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Neighborhood Group Wants Fewer Units in Queer-Friendly Affordable TOD

Pennycuff affordable housing building in Logan Square

The proposed building’s new rendering is on the left.

Logan Square’s Greater Goethe Neighborhood Association is arguing that the neighborhood’s “current infrastructure” can’t handle approximately 120 more people moving into a planned LGTB-friendly and transit-friendly affordable housing development at 2013 N. Milwaukee Ave. A group of affordable housing developers has proposed an 88-unit building that would replace the current Congress Pizza and its parking lot.

However, Logan Square infrastructure is actually well-suited to accommodate those new residents. The neighborhood could potentially take in ten times that many people without a problem.

The building and its plaza will be named for John Pennycuff and Robert Castillo, two men who were partners in life and activism, advocating for LGBT rights as well as affordable housing in Logan Square. Pennycuff passed away in 2012.

The planned building is correctly called a transit-oriented development because it would be located just over one block away from the Blue Line’s O’Hare branch and have a mere 18 off-street parking spaces. In the past, the city’s zoning rules generally required residential buildings to include one car parking space per unit, with a lower minimum parking ratio for affordable housing buildings. However, the city’s recently passed TOD ordinance waives the car parking requirement for developments near rapid transit.

If we assume that each of the 28 planned studio apartments will have a single person living in them, the 48 one-bedroom units will be a mix of single and double occupancy, and the 12 two-bedroom units will have a mix of double and triple occupancy, that means that about 120 people will live at the Pennycuff Apartments. But that proposal doesn’t fly with the Greater Goethe Neighborhood Association’s (boundary map), whose Zoning and Planning Committee recently submitted their opinion on the proposal to 1st Ward alder Joe Moreno.

They wrote, “Current infrastructure cannot sustain the increase in density and ZAPC would like to know how is this is being addressed by the City… The density is of major concern for the surrounding residents of the proposed project and is not received favorably.” The letter doesn’t explain why and how they feel that current infrastructure couldn’t accommodate the new residents.

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Booting Buses Off Public Square, Cleveland Deals Another Blow to Transit

Protestors gathered in Public Square last weekend to demand buses be returned to Superior Avenue. Photo: Angie Schmitt

Protestors gathered in Public Square last weekend to demand the return of bus routes to Superior Avenue. Photo: Angie Schmitt

Transit riders in Cleveland can’t get a break.

Last year, Greater Cleveland RTA, facing a budget crisis, was forced to raise fares and cut service. Each trip now costs $2.50 — no transfer included — an 11 percent hike, and riders are getting worse service for their dollar. Thanks to a state decision exempting some healthcare spending from sales tax, the RTA is again facing a large shortfall this year.

Piling on to these problems is Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, who decided to reroute buses around the city’s Public Square last month, undoing an earlier deal intended to protect transit riders. The square is the hub of the region’s bus system.

Public Square was recently redesigned by starchitect James Corner (of High Line fame) at a cost of $50 million. The project was intended to bolster Cleveland’s image for out-of-town visitors ahead of the Republican National Convention. It called for closing two cross streets — Ontario and Superior — to car traffic in order to establish a contiguous four-block public space in the center of downtown. One of those streets, Superior, was supposed to remain open to buses.

Up until the redesign, bus passengers made 20,000 transfers inside Public Square each day. The routing offered convenient access to both the hub of the city’s rail system (across the street in Terminal Tower) and the Healthline BRT, just outside the square. Public Square primarily served working class people waiting for buses and making connections.

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How to Spend a Fortune on Roads and Make Potholes Worse

The conventional wisdom about America’s infrastructure woes is that cash will solve everything. That’s the pitch Donald Trump is making with his vaguely-defined $1 trillion infrastructure package.

But simply spending a lot on infrastructure is no guarantee of better transportation conditions. It can easily make things worse. Wisconsin is a perfect example.

James Rowen at The Political Environment notes that under Governor Scott Walker, Wisconsin has gone on an enormous road spending spree. The state has lavished more than $6 billion on huge highway interchanges in the greater Milwaukee area. But this orgy of road spending has coincided with the neglect of basic maintenance, which even the Walker administration has been forced to admit, the Journal-Sentinel reports:

The share of roads in poor condition will double, debt payments and the state’s stream of cash for road and highway projects will barely grow, a state official told lawmakers Tuesday.

By 2027, the share of state roads in poor condition would double to 42% while the money available to address those growing challenges would increase at only one-quarter the recent inflation rate, state Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb testified to lawmakers Tuesday.

The state now has more highways to maintain thanks to the billions Walker spent, which only makes the maintenance backlog worse. Rowen says this situation will cost Wisconsinites dearly:

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Today’s Headlines for Wednesday, December 7

  • Man Charged With DUI After Fatal Wrong-Way Skyway Crash (ABC)
  • Metropolitan Planning Council Calls for Revitalizing the Calumet River Corridor (DNA)
  • Are Crews Cleaning Up 62-Acre “Rezkoville” in Advance of Development? (Curbed)
  • Construction Begins on Old Town TOD With 60 Units, 20 Spaces (Curbed)
  • 92nd Street Bridge Reopens After Sidewalk Work (DNA)
  • Architect Proposes Installing Golden Pig Balloons to Obscure Trump Sign (DNA)
  • Afterglow Cyclocross Race, Benefitting WTB & Blackstone, Happens Sunday in Humboldt Park
  • Join Us Tonight 6-8 at EZ Inn, 921 N. Western to Sign a Get-Well Card for Ald. Brookins
  • Hearing in Bobby Cann Case Monday 12/12 at 1o AM at 26th/California Room 127 (Chainlink)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA

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More Video Showing Drivers Are No More Likely to Stop at Signs Than Cyclists

Time and time again in local editorials, op-eds, and comment sections, there’s the complaint that bicyclists don’t come to a complete stop at stop signs. This is despite the fact that it’s safe for someone on a relatively slow, lightweight device with near-360-degree visibility to treat a stop sign like a yield sign.

It’s extremely common for bike riders to decelerate when approaching a stop sign and check to make sure there’s no vehicular or pedestrian cross traffic before proceeding through the intersection, rather than putting a foot down. In fact, this harmless, momentum-saving practice is completely legal in the Potato State, so it’s known around the country as the “Idaho stop.”

Meanwhile, it’s dangerous by comparison to do the same thing when piloting a fast, multi-ton vehicle with blind spots. And yet, as video shot this summer by a Ravenswood Manor resident at Wilson and Francisco and posted on DNAinfo shows, it’s very common for drivers to roll through stop signs.

Now we’ve got additional footage shot by Streetsblog Chicago reader J. Patrick Lynch that suggests this kind of driver behavior is the rule, rather than the exception, at four-way stop signs. He shot the video Monday at 6:30 p.m. at Adams and Aberdeen in the West Loop.

By my count, a full 39 of the 61 drivers of the vehicles visible in the video — that’s 64 percent — failed to come to a complete stop. Most of these non-complying folks slowed down before entering the intersection, but a few scofflaws didn’t seem to hit the brakes at all. When you’re in control of a machine that can easily kill someone, that’s a fairly reckless thing to do.

“I felt this was another good highlight of absurdity of motorists who complain about cyclists who don’t come to complete stops,” Lynch said.

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Trucker Fatally Strikes Man, 59, on Eight-Lane Stretch of Congress Parkway

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The 100 block of West Congress Parkway. Image: Google Street View

A truck driver ran over and killed a 59-year-old man last week in the Loop, according to the police.

On Wednesday, November 30, at about 10:26 a.m., the driver of a large semi truck was stopped at a red light, facing westbound, according to Officer Bari Lemmon from Police News Affairs. When the light turned green, the trucker pulled forward and struck the pedestrian, Lemmon said.

Police initially stated the driver fled the scene. However, Lemmon said today that the 50-year-old male driver didn’t realize at first he had run over the victim, but did remain at the scene once he was made aware of the crash.

The victim was transported to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to the Cook County medical inspector’s office. His name has not been released, pending notification of kin, according to the medical examiner’s office.

The driver was cited for failure to exercise due care for a pedestrian in the roadway. He is due in traffic court on January 30 at 9 a.m.

This section of Congress has eight travel lanes, and a few blocks west of the crash site it turns into an expressway. Despite a 2012 reconstruction project, which removed a travel lane further east and added pedestrian refuge areas in the median, Congress is still a dangerous, intimidating street to cross, which discourages north-south foot traffic to and from the Loop.

Along with the death of Phillip Levato Jr., 23, struck and killed by a hit-and-run SUV driver in the early morning of November 20 at Chicago and LaSalle, this was the second downtown pedestrian fatality case in an 11-day period.

Fatality Tracker: 2016 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths
Pedestrian: 21 (nine were hit-and-run crashes)*
Bicyclist: 6 (one was a hit-and-run crash)

*Streetsblog Chicago’s fatality tracker is based on news reports. On November 2, the Chicago Department of Transportation announced that there had been 29 pedestrian fatalities in the city as of September 30, according to preliminary police data. CDOT has not released data on the number of hit-and-run pedestrian crashes.

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Join Us at EZ Inn Tomorrow and Sign a Get-Well Card for Alderman Brookins

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Alderman Brookins with a police sketch of his assailant.

We’re looking forward to hanging out with Streetsblog readers at tomorrow’s meetup:

December Streetsblog Chicago Reader Meetup
Wednesday, December 7, 6-8 PM
EZ Inn, 921 N. Western Ave.

At the event we’ll sign a get-well card for bike-friendly 21st Ward alderman Howard Brookins, who was the victim of a vicious kamikaze squirrel attack while cycling on the Cal-Sag Trail last month.

The EZ Inn has a great beer selection, and there’s always interesting music playing (maybe they’ll put on some Squirrel Bait for us). They don’t serve food but feel free to bring your own.

Our meet-ups are always a great place to network and talk transportation with other walking, biking and transit fans. We look forward to discussing the South Red Line extension, the recently passed TIF to fund the Red and Purple Modernization project, and whether or not those bike riders who crossed at North/Damen/Milwaukee with a walk signal deserved to be ticketed.

We hope to see you there. Until Wednesday, don’t let the nut jobs get you down.

RVSP on Facebook if you like.

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Beyond Bike to Work Day: How to Encourage the Car-Free Commuting Habit

Annual events like Bike to Work Day are great for drawing attention to sustainable transportation options. But what can cities do to get people to consider car-free commuting the rest of the year?

Maggie Awad is with Arlington Transportation Partners, a “business-to-business transportation consulting organization” based in Arlington County, Virginia. Writing for Mobility Lab, Awad says her org’s “Champions” program has had success working with government and private entities to make car-free and car-lite commuting a habit, rather than a special occasion.

Bike to Work Day 2014 in Louisville, KY. Photo: Louisville Images/Flickr

Bike to Work Day 2014 in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo: Louisville Images/Flickr

In 2013, ATP recognized 31 Champions, and since the inaugural year, the program has grown to recognize 241 businesses, multi-family residential communities, public schools and commercial properties. In terms of reach to potential Arlington at-place employees, that’s a 12.2 percent population reach. So how did the program build critical mass, and why is this an answer for cities struggling with fleeting interest after an event has expired?

ATP and Champions took what was already working in Arlington County and amplified it with a strategic plan to give employers bite-sized achievable actions that would turn into large accomplishments over a nine-month period. That’s 270 days instead of just one, but single day events like Bike to Work Day and National Walking Day are always great ways to open doors and start the conversation to get employers involved who otherwise aren’t typically interested in transportation. The trick was to then turn that single-day engagement into a year-long commitment.

With time, similar programs to Champions could help employers increase a transit subsidy for employees, spend less on parking subsidies, form vanpools for commuters outside of the core business district, achieve national recognition for bicycle infrastructure, and more. Of course, the greatest achievement will be for the county, city or jurisdiction through company/employee retention as business communities grow, resulting in improved economic development.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Washington Area Bicyclist Association says a few minor upgrades made a big difference for a DC bike-ped trail; Bicycle Law explains the importance of vulnerable road user laws, and how idiot politicians are keeping Louisiana cyclists at risk; and ATL Urbanist calls attention to a plan that would privatize part of the downtown Atlanta street grid.

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Today’s Headlines for Tuesday, December 6

  • Transit Advocates: Trump Infra Plan Could Fund Downtown Rail Expansion (Crain’s)
  • Chicago to Host Global Forum on Urban Waterfront Development (Curbed)
  • Truck Driver Fatally Struck Man, 59, on 100 Block of West Congress Last Week (DNA)
  • Motorist Seriously Injured Man, 43, in Naperville Early Sunday Morning (Sun-Times)
  • Parts of Green, Pink Line Closed as Man Runs on Elevated Tracks Threatening to Jump (DNA)
  • Active Trans Looks at How Participatory Budgeting Helps Fund Walking, Biking Infrastructure
  • Food Truck Owners Lose Battle to Overturn Chicago’s “Restrictive” Regulations  (Tribune)
  • Meet Erica Sosa, Subway Platform Hula Hoop Performer (RedEye)
  • Mayor’s Bike Advisory Council Meeting This Wednesday at 3 PM in City Hall Room 1103
  • Benefit Concert for Active Trans Tuesday 12/13 8:30 at Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA

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City Is Wrapping Up Loop Link Improvements on Canal, Prepaid Boarding Pilot

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The new mid-block crosswalk and pedestrian island on Canal by Union Station. Photo: John Greenfield

About a year after the Loop Link bus rapid transit corridor debuted downtown, the city is continuing to improve the route. Back in August the Union Station Transit Center opened, making it easier to transfer between buses, Metra, and Amtrak, and helping to organize West Loop traffic. Recently the Chicago Department of Transportation added new stretches of red bus-only lanes on Jackson and Canal streets, and completed other changes to Canal to sort out the different travel modes.

Previously there was a northbound conventional bike lane on Canal, which was difficult to use due to the chaotic mix of CTA buses, private buses, taxis, and private cars. As part of Loop Link, the Canal bike lane was removed and a two-way protected bike lane was built a block west on Clinton Street.

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Canal Street, as it appeared prior to the recent street remix. Image: Google Street View

CTA buses on Canal previously picked up and dropped off passengers at the train station via a southbound lane on the otherwise northbound street, separated from other traffic via a concrete Jersey barrier. That bus loading area has been moved to the transit center, located on a former parking lot directly south of the station, with a stairway, elevator, and tunnel under Jackson Boulevard providing a car-free pedestrian route to the Metra and Amtrak platforms.

The old bus lane in front of the station on Canal has been replaced with a cabstand. There are two mixed-traffic through lanes to the right of that.

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The current configuration on Canal by Union Station. Photo: John Greenfield

A median has been striped in the middle of the road, and then there’s the red bus lane, which also has a wheelchair symbol on it to indicate that people with disabilities may use it to access the station. To the right of that is a curbside lane that may used by private vehicle drivers from drop-offs, pick-ups, and right turns.

A mid-block crosswalk with a pedestrian island has also been added in front of the station. Previously the Jersey wall prevented people from crossing the street in this location.

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