park-Bucktown (WPB) Special Service Area (SSA), a business improvement district, has purchased 20 specially-designed and orange-colored bike racks from Dero to be installed within the district (see a map on their website).


A beautiful work in progress. The u-rack is nearly identical to the latest model CDOT has used with the addition of a center piece showing the sustainable transportation modes residents and shoppers in Wicker Park and Bucktown use to get around. Photo courtesy of Dero. 
Continue reading Wicker Park-Bucktown SSA moving ahead with bike rack installations

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Logan Square neighborhood is home to many people who ride bikes.

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Rack concerts: Tour de Fat and Pitchfork highlight the need for good bike parking at festivals

[flickr]photo:5952876061[/flickr]Chicago Reader Biker Village at Pitchfork

Last weekend there were at least two fabulously bike-friendly festivals in Chicago. New Belgium Brewery’s Tour de Fat celebrated craft beer, bicycles, bands and other forms of “sustainable folly,” raising thousands of dollars for West Town Bikes community bike shop. Meanwhile the Pitchfork Music Festival included the Chicago Reader Biker Village with an attended bike parking area that docked over 1,000 bikes at a time – and it still wasn’t nearly enough capacity. More on that later.

Continue reading Rack concerts: Tour de Fat and Pitchfork highlight the need for good bike parking at festivals

Postal service making a mockery of Kinzie protected bike lane


Photo by Seth Anderson.

This is an embarrassment. This protected bike lane was developed to provide people bicycling to and from downtown a safe passage, in which no vehicle should ever enter. The physical separation is apparently of no concern to postal workers, who don’t believe that the public will mind them putting cyclists in danger by forcing them to unnecessarily merge in and out of moving vehicular traffic. Continue reading Postal service making a mockery of Kinzie protected bike lane