BRT to arrive in Chicago in 2012 while CDOT plans for more enhanced routes


Transportation deputy commissioner Luann Hamilton and commissioner Gabe Klein answer questions. Updated 08:57 to clarify details about Jeffery BRT project and add construction timeline. 

Bus rapid transit in Chicago has never felt more real for me than it did tonight at the open house hosted by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Even though the Jeffery BRT project will be constructed and operational this year, I never visited one of the community meetings about that project and I haven’t been keeping track of its development. But BRT really will come to Chicago. What’s up for debate is “how much BRT” each project exemplifies.

Every BRT implementation is different. Planners pick and choose the attributes most appropriate to the street characteristics, political, business, and community support, and funding availability.


Project map showing six bus routes that will run in enhanced busways on Madison, Washington, Clinton, and Canal.  Continue reading BRT to arrive in Chicago in 2012 while CDOT plans for more enhanced routes

Full interview of Gabe Klein from my Architect’s Newspaper article


Transportation commissioner Gabe Klein cycles to work on Michigan Avenue. 

I wrote an article about myriad transportation projects and initiatives in Chicago for Architect’s Newspaper, a magazine based in New York City. It was published last week online and in print (in the centerfold, no less). My original article was over 2,500 words, but only 1,600 words fit in the print version. I will be publishing additional details from the interviews I conducted for the article and about the projects it mentions.

The first is my interview with transportation commissioner Gabe Klein, conducted over the phone on January 19, 2012.

How will things change for pedestrians?

My philosophy in addressing needs is that you have to look out for the most vulnerable users first. In many times, there’s a trickle down effect. We want Chicago to be a walkable, livable city. We also want it to be a bikeable city, but walkable first. I think there was a push in the past to make it so that cars moved as quickly as possible. Back then, cities lost their self-confidence and catered to the transient drivers who passed through [emphasis added]. You cater first and foremost to the people who live here, not just the people who work here. I think it’s an indicator of cities, how walkable it is. Continue reading Full interview of Gabe Klein from my Architect’s Newspaper article

The plan for Union Station


Accessing Union Station is done by many modes, but each has its own challenges and annoyances. 

Over 50 people attended the 4:30 PM presentation of the Union Station master plan in the Union Gallery on Thursday. The Chicago Department of Transportation is the lead agency on this project even though it may have less at stake in the plan. It’s more likely to lead a fair planning process than if Amtrak, the station’s owner, or Metra, the station’s busiest user, led the master plan. After the presentation, visitors were able to speak directly with staff from the stakeholders and partners (see full list at end).

The plan divides goals and objectives into short, medium, and long term ideas.

Two short term projects are already in the works and each has received funding. They are the “Central Area East-West Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project” and “Union Station Transportation Center”, which I’ll also call an intermodal center, as it gets people from buses onto trains and vice versa. The BRT project includes bus priority lanes and intersection priority (buses can go before other traffic) on Canal, Clinton, Madison, and Washington (see embedded map). The BRT application also indicates a Madison Street bike lane will be installed (which already happened) and an eastbound bike lane will be “considered”. The intermodal center will include stair, elevator, and escalator access to an existing underground walkway into Union Station. Continue reading The plan for Union Station

Tribune publishes readers’ responses to McCarron “war on cars” article


If these CTA customers waiting for a bus had the option to take something faster, I’m sure they’d be interested. 

Ron Burke, executive director of Active Transportation Alliance, let us know today that the Chicago Tribune published four letters to the editor responding to John McCarron’s irritation that the City of Chicago is attempting to rebalance its transportation network to make cycling and walking safer, as well as provide new transit options (BRT).

Read those letters. Read Ron’s own letter.

Some excerpts: Continue reading Tribune publishes readers’ responses to McCarron “war on cars” article

Breaking down the battle John McCarron wants to start


At Grid Chicago, we like to deal with facts and we said before that we would combat bike lane backlash.

The Chicago Tribune published Sunday an op-ed by John McCarron, an adjunct lecturer at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and monthly columnist, about how using bicycles and fast buses to get to work is not practical. I’ve picked 7 misinformed or inaccurate points he makes to tell you what’s real.

1. McCarron says that bus rapid transit won’t work as a practical alternative to commuting by automobile in Chicago.

Bus rapid transit (BRT) systems typically have fewer stops and can reach higher speeds; they may also have priority at signalized intersections, and be able to cross through before anyone else. At least part of the route has a lane dedicated for the buses’ use.  There are several cities in the United States that have some form of bus rapid transit; here are their effects: Continue reading Breaking down the battle John McCarron wants to start

A transportation definition of democracy


Enrique Peñalosa rides his bike. Photo by Colin Hughes. 

I wish I was there to hear Enrique Peñalosa speak to the Chicago City Council’s Committee on Pedestrian Safety on August 17th. He’s now the director for Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), which I liken to an international version of Chicago’s own Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT). Prior to ITDP, he was a mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, where he built a world-renowned bus rapid transit (BRT) called TransMilenio and hundreds of kilometers of bike paths.

Why was he in Chicago? Continue reading A transportation definition of democracy