What bike sharing might look like on the streets of Chicago. Photo of Capital BikeShare, in Washington, D.C., by M.V. Jantzen.
Updated 11:11 AM: I should have mentioned originally that I believe this is a good idea for Chicago, and the RFP presents a solid plan on how the City expects it to be implemented and operated. 22:46: Added more information about potential bidders, Alta Bicycle Share and B-Cycle.
I just finished reading the request for proposals (RFP) for Chicago’s first (er, second) bike sharing program. For the uninitiated, most bike sharing programs allow members unlimited free trips per day up to 30 minutes with a low fee for each 30 minute period after that. Locks are not provided so users are expected to secure the bikes by docking them at stations rather than locking them to bike racks or sign poles.
Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein and his managing deputy commissioner Scott Kubly together launched a 1,100 bikes and 100+ stations bike sharing system in September 2010. It had its one year birthday on Tuesday, September 20, 2011. Now the pair have come to Chicago to do it again. Continue reading Bike sharing will come to Chicago in 2012
[flickr]photo:6168877252[/flickr]Rey Colón, Forrest Claypool and Rahm Emanuel
Yesterday was a busy one for transit-related press events in Chicago. In the morning Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) President Forrest Claypool appeared at the Logan Square Blue Line station, my local stop, to announce their plans to clean and rehab 100 stations within the next year at a cost of $25 million. In the afternoon public transit workers and boosters railed against a Republican proposal to slash more than a third of federal highway and public transportation funding.
I’ve often wondered why the CTA has allowed some of its stations to become so shabby when other systems, like Washington, D.C.’s Metro, have much more appealing facilities. Logan Square was a good example, with crumbling plaster, a dingy, cave-like platform tunnel, and an eternally dripping platform tunnel ceiling. Dismal conditions like these breed discontent from regular customers and discourage potential riders from using transit instead of driving.
Continue reading Emanuel touts “swat team” CTA station renewal; advocates rally against federal cuts to transit
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
Mayor Emanuel shaking hands at the 95th Street station, the current terminal on the Red Line Dan Ryan branch. Photo by slow911.
Rahm Emanuel said he would help the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) find whatever money possible to fund an extension of the Red Line’s Dan Ryan branch to 130th Street. That project will have four new stations (view map); the construction will most likely be majority paid for by the federal government (the capital costs). But the federal government won’t pay for the CTA’s new costs from operating the extension. Or any operating costs (note 1). The CTA and Mayor Emanuel are also pursuing bus rapid transit (BRT), a faster moving bus route. Continue reading Would residents of northeastern Illinois tax themselves for transit?
Well, Mayor Rahm Emanuel only promised one: 100 miles of protected bike lanes. But as I pointed out on Friday, July 22, 2011, there are 25 bridges that are still hostile to cycling.
If you can see the water below, you’re on an open metal grate bridge. But don’t look down as you may lose your balance. Continue reading Still to go: 99.5 miles of protected bike lanes, 25 bridges
[This piece also runs in Time Out Chicago.]
Traditionally the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) has focused on making it easier to drive in the city, but new commissioner Gabe Klein has a different philosophy. Klein, a former executive with national retailer Bikes U.S.A., as well as Zipcar car sharing, came to town fresh from a stint as transportation director for Washington, D.C. There he launched a streetcar system, installed about 100 leading pedestrian interval traffic signals, introduced a circulator bus route and built the nation’s largest bike-sharing system.
Klein and Mayor Emanuel are promising big improvements to walking, biking and transit here, including building the Bloomingdale Trail elevated greenway, creating 100 miles of car-protected bike lanes, and rolling out a robust bike sharing system. They’re also working on creating bus rapid transit corridors and considering novel approaches to improve conditions for walking, including “pedestrian scramble” intersections.
I recently met with Klein, 40, in his CDOT offices, where he’d parked the bike he rode in on, a single-speed Masi cruiser with a beer-carrying crate. He discussed possible locations for ped scrambles and bus rapid transit corridors, the feasibility of the Bloomingdale and bike lane projects, the possibility of reopening the Queen’s Landing crosswalk, and whether he’d ever consider riding in Critical Mass.
Continue reading An interview with CDOT’s Gabe Klein