Protest against low transit funding on Wednesday is directed at the wrong audience


One of the buses Pace uses on the Stevenson Expressway shoulders during rush hours. The two routes have seen a lot of demand and Pace is responding by adding more runs. Photo by Ann Fisher. 

On Wednesday, people will gather at the Chicago Transit Authority headquarters (567 W Lake Street) to protest “inadequate funding and policies”, according to the Red Eye. Members from at least two groups (LVEJO and Citizens Taking Action) will join to protest public-private partnerships and to support laid off bus drivers. This is part of a larger National Day of Action for Public Transportation called by Occupy Boston.

They are protesting in the wrong location. They should be rallying at locations where there are people who can do something about underfunded transit: the offices of elected officials, like at City Hall and those of state and federal Congresspersons scattered around town. Continue reading Protest against low transit funding on Wednesday is directed at the wrong audience

House transportation bill: What’s at stake for Chicago


A broken down 4400-series bus on Clark Street in 2007. Steven remembers that these buses seemed to break down more often than other models, and their retrofitted wheelchair lifts were slow and difficult to use. Imagine if they couldn’t be replaced when they needed to be. Photo by Sabrina Downard. 

Ed. note: This is a post by guest contributor Brian Morrissey, of Commuter Age – or is that Commute Rage? – a blog covering the economic and social issues of transportation. It was originally written for Taking the Lane, a blog about “bicycling, economics, feminism, and other cultural commentary” by Elly Blue. -SV

First, the latest on the surface transportation bill from the House of Representatives we’ve been discussing so frequently in the past two weeks (known as HR7):

  • Speaker John Boehner doesn’t have the votes, delays until after President’s Day (Politico)
  • What the House transportation bill means for the Bay Area (SF Streetsblog)
  • Obama takes a stand, threatens veto (DC Streetsblog)
  • Reps. Lipinski and Dold joined CTA and Metra officials to call on the GOP to fix HR7 (WGN-TV)
  • Wed., Feb. 29, is the first ever Riders for Better Transit Day of Action (see end of post)

Continue reading House transportation bill: What’s at stake for Chicago

Air quality attainment update from CMAP


The Millennium Park Bike Station is one of thousands of projects funded in part by Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grants. 

From the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning newsletter:

As we told you last week [here’s our article], our region faces harm to its air quality and a significant loss of federal transportation funding if the U.S. EPA follows through on its intention to ignore current, certified 2011 data and rule that northeastern Illinois is “in attainment” with the agency’s 2008 guidelines for air quality. Among the many Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) projects that would lose funding is Pace’s $38.4 million express bus service along the Jane Addams Tollway as part of its upcoming reconstruction, which is identified as a high priority of GO TO 2040. We urge you to contact U.S. EPA and members of Congress, calling on the federal regulators to consider the up-to-date 2011 data, which clearly indicate our region has actually not attained the 2008 air standards. The U.S. EPA comment period has begun with publication of a December 20 notice in the Federal Register (marked as “40 CFR Part 81”), which includes details of how to make your views known. We have also created a sample letter for commenters.

Continue reading Air quality attainment update from CMAP

Events for October to December 2011

We will update this page as we know more. Last updated 12-09-11.

December 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011 (two events)

(1) Join the Metropolitan Planning Council for Better Commutes, Less Congestion: Employers Unlock the Region’s Gridlock, a roundtable discussion on how Commute Options are making a difference in solving the Chicago area’s commute challenges. Panelists will include participating employers describing their experiences with the pilot, and policymakers speaking about the regional benefits of the Commute Options program (including CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein). Cost is $15 for current MPC donors, and $30 for all others.

12  to 1:30 PM
Metropolitan Planning Council
140 S Dearborn Street, Suite 1400
Chicago, IL 60603

(2) A public meeting to discuss the design of a new park at Milwaukee and Leavitt Avenues. This new park has been identified as a future access point for the Bloomingdale Trail. Sponsored by Trust for Public Land, Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail, Alderman Scott Waguespack (32), and the Chicago Park District.

6:30 PM
Holstein Park Auditorium
2200 N Oakley Avenue
Chicago, IL 60647

Wednesday, December 7, 2011 (two events)

(1) Alderman Solis will discuss his recent fact-finding mission to one of the most bicycle-friendly countries in the world – the Netherlands – and share with us some of his observations that could be applied to Chicago’s bikeway network.

6 to 7:30 PM
960 W 18th Street
Chicago, IL 60608

(2) Get the first glimpse of how the planned multi-million-dollar overhaul of Daley Bicentennial Plaza is taking shape. Read more about this project at the Chicago Sun-Times.

6 to 8 PM
Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park, Gold Room
200 N Columbus Drive
Chicago, IL 60601

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Chicago bike writers Greg Borzo and John Greenfield celebrate the release of On Bicycles: 50 Ways the New Bike Culture Can Change Your Life, an anthology by Amy Walker, with a free book release party. Borzo and Greenfield will read their chapters on bicycle sharing systems and West Town Bikes, respectively. Afterwards they’ll sign copies while attendees mingle and enjoy soul-jazz piano by Seth Hitsky and a raffle for copies of the authors’ other books, plus other great bike-related prizes. The party doubles as a meet-up for the Active Transportation Alliance.

8-10 PM
Cole’s Tavern
2338 N Milwaukee Avenue
Chicago, IL 60647

Friday, December 9, 2011

On Friday, December 9th, 2011 at 6:30 AM, participants will ride from Amling’s Cycle (8140 N Milwaukee) to Mystic Celt (3443 N Southport) to meet a waiting truck from the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots campaign. We’ll then enjoy a hot breakfast courtesy of Mystic Celt.

6:30 AM
Amling’s Cycle
8140 N Milwaukee
Niles, IL 60714

Saturday, December 10, 2011 (two events)

(1) The first meeting of the Streets for Cycling Plan 2020 has been scheduled: it’s an open house that will have mapping activities, educational information about innovative bicycle facilities, and an opportunity to discuss biking in your neighborhood with CDOT staff.

10 AM to 4 PM
23 E Madison Street
Chicago, IL 60602

(2) Chrome Chicago shop will be hosting their last (free) Holiday Photo Booth session this Saturday! Everyone is welcome to come in with friends, or whatever variation of, to have their holiday photos taken on the set of Strange Brew’s “Great White North,” complete with snow, defunct Christmas tree and tons of holiday props (for the nice and naughty in us all). Chrome will provide drinks to those 21+.

2 to 5 PM
1529 N Milwaukee Avenue
Chicago, IL 60622

Tuesday, December 13, 2011 (three events)

(1) There is a zoning hearing at City Hall about Alderman Colón’s proposed ordinance, to strip “Pedestrian Street” designations from two segments of Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square. Here’s the proposed ordinance and the hearing notice. What’s a “pedestrian street” designation? We’re still figuring that out. The Municipal Code has some insight.

10 AM
City Hall, 2nd floor council chambers
121 N LaSalle Street
Chicago, Illinois 60602

(2) A Bloomingdale Trail community meeting to learn about and discuss the progress of the framework plan for a park and trail on an elevated former train track.

6-8 PM
Saint Mary of the Angels School Auditorium
1810 N Hermitage Avenue
Chicago, Illinois  60622

(3) A meeting hosted by the Illinois Department of Transportation regarding the preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement for the Grand Crossing Rail Project. The purpose of the Grand Crossing Rail Project is to improve freight and passenger rail efficiency on Chicago’s South Side and enhance Amtrak’s on-time performance. An open house will be held between 4 PM and 6 PM where you can view an audio-visual presentation and project exhibits. The project team will also be available to discuss the project and answer questions. A formal session with questions and answers will then be held from 6 PM to 7:30 PM. (EveryBlock postingofficial project website)

4 to 6 PM open house, 6 to 7:30 PM meeting with Q&A
Sherwood Park
5701 S Shields Avenue
Chicago, IL 60621

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 (two events)

(1) The final 2011 Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council of 2011. Read recaps of past MBAC meetings.

3 to 4:30 PM
City Hall, Room 1103
121 N LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL 60602

(2) Join project consultants Active Transportation Alliance and Sam Schwartz Engineering for a presentation and discussion about making the 35th Ward a safer and easier place to walk and bike.

6 PM
Armitage Baptist Church
2451 N Kedzie Avenue
Chicago, IL  60647

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Chicago Department of Transportation and Amtrak will host a public meeting from at Union Station to discuss possible improvements suggested by the Chicago Union Station Master Plan study. The meeting will be an open house, with experts and visuals explaining ideas to increase capacity for more trains, people, and traffic on nearby streets.  A narrated presentation will be made at 4:30 PM and again at 6 PM, allowing commuters to attend before boarding trains home.

4 to 7 PM
Union Station, Union Gallery (southwest corner)
210 S Canal Street
Chicago, IL 60606

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A fundraiser for West Town Bikes after the Afterglow Cyclocross race brought to you by Cuttin Crew and Robots <3. The first race category starts at 10 AM in Humboldt Park field house. Register online now.

2 PM
Division Street Bar and Grill
2525 W Division Stret
Chicago, IL 60622


A bus on I-35W in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The bus driver is allowed to drive on the shoulder under certain traffic jam conditions. This will start in Chicago on November 14, on the Stevenson Expressway with Pace bus routes 755 and 855 from Plainfield, Illinois, to downtown Chicago. Photo by Aaron Brown.

October 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pace Bus will hold a town hall meeting “to discuss the issue of buses that will be driving on the shoulder of Interstate Highway 55 [Stevenson] beginning November 14, 2011” (Chicago Tribune). See this video for how that will work. Pace warns drivers to not follow the bus(it’s illegal for private vehicles to be driven on the shoulder except under certain circumstances). More details on TribLocal Plainfield.

4:30 AM to 7 PM
Bolingbrook Village Hall
375 W Briarcliff Road
Bolingbrook, IL

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) will hold 5 public meetings regarding the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Chicago to St. Louis high-speed rail corridor. This EIS deals with double tracking the Union Pacific railroad south of Joliet and making other improvements north of Joliet to reduce transit times.  The goal for this project is a four hour trip time, with 9 daily round-trips. The nearest meeting to Chicago is in Joliet. See the other 4 events on the Midwest High-Speed Rail Association website.

Jacob Henry Mansion
Victorian Ballroom
15 S. Richards St
Joliet, IL

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Chicago City Council will hold a hearing about the Department of Transportation 2012 budget.

9 AM onward
City Hall
121 N LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL

Thursday, October 27, 2011

IDOT will hold an open house and formal public meeting about the 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project. It’s a project to improve rail and road congestion in a large area around 75th and Western and between Halsted and the Dan Ryan. Details are on the project website.

4 PM to 7:30 PM
Freedom Temple Church of God in Christ
1459 W 74th Street
Chicago, IL

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Chainlink, a forum for bicycling in Chicago, hosts a Halloween party. The party is sponsored by Half Acre Beer Company and features many raffle prizes from local businesses. Details on The Chainlink.

8 PM to 12:00 AM
Galway Arms
2442 N Clark Street
Chicago, IL

Monday, October 31, 2011

Two transportation committees will meet: Transportation and Public Way (12 PM) and Pedestrian and Traffic Safety (1 PM). The PTS committee meeting will likely discuss the recent trip to Amsterdam and other cities in the Netherlands taken by Alderman Solis and city staff sponsored by Bikes Belong.

12 PM, 1 PM
City Hall
121 N LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL

November 2011

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Mayor’s Pedestrian Advisory Council

3 PM
City Hall
121 N LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL

Friday, November 4, 2011

Bicycle Film Festival. There’s also a pre-BFF bike ride and post-BFF Goldsprints party.

Logan Square Auditorium
2539 N Kedzie Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

Saturday, November 5, 2011 (two events)

Bicycle Film Festival. There’s an after party TBA.

Logan Square Auditorium
2539 N Kedzie Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

We Role Cycle Works presents “Cycle More” classes, 12 PM to 2 PM

Growing Power Farm
3333 S Iron Street
Chicago, IL

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Bicycle Film Festival

Logan Square Skatepark
2430 W Logan Blvd
Chicago, IL 60647

Monday, November 7, 2011

Active Transportation Alliance holds their annual member meeting to give an overview of accomplishments and reveal the 2012 legislative agenda.

5:45 PM to 8 PM
American Dental Association
211 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Green Opportunities Hack Salon. Apps for Metro Chicago will host “Go Green Hack Salon” at the Green Exchange-Greenhouse Loft (2545 W. Diversey Avenue) from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. The event will include experts discussing green ideas and sustainability concerns, group collaboration and app building. To attend, register on-line.

Monday, November 14, 2011

High Speed Rail Symposium. On November 14, Northwestern University will host the 2011 Lipinski Symposium “High Speed Rail: Perspectives and Prospects,” from 8:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

8:15 AM to 5:30 PM
Allen Center
2169 Campus Drive
Evanston, IL 60208

Would residents of northeastern Illinois tax themselves for transit?


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?

Transit riders to gain a louder voice in new campaign

Updated August 24/27, 2011: Active Transportation Alliance launched the Riders for Better Transit campaign today. Read the full agenda, which talks about different funding sources and modernizing Union Station. Take their survey by Sept. 30 and be entered into a raffle to receive a $100 Visa gift card. Ron Burke and Jennifer Henry (see her statement below) write a letter to the editor about the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority’s toll increase. 


The Wilson Red Line CTA station was recently voted the worst station “for the third year in a row” by Chicago RedEye readers. Photo by Jeff Zoline.

In the next couple of days, the Chicago-based (but Chicagoland-focused) advocacy organization, Active Transportation Alliance, will launch a new permanent campaign called Riders For Better Transit. This is the Alliance’s first large-scale endeavor into improving transit since they changed their name and mission in late 2008 from focusing solely on bicycling. Their other transit advocacy includes supporting transit-friendly legislation in Springfield.

I sat down with Lee Crandell, Director of Campaigns, at his office (9 W Hubbard) on August 1, 2011, to learn more about this effort.

Continue reading Transit riders to gain a louder voice in new campaign