CTA late to social media but performing like a pro


Logan Square, looking northwest, taken October 11, 1968, during construction that moved the Northwest L underground. It previously terminated at Kedzie and Logan Boulevard.

The Chicago Transit Authority didn’t launch their Twitter account and page on Facebook until November 1 this year, but as of this writing has 5,008 followers on Twitter, and 4,972 likes on Facebook. I wrote the day after launch that there was “latent demand” for these methods of communication, and that CTA provides myriad other tools for getting information. Continue reading CTA late to social media but performing like a pro

Is anybody actually using Chicago’s new pedestrian safety flags?


Flags at Francisco and Devon – all photos courtesy of CDOT, taken the day the flags were installed

[This piece also runs in Time Out Chicago magazine.]

This fall the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) used a shock-and-awe strategy to raise awareness of pedestrian safety issues. As part of its $495,000 “It’s Up To You” safety campaign, funded by a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, CDOT placed scary ads on trash receptacles and buses, illustrating the devastating effects of reckless driving. The department also installed 32 dead-white mannequins along Wacker Drive representing Chicagoans killed by cars last year.

CDOT’s latest ped safety initiative is also in-your-face, but in a kinder, gentler way. On December 8 the department zip-tied canisters of blaze-orange safety flags to poles at ten uncontrolled (no stoplight or stop sign) intersections near senior centers, schools and hospitals all over town. Since state law requires cars to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk, you’re supposed to grab a flag, wave it to signal drivers to stop, cross the street and leave the pennant in the container on the other side.

On the Monday three days after the flags were installed, I visited locations around the city to find out whether people were actually using the flags, or just stealing them.

Continue reading Is anybody actually using Chicago’s new pedestrian safety flags?

Safer roadway designs: How Danes make right turns

I went to Copenhagen, Denmark, in January 2011, and I was there for about 48 hours. I met Mikael of Copenhagenize, who lent me his Velorbis bike. I biked as much as possible, at all hours of the day, and I encountered a lot of the cycling infrastructure that makes it easy to bike and encourages the hundreds of thousands of trips by bike a day – even in winter!

This photo essay shows one of the ways you can design an intersection to facilitate safe right turns and through-maneuevers, for both people driving and cycling, as seen in Copenhagen. I’m posting this to show an alternative to the centered bike lane design common in Chicago that leads to many unsafe merge maneuvers that I mentioned yesterday in A tale of five bridges (first photo).


The driver of the white taxi on the left yielded to bicyclists going straight before making a right turn from the left lane to the right lane and enter the Kennedy Expressway ramp. Not everyone yields.  Continue reading Safer roadway designs: How Danes make right turns

A stealth bike route from the Loop to Division and Halsted


Underneath the southern building of the old Montgomery Ward complex, 758 N. Larrabee

Saturday night I led a group of cyclists to Won Kow, 2237 S. Wentworth in Chinatown, for our traditional Christmas Eve dinner. Afterwards people wanted to go hang out at Delilah’s, a punk rock bourbon bar at 2771 N. Lincoln in Lincoln Park. Remembering that the Halsted Bridge over the North Branch of the Chicago River is currently under construction, I recalled a cool riverside route we could take from downtown to Division and Halsted, bypassing the missing bridge.

I stumbled upon this route a few months ago while exploring bits and pieces of riverwalk and riverside bike paths which I hope to eventually string together into a tranquil itinerary from the Loop to the start of the North Branch Trail on the far Northwest Side. My companions on the Chinatown ride seemed to dig this “secret” path, so I thought I’d share it with Grid Chicago readers. Here’s a Google map of the route. You might try it next time you’re traveling from downtown to Lincoln Park or Wicker Park. Continue reading A stealth bike route from the Loop to Division and Halsted

A tale of five bridges

An alternate title I thought of using: Three steps forward, five steps back?

Both Chicago’s Complete Streets policy and the Bike 2015 Plan talk about the need to “ensure that roadway construction zones are bicycle-friendly”, but this is not being practiced. Here are five examples. I previously discussed this problem, at length, in June 2011, in Making construction areas and detours bike-friendly. It included a short mention of the second bridge project in this post.

Harrison Street


No more jersey barriers. See what this used to look likeContinue reading A tale of five bridges

Our first year: The most popular articles


The new Halsted Street bridge over the North Branch Canal opened Friday. 

We launched on June 17th this year. We reached a few goals, and almost reached a couple others, and published 215 articles. We hit 100,000 page views in November, and we hope to double that soon, in less time.

These are the 10 most viewed articles up to December 22, 2011:

  1. Postal service making a mockery of Kinzie protected bike lane
    I’m not sure if they still are, but I know that FedEx, UPS, and moving companies continue to block the bike lane. This article received 55 comments.
  2. The second annual Bike Fashion Panel: sharp dressed men
    Dottie says: “I see a lot of women on bikes who are looking really nice, but I think I’ve only ever seen one man riding a bike in a suit”.
  3. How did progressive transportation czar Gabe Klein get that way?
    Out of the top 3 articles, this one’s been published for the shortest time. Continue reading Our first year: The most popular articles