State of the union: Active Trans celebrates 2012 landmarks


Group portrait of Active Trans members in attendance.

Tuesday night I dropped by the Active Transportation Alliance’s annual member meeting at UBS Tower, One North Wacker, joining dozens of attendees in celebrating this year’s advocacy achievements.

After members elected a new board (Jane Healy is stepping down as board president, Jim Kreps is moving up from VP to president, Bob Hoel is taking over as VP and Susan Levin is joining the board as a new director), Grid Chicago contributor Anne Alt was inducted into the Active Trans Hall of Fame. Director of events Christine Schwartzkopff enumerated Anne’s many contributions to biking, walking and transit advocacy here.

She’s president of the Chicago Cycling Club and secretary of Friends of the Major Taylor Trail, as well as a member of the Beverly Bike Club and a supporter of the Major Taylor Cycling Club. Anne also co-led the Southwest Side community advisory group for the Streets for Cycling Plan 2020 and regularly attends Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council meetings. In addition she spent fifty hours in the saddle scouting out streets for the last edition of the Chicagoland Bicycle Map, and she helped research routes for Active Trans’ Four Star Bike Ride.

Continue reading State of the union: Active Trans celebrates 2012 landmarks

Getting ready for the protected bike lane “breakthrough”


The Kinzie Street protected lanes. Photo by Josh Koonce.

[This article also appears on the Green Lane Project‘s website.]

Last month dozens of transportation professionals from across the Chicago area converged on the Sears Tower to learn about protected bike lanes and other new developments in bike facility design. The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, the region’s official planning organization, hosted the workshop “Designing for Bicycle Safety,” led by veteran transportation engineer John LaPlante.

The Green Lane Project’s Martha Roskowski flew in from Boulder to deliver the keynote address, helping to get the audience excited about the brave new world of protected lane design. And Randy Neufeld, former head of of the Active Transportation Alliance and current director of the SRAM Cycling Fund, gave an update on efforts to build the lanes here in the Windy City.

Continue reading Getting ready for the protected bike lane “breakthrough”

Will 47th Ward residents learn to love the bike boulevard?


47th Ward staffer Bill Higgins

A few weeks ago I contacted Mike Amsden, lead planner for the Chicago Department of Transportation’s Streets for Cycling initiative, to ask why CDOT chose Berteau Avenue (4200 N.), from Lincoln to Clark, to be the city’s first “neighborhood greenway” (AKA bike boulevard.) One of the main reasons he mentioned is that the project lies entirely within one ward, the 47th, and there’s enthusiastic support from local alderman Ameya Pawar. Amsden also told me he’s also gotten positive feedback from folks along Berteau who want to see cut-through traffic reduced. “We’ve heard from a few nearby residents who are really excited about it,” he said. Here’s a map of the location.

Last week at a block club meeting about the proposed greenway at a Ravenswood church, I learned firsthand how important it is that the project is slated for only a short stretch of roadway (.9 miles) and has strong aldermanic backing, because it’s turning out to be more controversial than I expected. There were over 50 people in attendance and many of the attendees said they’re afraid that the project will create chaos for drivers.

Continue reading Will 47th Ward residents learn to love the bike boulevard?

The Bike Swap on Saturday was an informative event


Randy Neufeld, Even Jennings, and Mike Amsden. Photo by Eric Rogers.

Thank you to the tens of people who visited the Grid Chicago table at the Chicago Bike Swap in the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse on Saturday. We thoroughly enjoyed talking to current and (hopefully) new readers of our blog. We handed out pins, business cards, and demonstrated the site. Since there was no wifi or electricity available, we improvised: we showed off the website with an iPad and a mobile hotspot. MobileCitizen generously lent us the mobile hotspot for the day. I was also able to talk to people about the Get Lit campaign.

In addition to the myriad organizations signing up interested guests, and shops selling bike parts, handlebar smartphone holders, and cycling caps, there were many great presentations. I filmed two: a Q&A on bicycling with kids with three Logan Square parents called “Kids in the Saddle: Raising the Next Generation of Cyclists”; and “Decade of Revolution: the Rise of Bicycle Transportation in Chicago”. The videos will be up later this week – each are longer than 30 minutes and will take some time to edit for publishing. Continue reading The Bike Swap on Saturday was an informative event

December MBAC highlights


Might we see a return of the small group discussion public meeting format in 2012?

The final 2011 Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council (MBAC) was held Wednesday, December 14, 2011, at City Hall. The format that’s been in place for several years will disappear and be replaced by the original format set up in 1991. Aside from a review of the Chicago Bicycle Program’s new bikeways and two announcements about Complete Streets, this was, for me, the bike planning news of the week.

Original format

After introductions, Bike Program coordinator Ben Gomberg brought up how the council was established with representatives from various stakeholders the year in which Richard M. Daley had his first re-election. But, “it’s changed over the years, for whatever reason, to a public info session”. He mentioned how there’ve been suggestion to reconstitute it as a council. The council is described in the Bike 2000 Plan, a seven page document produced by the council. It lists specific members, like Randy Neufeld, currently a board member of Active Transportation Alliance, and Erma Tranter, longtime president of Friends of the Parks. I’m not aware of what the other members are doing. But are they still council members? Continue reading December MBAC highlights

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