House of Representatives transportation bill fraught with bad ideas


Funding for trails? Forget it, say House Republicans. Photo by Eric Rogers.

Updated 15:36: See additions to this article under “updates”

No matter how you get around, whether on foot, by bike, in a car, on a bus or by train or water taxi, the federal surface transportation bill impacts your travel.

The surface transportation bill does essentially two things:

1. It sets national transportation policy. This includes plans on how much to subsidize monthly car parking for workers, monthly transit passes (see note 1); regional planning; safety goals; and environmental protection from vehicle pollution and infrastructure impacts.

2. Defines which transportation modes and programs get how much money.

A majority of trains, buses, bike lanes, roads, and highways in Chicagoland were built with funding from the surface transportation bill. And they continue to be majority-funded by federal tax dollars, year after year.

The last surface transportation bill is called SAFETEA-LU and it expired on September 30, 2009, at the end of fiscal year 2009 – Transportation 4 America has a clock counting the time since expiration. Since then, it has been extended many times while Congressional committees and representatives work on a new one.

A new one may be enacted this year!

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Last week’s South Side Streets for Cycling meeting


Peter Taylor points out a route on the Southeast Side

Last Wednesday I put my bicycle on the Red Line, rode down to 95th Street and pedaled over to the Woodson Library, 9525 S. Halsted in Longwood Manor, for the second of three public meetings for the Streets for Cycling Plan 2020. Read Steven’s recap of the previous week’s session at the Garfield Park Conservatory here.

The last meeting of the series takes place this evening from 6-8 pm at the Sulzer Library, 4455 N. Lincoln Lincoln Square. If you can’t make it, there are also webinars you can attend online on Friday and Monday from noon to 1 pm.

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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.

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Heritage Bicycles opening party was a good time


The owner talks to party guests. You can see the small food menu above him. 

Guests to Saturday night’s opening party at Heritage Bicycles and General Store (2959 N Lincoln Avenue) had their choice of free wine and any coffee drink the baristas could make. There were hors d’oeuvres and delicious cupcakes, too.

John met Michael Salvatore, the owner, several months ago, but I met him for the first time. He was surprised that so many people showed up (over 70 while I was there), and impressed and appreciative of all the attention his shop has received locally and nationwide (people all around the country have been linking in).

My friend Alexander Richard came, too, and he said the idea of a café and bike shop is well thought, adding, “it’s something entirely progressive, which is what this city needs”.

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James Porter reflects on life as a CTA warrior


James Porter must be one of Chicago’s foremost authorities on getting around the town without an automobile. As a music journalist, singer, harmonica player, and one half of the DJ duo East of Edens Soul Express, Porter travels from his home in the Mid-South neighborhood of Chatham to every nook and cranny of the city to get to record stores, concerts and gigs, usually by walking, bus and train. James contributed the following essay about his experiences as an expert Chicago Transit Authority rider.

Continue reading James Porter reflects on life as a CTA warrior