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El Morro, the Merrier — Join Us for a Party With Moxie on December 3

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El Morro Lounge in Humboldt Park. Image: Google Street View

Join us next Thursday for the second in our series of monthly meet-ups for Streetsblog readers. This one is a festive holiday gathering with our friends from Moxie, a meet-up group for LGBT urban planning and public policy professionals. Here’s the skinny:

Moxie and Streetsblog Chicago Holiday Party
Thursday, December 3, 6-8 p.m.
El Morro Lounge
4247 West Armitage
$10 suggested donation

El Morro is a cozy, LGBT-friendly pub in the heart of the Hermosa community. Naturally, people of all orientations are encouraged to attend this party in support of smart urban planning, as long as you’re not hopelessly auto-erotic.

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Photo: El Morro

The $10 suggested donation will be split between Moxie and Streetsblog. Our share will go towards our effort to raise $80,000 by next April in order to fund our next year of hard-hitting livable streets coverage. Food and beverages will be available for purchase.

We’ll also be holding a raffle featuring items from Armitage Avenue business, as well as great prizes donated by local bike stores and copies of former transportation commissioner Gabe Klein’s new book “Start-Up City.” Raffle tickets will be available for sale for $5 each or four for $15.

Joining us to promote commerce on the Armitage corridor will be 35th Ward Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, who will be making remarks at 7:15. If you live in the ward, this will be a great opportunity to share your thoughts about sustainable transportation with the alderman.

And, since car-centric streets are a drag, the party will conclude with a fun performance by two of El Moro’s talented female impersonators. Steven Vance and I will be hanging out at the bar after the party until at least 9 p.m.

We hope to see you at what promises to be a fabulous soiree. RSVPs are greatly appreciated. Thanks for helping us get a head start on funding next year’s Streetsblog Chicago coverage!



Residents and Politicians Urge CTA to Restore Lincoln, 31st Street Bus Service

They want their bus back

CTA riders have been donning yellow shirts to signify that they want the agency to restore bus routes on Lincoln Avenue and 31st Street.

During the public comment period of last night’s Chicago Transit Authority’s budget hearing, the only one the agency is holding this year, many politicians and residents urged the CTA board to restore the Lincoln Avenue and 31st Street bus routes.

The hearing opened with budget director Tom McKone providing an overview of the 2016 spending plan. It maintains virtually all current bus service and brings back the old express bus routes on Ashland Avenue and Western Avenue. As a strategy to avoid a fare hike, the budget includes layoffs for some management staff, plus eliminating some vacant positions.

When the floor was opened for comments, Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) said she was once again there to “respectfully request” that the board find a place in the budget to restore the full #11 Lincoln bus route. In 2012, as part of several bus line cuts to help fund the CTA’s “de-crowding plan” for additional train service, the agency cancelled bus service on Lincoln between the Brown Line’s Western stop and the Fullerton station. Smith said the strategy hasn’t been a success.

Smith noted that her Lincoln Park ward includes many college students, young professionals, and seniors – the most common demographics for frequent transit users, both locally and nationally, she said. Smith added new developments, including the redevelopment of the former Children’s Memorial Hospital site at Fullerton/Halsted/Lincoln, will bring over 1,000 new residences and over 150,000 square feet of retail to the Lincoln Avenue corridor.

Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th), who has been leading the charge to restore the #11 ever since service was cut, was more somber when he addressed the board. Pawar said he wants his ward to include affordable neighborhoods where people can age in place. He added that, despite the increased capacity on the Brown Line, the elimination of Lincoln service makes it harder for many of his constituents to get to destinations within the ward.

Alder Ameya Pawar (47th) asking the board to reinstate the 11-Lincoln Ave bus

Ald. Pawar appeared again before the CTA board asking for them to reinstate the 11-Lincoln bus.

One North Side resident testified that the Brown Line is often too crowded to be a satisfactory replacement for the Lincoln bus. Another asked that the existing #11 route be extended north from Fullerton to at least Belmont Avenue, so that she could access a nearby Jewel-Osco.

Bridgeport’s Ald. Patrick Thompson (11th), elected this year, spoke up in favor of restoring the #31 bus, which was cut in 1997. “A lot has changed in our community” since then, Thompson said, noting that there has been a new wave of development in recent years and better transit could help reduce congestion. He proposed a bus route that would serve the 31st/Ashland Orange Line station and the Sox/35th Red Line stop, ending at 31st Street beach. Read more…

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Good Times Were Had at the Slow Roll Benefit, Co-Hosted by Streetsblog

Last Saturday’s Slow Roll Chicago End-of-Season Benefit Celebration, co-hosted by Streetsblog Chicago, has to go down as one of the best local bike parties of all time. Over 100 people packed Ancien Cycles in River West to support SRC, a group that is helping lead the movement for a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable Chicago bike culture. Thanks to generous support from those who showed up, the group netted $2,831 to fuel their important work, making this their most successful fundraiser ever.


Photo: John Greenfield

The bicycle-filled venue was the perfect setting to celebrate Slow Roll’s very eventful year, which included over 60 community rides, outreach for the Divvy for Everyone program, a White House Champions of Change award for cofounder Oboi Reed, and many other achievements. Attendees munched on delicious Filipino-style empanadas and enjoyed brews donated by New Belgium Brewing, and DJ Mike Caliberz kept the dance floor filled with classic hip-hop and R&B. Bike attorney Mike Keating (a Streetsblog Chicago sponsor) won a beautiful New Belgium cruiser bike in a tension-filled auction that raised a grand for SRC.


Julien, Keating, and Reed with the New Belgium cruiser. Photo: Slow Roll Chicago

At one point, Reed and Slow Roll cofounder Jamal Julien gave a presentation about the year’s milestones that was alternately moving (thanks to Reed) and hilarious (thanks to Julien). For example, Reed spoke eloquently about the need for the city to work more closely with South and West Side stakeholders to determine where bicycle facilities should be installed. Julien summarized that as, “Ask us where the damn bike lanes should go.”

The next day, Reed sent this statement:

Slow Roll Chicago’s End-of-Season Benefit Celebration was a huge success. We deeply appreciate our partnership with Streetsblog Chicago to host the party together. We also send a huge thanks to our sponsors New Belgium Brewing and Ancien Cycles. Together with our partners, sponsors, and extended community we celebrated the end of our successful 2015 ride season with an energetic, lively party. We look forward to riding this momentum into our 2016 season and growing our work to utilize bicycles as vehicles for social change, transforming lives and improving the condition of our communities. A proud thank you to our Slow Roll Chicago family. May the journey continue…

In case you’re wondering why Streetsblog Chicago hasn’t hosted any of our own parties this year, we plan to hold monthly meet-ups from now through April as part of the campaign to fund another year of hard-hitting transportation news coverage. Stay tuned for an announcement about the next event.

More photos from the Slow Roll party here and here.

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See You Saturday at the Slow Roll Benefit, Co-Hosted by Streetsblog Chicago


Check out these beautiful bike images by international photographers at Saturday’s party at Ancien Cycles. Photo: Slow Roll Chicago

Here’s one more great reason to attend Slow Roll Chicago’s End-of-Season Benefit Celebration, co-hosted by Streetsblog Chicago. Earlier this week, SRC members installed an exhibit of cool bike images by international photographers at the event space.

The party takes place this Saturday, November 7, from 7-10 p.m. at Ancien Cycles, 688 N. Milwaukee Avenue. It doubles as a meet-up for Streetsblog readers.


Help support SRC’s work to create a more inclusive Chicago bike culture. Photo: Slow Roll Chicago

The get-together will feature DJ Mike Caliber, spinning classic hip-hop and R & B, plus other music for your listening pleasure. Craft beer donated by New Belgium Brewing will be on sale to benefit SRC, and Ancien will also be selling tasty panini, salads, and more.

Slow Roll merchandise will be available, and New Belgium has also provided a classy cruiser bike that we’ll be auctioning off. We’re requesting a $10 donation at the door, with all money going to Slow Roll, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, but give what you can – no one will be turned away.

Hope you can join us for this fun party, for a good cause. Let us know you’re going on the Facebook event page.

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Join Us This Saturday for Slow Roll’s End-of-Season Party, Co-Hosted by SBC


If you’re interested in learning more about Slow Roll Chicago’s movement to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive local bike culture, join us for their End-of-Season Benefit Celebration, co-hosted by Streetsblog Chicago. The party takes place this Saturday, November 7, from 7-10 p.m. at Ancien Cycles, 688 N. Milwaukee Avenue, and it doubles as a meet-up for Streetsblog readers.

The get-together will feature DJ Mike Caliber, spinning classic hip-hop and R & B, plus other music for your listening pleasure. Craft beer donated by New Belgium Brewing will be on sale to benefit SRC, and Ancien will also be selling tasty panini, salads, and more.

Slow Roll merchandise will be available, and New Belgium has also provided a classy cruiser bike that we’ll be auctioning off. We’re requesting a $10 donation at the door, with all money going to Slow Roll, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, but give what you can – no one will be turned away.

Hope you can join us for this fun party, for a good cause. Let us know you’re going on the Facebook event page.

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Join Our Streetsblog Reader Meet-Up on 11/7 to Benefit Slow Roll Chicago

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A Slow Roll Chicago ride. Photo: Slow Roll

When it comes to making Chicago a truly bike-friendly city, equity is the elephant in the room. Whoever you are, and wherever you live in the city, you should have the opportunity to reap the benefits of cycling, including increased mobility, better health, and cost savings.

The grassroots group Slow Roll Chicago has been helping to lead the movement for a diverse, inclusive and equitable bike culture, with a focus on low-to-moderate-income communities on the South and West Sides. From lobbying the city government to install more bike infrastructure in these areas, to doing outreach for the Divvy for Everyone program, to leading a weekly ride series to promote cycling in LMI neighborhoods, Slow Roll has already had a major influence. In recognition of this, the White House recently presented SRC cofounder Oboi Reed with a Champions of Change award.

To celebrate Slow Roll’s very successful year and raise money to help keep the organization’s wheels turning, Streetsblog Chicago is co-hosting their 2015 End-of-Season Benefit Celebration. The party takes place on Saturday, November 7, from 7-10 p.m. at Ancien Cycles, 688 N. Milwaukee Ave., located on the city’s busiest biking street.

Acien Cycles will open Roll Out restaurant and bar next to its retail space by early summer

Ancien Cycles. Photo: Ancien

The event will double as a meet-up for Streetsblog readers. It’s been too long since we’ve had a get-together with you folks, but our meet-ups are always a great opportunity to hang out with people who are passionate about the livable streets movement, and we plan to host more of them soon.

The Slow Roll shindig will feature DJ Mike Caliber, spinning classic hip-hop and R & B, plus other music for your listening pleasure. Craft beer donated by New Belgium Brewing will be on sale to benefit SRC, and Ancien will also be selling tasty panini, salads, and more.

Slow Roll merchandise will be available, and New Belgium has also provided a classy cruiser bike that we’ll be auctioning off. We’re requesting a $10 donation, with all money going to Slow Roll, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, but give what you can – no one will be turned away.

If you’ve never been to Ancien (the term for someone who has completed the 750-mile Paris-Brest-Paris ride) it’s a huge, beautiful bike shop / café / restaurant / music venue, chock full of cool cycles and accessories. It’s located a short walk southeast of the Chicago Blue Line station. In support of Slow Roll, Ancien is providing the space at a significant discount.

We hope to see you at this very fun soiree. It’ll be a good time – for a great cause.

Let us know you’re going on the Facebook event page.


Slow Roll’s Reed Talks About Being a White House “Champion of Change”


Reed (front row, second from left) at the Champions of Change ceremony. Photo: U.S. DOT

Illinois Bicycle Lawyers - Mike Keating logo

On Tuesday, one of Chicago’s leaders in the fight for transportation equity was recognized on a national level. Slow Roll Chicago cofounder Oboi Reed was one of 11 transportation innovators who received the 2015 White House Transportation Champions of Change awards.

SLC has tirelessly advocated for cycling as a means to improve health outcomes, transportation access, and economic development in low-to-moderate-income communities on the South and West Sides. The group has called for a more equitable distribution of bike resources, which seems to be having an influence on the city government.

The Chicago Department of Transportation recently announced that they’re doing more community outreach in underserved areas to determine where new bike lanes should go. They’ve also contracted Slow Roll to publicize the Divvy for Everyone equity program.

350 transportation leaders were nominated for the Champions of Change awards. “It means a lot to me that the White House and the U.S. Department of Transportation thought highly enough of our organization to select me for the award over all the other candidates,” Reed said. “It’s a confirmation that Slow Roll is moving in the right direction with programs like our weekly Signature Ride series.”

Read more…


Almost a Decade After the City Proposed It, West Loop Gets a Bike Station


Emanuel checks out Bike Park with developer Jeff Shapack. Photo: John Greenfield

Millennium Park’s bike station opened in 2004, with indoor parking for 300 bikes, plus showers and lockers. When the city of Chicago released the Bike 2015 Plan two years later, it recommended establishing another bike station, and mentioned the Ogilvie Transportation Center in the West Loop as a possible location. Not long after that, there was some discussion of including the facility in the OTC’s new Chicago French Market, but that idea never materialized.

Nine years after the 2015 Plan came out, we finally have a bike station of sorts in the West Loop. This morning, Mayor Rahm Emanuel cut the ribbon on Bike Park, a public indoor bike parking facility with showers and lockers, part of the new WeWork coworking space at 210 N. Green Street. The underground facility is located a block east of the Morgan Green Line station, and a ten-minute walk from the OTC.


Floor-mounted bike racks at the new facility — each holds two bikes. Photo: John Greenfield

The new bike parking room features floor- and wall-mounted racks with space for 75 cycles, and there’s room expand the space to provide racks for 50 more, according to a WeWork staffer. Just as car parking garages have symbols on each floor to help customers remember where they parking, each section of the room features an icon for a different Chicago sports team. An electric air pump and work stands with tools are available. There are dozens of lockers in the space, plus shower rooms with towel service.

At the opening celebration, WeWork Cofunder Miguel McCluskey said that when his company approached the city about opening in the Fulton Market district, Emanuel asked them to support his vision of making Chicago the most bike-friendly city in America. “We think Bike Park is going to make a difference in this neighborhood, which is already undergoing an incredible transformation,” McCluskey said.

Read more…


CDOT Didn’t Hit 100-Mile PBL Goal, But They Did Transform the Bike Network


Scheinfeld, 27th Ward alderman Walter Burnett, and Emanuel at this morning’s press conference. Photo: CDOT

First, let’s get one thing straight. Despite what was stated today in the Chicago Department of Transportation’s press release, and local news reports based on it, the city has not achieved Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s goal of installing 100 miles of protected bike lanes in four years.

Emanuel’s Chicago 2011 Transition Plan set that ambitious goal for PBLs, which it defined as “separated from traveling cars and sit[ting] between the sidewalk and a row of parked cars that shield cyclists from street traffic.” However, after it became clear that it wasn’t going to be feasible to install that many miles of physically protected lanes within the mayor’s first term, CDOT adjusted its goal.

It certainly would have been reasonable for the department to announce that it would instead be putting in a mix of PBLs and buffered bike lanes. The latter are painted lanes with additional space striped on one or both sides to distance cyclists from moving traffic and/or opening car doors.

Instead, CDOT changed their terminology. By late 2012, they had begun referring to physically protected lanes as “barrier-protected” and buffered lanes as “buffer-protected,” and counting the latter towards the 100-mile goal. Since no other U.S. city refers to buffered lanes – merely paint on the road – as protected, that has caused plenty of confusion in the local and national media.

At a press event today by the Milwaukee Avenue bike lanes in River West, Emanuel announced that the city has surpassed the protected lane goal, with 103 miles installed to-date. “Investing in bike lanes is essential to growing Chicago’s economy and improving our quality of life,” he said. “We have made tremendous progress toward expanding our bicycle network for all Chicagoans, and we will continue to work towards making Chicago the most bike-friendly city in America.”

However, rather than 103 miles of protected lanes, CDOT has actually installed 19.5 miles, plus 83.5 miles of buffered lanes, since Emanuel took office. They’ve also put in 1.5 miles of neighborhood greenways (referred to as bike boulevards in other cities), and there are now 94 miles of conventional bike lanes, 46 miles of off-street trails, and 48.75 miles of sharrows (bike symbols with chevrons), for a grand total of 292 miles of bikeways.

While it’s a little disappointing that we’ve gotten less than a fifth of the protected lanes that were originally planned, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that 103 miles of BBLs and PBLs in a little over four years is still a major accomplishment. According to CDOT, Chicago has installed more physically protected lanes during the last four years than any other U.S. city did during the same time period.

Transportation commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld dismissed the terminology issue as “a red herring.” “The point is, we’ve been providing better protected facilities, whether it’s a buffered, striped area or a physical, vertical barrier, through [flexible plastic posts] or concrete separation,” she said. “These are all great improvements over the simple striped design.”

Read more…


Lakeview’s Car-Free Sunday Events Are Returning, In a More Intimate Setting

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One of last year’s Sunday Play Streets events. Photo: Lakeview Chamber of Commerce.

The popular car-free happenings that pedestrianized a Lakeview street on several Sundays last year are returning this month, albeit in a somewhat scaled-down format. But the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce hopes that moving the events from a one-block stretch of Lincoln Avenue to a half-block, narrower stretch of Paulina Street will make these celebrations of art, music and play more intimate, as well as more vibrant.

Sunday Play Spots debuted last year on Lincoln between School and Roscoe streets, an underperforming retail strip. The chamber hoped the mix of musical performances, fitness classes, craft demonstrations, a pop-up seating plaza, art installations, and more would energize the district and help foster a sense of community. The events did bring plenty of people to the street, with up to a thousand people turning out on each of the four Sundays, according to Dillon Goodson, who manages the local Special Service Area program for the chamber.


The logo for this years events emphasizes that car space will be transformed into people space.

This year, the series is returning as Sunday Spots, on Paulina between Roscoe and Henderson Street, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., on three weekends in October. According to Goodson, the word  “Play” has been dropped from the name because each of the three events will focus on a different area: Art on 4th, Music on the 11th, and Play on the 18th. Last year’s events mostly drew families with children, so the name change may also help attract a wider demographic.

There is one less event this year because the fourth Sunday of October is the Chamber’s Trick or Treat on Southport event, which also pedestrianizes that nearby business district, according to Goodson. The $10,000 cost of Sunday Spots is being funded by SSA money plus sponsorship from Whole Foods.

Unlike the retail-rich stretch of Lincoln, the segment of Paulina only borders a handful of storefronts, but Goodson argued that it’s a plus that the event will connect residential and business areas. He said that pushback from merchants against the street closure and temporary conversion of car parking doesn’t seem to have been a major factor in the decision to move the event. “All the business owners seem to be really supportive.”

He added that the shorter, narrower car-free space will consolidate the action and provide a sense of containment, while last year’s events on broad Lincoln Avenue felt a bit spread out. “Lincoln is such a beast, so this will provide a nice sense of scale by comparison.”

Read more…