Bike sharing in Toronto: a preview for Chicago’s program

On a recent visit to Toronto, I decided to try Bixi bike sharing as a way of exploring the city, getting a taste of the Toronto cycling experience and trying bike sharing, in anticipation of Chicago’s planned launch of a similar system.

Each day, my ride was waiting outside my door.


York station, at York and Queens Quay West.

When I entered my code on the dock keypad, the yellow light flashed, then the green light was accompanied by a bike bell sound.


Members insert their key fob. Lights indicate the bike’s unlocking/locking status. 

The Bixi bike is a sturdy utilitarian model, comparable to a Dutch city bike. Its heavy steel frame and fat tires absorb a good amount of vibration and shock. Its front basket has a built-in bungee cord to keep things in place.  A hub dynamo powers LED blinky headlights on the front of the basket and tail lights on the rear stays.  They worked quite reliably when the bikes were moving, but I found myself wishing that the tail lights were a little brighter.  I supplemented mine with an additional red blinky that I brought from home. Continue reading Bike sharing in Toronto: a preview for Chicago’s program

Bike Chicago’s protest of Alta Bicycle Share winning bike sharing contract


An example bicycle from Public Bike Share Co. Click on the image to read the photographer’s short review of his trip. Photo by Kevin Zolkiewicz. We’ll publish a review of bicycling in Toronto later this week. 

The Chicago Office of the Inspector General is currently investigating the procurement process for the bike sharing RFP that selected Alta Bicycle Share, Inc., and its partner, Public Bike Share Co., as the winner bidder to launch a bike sharing program in the city with 4,000 bikes and 400 kiosks.

In March, Josh Squire, the president of Bike Chicago (a sponsor of this blog through Bike and Park), called the selection process “tainted”. In April he sent Grid Chicago a summary of the allegations and a detailed timeline of evidence supporting them. We’re posting it now because we’ve received a couple inquiries about the procurement process that this could help answer.

We will contact the Inspector General’s office soon to get an update on the investigation. The Chicago Department of Transportation and its commissioner Gabe Klein have made two separate comments to Grid Chicago about the investigation: at MBAC, and at Bike to Work Day Rally.

Download the email (.pdf).

Follow the bike sharing tag to read all of our coverage.

A quick interview with Gabe Klein at the Bike to Work Rally


Klein with Active Trans’ Julia Kim.

With terrific weather there was a good turnout at today’s Bike to Work Rally under the giant Picasso in Daley Plaza. As the festivities wound down, I buttonholed Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein to ask him a few questions about the state of cycling in Chicago.

This is going to be a big year for bicycling in Chicago. What things are you most excited about that are coming up this year?

There’s so much that we’re working on, but I’m really proud of the bike team’s efforts on the protected bike lanes and the buffered bike lanes, and traditional bike lanes. I mean, last year we put in 39 miles all across the board, which was probably more than we’ve ever done. This year we’re going to put in 25 miles of protected and buffered bike lanes, mostly protected. So I’m very excited about our efforts to make it safer for people, particularly to get to work. That’s why Bike to Work Week is great. What we’ve seen, and I’ve heard it from people in our agency is, people are like, “Wow, I didn’t know it was so much fun and so fast and so easy to get to work on my bike.” And now if we can just make it a little safer, then I think people will be like, “There’s no good reason not to do this.”

Continue reading A quick interview with Gabe Klein at the Bike to Work Rally

Bike sharing delays, bike lane designs, and other highlights from Wednesday’s MBAC meeting


CDOT staffer Mike Amsden describes the city’s commitment to bicycling in a presentation about the progress of the Streets for Cycling Plan 2020. 

Yesterday’s Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council (MBAC) meeting was the first in a new format we reported on back in December. There was a meeting in March, but its schedule wasn’t announced. The new format resembles the original format in 1992, when Mayor Daley started MBAC, with formally defined membership. It’s now modeled on the Mayor’s Pedestrian Advisory Council, according to Luann Hamilton, deputy commissioner of project development at the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT). She expounded:

We’ve added so many issues. When we started, biking in Chicago wasn’t a health issue, it was a recreation issue. Once it was linked to health, it brought in a whole new group of people that needed to be connected. Bring more voices, more diversity. Modeled after our MPAC which was formed in 2006 (also has technical and stakeholders committees). Some represent agencies, others are advocates, community members, all who want to make streets safer and usable by all travelers.

The council can be active again, vote, carry motion, write a letter. I think we were instrumental in creating changes, like at CTA and Metra [getting them to allow bicycles on buses and trains]. I think this Council can have a powerful voice. All the folks who have come over the years can still come and make presentations.

The first hour is for members to speak and present. The remaining half hour is for public comments and discussion. Hamilton answered affirmatively to Active Transportation Alliance executive director Ron Burke’s question about whether or not she anticipates the council being able to make recommendations. Continue reading Bike sharing delays, bike lane designs, and other highlights from Wednesday’s MBAC meeting

WGN radio host talks to CDOT’s Scott Kubly about bike sharing


Scott Kubly from the Chicago Department of Transportation talks about speed camera enforcement.

Jonathon Brandmeier, weekday morning host on WGN 720AM, talked to Scott Kubly on Friday, April 27, about bike sharing in Chicago. Kubly oversees the Bicycle Program’s implementation of the bike sharing program, among other projects, for the Department of  Transportation (CDOT).

Download the MP3 or listen to it in a Flash player on WGN’s website. Continue reading WGN radio host talks to CDOT’s Scott Kubly about bike sharing

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