Coming Next Week: Streetsblog Chicago

After setting up transportation news sites covering New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and national policy, next Tuesday Streetsblog will be expanding for the first time in four years with the launch of Streetsblog Chicago.

The reporters producing Streetsblog Chicago are John Greenfield and Steven Vance, who have built an impressive audience for local transportation and planning news at their current site, Grid Chicago. As writers and planners, they’re both veterans of the city’s movement for livable streets. With the additional resources Streetsblog affords them, John and Steven will be creating a wide-ranging, daily news source where Chicagoans can plug in to efforts to improve walking, biking, and transit. Initial funding for Streetsblog Chicago has been provided by The Chicago Community Trust, the Rockefeller Foundation, local advertisers, and a generous anonymous donor.

Steven Vance and John Greenfield. Photo: David Lepeska

Streetsblog will be launching at a moment when expectations are high for progressive change to the city’s streets. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his transportation commissioner, Gabe Klein, have rapidly expanded the city’s bike network, installing 12.5 miles of protected bikeways and 14.5 miles of buffered lanes since coming into office less than two years ago. Advocates believe upcoming Bus Rapid Transit projects could set a national precedent, showing other American mayors they shouldn’t shy away from giving street space to BRT. The Chicago Transit Authority is working on a major rehab of the Red Line and looking into extending it. Klein has made it the city’s explicit goal to eliminate traffic deaths by 2022. With so much happening in Chicago right now, there’s no such thing as a slow news day.

Streetsblog will track these developments, informing Chicagoans about how to get involved in the upgrades to their streets. We’ll explain changes so it’s clear, for instance, why converting motor vehicle lanes into exclusive transit lanes will pay off, and why this makes the city more livable. There’s a long way to go to re-orient Chicago’s streets toward effective transit and safe walking and biking, and getting from here to there won’t be simple or quick. Streetsblog will help map the route. If a columnist in search of pageviews starts ranting about a “war on cars,” we’ll be there to set the record straight, and if it looks like the city’s decision makers are going off-course, we won’t hold back from saying so.

We’ll also be raising the profile of issues that have yet to pick up steam in City Hall or Springfield. The CTA just raised fares, and its precarious budget situation still looms over riders who make 1.8 million transit trips each weekday. While the regional planning agency, CMAP, has a smart long-term plan called GOTO2040 with no shortage of ideas for funding a healthy transit system, political traction for those solutions has been in short supply. Chicago remains burdened by parking minimums that impede walkability, and the region has yet to prove it can consistently leverage its transit system — which in addition to the CTA includes Metra commuter rail and the Pace regional bus network — to produce smart development that puts people first, not cars. Streetsblog Chicago will be looking into these issues in Chicago proper and its suburbs, which have major potential for transit-oriented growth and walkable, bikeable streets.

The Chicago region is blessed with a deep roster of livable streets advocates, whom we expect to feature regularly in our coverage. The Metropolitan Planning Council — whose executive vice president, Peter Skosey, has been indispensable in bringing Streetsblog to Chicago — advances a better transportation network for metro Chicago, from regionally significant infrastructure projects to neighborhood-scale placemaking initiatives. The Active Transportation Alliance is working neighborhood-by-neighborhood throughout the Chicagoland region to build safe, efficient, multi-modal streets. And the Center for Neighborhood Technology produces research with a national scope about housing, transportation, and community development. We’re looking forward to working with all of them to make the case for change.

Most of all we’re excited about connecting with readers who want to see Chicago and its suburbs become better places for walking, biking, and transit. If you’ve got a story you’d like John and Steven to cover, drop them a line. And keep in mind, to maintain Streetsblog Chicago going forward, we’re going to need support from our readers. So if you get in the habit of reading our Chicago coverage, we hope you’ll drop something in the tip jar when the pledge drives roll around.

For now, a little celebration may be in order — the wait is over:

  • moocow

    Yay Steven Vance!!! This is a great idea, I look forward to more Chi.Streetsblog!!!!

  • Ian Turner

    Saying that “chicago remains burdened by parking minimums” is an understatement. It seems like most high-rises in that city dedicate 1/3 to 1/2 of their floor space to parking, which often goes completely empty. (Who would even want to park on the 17th floor of a parking garage?)

  • Anonymous

    Congratulations Steve! Can’t wait to see!

  • Anonymous

    WOOOOO!

  • Congrats, Steven and John! I’m really looking forward to this.

  • Adam Herstein

    Congrats, guys! Now I can officially say “I was reading your blog BEFORE it was cool.” :-)

  • Now that Streetsblog’s more Midwestern it will probably be 50% cooler even than before! ;)

  • Ian Turner

    Oh, and congratulations. Also, thank you to our anonymous donor. :-)

  • Joseph Musco

    Congratulations Steve and John!

  • Alan Hagstrom

    An Oak Park native and bike enthusiast, now living in the Twin Cities MN, I look forward to your work and visits back home!

  • Anonymous

    Wonderful news, and we couldn’t ask for a better reporting team. I look forward to reading it.

  • Great news! And a wonderful team. Best of luck.

  • Curtis K

    I look forward to your continued good work!

  • If only the Bears were still in the playoffs, I would visit for the opening. Good luck!

    –Damien, L.A. Streetsblog

  • Anonymous

    You guys have already done so much for this city. You really deserve it!

  • Andy B from Jersey

    Excellent choice to start a SB Chicago.  Steve has long made his presence known in the progressive transportation field since he was in grad school.  I would see his name pop up constantly and his analysis was always on the mark.  His courage to say what needs to be said will serve SB Chicago well. 

  • Good to see a Chicago site starting. They’re doing some good things, but there’s zero rail transit expansion under construction, which is not good for such a large metro. And the city is still way too auto-dependent, a problem which mares the pedestrian environment because of all the huge, ugly above ground parking garages in the city.

  • Anonymous

    Steven and John do a terrific job writing Grid Chicago. Their interest in what people have to say about their articles in the comments is demonstrated by their frequent responses.

  • Very cool…I’m very glad to hear that Steven Vance and John Greenfield will be used to spearhead the effort. Should be a wonderful addition to the Streetsblog portfolio. #rustbeltchic

  • I’ve already been calling Grid Chicago “Chicago’s Streetsblog” due to the quality, approach, and variety in their content so I can’t say I’m entirely surprised by this announcement though I’m happy to hear they’ll now be formally part of the Streetsblog family! 

    Congrats!

  • PaulCJr

    about time!

  • PaulCJr

    Next we should get the Canadians to join up. I think it would be cool to read some things about their cities. 

  • Fantastic news. I’ve been waiting to see a Streetsblog Chicago for years. Couldn’t have handed the project off to a better group of writers.

  • Thanks for all the kind words folks! Steven and I are psyched to be be joining the Streetsblog family and very grateful to those who helped make this happen.

  • Dave

    Does anybody know where I could find designs for the Dearborn bike lane? How they handle intersections, etc?

  • Ibrake4snakes

    Hooray!

  • Steven Vance

    I submitted a Freedom of Information Act Request and received a response on December 21, 2012, saying they are still locating the records. I didn’t ask for Dearborn Street at this time because I was informed it wasn’t public information yet, even though it had opened.

    I have emailed back asking for an updated on my request and to add Dearborn Street to the request.

  • I submitted a Freedom of Information Act Request and received a response on December 21, 2012, saying they are still locating the records. I didn’t ask for Dearborn Street at this time because I was informed it wasn’t public information yet, even though it had opened. I have emailed back asking for an updated on my request and to add Dearborn Street to the request. 

  • Dave

    Steven, we are pushing for a similar bike lane in another city and it would be nice to not have to reinvent the wheel.  Please let us know if you find anything.  Thanks! (why can’t you reply to a reply?)

  • Bike lover

    Dave, what city are you looking at?

  • Dave

    Can’t say right now. We are still in the initial idea phase but will let you all know if it goes anywhere.

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