Merchandise mart: Wicker Park’s Transit Tees shop celebrates the CTA


I’m surprised it took me so long to actually visit Transit Tees, 1371 North Milwaukee in Wicker Park, since I pedal by the store regularly, and much of the transportation-themed gear they sell is right up my alley. Founded by Tim Gillengerten, the business has been selling t-shirts featuring CTA- and bicycle-inspired designs at local street festivals for years. This fall they opened the brick-and-mortar store, packed with shirts, wall art, mugs, neckties, messenger bags, jewelry and even stuffed pigeons. Almost all of the products are designed and manufactured by the company, with much of the work being done in the back of the store. Tim told me about the history of the the business, talked about some of his bestsellers and explained why he thinks mass transit-themed schwag is an idea whose time has arrived.

How long has the store been open?

We’ve been open at the retail location here since November 15, so it’s about two months.

And did Transit Tees exist as a business before that?

It did. We evolved it and refocused it as transportation-focused so we sort of shed all of our other product lines and now we’re mostly focusing on subway, bicycle, any form of transportation, planes, walking, and also Chicago and the Midwest, Great Lakes region.

Continue reading Merchandise mart: Wicker Park’s Transit Tees shop celebrates the CTA

How far does your expressway avoidance take you?


Showing undesirable pedestrian and sidewalk conditions under the Kennedy Expressway on Belmont Avenue at Kedzie Avenue. There is a bus stop here, on a portion of the sidewalk that narrows to about 2 feet. It wasn’t until I wrote this post that I realized that there is no bus route on Kedzie Avenue making this bus stop’s location quite ridiculous. There are bus stops in both directions on Belmont Avenue that are actually near businesses and residences. Explore on Google Street View.

I shop for groceries mostly at Aldi. The one nearest my house is 3,725 feet by walking (about 0.71 miles), the Avondale Aldi. The next closest store is 11,102 feet away (about 2.1 miles), the Lincoln Square Aldi, and the third closest is 11,599 feet away (about 2.2 miles), the Wicker Park Aldi. I live at Belmont and California, in Avondale.

I shop at the third closest one the most often. The Wicker Park Aldi is at Milwaukee Avenue and Leavitt Street. The reasons I shop here instead of the other two, considering that it’s two-thirds closer to home, are based on two travel factors: trip chaining (the practice of attaching multiple trips into the same one so one leaves the house less often), and trip quality (the characteristics that make the trip interesting, not interesting, safe, and unsafe). A trip, as counted by transportation planners like myself, is movement from one address to another.

For example, the Chicago Transit Authority counts trips taken on its buses and trains as “boardings”, each time a passenger pays for the bus or passes an ‘L’ station turnstile. When people change routes on the same platform or station, this additional trip isn’t counted because there’s no mechanism to do so. A person who takes a bus to an ‘L’ station is counted twice in CTA’s reports (note 1).

Continue reading How far does your expressway avoidance take you?

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

Fatality Tracker: Man skateboarding to his car involved in hit-and-run crash a week ago has died


A memorial for Reggie outside Café Con Leche. 

2012 Chicago fatality stats*:

Pedestrian: 22 (10 have been hit-and-run crashes) (the Illinois Safety Data Mart reports 30 pedestrian fatalities today)
Pedalcyclist: 5 (1 is a hit-and-run crash)
Transit: 8 (our last update listed 7)
Skateboard: 1 (1 is a hit-and-run crash)

Reginald “Reggie” Destin died today from injuries he sustained in a crash on October 19 while skateboarding to his car in the 1700 block of North Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park. He was hit by an unlicensed and uninsured driver whose blood alcohol level was 0.188 with a previous DUI; the driver didn’t stay but was quickly caught by police. The Chicago Sun-Times has an obituary:

Destin was well known in the Chicago skating community and often frequented the skateboard shop Uprise, which is a block from the accident. He had jobs working for popular skateboard companies and owned a skateboarding shop called Push near Chicago and State in the late 1990s, Fonseca said.

Grid Chicago apologizes on behalf of the Chicago Sun-Times for their inaccurate use of the word “accident”.

We are classifying this as a skateboarding crash type, even though the Illinois Department of Transportation data will likely classify it as a pedestrian crash as skateboards are not recognized as vehicles or devices (like pedalcycles). Skateboarding is sustainable transportation; if you don’t believe me go to Destin’s crash location on a warm weather day to see people skateboarding to their destinations.


A skateboarder in Chicago, at Milwaukee Avenue and Division Street – I don’t know his name. 


Skateboarding is transportation. A happy skateboarder at Milwaukee and California Avenues – I don’t know his name either. 

* The information is only accurate as of this post’s publishing time. View previous Fatality Tracker posts.

Design and features of six Bloomingdale Trail access parks are formulated in a single night


Participants at Tuesday evening’s access parks charrette. Most photos by John. 

In 2015, when the Bloomingdale Trail and parks are complete, no one should be able to say that a feature or two isn’t supposed to be there. In a public planning process that continues to impress, with unprecedented, widespread community involvement, a new step was completed on Monday and Tuesday with the release of the framework plan and a trail access and park charrette, respectively. The residents of Chicago have designed this trail and its accompanying access parks by providing feedback probably totaling several million words. This is a process where votes are cast by showing up and participating; homeowners concerned about privacy met directly with members of the design team, and meeting participants stressing their concerns over people bicycling too fast were among the voters.

The design team, which consists of the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), Trust for Public Land (TPL), the Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail, and TPL and the Park District’s many contractors, held an access park charrette on Tuesday, May 15, 2012, at the Humboldt Park Fieldhouse. Continue reading Design and features of six Bloomingdale Trail access parks are formulated in a single night

Confusing intersection of Milwaukee-Wood-Wolcott to be redesigned and reconstructed in Spring 2013 (was September)

Update September 7, 2012: From the Wicker Park-Bucktown SSA, we get news that this project has been pushed back to spring 2013. It seems IDOT is responsible for this delay. 

The skewed intersection of Milwaukee Avenue, Wood Street, and Wolcott Avenue in Wicker Park will be redesigned and reconstructed this year as part of a project to upgrade the signals. The original project only called for upgrading the traffic signals, which are decades old and very hard to see. Their timing is also awkward, providing no “all red” phase between the red phase of one direction and the following green phase of the cross direction. Construction should begin in September, according to the 1st Ward office.

Confusion is compounded with the addition of a rare slip lane on Wood Street at Milwaukee Avenue, which is created by a small island of concrete that only holds a light signal pole for southbound traffic. More often, islands are used to help protect pedestrians from traffic.

Bird's eye view of Milwaukee Wood Wolcott

View the intersection in a larger map on Bing Maps.

Continue reading Confusing intersection of Milwaukee-Wood-Wolcott to be redesigned and reconstructed in Spring 2013 (was September)