Put Chicago on the path to an electrified Metra


Ed. note: Roland Solinski is a graduate student of architecture at Tulane University. “I am a Chicagoan by birth and the city runs in my blood. I’m fascinated by all aspects of urban design and urban systems, but especially transit systems and public space.” Photo is of a southbound Metra Electric train. 

In November of 2010, the Chicago Tribune published an article that shocked Metra commuters. In it, Tribune reporters revealed that massive quantities of diesel exhaust were hanging in the air on platforms at Union Station and Ogilvie Transportation Center. Worse, the atmosphere inside each railcar contained the same exhaust at even higher concentrations – 72 times that of a normal city street.

In numerous other cities, commuters do not need to worry about harmful exhaust fumes, because their trains run off of electric power. In fact, many cities installed rail electrification systems at the turn of the last century specifically to eliminate toxic smoke emissions, including the Illinois Central’s line right here in Chicago, now called Metra Electric. Continue reading Put Chicago on the path to an electrified Metra

Dutch man posts video showing normal cycling and world goes crazy over it


Utrecht is a nice city to visit. I recommend it.

Mark Wagenbuur, a Dutch blogger from ‘s-Hertogenbosch, starts the story like this:

One of my videos went viral…again…and while that is in itself rather pointless, it does make clear that a lot of people in the world are completely in the dark when it comes to every day cycling [in the Netherlands]. I published the video over a year ago. It shows a cycle path in Utrecht near the central railway station where all the main cycle routes of Utrecht come together.

Mark then reviews for readers some of the comments people left about the video (which has over 1 million views), on the YouTube page, and on the various sites that embedded it; they’re rife with insults, questions about why overweight people cannot be seen, and other expressions of bewilderment and ignorance. His original video is below. Continue reading Dutch man posts video showing normal cycling and world goes crazy over it

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

Alderman Solis helps show the link between the Netherlands, Chicago, and safe transportation


Photo of Alderman Danny Solis by Serge Lubomudrov.

Last night, about 40 people gathered in Simone’s (960 W 18th Street) to hear Alderman Solis (25th Ward) talk about his October trip to the Netherlands. Also speaking was another member of that study tour, Randy Neufeld (note 1, 2), SRAM Cycling Fund director. The Netherlands is a great place in which to investigate successful bicycling planning, policies, and infrastructure. They have the highest share of people cycling, for all trip purposes, in the world, as well as the lowest injury and fatality rate in any kind of traffic. I was hoping the two would ask how many people in attendance have themselves visited the Netherlands. From what I know, at least six people, including myself, have gone there. Continue reading Alderman Solis helps show the link between the Netherlands, Chicago, and safe transportation

Alderman Solis goes to Amsterdam


Alderman Solis in Zolle, Netherlands – all photos courtesy of Bikes Belong

[Background info for this post came from a write-up of the trip by Washington D.C. Department of Transportation Bicycle Program Specialist Mike Goodno.]

Earlier this month when I interviewed 25th Ward Alderman Danny Solis about sustainable transportation projects in his ward, he mentioned that he would be taking a trip to the Netherlands from October 1 – 8 to study bike facilities. The bike industry-funded advocacy group Bikes Belong sponsored this fact-finding mission for transportation officials from Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Miami, and Solis says that staffers from Working Bikes Cooperative recommended him to Bikes Belong as a bike-friendly politician. Joining him from Chicago were former Active Transportation Alliance executive director and current SRAM Cycling Fund director Randy Neufeld, as well as Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) bike program staffers David Gleason and Mike Amsden. Continue reading Alderman Solis goes to Amsterdam