After zero public input on protected lanes so far, community meetings are on the horizon


Photo by Joshua Koonce. 

I was recently quoted in the Chicago News Cooperative and The New York Times about protected bike lanes. I said, “There’s been zero public outreach on where the bike lanes should go“. I think it’s a powerful statement.

I will describe how that’s true now and how that’s expected to change in the near future. Continue reading After zero public input on protected lanes so far, community meetings are on the horizon

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.

Residents choose what they like for a 35th Ward student active transportation plan


On September 1st, 2011, at the St. Sylvester fieldhouse across from Palmer Square Park, residents of the 35th Ward, encompassing Logan Square, gathered to hear an introduction to the 35th Ward Student Active Transportation Plan. The 35th Ward office has hired Sam Schwartz Engineering (SSE) to conduct public meetings, gather residents’ input, and craft a plan to make biking and walking easier and safer around schools and parks in the ward. Continue reading Residents choose what they like for a 35th Ward student active transportation plan

Where’s the next Bloomingdale Trail?


Looking west on the Bloomingdale Trail from approximately Leavitt and Milwaukee. The Blue Line towards O’Hare crosses here. Photo by John Tolva. 

The first public meeting for the Bloomingdale Trail, an elevated abandoned railroad line, soon to be an elevated linear park, happened last Thursday at the Congress Theater in Logan Square. This was the first meeting where members of the public got to hear from and meet the consultants the City of Chicago hired through a competitive bidding process.

The City awarded ARUP North America the contract to do Phase I engineering and Phase II design over a year after the company was selected. ARUP has nine subcontractors, several of which are based in Chicago (see page two of the FAQ). They are collectively called the “design team.”

Continue reading Where’s the next Bloomingdale Trail?

Four transportation events in and for Logan Square


A rendering of the Bike/Walk35 group’s vision for the Logan Square CTA station. 

One event happened last week, one is this week, one the following week, and the last happens each weekend in September.

Bike/Walk35 presentation on vision and goals for Logan Square CTA station

I joined the Bike/Walk35 group to help them create a great bike parking plan for the station. Last Thursday, August 25, 2011, at the St. Sylvester gymnasium (2157 N Humboldt), we presented on the history, goals, and vision for the Logan Square Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Blue Line station (2620 N Kedzie). Continue reading Four transportation events in and for Logan Square

Recap for the June 2011 MBAC meeting

Updated June 15, 2011: Added section on snow removal for the Kinzie Street bike lane. Updated October 16, 2011, to add quotes protected bike lane planning. This was originally posted to Steven Can Plan.

Every three months, staff from the Chicago Department of Transportation and Chicago Bicycle Program come to Room 1103 in City Hall to tell the bicycle community at large what they’re up to – it’s the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council. Other organizations get an opportunity to speak as well (especially Active Transportation Alliance) but a majority of the time is dedicated to the divisions of the Bicycle Program (namely bikeways, bike parking, and education).

Wednesday’s meeting was the only one I’ve been to where I felt that CDOT was doing something new, different, and interesting. And I’ve been to many, all as an employee of CDOT – at least 10 meetings since 2007. A LOT of new information was imparted at this meeting.

Thanks to Jim Limber, you can watch the meetings live. Or watch the recordings: Part 1, Part 2.

Here’s my MBAC recap, originally written for the weekly Chainlink newsletter:

Streets for cycling and protected bike lanes

Ben Gomberg introduced Mark de Lavergne of Sam Schwartz Engineering who will be leading the new Streets for Cycling planning process that will include 3-6 public meetings across the city to talk about future locations of Chicago’s bikeway network. The plan will include a toolbox of ideas and implementations adapted from the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide. The report will be completed by Bike To Work Day 2012.

The first 25 miles of protected bike lane locations has apparently already been assessed and will be done right away, without waiting for the plan to be completed. The starting place for these protected bike lanes is getting people in and out of downtown.

7. Bicycle Program coordinator Ben Gomberg said that the location of 25 miles had already been assessed. Deputy Commissioner Luann Hamilton said,

We’re being asked to be creative and come up with new information quickly by the new mayor, but we already did some planning before the new mayor. Our starting place: How to get in and out of downtown.

People interested in providing their ideas before the public planning process begins can send them to Mike Amsden.

Neighborhood Bikeways Campaign

Adolfo Hernandez from Active Transportation Alliance announced the Neighborhood Bikeways Campaign, to be led by John Lankford (not present). Here’s a paraphrasing of what he said: “There will be a fight early on about bikeways. The people in this room love these things. Businesses to be supportive of this, our local alderman. This isn’t on every alderman’s radar. As cycling advocates, we need to talk to our neighbors, businesses, churches, and schools. As part of the campaign for 100 miles, we are going to meet with people to do some organizing, spreading messages, building support, before the backlash. People are going to be upset, not going to like it.”

Kinzie Street snow removal

When a meeting attendee asked how snow would be dealt with on the Kinzie Street protected bike lane, CDOT Deputy Commissioner Luann Hamilton mentioned that new CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein built similar lanes in Washington, D.C., where it also snows, and will bring his experience in this to Chicago. 

Poor bicycling conditions on Vincennes

Anne Alt showed in a slideshow and described the reasons why Vincennes Avenue is a great bike route (even if bike lanes were removed and never reinstalled) but it has a lot of problems. She highlighted problems, especially at the train viaduct at 83rd and Parnell. Luann said that CDOT would help Anne identify the responsible railroad as a first step to getting the nearly invisible potholes under the viaduct repaired.

She posted her narratives and photos on The Chainlink.

I took a lot more notes so if you have any questions about something else that was said or wasn’t said, let me know and I’ll update it. I picked these as the most interesting and important parts of the meeting. One more thing: The Bicycle Program officially announced the on-street bike parking in Wicker Park, which I discussed a couple weeks ago.


Gin and I rode on the Kinzie Street protected bike lane together right after the meeting. Notice how wide it is! I’ve said it before: bikes are social. I’d already written over this a few times prior to the meeting, but I wanted to ride with someone else to see that experience. There’s normally not enough room in the bike lanes to ride next to someone, but here there is. I’m very excited about the opportunities this kind of facility opens up.