More on the Chicago Forward Action Agenda: Congestion mitigation, truck deliveries, bike messengers


People riding a bicycle and driving a truck, respectively, share the road on Monroe Street in downtown Chicago. Trucks occupy a section of CDOT’s two-year plan. Photo by Joseph Dennis. 

The Chicago Department of Transportation on May 11 released its 100-page, two-year plan to “ensure that Chicago continues to be a vibrant international city, successfully competing in the global economy with a transportation system that provides high- quality service to residents, businesses, and visitors”. That’s the Chicago Forward Action Agenda’s vision statement. Grid Chicago talked to CDOT commissioner Gabe Klein that day about the plan’s development, role in shaping the transportation systems in the city, and select performance measures and action items. In the first part, we discussed the deep partnership with CTA and CDOT, public outreach for the plan (via the Pedestrian and Streets for Cycling planning processes), and eliminating all traffic fatalities. In this part, we talk about congestion, enfacing and consolidating loading zones, and bicycle and truck deliveries.

Download Chicago Forward (13 MB .pdf) to follow along.

There are many performance measures that don’t seem to be performances measures at all. For example, “improve CTA’s on-time performance” on page 41. So if you improve it 1% over 10 years, has the plan achieved the right level of performance?

That’s a very fair criticism. What you have to understand, we don’t run CTA. What we’re trying to do there is let people know that that’s a goal we’re working on. I can very much see your point. In some cases, we just can’t give measurable goals because it wouldn’t be fair to that agency.

It’s not going to be perfect, but I’d rather put something out and actually have goals for the agency, even if we don’t hit 100% of the goals, but 90% of the goals, than have a perfect plan. Continue reading More on the Chicago Forward Action Agenda: Congestion mitigation, truck deliveries, bike messengers

Watch the new commercial for bike messenger championships

Thanks to Brandon Gobel for tipping us to this commercial about Chicagoan Christina Peck prepping for the Cycle Messenger World Championships which will go down at Soldier Field on August 4-5, 2012.


Watch it on YouTube.


A scene from the race in Tokyo, Japan, in 2009. Photo by pistbiker. 

Long hours, low pay, but lots of love – for bike messenging


Michael Malone, photographed by Alex Weaver

Ed. note: This article was contributed by Alex E. Weaver, a grad student at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. The piece also appears on the Medill Reports website. Alex covers transportation issues facing Chicago commuters, with a focus on cycling and car culture.

It’s not every day that practitioners of a low-paying, service industry profession become fodder for major motion picture action thrillers or speak of their daily routine in terms of pride, competition and creativity. Then again, Chicago’s bike messengers are not your everyday delivery service. “Bike messengers get attention because there is something very romantic about the job,” said Jeffrey Kidder, a former bike messenger who has studied them. “It’s fast-paced, it’s physical, and it’s risky.”

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) last estimated that 300 bike messengers are operating in the city, completing more than 1.1 million deliveries annually. And while those numbers may have declined since the recession and the advent of e-mail, Chicago’s streets are still teeming with these daredevil bikers – third only, industry veterans say, to New York and Washington, D.C.

Continue reading Long hours, low pay, but lots of love – for bike messenging

Grid Shots: Cargo biking

To help promote the Cargo Bike Roll Call, happening Monday night from 6-9 PM at West Town Bikes, 1147 N Campbell, this weekend’s edition of Grid Shots is all about cargo biking in Chicago (there aren’t any family biking photos in our Flickr group yet).


Joshua Koonce and I were riding back to my house on California Avenue from Welles Park and we encountered this man carrying several bags of aluminum cans. Here’s another photo of the rider. 

Continue reading Grid Shots: Cargo biking

Zipments shipping marketplace may change local goods delivery

Part 2, interview and chat with Brandon, now published


Brandon Gobel riding his Bullitt on Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square.

While reading my friend Mikael’s Copenhagenize blog, I saw a video featuring a guy in Chicago who delivers goods around town on a Larry vs. Harry Bullitt (a Danish Long John-style cargo bike).

Chicago? Cargo bike? I had to know more.

The courier is Brandon Gobel, a former tractor and semi-truck driver in Ukrainian Village; the video was created by Zipments. Brandon rides a John Player Spezial Bullitt from Splendid Cycles – Chicago has its own dealer – and uses Zipments to find courier jobs.

Continue reading Zipments shipping marketplace may change local goods delivery

Augie Montes on plans for 2012 messenger championships in Chicago


[Photos by Christopher Dilts. This piece also runs on Momentum.]

Every year hundreds of bike couriers from around the globe descend on a different city for the Cycle Messenger World Championships, with races, arts events and parties celebrating one of the toughest, most enjoyable jobs around. This year the 19th annual worlds take place in Warsaw on July 27-31; next year Chicago does the honors.

Augie Montes, an eleven-year veteran of the delivery biz who spearheaded the 2008 North American Cycle Courier Championships (NACCC) in Chicago, talked with me about the recent championships in Tokyo and Panajachel, Guatemala, and filled us in on the Windy City’s plans for hosting the worlds in 2012.

Continue reading Augie Montes on plans for 2012 messenger championships in Chicago