Take action: Residents in 4 wards have opportunity to directly influence expenditure of $4 million on infrastructure


The walls of the Mess Hall community center in Rogers Park are covered in project proposals, in 2010. Photo by Samuel Barnett. See more photos from Barnett.

Major updates, 11:17 AM

We received an email Participatory Budgeting Chicago manager Thea Crum, at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s (UIC) Great Cities Institute, that four alderman will be conducting participatory budgeting in their wards, committing $4 million in discretionary spending (which is short of the $5.2 million in menu funds they have available).

The four alderman are:

  • Leslie Hairston, 5th
  • John Arena, 45th
  • James Cappleman, 46th (see details below)
  • Joe Moore, 49th

Continue reading Take action: Residents in 4 wards have opportunity to directly influence expenditure of $4 million on infrastructure

The Berteau Greenway moves forward without traffic diverters


47th Ward Alderman Ameya Pawar discusses the greenway. Photo by Steven E. Gross.

When I attended a community meeting about the proposed Berteau Street “neighborhood greenway” last March, the following comment was representative of some 47th Ward residents’ panicked reaction to the idea of their street being reconfigured. “It’s going to create havoc and unnecessary confusion and problems and an inability to get in and out of our neighborhoods,” one local woman said to Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and 47th Ward staffers at the assembly. “So I’m asking you to rethink what you’re doing.”

Neighborhood greenways, known as “bike boulevards” in other cities, are residential streets where speeding and cut-through traffic are discouraged through the use of traffic calming devices and/or traffic diverters – bump-outs, cul-de-sacs and other structures which prevent cars from driving down the entire length of the street or making certain turns. Meanwhile, contraflow bicycle lanes allow bikes to travel in both directions on one-way sections, and the traffic diverters have cutouts that permit cyclists to continue unimpeded.

Continue reading The Berteau Greenway moves forward without traffic diverters

Talking transportation with 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack


[This piece also runs on the Chicago web publication Gapers Block.]

As part of an ongoing project to interview all 50 of Chicago’s aldermen about sustainable transportation issues in their districts, I recently caught up with Scott Waguespack at the 32nd Ward service office, 2657 N. Clybourn. His ward includes parts of Ukrainian Village, Wicker Park, Bucktown, Goose Island, Lincoln Park, Lakeview and Roscoe Village.

In 2007 Waguespack defeated Richard M. Daley-backed incumbent Ted Matlak and soon gained a reputation as an independent voice in City Council. Most famously, he was the leading critic of Daley’s push to privatize the city’s parking meters, a move that the former mayor would eventually admit, “we totally screwed up.” Continue reading Talking transportation with 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack

Next steps for 35th Ward student active transportation plan


I attended the first public meeting for the 35th Ward student active transportation plan, being managed by Sam Schwartz Engineering and Active Transportation Alliance (ActiveTrans), but left without understanding what the planners envision next, based on the outcomes of the meeting.

I asked Adolfo Hernandez at ActiveTrans about this. He replied:

The next steps include Sam Schwartz Engineering reviewing the community’s input and developing a set of approaches to improve walking and biking access to specific parks and schools within the ward. That set of strategies will be presented as a plan to the community in a public meeting. At that meeting, the public will have an opportunity to hear about the plan and its recommendations as well as help identify priority projects for implementation.

The plan will include some recommendations for short, mid and long term projects but we really want the community to guide prioritizing projects. The alderman [Rey Colón] has agreed to use the plan as a guide for making the ward safer for biking and walking. The alderman has committed to using some menu funds as well as leveraging other funding sources to help implement the plan.

Mark de la Vergne, at Sam Schwartz Engineering added:

During this time, we’ll also be working with the Alderman’s office and Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) to discuss the potential recommendations and how they may fit within current efforts.

I will inform you when the next meeting is scheduled.

Talking transportation with 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett Jr.


Alderman Burnett with John

[This piece also runs on the website Gapers Block.]

This is the first of a series of interviews I hope to conduct with all fifty Chicago aldermen about walking, biking and transit issues in their wards. As “mini mayors,” these City Council representatives have a huge influence on the kinds of projects that are built in their districts.

For example, a handful of aldermen have opted to use menu money discretionary funds to stripe additional bicycle lanes in their wards or to bankroll innovative transportation projects, like the Albany Home Zone traffic-calmed block in Logan Square. On the other hand, they can stand in the way of progress, like when former 50th Ward Alderman Berny Stone vetoed a bike bridge on the North Shore Channel Trail in West Rogers Park. Continue reading Talking transportation with 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett Jr.

Update on CDOT’s bikeway busyness

Last week Grid told you about some new and refreshed bikeways in Chicago. The Chicago Bicycle Program, part of the Department of Transportation (CDOT), has been more active than the article let on.

CDOT published a custom map on Tuesday and we’ve published a table from CDOT of the locations, distances, and funding sources of these new and refreshed bike lanes.


Photo shows a new marked shared lane on California Avenue from North Avenue to Milwaukee Avenue.  Continue reading Update on CDOT’s bikeway busyness