Take back the bike lane



Take it back. The bike lane that is. Take it back from those who park in it, put their valet signs in it, park valet cars in it, pickup and drop off passengers in it, or generally illegally block the bike lane, forcing cyclists to merge into faster moving traffic to avoid it.

Two weeks ago, feeling sick and tired of the disrespect people have for facilities the City of Chicago and its funding partners (mainly the federal government) have built for the exclusive use of people riding bicycles, I confronted three people about their parking in the bike lane.

Continue reading Take back the bike lane

CDOT responds to open letter about police enforcement; still waiting for replies from mayor, police


Citations issued for blocking the bike lane vary from year to year. This FedEx truck blocks the Kinzie Street protected bike lane, the city’s first. 

In the open letter that Anne Alt and I wrote and mailed in early April to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, transportation commissioner Gabe Klein (CDOT), and police superintendent Garry McCarthy, we only received a reply from Klein. We don’t expect a response from the Mayor’s Office or the Chicago Police Department.

The letter has been pasted below.

The response from CDOT pointed out an inaccuracy in our letter’s data about the number of citations issued to motorists for parking in marked bikeways (bike lanes and marked shared lanes). The data, from the Department of Administrative Hearings, substantially undercounted the number of citations issued. The issue with this data is that it came from the wrong source and the numbers from that department likely represented contested citations.

Since receiving this letter, Grid Chicago has obtained new data, from the Department of Finance (known to most as the Department of Revenue). The number of citations issued for violating Municipal Code of Chicago 9-40-060, are as follows (rates in parentheses): Continue reading CDOT responds to open letter about police enforcement; still waiting for replies from mayor, police

Can we get some police to enforce traffic laws? A letter


This photo of a police SUV parked in the Kinzie Street protected bike lane was included in the letter. Photo taken by Tumblr user 122782.

I just received another report from a reader about people driving in the 18th Street protected bike lane, so it’s obvious to me that dangerous driving behavior is still happening.

A month ago, Anne Alt, president of the Chicago Cycling Club and author of our excellent, two-part series about cycling on the south side, wrote to me that she had drafted a letter written to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, transportation commissioner Gabe Klein, and police superintendent Garry McCarthy to advocate for increased police enforcement of the City’s (pretty solid) traffic laws. I helped edit parts of the letter, gathered some signatures in support of the letter at the Chicago Bike Swap, and even paid for postage. The letter has been sent, and pursuant to the Grid Chicago mission statement (“taking a stand on issues”), I’m publishing it here. Continue reading Can we get some police to enforce traffic laws? A letter

What is the outcome of hit-and-run crashes?

A prayer circle for Martha Gonzalez
Photo of a prayer circle for Martha Gonzalez by floozefactor/Flickr.

This is the first in a five part series on crash data analysis sponsored by Lawyer Jim Freeman.

Pedestrians and bicyclists involved in hit-and-run traffic crashes with automobiles in Chicago receive more injuries and die more often than pedestrians and bicyclists involved in hit-no-run crashes while drivers and passengers have the opposite outcome. This post attempts to describe the situation of hit-and-run crashes in Chicago.

On Sunday I wrote that 75% of all pedestrian traffic deaths this year were in hit-and-run crashes; it’s important to know that all the offending drivers were later apprehended (note 1). The horrific events on Saturday made me curious: How prevalent are hit and run crashes? I already know that our hit-and-run rate is 28.5% for 2005-2010, but how does that translate into frequency of injuries and fatalities? Are hit-and-run crashes worse for drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists? Better than hit-no-run crashes? I ran a few calculations to find the answers. I came up with more questions than answers, but my initial interpretation is that hit-and-run crashes are not much better or worse than hit-no-run crashes when looking at every crash participant combined. Continue reading What is the outcome of hit-and-run crashes?

Full interview of Gabe Klein from my Architect’s Newspaper article


Transportation commissioner Gabe Klein cycles to work on Michigan Avenue. 

I wrote an article about myriad transportation projects and initiatives in Chicago for Architect’s Newspaper, a magazine based in New York City. It was published last week online and in print (in the centerfold, no less). My original article was over 2,500 words, but only 1,600 words fit in the print version. I will be publishing additional details from the interviews I conducted for the article and about the projects it mentions.

The first is my interview with transportation commissioner Gabe Klein, conducted over the phone on January 19, 2012.

How will things change for pedestrians?

My philosophy in addressing needs is that you have to look out for the most vulnerable users first. In many times, there’s a trickle down effect. We want Chicago to be a walkable, livable city. We also want it to be a bikeable city, but walkable first. I think there was a push in the past to make it so that cars moved as quickly as possible. Back then, cities lost their self-confidence and catered to the transient drivers who passed through [emphasis added]. You cater first and foremost to the people who live here, not just the people who work here. I think it’s an indicator of cities, how walkable it is. Continue reading Full interview of Gabe Klein from my Architect’s Newspaper article

Mayor’s comments to Chicago Tribune about speed cameras


Crossing the street shouldn’t be so daunting that you see a cross on the other side. Photo by Gabriel Michael. 

I posted Saturday a link to the Chicago Tribune’s article about their interview with Mayor Emanuel. They also published the transcript of that 90 minute talk, which I didn’t see until after publishing the post. I’m not going to stop following the speed camera issue. It’s directly related to street safety and active transportation and I’ve not found good research that shows that speed cameras don’t reduce speeding.

Notice in the third paragraph of the first excerpt that Mayor Emanuel is committing all resources (which I interpret as revenues from speeding tickets issued by the automated speed camera enforcement system) to “increasing public safety for children near schools and parks”. The act, now an Illinois law since last Monday, includes specific directives on how the money can be spent although one of them is extremely broad.

Here are some excerpts from that interview I think are relevant to the discussion of speed camera placement in Chicago. They are not the most key in whether or not we should have cameras, but comment on how the City administration is handling the public information campaign.  Continue reading Mayor’s comments to Chicago Tribune about speed cameras