Open discussion: What suggestions do you have for bikes on trains?

Update: Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) blogged a new report about this connection. I haven’t read it yet, though. 

I am passionate about the nexus of bicycling and transit, and I’ve written often on Steven Can Plan about how bikes are stored on trains in the United States and around the world. When I travel, I look at this relationship closely.


Bikes on the subway in Seoul, South Korea. Photographer unknown. 

Recently I’ve had several discussions with people (the latest while volunteering at Pitchfork Festival in early July 2011) about getting bikes on the South Shore Line that goes to Indiana. What I’ve learned is that it will probably take an act of legislation to make this happen, as well as a reconfiguration of the trains. This is what forced Metra to change its policies, but they caved before the legislation passed. Continue reading Open discussion: What suggestions do you have for bikes on trains?

Grid Shots for the last day of July 2011


Bicyclist under the shadows of the ‘L’ structure in Lakeview, at Roscoe and Clark Streets. Photo by hetrickm. 


Bicyclists wait at the stoplight in the crotch of Milwaukee, North, and Damen Avenues. Photo by Mike Travis. 


A passenger waits for the CTA train at the Roosevelt L station. Photo by Eric Rogers. 

Add your photos to the Grid Chicago pool.

Still to go: 99.5 miles of protected bike lanes, 25 bridges

Well, Mayor Rahm Emanuel only promised one: 100 miles of protected bike lanes. But as I pointed out on Friday, July 22, 2011, there are 25 bridges that are still hostile to cycling.


If you can see the water below, you’re on an open metal grate bridge. But don’t look down as you may lose your balance.  Continue reading Still to go: 99.5 miles of protected bike lanes, 25 bridges

On open metal grate bridges

It’s raining as I write this which means many bicyclists in Chicago who want to travel over one of the 25 open metal grate bridges without a bike-friendly deck treatment have to decide: risk the slippery conditions on the bridge that cause your bike to feel wobbly and possibly fishtail, or ride on the sidewalk across the river.


A photo I took last night showing the new anti-slip metal plates over the bike lane on the Kinzie Street bridge. These plates cover the metal grates that make bicycling dangerous, especially when wet. 

Riders no longer have to make that choice today if they bicycle through the Kinzie Street protected bike lane as the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) installed a metal deck over the bike lane portion of the bridge. This is the third bridge in two years that CDOT has treated to make bicycle friendly. (The ribbon cutting ceremony is Monday, July 25, at 11 AM, on the southeast corner of Kinzie and Jefferson.) The other two bridges treated recently are Harrison Street bridge in 2009, and Randolph Street bridge in 2011.

But we still have 25 more dangerous bridges. And CDOT knows this. Continue reading On open metal grate bridges

Grid Shots – photos from our Flickr pool

Recent additions to our one-week old Flickr group, where Grid Chicago readers add their photos about sustainable transportation in Chicagoland. This is the first post of an occasional series. Add your photos!


Photo of cyclists crossing the Kinzie Street protected bike lane, which will have a bike-friendly metal decking come August or September of this year. By Nicholas Norman.


Busking at the Clark/Lake Blue Line station. If you’re a musician and want to play in the (four) approved areas of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) system, you must obtain a permit from the CTA. It doesn’t seem this is one of the approved areas. By Joshua Koonce.


Elderly Chicagoans attempt to cross Western Avenue. Must I say more? By Joshua Koonce.

Using Google Maps bicycle directions to access Chicagoland tiki venues


One of my favorite kinds of bicycling is to just choose a destination, like a library, a restaurant or a beach and then find a pleasant, interesting way to ride there. This summer I’ve been enjoying going out around sunset and doing what I call “dreaming” my way around: I cruise slow and improvise a route on shady side streets while taking in the scenery and letting my mind wander.

Or, if it’s a trip that I often take, sometimes I’ll mix things up by playing a game where every time I come to a red light I have to change directions. Say I’m riding from the Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State, northwest to my home in Logan Square. I might start by pedaling west on Van Buren, then come to a red at Dearborn and turn north, then come to a red at Kinzie and head west, etc.

Some of my favorite suburban destinations are tiki bars and old Chinese restaurants with Polynesian-themed décor. I trace my fascination with “Polynesian Pop” culture to my childhood, when my family used to visit my dad’s cousin Leo’s tiki-themed hotel, the Hawaiian Isle, in North Miami Beach. It’s harder to improvise routes for these kind of suburban safaris, so a little forethought is required.

Continue reading Using Google Maps bicycle directions to access Chicagoland tiki venues