An introduction to parking requirements: New Walgreens in Wicker Park


Walgreens opened a new store this month inside the Noel State Bank building at 1601 N Milwaukee, at the six-way intersection of Damen, North, and Milwaukee Avenues. Walgreens wonderfully restored the interior and exterior of the registered landmark building. The property acquisition (formerly occupied by MB Financial Bank) included a small parking lot with a driveway entrance on Milwaukee Avenue by Red Hen Bread Co. and an entrance through the alley. The parking lot has 7 car parking spaces, including 1 accessible parking stall. There are 8 bike parking spaces. It appears there would have been 10 but a bike rack wasn’t installed because it would have blocked a doorway that opens only from the inside. (The previous occupant used the parking lot to hold ~15 cars.)

When I first saw that Walgreens was building a parking lot, I asked myself, “Why do they need one? There’re three bus routes, a train line, this neighborhood is very walkable and many people bike around here. Plus, there’s a Walgreens store 0.37 miles away with 35 parking spaces.”* (No, I don’t do distance calculations in my head to that many significant digits – I figured that with an online map.) Continue reading An introduction to parking requirements: New Walgreens in Wicker Park

Parking meter lease: 72 years more to go


Bike Walk Lincoln Park in their latest post gives a summary of how the parking meter lease was devised and approved in 2008. Then they point out how a majority if the revenue has been spent, including over half of a “rainy day fund” (as former Mayor Daley called it). But Bike Walk Lincoln Park mentions a report issued by the same company the Daley administration hired to advise it through the parking meter privatization process: Continue reading Parking meter lease: 72 years more to go

Rahm’s budget proposal and bike lanes


There might be peace in the downtown streets if Mayor Emanuel’s budget is approved by City Council. He proposes a parking garage fee to discourage driving on weekdays. 

I’m reading the live transcript of Mayor Emaneul’s speech to City Council to introduce the “features” of his administration’s 2012 budget proposal. The speech was later emailed to people who signed up for the campaign mailing list. This article will be updated as I find new information.

The interesting stuff?


“On a typical workday our central business district is jammed with people which makes it harder to do business, so I’m proposing that downtown congestion premium of $2 per day only on weekdays for parking garages and lots downtown and in River North. We would use this new revenue to invest in new and existing stations, and bus rapid transit stations, expand bike lanes, and other efforts to reduce congestion in the downtown area.”

Excellent! Now will this revenue go to a trust fund so that the revenues can only be spent for this purpose? If not, I surely hope that your budget and spending is transparent where we can see how much the City collects from this fee and how much is spent on those congestion-fighting initiatives.

More on this from the press release:

Congestion Premium for CTA: $28 million

On a typical workday, our Central Business District is jammed with vehicles, which makes it harder to do business.  Our streets are crowded, roads in need of repair and pollution created by drivers is unhealthy for Chicagoans.  Suburban drivers who use city services and infrastructure need to help pay the costs for these things.   The congestion fee is an incentive for drivers to take public transportation or pay more to park downtown.

  • Impose a “congestion premium” on all drivers parking in downtown parking garages and lots on weekdays of $2 per occasion, for a total fee of $5 on the top tier rate. ( $3 on weekends).
  • Impose weekly parking fees where the cost is $60 and above, (tax increase from $15 to $25) and monthly parking where the costs is $240 and above (tax from $60 to $100).

Parking garage owners will not like this.

Heavy vehicles will cost more for drivers

“It’s estimated that 80% of the damage to Chicago’s streets is caused by a small share of heavy vehicles like trucks and SUVs. We are proposing a modest increase for heavy vehicles that do the most damage. If you drive a standard size or small car, the cost of your city sticker will stay at $75. 75% of Chicagoans will see no increase. Heavy vehicle owners will pay $135 for a city sticker, up from $120. Some of the additional revenue will go to fill an additional 160,000 potholes in 2012, nearly a 40% increase over this year.”

Upcoming hearings

The first budget hearing will begin at 9 AM on Wednesday, October 19, 2011.

The public hearing will begin at 11 AM on Wednesday, November 2, 2011.


Rahm also said, “All all these reforms will be guided by principle, by pragmatism, and by progress. Not politics.”

Getting Midwesterners on board with high-speed rail

I was surprised when Vocalo radio host, Molly Adams, asked me about high-speed rail. I imagined we would only talk about local transit and bicycling projects and issues; as a railfan, I was prepared to answer her question. She said, “How realistic is a possible high-speed rail, in the region?”

I confidently replied, “It is finally starting to happen” (read and listen to the full interview). Work finished in September 2010 to replace tracks between Alton, Illinois (north of St. Louis), and Lincoln, Illinois (north of Springfield).


An Amtrak and Metra train wait in the south part of Union Station in Chicago. Photo by Eric Pancer. Continue reading Getting Midwesterners on board with high-speed rail