48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman, CDOT Deputy Commissioner Scott Kubly, 47th Ward Alderman Ameya Pawar, and Active Transportation Alliance staff member Lee Crandell stand in front of a crowd of over 60 local residents to discuss a recent aldermanic trip to Copenhagen.
Earlier this year, three Chicago alderman along with two staff members from the Department of Transportation traveled to Copenhagen to learn about the city’s cycling infrastructure. Last Thursday, two of the alderman who took part in that trip – Ameya Pawar of the 47th Ward and Harry Osterman of the 48th Ward – held an event at the Swedish American Museum in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood to discuss their experience. They were joined by CDOT Deputy Commissioner Scott Kubly, one of two CDOT staff members whom accompanied the aldermen to Copenhagen. The other was Bicycle Program Coordinator Ben Gomberg.
Scott Kubly began the presentation by discussing the history of Copenhagen’s cycling movement and describing some of the infrastructure elements that have allowed cycling to become so successful in the city. Kubly said that his biggest takeaway from the trip was that the city wasn’t always a bike utopia.
“If you go back as recently as the 1970s, it was very much a car-culture,” Kubly said. “They were building freeways. There was a time when all of this fantastic public space that we saw was dominated by parked cars. They’ve spent the last 30 to 40 years incrementally improving their infrastructure.” Continue reading Bringing a bit of Copenhagen to Chicago: two north side aldermen discuss their recent trip to the cycling mecca
47th Ward Alderman Ameya Pawar discusses the greenway. Photo by Steven E. Gross.
When I attended a community meeting about the proposed Berteau Street “neighborhood greenway” last March, the following comment was representative of some 47th Ward residents’ panicked reaction to the idea of their street being reconfigured. “It’s going to create havoc and unnecessary confusion and problems and an inability to get in and out of our neighborhoods,” one local woman said to Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and 47th Ward staffers at the assembly. “So I’m asking you to rethink what you’re doing.”
Neighborhood greenways, known as “bike boulevards” in other cities, are residential streets where speeding and cut-through traffic are discouraged through the use of traffic calming devices and/or traffic diverters – bump-outs, cul-de-sacs and other structures which prevent cars from driving down the entire length of the street or making certain turns. Meanwhile, contraflow bicycle lanes allow bikes to travel in both directions on one-way sections, and the traffic diverters have cutouts that permit cyclists to continue unimpeded.
Continue reading The Berteau Greenway moves forward without traffic diverters
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