Final Bloomingdale Trail meeting presents nearly final designs and plans


The Bloomingdale Trail design team, a consortium of engineers, planners, artists, and horticulture experts from Chicago and around the country, presented their latest designs at the final public meeting on Monday night at the Humboldt Park field house. The elevated park’s design was divided into 7 segments and printed on enormous posters in two rooms. An eighth segment summarized the phenology planting concept and artwork scattered across the Bloomingdale Trail.

I inspected many of the designs and listened to people express their admiration, excitement, as well as lingering concerns. They included:

  • How tall is the privacy screen? 10 feet; the privacy screen consists of a metal mesh wall covered in plants.
  • Will traffic configurations change on Lawndale Avenue or Bloomingdale Avenue? Nope.
  • How are fast cyclists going to be slowed down? This question has been answered identically at every meeting: the design team has implemented a variety of solutions including horizontal and vertical “deflection” that serve to calm traffic. In this author’s opinion, the mix of traffic (people walking, jogging, pushing strollers, rolling on mobility devices) will slow cyclists.

Enjoy the designs (view the full set of photos). When available, we will publish the digital versions of these images. A comment card at the meeting indicated that this was the final period for neighbors to make comments about the designs (email them to Read our past coverage of the project.

Update: Less than 2 hours after posting, the digital images are available. Download a 3 MB .pdf file Continue reading Final Bloomingdale Trail meeting presents nearly final designs and plans

“A Visitor from Chicago” by Wolfgang Scherreiks


John near Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin. Photo by Wolfgang Scherreiks.

Last month while visiting Berlin I met up with local journalist and bike blogger Wolgang Sherreiks near Checkpoint Charlie, the famous crossing between West Berlin and East Berlin during the Cold War. I interviewed him about the local bike scene, and then he asked me about Chicago. The following article originally ran on Wolfgang’s bike culture website, fahrradjournal (“Bikejournal”). Grid Chicago reader Greg Dreyer kindly translated it from the original German.

Earlier this week John Greenfield from the sustainable transportation blog Grid Chicago came to Berlin for a short visit as part of a two-week trip that also includes stops in Copenhagen, Amsterdam and a few other Dutch cities. Fahrradjournal talked to him about biking conditions in Chicago, the so-called “Mary Poppins Effect” and his first impressions of Berlin.

Continue reading “A Visitor from Chicago” by Wolfgang Scherreiks

Design and features of six Bloomingdale Trail access parks are formulated in a single night


Participants at Tuesday evening’s access parks charrette. Most photos by John. 

In 2015, when the Bloomingdale Trail and parks are complete, no one should be able to say that a feature or two isn’t supposed to be there. In a public planning process that continues to impress, with unprecedented, widespread community involvement, a new step was completed on Monday and Tuesday with the release of the framework plan and a trail access and park charrette, respectively. The residents of Chicago have designed this trail and its accompanying access parks by providing feedback probably totaling several million words. This is a process where votes are cast by showing up and participating; homeowners concerned about privacy met directly with members of the design team, and meeting participants stressing their concerns over people bicycling too fast were among the voters.

The design team, which consists of the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), Trust for Public Land (TPL), the Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail, and TPL and the Park District’s many contractors, held an access park charrette on Tuesday, May 15, 2012, at the Humboldt Park Fieldhouse. Continue reading Design and features of six Bloomingdale Trail access parks are formulated in a single night

The Bloomingdale rails-to-trails conversion is chugging along


One the perks of co-writing this blog is attending events that I probably wouldn’t get to go to otherwise. Case in point was last week’s swanky benefit party, “The Bloomingdale: An Ideas Salon,” at the Hotel Allegro, 171 W. Randolph. According to Beth White, Chicago director for the Trust for Public Land (TPL), the nonprofit which is assisting with the community input process and private fundraising campaign for the 2.65-mile elevated park and trail, about 150 people attended. She’s yet not sure how much will have been raised after expenses, but the $100 ticket price means the event grossed about $15,000.

Continue reading The Bloomingdale rails-to-trails conversion is chugging along

Grid Shots: Nature

Today is Earth Day. Although I’d argue that every day is earth day. The theme of today’s Grid Shots photo post is “nature”. When it comes to sustainable transportation, the most likely place you’ll discover the connection with nature is on a multi-use trail. And there’s where all of these photos were taken, by Joshua Koonce and Michelle Stenzel.


Cycling on Northerly Island. This used to be an airport and runway called Meigs Field until former mayor Richard M. Daley sent work crews in the middle of the night to bulldoze X’s in the runway. The island (really a manmade peninsula) is now a bird sanctuary. Photo by MS.


The Lakefront Trail is closed because of heavy wind and waves in October 2011. Photo by MS.


People walk on the Bloomingdale Trail. Photo by JK.


A guy rides his tricycle selling helado de coco, or coconut sorbet, in Humboldt Park. Photo by JK.

Grid Shots: Our deteriorating infrastructure

The theme of this post is especially salient given that Congress cannot agree on a new transportation bill (instead they renewed the existing program one more time). Then last Friday I get an email from the Natural Resources Defense Council, giving me an update on dilapidated transportation in the state (2,200 structurally deficient bridges, transit systems that need repairs and upgrades).


Division Street bridge over Goose Island. The bridge will be replaced. Photo by Seth Anderson.  Continue reading Grid Shots: Our deteriorating infrastructure