Does aldermanic prerogative undermine Chicago’s Pedestrian Street ordinance?

City-installed bike parking and business-installed bike parkingEd. note: This post was written by Steven Vance and Christopher Gagnon, a Logan Square resident.

“So who is the amazing architect who designed the new McDonalds…with a utility door facing Milwaukee Ave.?  Is there some sort of safety reason for an ugly utility door being placed at that spot, in the front of the restaurant??”

Good question. This message, posted December 6 to the Logan Square Yahoo! Group, a neighborhood online discussion board, can be read as more than a criticism of the architecture of the newly rebuilt McDonald’s at 2707 N Milwaukee Avenue, as it recalls a controversial decision – and some unfinished business – for Logan Square pedestrians.

For those unfamiliar with the issue, a quick primer:

Chicago’s City Council established the “Pedestrian Streets” (“P-Streets”) ordinance to “preserve and enhance the character of…pedestrian oriented shopping districts…[and] to promote transit, economic vitality and pedestrian safety and comfort,” and this designation was applied, among other locations citywide, to Milwaukee Avenue between Kedzie and Sawyer.

When the owners of the McDonald’s located within this area decided to build a new store at their existing location, they turned to Alderman Colón for relief from restrictions imposed by the P-Street designation that would have prohibited their drive-thru operation.  In November 2011, Alderman Colón introduced a controversial ordinance (adopted June 2012) removing the area from the list of P-Streets so McDonald’s owners could obtain the necessary permits for the curb cuts and drive-thru.

Continue reading Does aldermanic prerogative undermine Chicago’s Pedestrian Street ordinance?

Kidical Mass tours the 35th Ward to see student transportation plan recommendations


The Kidical Mass ride starts at 11 AM every second Saturday at Palmer Square Park. This ride was different in that it incorporated stops at places recommended to receive improvements in the 35th Ward Student Active Transportation Plan. 

I joined 40 parents, children, and neighbors, on Saturday, July 14, to ride with Kidical Mass on a special tour of the 35th Ward in conjunction with the planning team of the 35th Ward Student Active Transportation Plan. The team comprised members of Active Transportation Alliance and Sam Schwartz Engineering, both of whom were part of the Streets for Cycling 2020 Plan. Continue reading Kidical Mass tours the 35th Ward to see student transportation plan recommendations

Bike sharing and speed cameras ordinances pass in today’s Chicago City Council meeting

This article will be updated a few times after publishing while I gather all the information. All regular city council meetings are streamed live with video and transcript and that is where I am getting all of the information.


Alderman Cardenas of the 12th ward speaks in support of the speed camera ordinance.

Bike sharing

Bike sharing passes City Council, 46-1. Alderman Robert Fioretti (2nd) was the sole alderman to vote against the ordinance. The system will launch in September 2012.

Margarent Laurino (39th, chair of the committe on pedestrian and traffic safety) gave a prepared statement.

Colón (35th) talks about his experience in Seville, Spain, in March 2011. The city made investments in bicycle facilities, and bike sharing, and saw an enormous increase in the number of people cycling there.

Continue reading Bike sharing and speed cameras ordinances pass in today’s Chicago City Council meeting

Pedestrian and Traffic Safety committee approves Chicago’s bike share plan


This morning at City Hall, the Pedestrian and Traffic Safety Committee approved an ordinance to enter into a contract with Portland, Oregon-based Alta Bicycle Share, Inc. to run the city’s first major bike sharing system with 3,000 bikes at 300 stations, slated to launch in September. Another 1,000 bikes at 100 kiosks will be added next year. The approval paves the way for fulfilling Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s promise to create a large-scale bike share system in his first term, a move that could dramatically increase Chicago’s bicycle mode share. The full council will vote on this April 18th.

At the committee meeting Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) staff presented the plan to a handful of aldermen. CDOT First Deputy Commissioner Pat Harney, outlined Alta’s qualifications for implementing the program, noting that the company runs bike share systems in several other large cities, including London, Melbourne, Minneapolis, Washington, D.C. and Montreal.

Harney also argued that bike sharing will provide a convenient transportation option and health benefits for many Chicagoans. “The Surgeon General Reports that just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day will produce long-term health benefits,” he said. “This means that just a quick ride to the train station or grocery store and back several days a week will lead to improved health for many residents.”

Continue reading Pedestrian and Traffic Safety committee approves Chicago’s bike share plan

Neighbors propose new plan for Logan Square traffic “free for all”


A rendering of a new design for Logan Square. It may be helpful to look at all six of the images in a new window while you read this article. Open the location on Bing Maps bird’s eye view

If you receive 35th Ward Alderman Colón’s newsletter, you would have seen in December a couple graphics and short description of a Logan Square “reimagination”, or rather, the Logan Square Bicentennial Improvements Project. The “square” of Logan Square is really circle at the confluence of Logan Boulevard, which ends here, Kedzie Avenue (which goes around the west side), and Milwaukee Avenue (which cuts the square).

Three Logan Square residents, Charlie Keel, Don Semple, and Ryan Westrom, have created a new plan for the Logan Square traffic circle, an unrivaled demonstration of multi-modal transportation harmony. I kid. The plan, which reduces the number of lanes, shortens crosswalk distances, and adds a mix of conventional and protected bike lanes, has received support from the Logan Square Preservation Society, Alderman Colón, and Active Transportation Alliance. And maybe even the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT).

Continue reading Neighbors propose new plan for Logan Square traffic “free for all”

Next steps for 35th Ward student active transportation plan


I attended the first public meeting for the 35th Ward student active transportation plan, being managed by Sam Schwartz Engineering and Active Transportation Alliance (ActiveTrans), but left without understanding what the planners envision next, based on the outcomes of the meeting.

I asked Adolfo Hernandez at ActiveTrans about this. He replied:

The next steps include Sam Schwartz Engineering reviewing the community’s input and developing a set of approaches to improve walking and biking access to specific parks and schools within the ward. That set of strategies will be presented as a plan to the community in a public meeting. At that meeting, the public will have an opportunity to hear about the plan and its recommendations as well as help identify priority projects for implementation.

The plan will include some recommendations for short, mid and long term projects but we really want the community to guide prioritizing projects. The alderman [Rey Colón] has agreed to use the plan as a guide for making the ward safer for biking and walking. The alderman has committed to using some menu funds as well as leveraging other funding sources to help implement the plan.

Mark de la Vergne, at Sam Schwartz Engineering added:

During this time, we’ll also be working with the Alderman’s office and Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) to discuss the potential recommendations and how they may fit within current efforts.

I will inform you when the next meeting is scheduled.