December MBAC highlights


Might we see a return of the small group discussion public meeting format in 2012?

The final 2011 Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council (MBAC) was held Wednesday, December 14, 2011, at City Hall. The format that’s been in place for several years will disappear and be replaced by the original format set up in 1991. Aside from a review of the Chicago Bicycle Program’s new bikeways and two announcements about Complete Streets, this was, for me, the bike planning news of the week.

Original format

After introductions, Bike Program coordinator Ben Gomberg brought up how the council was established with representatives from various stakeholders the year in which Richard M. Daley had his first re-election. But, “it’s changed over the years, for whatever reason, to a public info session”. He mentioned how there’ve been suggestion to reconstitute it as a council. The council is described in the Bike 2000 Plan, a seven page document produced by the council. It lists specific members, like Randy Neufeld, currently a board member of Active Transportation Alliance, and Erma Tranter, longtime president of Friends of the Parks. I’m not aware of what the other members are doing. But are they still council members? Continue reading December MBAC highlights

Grid Shots: Pedestrian access edition


The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) began construction Thursday, November 10, 2011, to restore a lighted signal and crosswalk at 500 S Lake Shore Drive. 

I went on a four-hour bike ride today to gather photos of interesting things, including people walking and cycling in the 65°F warm and windy weather. I came across several places where pedestrian access had become an issue. These issues were manufactured by construction projects, clashing with the City of Chicago’s Complete Streets policy. Continue reading Grid Shots: Pedestrian access edition

CDOT giving itself five opportunities to make bridges bicycle friendly


CDOT will be undertaking rehabilitation work on five bridges and should take the opportunity to advance bridge bike friendliness, like it did recently on Randolph Street. Photo by Christopher Gagnon.

A Grid Chicago reader pointed me to a Request for Proposals (RFP) from the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) for a project that will rehabilitate many bridges and viaducts, mostly in and around the central business district. I discussed several of the bridges listed in the RFP in an article about open grate metal bridges and the hazards they present to people bicycling. A study CDOT commissioned and “published” in 2004 said,

These metal grate bridges…can be difficult and intimidating for a bicyclist to cross. Depending on the type and direction of the grating, grooves can cause a “channeling effect” or “sliding” for bike tires, and narrow tires can be lodged in gaps between the bridge grates. In addition, the metal can become increasingly slippery when wet, making these bridges even more difficult for bicyclists to safely cross in rain or snow.

While CDOT will not repair this problem on safety concerns alone, it should address it during routine bridge renovation.

Continue reading CDOT giving itself five opportunities to make bridges bicycle friendly

Making construction areas and detours bike-friendly

Updated June 28, 2011, to add link and photo about how citizen cyclists are accommodated in Copenhagen, New York City, and San Francisco (at end of post). Updated July 8, 2011, to add a section about “shared responsibility.”


When roads or bridges are reconstructed, bike lanes and people riding in them lose. The photo shows where a section of the bike lane has been removed and the remainder of the bike lane has been closed, without notification.

I wanted to renew my driver’s license Monday and I had two choices: downtown or northwest side. I looked at the map to find that the Illinois Secretary of State’s Drivers Services Facility called “Chicago North,” at 5401 N Elston Avenue, was only 4 miles from my house. It’s about 4 miles to downtown, but I believed going north would be easier and faster on my bike.

It was. Aside from an infrastructural design issue on Elston Avenue that makes right-hooks really easy, almost inviting, and a bike-unfriendly construction detour, I got there in great time. Going to downtown would mean more lights, more traffic.

Continue reading Making construction areas and detours bike-friendly