Laurino walks home from the opening of the Sauganash Trail in 2008. Image courtesy of 39th Ward.
[This piece also appeared in Checkerboard City, John’s weekly transportation column in Newcity magazine, which hits the streets on Wednesday evenings.]
As “mini mayors,” Chicago aldermen have a huge influence on the kinds of projects that are built in their districts. For example, a handful of aldermen have opted to use “menu money” discretionary funds to stripe additional bicycle lanes in their wards or bankroll innovative transportation projects, like the Albany Home Zone traffic-calmed block in Logan Square. On the other hand, they can stand in the way of progress, as when former 50th Ward Alderman Berny Stone put the kibosh on a bike bridge over the North Shore Channel in West Rogers Park.
39th Ward Alderman Margaret Laurino’s Far Northwest Side district includes parts of the Albany Park, North Park, Sauganash, Mayfair, Independence Park and Old Irving Park neighborhoods. The chairman of the City Council’s Pedestrian and Traffic Safety Committee, she’s probably best known to cyclists as the sponsor of a new ordinance that bans texting and talking on cell phones while cycling. But she’s actually one of City Hall’s outspoken advocates for sustainable transportation.
As part of our ongoing project to interview all fifty of Chicago’s aldermen about sustainable transportation issues in their districts, I recently caught up with Laurino at her ward service office, 4404 West Lawrence, to get her views on walking, biking and transit issues in her ward and citywide.
Continue reading Talking transportation with 39th Ward Alderman Margaret Laurino
Moving forward with our projectto interview all 50 Chicago aldermen about their views on sustainable transportation, I recently met with 7th Ward Alderman and Committeeman Sandi Jackson at her office, 7123 S. Yates, directly across from a Metra station. Her district includes parts of the South Shore, South Chicago, and Calumet Heights communities on the Southeast Side.
After defeating incumbent Darcel Beavers in 2007, Sandi took her place in Chicago’s influential Jackson family dynasty. Her husband is Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., representing Illinois’ 2nd district, which includes the 7th Ward, and her father-in-law is civil rights activist and former presidential candidate Jesse Jackson Sr. As alderman, Sandi has been a strong supporter of the proposal to redevelop the former U.S. Steel plant site, located on the lakefront between 79th and 92nd. The proposed housing and retail development, called Lakeside, would include the Chicago Velo Campus indoor velodrome and multisport complex.
We discussed her commuting habits, the importance of providing multiple transportation options to Lakeside residents, and why she’s excited about the velo campus idea. We also talked about why she’s supporting the city’s Streets for Cycling and bike sharing projects, as well as her own plans to encourage positive pedestrian activity on the ward’s business strips by hiring security guards to patrol the areas.
Continue reading Talking transportation with 7th Ward Alderman Sandi Jackson
“On Bicycles” contributors John and Greg Borzo are showing off what you can win if you vote for the next alderman to interview. Photo by Serge Lubomudrov.
John has so far published interviews with four Chicago alderman about sustainable transportation in his project to interview all 50. He’ll publish an interview next week with 7th Ward alderwoman Sandi Jackson, upping the count to five. We’re hosting a contest on our Facebook page to choose the next alderman John should interview.
There are 5 randomly selected alderman listed as options and you can add your own suggestion: vote now!
We’ll hold a drawing this weekend, randomly choosing a voter to win one of two books: Bars Across America and On Bicycles.
The aldermen so far:
Continuing with our project to interview all 50 aldermen about sustainable transportation, I recently caught up with Ameya Pawar (A-MAY-ah Puh-WAR) at the 47th Ward service office, 4243 N. Lincoln. His ward includes parts of Lakeview, Roscoe Village, North Center, Roscoe Village and Lincoln Square.
After longtime alderman Eugene Schulter retired last year, Pawar ran a grassroots campaign that defeated Schulter ally Tommy O’Donnell, making Pawar Chicago’s first Asian-American alderman and, at age 30, the youngest current member of City Council. So far he’s shown himself to be a strong advocate for walking, biking and transit, as well as environmentally sustainable street design.
His staff includes Transportation Planner Bill Higgins, a former colleague of Steven’s from UIC’s urban planning program. After studying the ward’s existing bikeways, Higgins proposed building the city’s first neighborhood greenway (AKA bike boulevard, a traffic-calmed, bike-and-pedestrian-priority side street) in the ward on Berteau Avenue (4200 N.) from Lincoln Avenue to Clark Street.
In our interview, Pawar and I discussed his commuting habits, the upcoming Lawrence Avenue streetscape and road diet and the proposal for a new retail and housing development in conjunction with Metra’s Ravenswood station rehab. We also talked about plans for relocating bus stops, his idea to pilot Portland-style street murals as traffic calming, and whether Berteau is a good location for the neighborhood greenway.
Continue reading Talking Transportation with 47th Ward Alderman Ameya Pawar
[This piece also runs on the Chicago web publication Gapers Block.]
As part of an ongoing project to interview all 50 of Chicago’s aldermen about sustainable transportation issues in their districts, I recently caught up with Scott Waguespack at the 32nd Ward service office, 2657 N. Clybourn. His ward includes parts of Ukrainian Village, Wicker Park, Bucktown, Goose Island, Lincoln Park, Lakeview and Roscoe Village.
In 2007 Waguespack defeated Richard M. Daley-backed incumbent Ted Matlak and soon gained a reputation as an independent voice in City Council. Most famously, he was the leading critic of Daley’s push to privatize the city’s parking meters, a move that the former mayor would eventually admit, “we totally screwed up.” Continue reading Talking transportation with 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack
This is the second of a series of interviews I hope to conduct with all fifty Chicago aldermen about walking, biking and transit issues in their ward. Earlier this year I talked to 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett. Last month I spoke with 25th Ward Alderman Daniel “Danny” Solis, whose district includes such diverse neighborhoods as Pilsen, Chinatown, University Village and Little Italy. The different ethnicities of his ward are reflected by the artwork in his City Hall office, including works by Mexican, Italian, African-American and Chinese artists, including a life-size replica of a terra cotta soldier from the mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang.
We discussed Solis’ efforts to improve pedestrian safety in his ward after a hit-and-run pedestrian fatality at 18th and Halsted, the upcoming protected bike lane on 18th between Canal and Clark and the pros and cons of the Pink Line conversion. We also talked about his dream of a bike/ped path along 16th, the new sustainable streetscape in his ward, and his upcoming trip to Amsterdam to study bike infrastructure. Continue reading Talking transportation with 25th Ward Alderman Danny Solis