Bill Savage at the McKinley Park lagoon.
[This piece also appeared in Checkerboard City, John’s weekly transportation column in Newcity magazine, which hits the streets in print on Wednesday evenings.]
“Nelson Algren wrote, ‘It isn’t hard to love a town for its greater and its lesser towers, its pleasant parks or its flashing ballet,’” says Algren scholar Bill Savage, strapping on his bicycle helmet. “‘But you never truly love it until you can love its alleys too.’ So there’s this dynamic in the city between the boulevard and the alley, between the beautiful urban spaces and the place where the garbage and the rats are, and if you really love Chicago you’ve got to love both.”
An English lecturer at Northwestern University, Bill grew up in Rogers Park with his brother, sex advice columnist Dan Savage, and still lives in the neighborhood. “I tell my students, it’s very easy to experience the city secondhand, in books and movies and online,” Bill says. “But if you’re not out there on the pavement, whether on foot or on a bicycle or in a car or on public transportation, you’re missing something.”
Continue reading Savage ride: a trans-Chicago bike trek with Nelson Algren scholar Bill Savage
View from the hill located in the Brownlands.
[This piece also appeared in “Checkerboard City”, John’s weekly transportation column in Newcity magazine, which hits the streets on Wednesday evenings.]
A local ordinance requires that all new developments along the Chicago River include public access to the waterfront, so eventually there could be a network of riverwalks to rival the Lakefront Trail. But for now it takes a little detective work to navigate the waterway by bicycle. I’ve researched a few “stealth routes” along the North Branch, connecting bits and pieces of riverfront path with quiet side streets — you can read about them here. Last week I scouted out a fascinating route along the South Branch from the Loop to Bridgeport, but I should warn you that it isn’t completely legal. Here’s a Google map of the route.
Continue reading A stealth route along the South Branch of the Chicago River
CDOT’s Mike Amsden and 4th Ward Alderman Will Burns
I’m always happy to pay a visit to my old stomping ground of Hyde Park-Kenwood. So Monday afternoon I took advantage of a nice southbound wind and pedaled down the lakefront to Kenwood Academy for a 4th Ward community meeting hosted by Alderman Will Burns. At the assembly Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) bike planner Mike Amsden gave a presentation about the CDOT’s plans to install protected bike lanes and buffered bike lanes on the Near South Side. The new facilities would be part of the city’s Streets for Cycling plan to install 100 miles of protected lanes and some 150 miles of other innovative bikeways over the next few years.
Here’s a map of the proposed locations in or near the 4th Ward. As Amsden outlined at the meeting, these streets would be undergoing “road diets,” removing and/or narrowing car travel lanes to make room for the new bike lanes. Additional benefits would include discouraging speeding and other reckless driving behavior, as well as reduced crossing distances for pedestrians. Continue reading CDOT proposes road diets, protected bike lanes for King, 31st and 55th
Two participants take the community Voicebox quadricycle for a test drive in the park.
Community Voicebox is the winning project of Bill Vassilakis and Jeff Munie from The Air We Breathe competition. It’s about listening to and recording the stories and thoughts of residents when it comes to two major and visible sources of pollution in the Lower West Side neighborhoods of Bridgeport, Little Village, and Pilsen: the Fisk and Crawford coal-burning power plants.
When it comes to documenting residents’ responses to the environmental hazards surrounding them, the Community Voicebox keeps it simple: a quadricycle and an iPad. Read more about the concept and my interview with Bill on Steven Can Plan – today on Grid Chicago I’ll be exploring how Bill and Jeff get the Community Voicebox around town.
Continue reading Quad bike: How the Community Voicebox travels in Chicago
Additional reporting and bridge photo by Michael Burton
All other photos by Travis Taylor
Revolution Brewing owner Josh Deth passes out black military-style caps with red six-pointed Chicago stars to the forty people who’ve showed up at his brewpub on this gorgeous June morning for the Communist-themed Long March. This eight-mile hike from Logan Square to Comiskey Park is named after the 8,000-mile retreat of the Chinese Red Army’s led by Mao Zedong in 1934 from Chiang Kai-Shek’s nationalist forces.
After brunch and glasses of pink, hibiscus-infused Rosa beer our parade steps off southeast on Milwaukee Avenue, led by march organizer and pedestrian activist Michael Burton. I’m walking near the front of the pack holding aloft a Chicago flag, wearing a t-shirt with the image of a walk signal and the words, “Walking is NOT a crime.” The shirt is a souvenir from a 2004 Pedestrian Critical Mass demonstration that Burton organized in response to a proposed crackdown by the city’s Traffic Management Authority on downtown jaywalkers. I soon hand off the flag to a more photogenic woman with pink hair wearing knee boots and hot pants.
Continue reading The Long March