Sunday, November 27, 2011

Bike lanes + bus lanes = Democracy in action

Capitol Avenue in Springfield, Illinois.
(Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
We’ve been thinking lately about the idea of democracy and equality in our streets. Not in the sense of the Occupy Wall Street movement, but about whether all people who use our streets are treated equally.

We like to talk about how everyone is equal in the United States, and we’re supposedly a classless society. Yet, when we look at our streets, there are definitely classes of street users, and automobile drivers are the ones invited into first class.

Under our system, a person driving a motor vehicle is given the most space and the most advantages on our streets. But not everyone can or wants to drive a car. There are those who are not old enough yet, or don’t have the financial resources needed to own or operate a car. There are people who have disabilities that restrict or prohibit their ability to drive. In addition, more people are choosing not to own a car or use it for many of their trips,  based on economics, convenience, concern for the environment, to get in a little exercise, or all of the above. In Chicago, about 30 percent of households don’t own an automobile. When those 30 percent take a bus or ride a bike, they shouldn’t suddenly become second-class citizens.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful for positive changes favoring walking and bicycling

We have more positive changes to report for people walking and bicycling in Lincoln Park!
New pedestrian crosswalk at North Avenue and Orchard Street. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)

A new pedestrian crosswalk has been installed on North Avenue at Orchard Street. The crosswalk not only has big zebra stripes, but two pedestrian islands to provide walkers a safe haven when crossing. This is a huge upgrade from two strips of yellow paint inches apart that was the prior "safe haven".

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Plan & Ride recap, and Streets for Cycling 2020 kicks off!

It was an enthusiastic crowd at the first Bike Walk Lincoln Park "Plan and Ride" session. Thanks for hosting us, CityGrounds Coffee Bar! (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park) 

In spite of chilly air and an early start time, we had a great turn out for the Bike Boulevards Plan and Ride event this morning. There was a big range of bicycling skill sets, from very confident cyclists who have ridden in Chicago for decades, to people who rarely ride at all but would like to more often if they were provided safer facilities.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Intended speeds vs. design speeds of Chicago's streets

We mentioned in a prior post the “design speed” of a street, which is sometimes different from the intended or posted speed limit. The way a street is configured, either intentionally or not, has the effect of “telling” a driver how fast or slow to proceed. 
What works well for streets in Death Valley National Park doesn't necessarily translate well to Chicago.
(Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
Elements that make drivers comfortable going fast are: straight sight lines, wide lanes, multiple lanes of traffic going in the same direction, long distances between crosswalks/stop signs/stoplights, and a wide shoulder or lack of obstacles the driver would hit if they suddenly had to make a defensive move like swerving out of their lane. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Survey says: Bicycling is good for ... pretty much everything

The statistics are in, and they back up that bicycling is good. That sounds like a flip statement, but it’s true. In 2011, we’re facing many challenges as a nation, including an obesity epidemic, increases in air pollution, automotive traffic gridlock, and a population struggling to stretch their household finances. Bicycling is a positive force for each of those issues, and more. 

Wells Street bike lane at Ohio, heading into the Loop.
(Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
But don’t just take our word for it. There are reams of statistics, data and research being done worldwide on the benefits of bicycling, and there a great website on which you can browse the stats to your heart’s content.

Bikes Belong is an organization sponsored by bicycle  manufacturers and retailers nationwide, and their mission is “to put more people on bicycles more often.” Their website has a great page with links to bicycling statistics. If you’re a data hound and you love reading about bicycling, settle in right now with a cup of coffee before you click on the link below, because there’s a lot to read.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Let's help drivers obey speed limit laws

We’ve followed the ongoing news about the proposed traffic cameras to enforce laws against driving over the speed limit, and we remain in favor of them. The ultimate goal for using the cameras is improved street safety. Driving in excess of the speed limit endangers all other users of the road, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and other motorists. 
The posted speed limit on Stockton Drive is 25 mph.
(Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
Using cameras to ticket speeders is a legitimate enforcement tool, but instead of just catching speeders, we’d like to propose that the best initiative would be to take steps to reduce speeding before it happens.  But how to do that?

When we bring up the topic of speed limits while chatting with our  fellow Chicagoans (yeah, we’re really fun at cocktail parties), it’s amazing to find out how many people don’t know what the speed limit is in the city in general, or on main streets near their homes, or even on the stretch on which they live. Even if they’ve lived in one place and driven regularly, they often simply don’t know. Do you know any of the above with certainty?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Art on the street makes walking a pleasure

One of the many benefits to walking on city streets is that it allows us to enjoy our surroundings at a leisurely pace. Instead of racing by everything along the street in a motor vehicle, we’re able to take it all in from the sidewalk as we pass relatively slowly. In Lincoln Park, we’re lucky to have plenty of things to look at as we walk, and one of the most enjoyable is works of art. 

We were inspired to cover this topic in today’s blog post because of the newest piece of art that has been added to our neighborhood landscape, pictured below. Have you seen it yet? It’s at the corner of Armitage and Burling, kitty corner from Lincoln Park High School.
A new sculpture in Lincoln Park resembles a giant blue windmill. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Lincoln Avenue and Wells Street TLC - The "After" pics

You remember the "before" pictures from this Bike Walk Lincoln Park post a few weeks ago. CDOT crews have now made major improvements up and down the stretch of Lincoln Avenue that runs through Lincoln Park. There have also been exciting maintenance work on Wells Street for pedestrians and bicyclists. Read on for details!

Crosswalks got a lot of attention the entire stretch of Lincoln. Many were not only re-painted, but upgraded from two thin lines to the much more visible zebra-crosswalk type. 
The new crosswalk striping at Lincoln Avenue and Larrabee Street. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
The new white thermoplastic tape is so shiny, it glints in the afternoon sun. Yes, we have become geeky enough that this makes us very happy.