Illinois traffic fatalities are up this year: What to do about it?


Can you find anything “bad” or “could use improvement” about the design of this intersection between Ogden Avenue and an on-ramp to northbound Kennedy Expressway? There are clues in Notes below. 

Two weeks ago, a commenter asked about the LED signs on Illinois highways. This article from the Chicago Tribune tells what they’re showing:

When travel times and Amber alerts aren’t being shown on electronic message boards, a running tally of traffic deaths in Illinois is often displayed along highways across the state to remind motorists about the consequences of dangerous driving.

What are the other factors at play in this increase? Does dangerous design have a role? Or economic factors?

On Saturday, August 11, I went with a friend on the CTA Blue Line to Forest Park with our bikes; we got on the Illinois Prairie Path just a few hundred feet away from the train terminal, inside a cemetery. The bike ride was a reminder to me of the persistent road and trail design inconsistencies, within cities, within states, and across the country. I went on a road trip to Richmond, Virginia, during which I drove on the highways and local roads of 5 states. It seemed to me that the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), a federal document that every road, path, and bike lane builder in the country must follow (or obtain exemptions from), was lost or deleted. Continue reading Illinois traffic fatalities are up this year: What to do about it?

Grid Shots: Peculiar


A man carries a fish by hand on his bicycle. Photo by Seth Anderson. 

I’m again making this Grid Shots post without a scheduled theme so I looked through the latest photos in our Flickr pool to find a topic. It’s “peculiar”. Just some oddities I noticed.

Did you know there’s a city law about how many hands you must have on the handlebars? It’s Municipal Code of Chicago 9-52-060, Carrying articles on bicycles:

No person operating a bicycle shall carry any package, bundle or article which prevents the rider from keeping at least one hand upon the handlebars.

Notice that it doesn’t preclude someone from riding without any hands on the handlebars provided they are not carrying a package, bundle, or article. A different law may regulate that.


A little girl transports a stroller on the Illinois Prairie Path in Elmhurst. Photo by Clark Maxwell.


A guy bikes with a snorkel in his mouth and goggles on his forehead. Perhaps he’s preparing to ride his bike into Lake Michigan. Photo by Mike Travis.


Mayor Richard M. Daley was mildly obsessed with Paris, France. One of the Parisian transit agencies, Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP), donated a Hector Guimard-designed, Art Nouveau-style Paris Metro entrance which was installed at the Van Buren Street Metra station along Michigan Avenue. These entrances are ubiquitous in Paris, but they are used only at Métropolitain stations (most like the Chicago ‘L’), not at regional rail stations.

Other “Paris in Chicago” examples: Daley created the landscaped medians on Ashland Avenue, Madison Street, and other roads after seeing them in Paris. He tried to get J.C. Decaux, an advertising company that manages street furniture and bus stops in Chicago (a French company) to build bike sharing in Chicago after a visit to Paris in 2007, during which he rode a Vélib’ bicycle. Photo by Michelle Stenzel.

Illinois Railway Museum keeps 100-year-old Chicago transit trains running


This train, Chicago Aurora and Elgin 409 & 431, ran on the interurban line from Chicago to Wheaton, with splits to Elgin and Aurora (thus the name). You can see its extensive route map. Many of the suburbs it traveled to and through now have Metra service and other parts became the Illinois Prairie Path. 

Every year at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, Illinois, volunteers bring out the working condition trains that used to operate on Chicago or Chicagoland tracks: ‘L’ trains, interurbans, and streetcars. This past weekend was “Chicago Day” at IRM. My friend and I rented a Zipcar and drove there, 54 miles from my house in Avondale. According to the article on Wikipedia about IRM, it’s the largest railroad museum in North America.

The museum is a not-for-profit education corporation run completely by volunteers. It’s funded by memberships, donations (both monetary and services, like train car transporting), grants (including from the State of Illinois), entry ticket sales, and sales in the gift shop and of vintage paraphernalia.  Continue reading Illinois Railway Museum keeps 100-year-old Chicago transit trains running