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Portland Tells Builders: Give Pedestrians and Cyclists Safe Detours

Here's a German example of how a sidewalk-area can be maintained during construction. Portland's new rules recommend a similar approach. Photo: Bernard Finucane

A sidewalk detour in Kassel, Germany. Portland’s new rules recommend a similar approach. Photo via Bernard Finucane

When construction projects occupy sidewalks and bike lanes, many cities don’t do anything to compensate — forcing people to walk and bike in traffic or take long, unrealistic detours. But it’s not that hard to put up safe, convenient alternate routes.

Yesterday, the Portland City Council voted to require better detours for pedestrians and cyclists at construction zones. Michael Andersen at Bike Portland has the details (the bill was passed after he wrote the post):

A proposed policy before the city council Wednesday would withhold city permits from builders that block sidewalks or bike lanes around their work sites without first considering reuse of parking and travel lanes.

The action comes after a months-long social media campaign from Oregon Walks and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, which evolved out of a years-long behind-the-scenes effort by the BTA.

The city’s draft policy stops short of saying that walking, biking or traveling by mobility device are always higher priorities in work zones than traveling by car. Instead, it says that walking and biking routes should only be blocked if no other option is “practicable.”

Seattle passed a similar law last year, writes Andersen, but without provisions protecting bicyclists.

Elsewhere on the Network today: PubliCola runs a piece by TransitCenter’s Jon Orcutt urging Seattle to keep up its rapid progress on transit and safe streets for walking and biking. And Walkable Jenkintown says parking lots are like kryptonite to walkability.

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Today’s Headlines for Thursday, June 30

  • Monique Garcia: State Budget Deal Would Let Chicago Create Transit TIFs
  • Good Samaritan Stabbed After Trying to Stop Harassment of Mom & Kids on CTA Bus (Fox)
  • 3 Injured After Driver Crashes Into Wilmette Salon (Sun-Times)
  • A Report of Armed Robbery on the Lakefront Trail Near 43rd Street (The Chainlink)
  • Did Fire Department Official Get Preferential Treatment After His DUI? (Sun-Times)
  • Locked Path Bollards Blamed for Delaying Ambulance on Great Western Trail (ABC)
  • City of Evanston Is Installing a Protected Bike Lane on Dodge Between Howard & Lake
  • Upgraded Metra Website Includes Real-Time Info on Train Locations (Sun-Times)
  • Police & Metra Hold “Operation Lifesaver Station Safety Blitz” in Buffalo Grove (CBS)
  • Suburban Woman Allegedly Slapped Firefighter While Riding Divvy (DNA)
  • Shirtless Man Lives the Dream by Pretending to Drive CTA Bus (DNA)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Join Us For Our Monthly Reader Meetup Next Wednesday at Jaks Tap

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Jaks has a great selection of libations and eats, and they offer *free* ketchup and mustard with any sandwich purchase. Photo: John Greenfield

We’re hosting our monthly Streetsblog Chicago meetup and happy hour next Wednesday at Jaks Tap in the West Loop/UIC. Our meetups are a great opportunity to hang out and network with folks who are passionate about sustainable transportation and livable streets. Here’s the skinny:

Streetsblog Reader Meetup
Wednesday, July 6, 5:30-8 p.m. (probably somewhat later)
Jaks Tap
901 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago

It’s a block or so north of the Blue Line’s UIC-Halsted Station and there’s a Divvy station right in front of the bar.

Meet Streetsblog Chicago editor John Greenfield (deputy editor Steven Vance will be returning home from his European sabbatical in the near future) and fellow readers — you already know each other from the comments and social media.

We’ll have a few pints and talk about hot transportation and public space issues, be it neighborhood greenways, the Rosemont Transit Center overhaul, or the Divvy expansion.

Hope to see you there!

RSVP on Facebook if you like.

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Critical Mass and Klingenberg Ride Honor Fallen Cyclists, Crash Survivors

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Hundreds of Critical Mass riders raised their bikes in a salute to fallen courier Blaine Klingenberg last Friday at Michigan and Oak. Photo: Juley-Ann Perez

There have been far too many bicycle crashes with injuries or fatalities in northeast Illinois in recent months, especially during the past three weeks. With all of the tragic news, one bright spot has been that recent events have inspired bike riders from different walks of life to unite to honor fallen cyclists and survivors of traffic violence.

Last Friday, Chicago’s monthly Critical Mass ride paid a visit to Scott Jacobson, who was recently released from the hospital, almost two months after being struck and dragged hundreds of feet by a hit-and-run driver in Bridgeport. The ride also stopped at Michigan and Oak to pay tribute to courier Blaine Klingenberg, who was run over and killed by a tour bus driver at the intersection two weeks ago.

Family, friends, and colleagues of the messenger have also announced “RYB Fest: Blaine ‘Beezy’ Klingenberg Memorial Day,” a bike ride and barbecue to which they’re inviting the entire cycling community, named for the hashtag #RideYoBike. The Facebook event describes the event as a “day of remembrance and celebration, and to remind all that bicyclists should also be viewed as equals when riding on the road.” Here’s the basic info on the memorial ride:

RYB Fest: Blaine ‘Beezy’ Klingenberg Memorial Day
Saturday, July 2, 12:30 p.m.
Humboldt Park Formal Garden, northwest corner of Division and Humboldt
Ride ends with a barbecue at Richard Clark Park, 3400 North Rockwell

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The route map for RYB Fest. Image: Chicago Bike Messenger Association

Jacobson, 47, was riding home after biking with his two sons to wrestling practice on Monday, May 2. Near the intersection of 35th and Lowe in Bridgeport, SUV driver Joshua Thomas, 26, made a U-turn and struck him, according to police.

Jacobson was dragged hundreds of feet until bystanders ran to stop the vehicle. The cyclist’s pelvis was fractured in three places, including the ball of the upper femur, which fits in the hip socket. He suffered severe road rash over much of his body, with muscle and bone visible in places.

Inexplicably, Thomas was initially only charged with misdemeanors. It remains to be seen whether the Cook County state’s attorney’s office will level more serious charges against the motorist. While Jacobson came home from the hospital last week, it will take several more months and multiple surgeries before he can resume work. A GoFundMe page has been established to help support the family until Jacobson is back on his feet.

Klingenberg, 29, moved to Chicago 13 months ago from his hometown of Bakersfield, California, to join buddies who already lived here and pursue his dream of becoming a big-city bike courier, according to his girlfriend Maja Perez, 28, who followed him soon afterwards.

On Wednesday, June 15, at about 5:30 p.m., Klingenberg was riding northbound on Michgian to Oak Street Beach to meet up with friends after work. When he reached Oak Street, he was fatally struck and dragged by double-decker tour bus driver Charla A. Harris, 51, an employee of Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Co.

Read more…

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Houston’s Big Chance to Turn Back the Tide of Car Traffic

TxDOT's $7 billion proposal for downtown Houston highways is not terrible, say advocates, but it could be better. Image: TxDOT via Swamplot

TxDOT’s $7 billion plan for downtown Houston may tear down the Pierce Elevated Freeway while expanding I-45. Some civic leaders question why more resources won’t be devoted to transit. Image: TxDOT via Swamplot

There’s a lot riding on Texas DOT’s $7 billion plan for downtown Houston freeways.

TxDOT has been working for more than a decade on a plan for the three highways that roughly form a circle around the city — I-45, I-10, and U.S. 59. Last April, the agency revealed a draft version of the plan, and another revision is expected to come out as soon as six months from now.

Advocates for a walkable Houston see a lot of promise in TxDOT’s willingness to rethink the city’s freeways, but the plan might still make traffic worse by adding lanes.

On the bright side, TxDOT is proposing to tear down the Pierce Elevated Freeway, which could open up 20 to 50 blocks of downtown for walkable development. The plan also calls for aligning I-45 with U.S. 59 to the east of the city, burying the roads in a trench capped with a park.

“The impacts on walkability and urbanism are real and are a big deal,” said Jay Crossley, former director of the smart growth advocacy group Houston Tomorrow. “If they could only do those parts of the plan it would be an amazing plan.”

But while TxDOT is starting to consider how its highway projects affect urban neighborhoods, said Crossley, it hasn’t quite embraced the “paradigm shift” away from highway widening that Mayor Sylvester Turner has called for.

It’s still an open question whether TxDOT’s plan will result in a net increase in highway capacity, pumping more traffic into downtown.

Read more…

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The More People Live and Work in Central Philly, the Less Parking They Use

Here’s a great example of a “virtuous cycle” in action: Center City Philadelphia has seen the number of parking spaces decline recently as population and jobs continue to rise at a healthy clip.

If everyone who worked in Central City Philadelphia drove to work, it would take 28 Comcast Towers full of parking to accommodate them all. Photo: Wikipedia

If everyone who worked in Central City Philadelphia drove to work, it would take 28 Comcast Towers full of parking to accommodate them all. Photo: Wikipedia

You might expect one result to be a downtown parking crunch, but that’s not the case at all, reports Jim Saksa at Plan Philly:

If everyone drove to work in Center City, how much parking would we need?

According to a new report from the Center City District: 2.6 square miles of surface parking. The size of William Penn’s 1682 plan for the city? 2.2 miles.

Visualize that another way: If you were to build parking garages the size of the Comcast Center, you’d need 28 of them.

If everyone drove to work in Philly, parking spaces would crowd out the actual places of employment. In other words: Transit matters.

That’s the takeaway from Center City District’s latest report, which examined where the region works and how people commute.

Over the past few years, Philadelphia has been growing and Center City has led the way. Jobs in Center City grew 5 percent between 2010 and 2014, and residents increased 7.9 percent. At the same time, though, Center City lost parking: more than 3,000 spaces. Yet, at the same time, parking availability actually increased. The ineluctable conclusion: More Philadelphians are walking, biking and taking transit to work than ever before.

Elsewhere on the Network today: The Political Environment reports that after an unprecedented $6 billion road expansion binge, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says he doesn’t support raising taxes to bring existing roads into good condition. Seattle Transit Blog says the premium people pay for land near light rail stations in Seattle is a sign the city needs to expand transit. And the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia gives an overview of last week’s Better Bike Share conference, which explored “what’s working, what isn’t, and how bike share can be a transportation tool for everyone.”

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Today’s Headlines for Wednesday, June 29

  • Activists Lobby for Longer Hours, Weekend Service for 31st Street Bus Pilot (DNA)
  • Eugene Oregon’s Bus Rapid Transit System Is a Model for Chicago (Active Trans)
  • A Round-up of Recent Transit New (MPC)
  • North Ave. Bridge Set to Reopen This Weekend; Pedestrian Fatally Struck Nearby (Tribune)
  • Man on Bike Killed in Train Crash Near 59th and Narragansett (NBC)
  • 19-Year-Old Man Dies After Driving Into Building Near 79th and Western (Tribune)
  • Lyft Driver Sexually Harassed Passenger, Threatened Violence After She Reported Him (DNA)
  • Newsy Visits the Bronzeville Bike Box Community Bike Shop
  • MPC Decided to “Dwell” on the Topic of How Pre-Paid Boarding Can Speed Bus Times
  • Good Thing Someone Saw “Poltergeist“: City Won’t Dig up Graves for Road Project (DNA)
  • 88-Keyed Placemaking: Pianos Are Being Installed at Parks and Beaches (DNA)
  • Upcoming “Trail Mix” Events on The 606

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Police Blamed Courier for Fatal Crash; Witnesses Say Bus Driver Ran Stoplight

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Blaine Klingenberg and Maja Perez at her brother’s wedding in March. Photo courtesy of Perez

[Last year the Chicago Reader launched a weekly transportation column written by Streetsblog Chicago editor John Greenfield. This partnership allows Streetsblog to extend the reach of our livable streets advocacy. We syndicate a portion of the column after it comes out online; you can read the remainder on the Reader’s website or in print. The paper hits the streets on Thursdays.]

The intersection of Michigan and Oak, at the north end of the Magnificent Mile, is a complex and intimidating junction. Here, Michigan is a massive seven-lane boulevard, while Oak is a broad, two-lane street with turn lanes, lined with pricey boutiques and luxury high-rises. To the north are on- and off-ramps for Lake Shore Drive as well as curving roadways leading to and from Inner Lake Shore Drive. At the northeast corner there’s an underpass leading to the Lakefront Trail and Oak Street Beach. As such, this crossroads is often filled with a chaotic mix of pedestrians, bike riders, private cars, taxis, and buses.

Bike courier Blaine “Beezy” Klingenberg, 29, lost his life in the daunting intersection of Michigan and Oak on Wednesday, June 15, after being run over and dragged by a double-decker tour bus at the height of the evening rush. Described by employers and colleagues as a hard-working, likable, and safety-minded messenger, Klingenberg has been posthumously reduced to a poster boy for irresponsible urban cycling.

The driver, 51-year-old Charla A. Henry, is employed by Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Co. She was the second company employee to fatally strike a vulnerable road user on Michigan Avenue within the last seven months.

The Chicago Police Department along with major news outlets, reported that Klingenberg brought on his own death by pedaling through a red light. But in exclusive interviews with the Reader, two witnesses say they’re convinced the bus driver was at least partly responsible for Klingenberg’s death because she entered the intersection after the light turned red.

Klingenberg, a native of Bakersfield, California, worked for Advanced Messenger Service, delivering envelopes and packages via a large, yellow, Danish-style cargo bike.

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As of Friday night, a white-painted bike wheel hung on a pole at the crash site as a memorial to Klingenberg. Photo: John Greenfield

On June 15, while he was finishing up the day’s runs, he posted on Facebook, “Who’s down for the lake?” According to friends, he planned to meet up with other couriers after work at Oak Street Beach.

Here’s the CPD’s account of the fatal collision from the crash report: Around 5:30 PM Klingenberg was riding his cargo bike north on Michigan. Meanwhile, the bus driver was heading westbound on Oak, east of Michigan (where Oak is officially called East Lake Shore Drive).

“The victim disregarded the light at Oak and turned into the bus, causing the collision,” the crash report stated, laying the blame squarely on Klingenberg.

Henry ran over Klingenberg, who was dragged and pinned under the bus’s middle-right side. Firefighters had to use large airbags to lift the bus off him. Klingenberg was rushed to Northwestern Memorial Hospital and pronounced dead on arrival.

Henry has not been issued traffic citations or charged with a crime.

Initial reports by CBS 2, ABC 7, DNAinfo, and Chicagoist essentially took the police version at face value.

At least two eyewitnesses tell a different story.

Read more…

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Philly Gets a Boost From U.S. DOT to Mend Neighborhoods Split By a Highway

Chinatown residents want to see Philadelphia's Vine Street Expressway capped. Photo: Philadelphia Encyclopedia

Chinatown residents want to cap Philadelphia’s Vine Street Expressway. Photo: Philadelphia Encyclopedia

Earlier this year Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said he wants to help repair the damage done to cities by highways. And this week U.S. DOT took some steps to make that happen, announcing the winners of its “Every Place Counts Design Challenge.”

The four chosen cities (out of 33 applicants) will get technical assistance from U.S. DOT to tear down or cap highways, or otherwise mend urban neighborhoods split apart by grade-separated roads. The winners are Spokane, Nashville, St. Paul, and Philadelphia.

Jim Saksa at Network blog Plan Philly explains how Philadelphia plans to use the process to begin heal the divides created by the Vine Street Expressway:

Philly’s prize: a two-day planning session hosted by U.S. DOT to imagine what Chinatown and Callowhill would look like without the Vine Street Expressway’s enervating interruption through the neighborhoods.

Winning planning sessions is far from federal funding for the untold millions of dollars it would take to significantly and dramatically improve I-676 by covering it and converting it into a tunnel. But planning would be the first step toward mitigating the decades-long negative impact the Expressway has had on Chinatown and Callowhill.

A cap is what the neighborhood wants, though, according to Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (PCDC) Executive Director John Chin.

Saksa explains some of the history:

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines for Tuesday, June 28

  • Editorial: Chicago Loses by Keeping a Parking Lot & Losing the Lucas Museum (Sun-Times)
  • Driver Injures Cyclist in Arlington Heights, Down the Road from Recent Bike Fatality (Herald)
  • Separate Paths for Pedestrians and Bicyclists Debut on Lakefront Trail at Ardmore (CBS)
  • Buckled Pavement Delays Buses on Lake Shore Drive (DNA)
  • Tribune Editorial Board Member Op-Ed: The Downsides of Ride-Share
  • New TOD by Wilson Stop Would Have 197 Units, 41 Spaces (Curbed)
  • So Far Voters Are Supporting Noise Wall for Bridgeport (DNA)
  • Loop Alliance Workers Try to Connect Homeless on State Street With Housing (Loop North)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA