Calling 311 to make service requests about infrastructure is an onerous task


Reporting street issues to 311 was an arduous process that absorbed 24 minutes and 37 seconds of my Monday. I called to follow up on the issue of accessibility I reported in February for the southwest corner of Kinzie Street and Clark Street. After 14 minutes and 09 seconds, the 311 operator found three calls for service – all were marked closed – for that stepped curb! She asked if the problem still existed (it does) and made a new record (the fourth one). The other two records, neither of which were mine, both indicated that it was inaccessible to wheelchairs. She told me that on one of the existing records there was confirmation that it was a vaulted sidewalk (meaning there’s a hollow space underneath). This may be part of the reason this corner wasn’t fixed after the ADA lawsuit.

My original request for this curb problem is 12-00337103, made on February 22, 2012. Today’s request is 12-01060656. Continue reading Calling 311 to make service requests about infrastructure is an onerous task

Does the new “tied arch” bridge on Halsted encourage speeding?


Approaching the new bridge from the south. Here there are two travel lanes, bike lanes and parking lanes.

When new bridges are built in Chicago, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) generally requires that they be built to accommodate projected traffic demands. The assumption is that in the future there will be more people driving than ever before, although most of us hope this won’t be the case.

So when the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) rebuilt the North Damen Avenue bridge over the Chicago River in 2002, IDOT insisted that the old two-lane bridge be replaced with a four-lane, although Damen is generally only a two-lane street. But as a rule, if you give Chicago drivers the opportunity to speed, they will.

So it shouldn’t have been a surprise that as soon as the new bridge opened, motorists took advantage of the new half mile of wide open space between stoplights at Fullerton and Diversey to put the pedal to the metal. The speeding cars, plus the fact that bike lanes weren’t included in the project, turned a formerly bikeable bridge on a recommended bike route into a hostile environment for cyclists.

Continue reading Does the new “tied arch” bridge on Halsted encourage speeding?

Bridges update: Halsted now fully open, Chicago Avenue to be reconstructed, one lawsuit settled so far


Photo of the reconstructed Halsted Street bridge at Chicago Avenue (looking north) by Ian Freimuth. 

John’s interview with Lorena Cupcake on Monday generated some new chatter about open grate bridges on Twitter. We’ve written about the dangerous bridges several times before and called for them to be fixed, even offering to trade 25 miles of Mayor Emanuel’s 100 miles of protected bike lanes for 25 safe bridges. Since then I’ve heard nothing but support for the idea from people who want truly safe connections across the Chicago River even if it meant fewer cycle tracks and buffered bike lane – the sentiment is based largely on the desire to maintain and fix what exists, rather than build anew.

Halsted Street

You can now continuously ride (in the street, no sidewalk jumping necessary) on Halsted Street from Chicago Avenue to Division Street, over Goose Island. The bridge at Division Street was replaced and opened in December 2011, while the bridge at Chicago Avenue had its deck replaced (among other changes). On the edges, a concrete surface was made in a new bike lane to make the bridge more comfortable for cycling.

The pavement marking design on Halsted Street going northbound approaching Division Street uses the centered bike lane design we panned in the article, How Danes make right turns. The bike lane is in between a 10 feet and 11 feet wide travel lane, for about 500 feet, so cyclists will be passed by buses and trucks on both sides. For over 300 feet of the 500 feet section, the bike lane has only dashed lines, possibly reducing its overall visibility. This situation is found on several other streets around Chicago. Dan Ciskey told us, “I hate getting passed by people going 40 MPH on both sides of me on Roosevelt Road”. Roosevelt Road between State Street and Canal Street has a collection of different bike lane designs: There’s a centered bike lane in each direction for hundreds of feet, then the bike lane is shared (again in each direction) with an ambiguously marked bus lane for hundreds more feet.  Continue reading Bridges update: Halsted now fully open, Chicago Avenue to be reconstructed, one lawsuit settled so far

Grid Shots: River and bridge edition

I’m in Richmond, Virginia, currently, biking up and down these dang HILLS. I’ll have a post up later this week about bike culture here (this is my first time in this region of the country). So this Grid Shots about bridges and the river is super short, with little commentary. Feel free to add your own captions in the comments – I’ve numbered the photos for easy reference.


Photo 1 by Eric Rogers. 


Photo 2 by Michelle Stenzel.  Continue reading Grid Shots: River and bridge edition

The Halsted Passage


The sign says “bridge closed ahead” – not for people on foot or with bicycles. Cross the river by entering the sidewalk on the west side of Halsted Street.

Sorry if I’m revealing anyone’s secret. During reconstruction on the Halsted Street bridge over the Chicago River just north of Chicago Avenue, it’s possible to cross into Goose Island and continue on Halsted Street. Construction is supposed to last until May 2012. The west side sidewalk is open. And the Halsted Street bridge over the North Branch Canal of the Chicago River, just south of Division Street, has been open since December.


Looking north from the sidewalk along the bridge. 


Looking west at the concrete plant from the sidewalk along the bridge. 

Grid Shots: The variety of pedestrian bridges over Lake Shore Drive

A reader on our Facebook page suggested we feature the 35th Street pedestrian bridge, over the Illinois Central railroad tracks and connected to a second bridge over Lake Shore Drive, in this week’s Grid Shots*. Here’re several other interesting and, in some cases, dilapidated pedestrian bridges over Lake Shore Drive. All photos are by Eric Rogers, who contributes many of his great photos to our Flickr group.

3500 S Lake Shore Drive


The 35th Street pedestrian bridge is particularly uninviting; it links the neighborhood at 35th and Cottage Grove to the Lakefront Trail. It should have been replaced by now. Continue reading Grid Shots: The variety of pedestrian bridges over Lake Shore Drive