Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Bicycle Boulevards Post

(Note that in January 2012, it was announced that in Chicago, these bikeways will be called "neighborhood greenways".)

In our recent post about different types of bikeways, we touched on the idea of “bicycle boulevards” and today we’re going to elaborate on that concept so that you’re ready to participate in the upcoming bicycle boulevards planning session on November 20, 2011. (Full details at bottom of this post.)
Bicyclists ride on Lincoln Park West at Webster on the morning of the Chicago Marathon, when traffic volumes are low.
(Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park) 
Bike Walk Lincoln Park is working to put together an overall plan for suggested bicycle infrastructure improvements in Lincoln Park, to submit to the CDOT team putting together Chicago’s Streets For Cycling plan. Part of the city’s plan and our recommendations will be installing bicycle boulevards. (These will be in addition to, and not instead of the protected bike lanes that will also be installed.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mannequins occupy Wacker Drive

Chicago has unveiled a new installation to bring attention to the number of pedestrian deaths last year within city limits, and to launch a pedestrian safety campaign. Thirty-two mannequins representing the 32 pedestrians killed in Chicago in 2010 by motor vehicles have been placed on the sidewalk along Wacker Drive between Michigan Avenue and Wells Street. The mannequins wear black T-shirts that say on the front "One of 32 pedestrians killed last year in Chicago", and on the back, "It's up to you. Be alert. Be safe. We're all pedestrians." 
Each mannequin on Wacker Drive symbolizes "One of 32 pedestrians killed last year in Chicago."
(Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Traffic cameras to curtail speeding? Yes, please

You may have read recently that Mayor Emanuel is proposing using cameras at intersections to measure speeding and issue $100 citations, similar to the “red light cameras” already in place in the city. As reported in this Sun Times article and elsewhere, he proposes that they be installed near schools and parks, as a way to protect children from speeding vehicles.

So who could be against that? Don’t we all want to protect children from speeding vehicles? Getting people to drive the speed limit by penalizing violations of the law seems to be a legitimate traffic-calming measure to us.
The posted speed limit on Lincoln Avenue is 25 mph. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
Apparently not everyone sees it that way. The arguments from the public against the proposal are numerous, but the main one seems to be: This is not about safety; it’s just a money grab by the city to increase revenue.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Quick and Easy Primer on Bicycle Infrastructure

The city of Chicago has exciting plans for people who choose to ride bikes as a mode of transportation, or those who would love to, but are still understandably hesitant.

We’ll be talking a lot on this blog about the upgrades and changes to Lincoln Park’s and the city’s bicycling infrastructure. As we’ve mentioned before, Mayor Emanuel is committed to putting in 100 miles of protected bike lanes in the next four years. In addition to that, CDOT is creating a new bike plan for the city's bicycling infrastructure revising our city’s grand plan for bicycling, upgrading the current Chicago Bike 2015 Plan to a new one  called Streets for Cycling 2020, which covers the next eight years.  (Note: This was edited 02/12/12 to correct that the Streets for Cycling 2020 plan does not replace the Chicago Bike 2015 Plan, which addresses policy, education, and enforcement.) That upgraded plan will go beyond the protected lanes to add even more bicycling-friendly infrastructure. (Read about many of these items on the Chicago Bike Program web page here.)

Since there will be some familiar concepts involved as well as new ones, we thought it would be worthwhile to provide you with basic information about the types of bikeways that are available.


These are the off-road trails that bicyclists and pedestrians often share. The one that is best-known to Lincoln Parkers is probably the Lake Front Trail, but there are others not too far away, like the North Shore Channel Trail, which runs north along the Chicago river starting near Lawrence and Kimball. These trails are often used for purely recreational purposes, but many people use them as their bicycle commuting route as well.
Chicago's much-loved Lake Front Trail, as seen near the 47th Street overpass. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
The advantages to these trails are that they are well separated from motorized traffic, and therefore feel very safe to all users. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lincoln Avenue to Receive Some TLC

Some good news for all of you who walk or bike on Lincoln Avenue. Alderman Michele Smith has advised that Lincoln, from its start at 1800/Wells Street to 2800/Diversey Avenue, will receive some much-needed attention from the Chicago Department of Transportation. CDOT workers will repaint pedestrian crosswalks as well as re-mark the bike lanes on that two-mile stretch. Just in case you don't think this area needs work, take a look at these "before" photos.

Pedestrians cross at Lincoln and Altgeld. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
The crosswalk at Lincoln and Webster is barely visible even in bright sunlight.
(Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Using Humor to Effect Change on the Streets

Sure, we can try changing street-user behavior through the use of large signs, or burly Traffic Management Aides flapping their arms, or Chicago Police officers writing tickets.

But sometimes, a message is received louder and clearer when a little humor is mixed in.
Mimes hired by the city of Caracas, Venezuela help manage the streets' traffic.
(AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
Caracas, Venezuela apparently has streets and sidewalks even more chaotic than ours, including people riding down sidewalks on motorcycles (!). In order to draw attention to the problem, the mayor of one section of the city has hired 120 mimes to reinforce good behavior and call people out on bad behavior. The mimes wag their fingers at scofflaws and give smiley faces to those sharing the road. This innovative  technique has apparently been used in Bogota, Colombia with good results. I mean, really, who wants to get a frowny face from a mime? No one, that’s who.

Clowns in New York patrol for cars parked in bike lanes.
(Photo seen on
In New York City, the environmental action group Time’s Up has had “Bike Lane Liberation” events in which clowns ride bikes to find cars parked in the bike lane, give out mock tickets to remind the driver that it’s illegal to park in the bike lane, and encourage the driver to clear the lane, all with a good-natured smile. (Check out a longish video of the event here for full coverage.) Should we try one of these events in Chicago? We certainly wouldn’t have to ride far to find vehicles parked in the bike lanes ….

Toronto citizens show that building safe cycling infrastructure is easy as child's play.
(Photo seen on
And in Toronto last week, where the regressive mayor currently in office is actually removing existing bike lanes, anonymous citizens called the Urban Repair Squad protested the ongoing removal by installing a row of Lego blocks to re-create the bike lane stripe. The campaign’s name is “Lego My Bike Lane”

A little humor goes a long way, doesn’t it?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Stamped brick crosswalks at North and Wells!

More hopeful signs!

As part of the North Avenue street resurfacing, the intersection of North and Wells is receiving new stamped brick crosswalks! You've probably noticed these elsewhere in Lincoln Park, and it's great to have them at a large, busy intersection like this one. The combination of texturized asphalt and bright red paint makes it clear to other users of the road that crosswalks are actually an extension of the sidewalk, and NOT a part of the street, as is often assumed. They'll go a long way to improving the visibility of pedestrians. Plus, they're beautiful.

The picture on the left was taken three days ago, and the one on the right was taken today. They're not quite done, but we couldn't wait to spread the news to those of you who haven't been to this intersection recently. The CDOT workers will probably still paint the edges white to finish it off, and we'll post updated pics then.

We need these everywhere!

Have you seen any positive changes for pedestrians or bicyclists in your neck of Lincoln Park? Share with us in the comments below, or send pics to  We'd love to hear from you.

Sign up for Bikeways 101

Do you want to learn how cities across the country are making their streets safer for bicycling? Join us in attending a mini-seminar on the topic on Saturday, October 15 at 10:00 am at Jak's Tap in the west Loop (full details in the RSVP link below). Speakers from Portland, San Francisco and New York will share their insights. This seminar is presented jointly by the Active Transportation Alliance, Chicago's Department of Transportation and NACTO. 

That last group's full name is "National Association of City Transportation Officials", which sounds boring, but they have a great program called Cities for Cycling and have published an inspiring online document called Urban Bikeway Design Guide. Check it out to view all the different configurations that are available to cities to put in safe bike lanes. We don't have many in Chicago yet, but they have been used in Europe and elsewhere in North America with great success. In the next years and months, as Chicago puts in 100 miles of protected lanes for bicyclists, we'll probably need to make use of many of the options described in the design guide.

Maybe something like this protected lane in Budapest could work on narrow streets like Armitage?
(Photo from David Baker + Partners Architects)
The meeting is free and open to the public, but you must RSVP and you can do so on the Active Transportation Alliance website at this link. We hope to see you there!