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Shop by Bike and Win Prizes During the “Ride & Seek Lakeview” Promotion

Bike Friendly Business

This sticker in a shop’s window means they offer a discount to cyclists.

Smart community leaders brainstorm ways to get more butts on bicycles. After all, more people traveling in the neighborhood on two wheels instead of four means less traffic congestions and pollution. And when more shoppers access retail strips by bikes instead of cars, there are similar (or even better) economic benefits for the area, with less need for car parking. Plus, when people travel at slower speeds, they’re more likely to notice local storefronts and consider patronizing the businesses.

Accordingly, the Lakeview and Lakeview East chambers of commerce are partnering this year on a Bike-Friendly Business District program that promotes shopping locals and helps promote the Lakeview neighborhood as a great place to shop by bike. The Lakeview chamber originally launched the initiative in 2014 through a partnership with the West Town Chamber of Commerce and the Active Transportation Alliance. The program includes improved cycling infrastructure, promotional materials and bike maps, plus educational and encouragement activities like workshops and rides, plus a discount program for customers arriving by bicycle.

Both the Lakeview and Lakeview East chambers have installed dozens of branded bike racks on their business strips featuring the names of the neighborhoods, paid for with Special Service Area funds. The Lakeview East racks have temporarily been removed for refurbishing.

Last year the Lakeview chamber installed a fix-it station at the Southport Brown Line station with a pump and tools for simple repairs. Unlike the fix-it stations that West Town Bikes recently installed on the Bloomingdale Trail, which sadly were vandalized soon after installation, the Southport facility hasn’t seen major tool theft problems, according to SSA 27 manager Dillon Goodson.

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Rotterdam Station Treats Cyclists With Same Respect Drivers Get in Chicago

The main train station in Rotterdam has aisles and aisles of long-term bike parking. Photo: Steven Vance

As a former bicycle parking planner for the Chicago Department of Transportation on sabbatical in northern Europe, I’m impressed by how much better the long- and short-term bike storage is here than what I’m used to in the states. Too often in the U.S., bike parking is an afterthought even though secure and convenient parking is essential for encouraging more people to use a bicycle for transportation. Nothing discourages a would-be cyclist like having a bike stolen.

I left my home base of Rotterdam, Netherlands, on the Inter-City Express (ICE) train this morning to visit a friend in Bonn, Germany, for a few days. I biked with my luggage to Rotterdam’s Centraal Station, the main train station, and parked it in the underground fietsenstalling (“bike parking area”). They have a couple thousand free spaces and you can leave your bike there for nearly a month. After 28 days the city will remove your bike from the area and store it in a warehouse. Being able to leave my bike in a secure public parking area for several days is a perk I’ve never experienced in the U.S.

Just like drivers, cyclists get a dedicated entrance. Photo: Steven Vance

The bike parking “garage” at the Rotterdam station works much like a car parking garage in Chicago. There’s a dedicated ramp to enter the structure, a direct path to the parking area, and signs that tell you how many spaces are open.

Nowadays, I generally never leave my bicycle outside overnight in Chicago. The last time I did that with any regularity was when my family still lived in Batavia and I would ride Metra’s Union Pacific-West line out there from the Ogilvie Transportation Center to visit. I would park across the street at the Presidential Towers development, using two locks to secure my bike to an on-street rack. While I was away, I kept my fingers crossed that a thief wouldn’t steal my bike because it was locked more securely than its neighbors.

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Boston Wants to Lower Its Speed Limit to 20 MPH — But Can’t

wenty is plenty in Boston, according to its elected officials. The City Council voted unanimously this week to lower the default speed limit on most residential streets to 20 mph — and not for the first time.

Speeding is the number one complaint council members hear from residents. And on Boston’s narrow streets, packed with pedestrians, driving 40 mph — as people regularly do — is especially dangerous.

The current speed limit is 30 mph, and, unfortunately, changing it isn’t as easy as passing a City Council rule. The state of Massachusetts sets default speed limits, and when Boston tried to lower its speed limit before, state law prevailed.

“In the past the state has been reticent to change the prevailing speed limit because of the way it would affect so many towns,” says Walk Boston’s Brendan Kearney. “Potentially every single little city or town would have a different speed limit.”

Jackie DeWolfe at Livable Streets Boston says advocates are hopeful this time will be different, but it won’t be easy.

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Owners of Big Parking Lots Have to Pay More in Northeast Ohio

This big box center will be charged almost $11,000 a quarter. Image: NE Ohio Sewer District

This big box center will be charged about $44,000 a year for its parking lot. Image: NE Ohio Sewer District

Impermeable surfaces like parking lots are terrible for the environment in several ways, including the water pollution that results when stormwater runoff causes sewer systems to overflow. In Ohio, the state’s highest court recently upheld a fee on parking lots to help mitigate the damage to water quality.

Greater Cleveland, like a lot of older cities, was ordered by the EPA to fix its sewer infrastructure to prevent raw sewage from being dumped into Lake Erie every time it rains. It’s a not a cheap task, so it’s good to see the culprits will have to pony up to help cover the costs.

Marc Lefkowitz at Green City Blue Lake looks at who will pay what. The fees aren’t huge, when you consider how much it already costs to build and operate a large parking lot, but they shift incentives in the right direction:

Curious, we looked at some of the properties — the kind that you can easily pick out from a satellite image — and snooped at what they’ll have to shell out on a quarterly basis for their profligate parking lots and acres of operation centers.

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Today’s Headlines for Friday, April 29

  • Op-Ed: Don’t Let Springfield Raid Transportation Funds for Other Uses (Sun-Times)
  • Freemark: Lincoln Square Would Be Wise to Embrace TOD (MPC)
  • Beyond the Ball Director: SRTS Is About More Than Just Walking to School (Active Trans)
  • School Bus Crash Injures 6 in Lockport (NBC)
  • Red Line Robberies Near North/Clybourn, Fullerton Stops (Tribune)
  • DUI Sting at North/Kingbury This Weekend (DNA)
  • Wednesday’s Crackdown in Wicker Park Yield No DUIs, 112 Safety Tickets (DNA)
  • Tunney Proposes Ordinance for Public Art at Rotating Locations Around City (Curbed)
  • Not Surprising: North/Damen ‘L’ Stop Is a Hotspot for Bike Theft (DNA)
  • Next Bobby Cann Hearing Takes Wednesday 5/5, 2 p.m., 26th & California
  • 1st Activate Alley Party of Season Happens Friday 5/13, 5-10 p.m., 8th St. Alley

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA

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The Donate-O-Meter

Streetsblog Chicago is currently in the thick of raising funds for our next year of publication. Once again, the Chicago Community Trust, a charitable foundation that was one of the early funders of SBC, has very generously offered us a challenge grant. If Streetsblog reaches $50K in donations and sponsorships by the end of May, the Trust will provide the last $25K needed to keep the site running into 2017 and beyond.

Thanks to the generosity of readers like you, we’ve made good progress since we announced the challenge grant. We expect a significant chunk of revenue to come in during the next few weeks in the form of ad renewals and corporate sponsorships.

However, we still have a lot of work to do in order to win the grant from the Trust, so it’s time to shift our fundraising effort into high gear. If you haven’t already done so, please consider donating to Streetsblog Chicago today today. SBC is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, so donations are tax deductible.

If you’ve already contributed, thanks so much for helping us win the challenge grant. As an added incentive to first-time donors, as well as those who’d like to make an additional contribution, anyone who donates $100 or more from this point on will get a copy of my book “Bars Across America.

Donate $200 or more and we’ll also throw in a copy of the anthology “On Bicycles,” to which I contributed a chapter about Chicago’s West Town Bikes, while supplies last.

Please feel free to spread the word about the challenge grant to potential donors, or contact me at 312-560-3966 or greenfieldjohn[at]hotmail.com with leads on other possible funding sources. To keep you apprised on our progress, I’ll be updating the above Donate-O-Meter along with Today’s Headlines each morning.

Thanks again for your continuing support.

– John

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Indiana Will Fund Rewriting Faulty Illiana Environmental Impact Statement

Photo of the then-recently opened I-355, 127th St overpass

The Illiana’s high tolls would have driven motorists to use other routes instead. Photo: Tim Messer

The Illiana Tollway, a proposed highway boondoggle that would run through land south of the Chicago metro area, is the project that just won’t die. The tollway would be a joint project of the Illinois and Indiana transportation departments and cost Illinois taxpayers a minimum of $500 million. That’s $500 million that might otherwise be spent on necessary and financially viable projects like rebuilding the North Red Line, constructing the Ashland bus rapid transit route, and building Pace’s transitways.

Greg Hinz recently eported in Crain’s that it appears the two states have reached an agreement that Indiana will spend money to rewrite the project’s Environmental Impact Statement, which a federal judge ruled invalid last June. This federally-required document was supposed to explain why the tollway is needed, and how all impacts – to people and their property, flora and fauna – would be mitigated. Since the Illinois still hasn’t passed a state budget, it’s unable to pay for updating the EIS. We don’t know how much Indiana would spend on this.

Last year, the Environmental Law & Policy Center represented Openlands and the Midewin Heritage Association in a lawsuit against the Illiana and won by pointing out that the original EIS used circular logic. The document argued the tollway was needed in order to provide transportation access new residential and industrial development. However, its projections were based on the assumption that the tollway would be built, and would therefore induce new development in an area of farmland and nature preserves.

There are many reasons why building the Illiana would be a bad idea. For starters, most American roads don’t even pay for their own maintenance, let alone construction. Illinois’ transportation infrastructure network already has a $43 million maintenance backlog.

Additionally, construction of the tollway would be funded through an extremely dubious public-private partnership scheme, requiring the state to compensate the concessionaire if the highway doesn’t generate a certain amount of profits. Since the plan calls for high tolls, many motorists were predicted to use alternative routes, so the Illiana would see relatively little traffic and not be a money-maker, leaving taxpayers on the hook for the revenue shortfall.

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Join Us For Our Fifth Monthly Reader Meetup Next Wednesday, May 4

IMG_6210

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 fifth 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, May 4, 5:30-9 p.m.
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. We’ll be in the “Brewery Room”.

Meet Streetsblog Chicago editor John Greenfield (deputy editor Steven Vance is researching transportation in the Netherlands for a few months) and fellow readers — you 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 Loop Link lane scofflaws, transit-oriented development equity issues, or whether or not the Soldier Field parking lot should be replaced by the Lucas Museum (no fist fights over that last topic, please).

We’ll be hanging out all evening, so come and go as you please. Hope to see you there!

RSVP on Facebook if you like.

Streetsblog.net
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Take a Moment to Appreciate the Absolute Enormity of This Interchange

Louisville's new "Ohio River Bridges" Interchange, right between downtown and the waterfront. Photo: Ohio River Bridges project

Louisville’s new and expanded “Spaghetti Junction,” right between downtown and the waterfront. Photo: The Ohio River Bridges Project

Every once in a while you have to step back and gape at the sheer scale of the highway interchanges America has built smack in the middle of our cities.

Branden Klayko at Broken Sidewalk is taking a moment to do just that with Louisville’s Spaghetti Junction, between downtown and the waterfront. This giant interchange is being expanded as part of the $2.6 billion Ohio River Bridges Project, after wealthy suburban property owners and Kentucky’s highway industrial complex squashed a grassroots effort to reclaim the Louisville waterfront from cars.

Klayko says a whole city neighborhood could just about fit inside the footprint of this one interchange:

When you’re zooming through Spaghetti Junction for most of the day when there’s no traffic, it might seem like the tangle of highway ramps isn’t really that big. Or if you’re stuck in construction traffic, it might seem like it never ends. Speed has a way of distorting our sense of distance.

The Downtown Crossing segment of the Ohio River Bridges Project (ORBP) recently shared these aerial views of the junction taken this spring by HDR Engineering, and it’s apparent you could fit a large chunk of Downtown Louisville within the bounds of the highway.

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Today’s Headlines for Thursday, April 28

  • The Illiana Ain’t Dead Yet: Funding Agreement Reached for New EIS (Crain’s)
  • Losing CTA Contract Bidder Claims New Rail Cars May Be Unsafe (Crain’s)
  • There’s Been a Refreshing Change in Local Media’s Bike Coverage (Active Trans)
  • Metra Management Asks Workers, Public to Help Prevent Track Suicides (Tribune)
  • Metra: March Was 13th Straight Month of Meeting or Exceeding Out On-Time Goal
  • Metra & Cook County Are Streamlining Processing of Violations on Metra Property
  • 3 Injured in Hit-and-Run Crash in Woodlawn (Sun-Times)
  • Irving Park/Harlem in Dunning Getting New Stoplight, Ped Improvements (DNA)
  • TOD at 2340 N. California Would Have 138 Units, 44 Spaces (Curbed)
  • 39-Unit Apartment Building Approved Near Naperville Metra Stop (Herald)
  • “No Trump Anytime” Street Signs Appear Around Trump Tower (Tribune)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA

donate button

thermometer (13)

The Donate-O-Meter

Streetsblog Chicago is currently in the thick of raising funds for our next year of publication. Once again, the Chicago Community Trust, a charitable foundation that was one of the early funders of SBC, has very generously offered us a challenge grant. If Streetsblog reaches $50K in donations and sponsorships by the end of May, the Trust will provide the last $25K needed to keep the site running into 2017 and beyond.

Thanks to the generosity of readers like you, we’ve made good progress since we announced the challenge grant. We expect a significant chunk of revenue to come in during the next few weeks in the form of ad renewals and corporate sponsorships.

However, we still have a lot of work to do in order to win the grant from the Trust, so it’s time to shift our fundraising effort into high gear. If you haven’t already done so, please consider donating to Streetsblog Chicago today today. SBC is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, so donations are tax deductible.

If you’ve already contributed, thanks so much for helping us win the challenge grant. As an added incentive to first-time donors, as well as those who’d like to make an additional contribution, anyone who donates $100 or more from this point on will get a copy of my book “Bars Across America.

Donate $200 or more and we’ll also throw in a copy of the anthology “On Bicycles,” to which I contributed a chapter about Chicago’s West Town Bikes, while supplies last.

Please feel free to spread the word about the challenge grant to potential donors, or contact me at 312-560-3966 or greenfieldjohn[at]hotmail.com with leads on other possible funding sources. To keep you apprised on our progress, I’ll be updating the above Donate-O-Meter along with Today’s Headlines each morning.

Thanks again for your continuing support.

– John

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How Friends of the Parks Saved a Parking Lot and Killed the Lucas Museum

fob-transit_mccormickparkinglot-magnum

The original Lucas Museum plan called for building on Soldier Field’s south lot. Photo: Chris Riha, Chicago Reader

[The Chicago Reader recently launched a new 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 on the day it comes out online; you can read the remainder on the Reader’s website or in print. The paper hits the streets on Thursdays.]

As a sustainable ransportation advocate, I’m jazzed whenever land that’s been unnecessarily earmarked for moving or storing automobiles is put to more productive use.

So when Mayor Emanuel first proposed bringing the Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts to Chicago two years ago, one of the potential benefits that most excited me was the prospect of replacing a 1,500-car parking lot with a world-class cultural amenity, plus four acres of new green space.

The ugly expanse of asphalt where the museum would have gone is Soldier Field’s south lot, located on prime lakefront real estate between the football stadium and McCormick Place’s monolithic Lakeside Center.

Granted, this blacktop blemish also serves as a spot for tailgating, an age-old Chicago Bears tradition. In addition, it accommodates other special events that generate revenue for the city. But the Lucas plan would have largely moved the surface parking off the lakefront, while providing new tailgating opportunities in other locations.

So I was bummed when the advocacy organization Friends of the Parks launched a legal battle against the south lot proposal. While the group said it supports bringing the Lucas facility to our city, it argued that building it on the parking lot site would violate the city’s Lakefront Protection Ordinance, which states that “in no instance will further private development be permitted east of Lake Shore Drive.”

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