From safety to where? Discussing the future of safe streets at a CNU talk


Rob Bielaski, Steven, Mark de la Vergne, Eric Dumbaugh.

By coincidence both Steven and I recently appeared on two different panels about sustainable transportation within a few days of each other. Last Thursday I was part of the talk “Chicago Cycling: What’s Next?” at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in conjunction with their “Bikes! The Green Revolution” exhibit. Monday Steven participated in the discussion “Safe Streets,” hosted by the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) at the Jefferson Tap, 325 N. Jefferson in the West Loop. The panelists talked about what makes streets safe, and discussed new developments in Chicago street design.

Based in Chicago and headed my former Milwaukee mayor John Norquist, CNU is a nonprofit that promotes walkable, bikeable, transit-friendly, mixed-use development. Joining Steven on the panel, which doubled as CNU’s monthly happy hour, were Eric Dumbaugh, an associate professor at Florida Atlantic University who has authored more than forty books about transportation and urban planning, and Mark de la Vergne, a project manager at Sam Schwartz Engineering who has worked on Chicago’s pedestrian plan, the Streets for Cycling 2020 plan, and will be involved with siting and outreach for the city’s upcoming bike sharing program.

Continue reading From safety to where? Discussing the future of safe streets at a CNU talk

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

Complete Streets policy? What Complete Streets policy?

Disappearing sidewalk on Fullerton Parkway over the Lincoln Park Lagoon

This sidewalk will be eliminated to make room for a new right-turn lane onto southbound Lake Shore Drive. Photos and captions by Bike Walk Lincoln Park.

Michelle Stenzel, a co-leader of the Bike Walk Lincoln Park neighborhood advocacy group, hits the nail on the head with her analysis of a construction project to rebuild the Fullerton Parkway bridge over the Lincoln Park Lagoon. The project, from the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), widens the street from four lanes to five, reroutes pedestrians on the south side sidewalk over a long path to cross the lagoon, and doesn’t install bikeways to and from the Lakefront Trail. It also replaces a crumbling bridge and improves upon the existing bridge design. The project will begin construction on Monday, March 19, 2012.

What’re the shortcomings? She outlines three problems on the Bike Walk Lincoln Park after attending a presentation Wednesday night. They are:

1. Elimination of the sidewalk on the south side of the bridge Continue reading Complete Streets policy? What Complete Streets policy?

Making cities safer for cyclists and pedestrians: Today’s NYT’s “Room for Debate”


Photo shows Kinzie Street less than two months after opening a protected bike lane here. This represented a new design direction for Chicago’s streets. I explored this direction more in my article for Architect’s Newspaper

“It Starts With Better Design”. I agree.

I said this in Safer roadway designs: How Danes make right turns and When you build for youngest, you build for everyone. Today’s “Room for Debate” on the New York Times website features four experts talking about how to make cities safer for cyclists and pedestrians. Each of the four have a different response to the introduction’s strategy for reducing fatalities, which is that New York City should take a “broken windows” theory approach to cracking down on traffic violations. Much credit is given to this theory and the police’s approach to petty crimes in the 1980s and 1990s in reducing crime overall, citywide (read more about this). Continue reading Making cities safer for cyclists and pedestrians: Today’s NYT’s “Room for Debate”

Good news in the update about the Damen-Elston-Fullerton intersection design


A close zoom on the newly created west intersections from the plan drawing. Renderings are courtesy of CDOT. 

Update April 10, 2013: Construction will begin in fall 2014 after the acquisition of several parcels, covered in an ordinance introduced to city council on April 10, 2013

Update January 25, 2012: Based on some comments, and on some emails from readers, neither the original and revised designs are very good. One reader said that the project designers are applying a set of standards to a problem instead of applying a solution. Part of the problem at this intersection is the traffic coming from a highway where the ramps are spaced too closely together, but is not within the project limits. I will be looking into these and other questions, like, How much will this project cost (including property acquisition)? and Who will pay for it?

The much despised Damen-Elston-Fullerton intersection is being redesigned by the Chicago Department of Transportation. They hosted an open house in April 2011 at the Bucktown Wicker Park library which I wrote about extensively on Steven Can Plan. I and others who attended were not satisfied with how the new design affected people who will bike through here. I published my comments in my article, left a brief comment with the stenographer at the open house, and emailed the project manager my extended comments. I asked Steven Can Plan readers to do the same. A few of them did!

CDOT received 41 comments, and is responding to all of them; 20 included comments about bike lanes and 3 people requested protected bike lanes.

What’s changing? Continue reading Good news in the update about the Damen-Elston-Fullerton intersection design

A tale of five bridges

An alternate title I thought of using: Three steps forward, five steps back?

Both Chicago’s Complete Streets policy and the Bike 2015 Plan talk about the need to “ensure that roadway construction zones are bicycle-friendly”, but this is not being practiced. Here are five examples. I previously discussed this problem, at length, in June 2011, in Making construction areas and detours bike-friendly. It included a short mention of the second bridge project in this post.

Harrison Street


No more jersey barriers. See what this used to look likeContinue reading A tale of five bridges