Some of my favorite new sustainable transportation stuff of 2012


Jana Kinsman of Bike-A-Bee.

Newcity magazine recently invited me to highlight some of my favorite aspects of the local sustainable transportation scene for their Best of Chicago issue. Here’s what I selected:

Best bike-centric Kickstarter campaign


Jana Kinsman’s pedal-powered apiculture service has generated quite a buzz. Last winter Kinsman, a graphic designer and illustrator with the all-female collective Quite Strong, used the “crowdfunding” website to raise $8,646 for beekeeping equipment and packages of bees, plus a bicycle trailer to transport the gear. She now maintains hives at community gardens and urban farms all over town, such as Eden Place, a nature education center at 43rd Place and Shield Avenue in the underserved Fuller Park community. The hives help pollinate nearby plants and serve as educational tools for neighborhood kids. It’s a honey of a project!

Continue reading Some of my favorite new sustainable transportation stuff of 2012

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

A stealth route along the South Branch of the Chicago River


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

A Complete Streets “heads up” for Division Street


Plan drawings show lack of bicycle accommodations. 

Last year I requested from the city plan drawings for the bridge replacement and road reconstruction at Halsted Street and the north branch canal (near Division Street). Included in the response to my FOIA request were plan drawings from the Department of Transportation’s Division of Engineering for a complementary project, the reconstruction of Division Street between Cleveland Street (east) and the railroad viaduct by the McGrath Lexus dealer (west).

So no one is caught off guard like some felt in regards to the Fullerton Avenue/Lake Shore Drive project, I wanted to give a heads up for a project that I think lacks consideration of the principles of complete streets and Chicago’s Complete Streets policy. In other words, what is proposed is not a complete street. Continue reading A Complete Streets “heads up” for Division Street

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: Water taxi edition


A Chicago Water Taxi travels south on the Chicago River from Ping Tom Park in Chinatown, just south of 18th Street, towards downtown. Photo by Eric Pancer. 

Are water taxis part of sustainable transportation?

The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) helped Chicago Water Taxi (Wendella) get a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant to buy a new boat in 2000. It’s easy to understand their efforts to reduce congestion on the road if people who normally drive the route of a water taxi now take the boat. And same for the air quality if the emissions of its engine, measured in person-miles, is better than that of an automobile. But what about its influence on water quality? The Environmental Protection Agency describes all the ways in which boating pollutes water. An article in the Active Transportation Alliance’s Mode Shift newsletter explained water taxi transportation as another local transit option. Continue reading Grid Shots: Water taxi edition