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Drink Beer and Help Save the Lincoln Bus With the 11 on 11 Passport Program

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The 11 on 11 Beer Explorers Passport.

On June 20, thanks to tireless lobbying efforts by transit advocates led by 47th Ward alderman Ameya Pawar, the restored #11 Lincoln Avenue bus route returned as a pilot program. The new service includes the stretch of Lincoln between the Brown Line’s Western station and the Fullerton ‘L’ stop in Lincoln Park.

Community members are stoked about the new service, but it’s not a sure thing that the CTA will continue running buses on this segment of Lincoln after the six-month test period is over. The agency set a target of rides per day during the pilot, and buses are only running between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays, every 16 to 22 minutes.

Local chambers of commerce have teamed up with the Active Transportation Alliance to organize a clever promotion to help ensure the #11 gets sufficient ridership while promoting local businesses. During the month of August you can win prizes by visiting five or more drinking and dining establishments along Lincoln as part of the 11 on 11 Beer Explorer Passport program.

When you grab a brew or a bite at any of the 11 participating breweries, taverns and bars, from August 1-31 and you’ll be given a stamp for a passport, which you can download here. Collect five of them and you’ll be registered to win prizes ranging from $25 Lakeview Neighborhood gift cards to a $100 gift card to Bistro Campagne to a Giro Trinity bike helmet to a wooden toy CTA bus.

The passport must contain five different stamps and be submitted by September 9 to enter. Winners will be notified by September 16.

The idea for the Beer Explorer Passport came out a meeting Pawar hosted with stakeholders along the line, according to Lakeview Chamber of Commerce director Lee Crandell. “He brought on some of the other local chambers on board to start developing a promotion,” Crandell said.

Read more…

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Meeting to Discuss Manor Greenway Amidst Opposition Set for Thursday

CDOT showed this rendering of how the traffic diverter. Previous versions used concrete to physically prevent going straight. Image: CDOT

This street view rendering shows how bumpouts and signs would add “filtered permeability” on Manor Avenue, by allowing only bicyclists and pedestrians to continue north and south past Wilson Avenue. Image: CDOT

The 33rd Ward is holding the monthly meeting of its Transportation Action Committee on Thursday to discuss the Manor Greenway, a proposal from the Chicago Department of Transportation to connect two multi-use park paths via an on-street route on Manor Greenway. Jeff Sobczyk, assistant to Alder Deb Mell, said in the meeting announcement that the time would be used to improve understanding of the project’s goals. Neighborhood greenways are intended to make it safer and more convenient to cycle on Chicago’s side streets.

Soon after I first wrote about the proposal in June, opposition to it came online. Local resident Lawrence Brown started a petition in June calling for CDOT to scrap their plan to install a traffic diverter there for three months in the fall, but the petition is overlooking what actually makes the plan to increase bicycling safety and convenience work. The petition currently has 23 signatures.

The Manor Greenway would include the most robust traffic calming treatments of any neighborhood greenway CDOT has installed to date. The plan calls for installing a physical barrier at the intersection of Manor Avenue and Wilson Avenue to prevent motorists from continuing on Manor. This would reduce the amount of cars on the street, improving safety for bicyclists and pedestrians.

At the north and south ends of the greenway, which are are also the north and south boundaries of Ravenswood Manor, CDOT would install raised crosswalks to slow incoming motorists and send the message that this street is for slower, residential car traffic, reminding drivers to watch out for vulnerable road users.

The petition says, “We can make a bike path and greenway through Ravenswood Manor without diverting the traffic flow.” That’s pretty much what happened with the Berteau Greenway in Lakeview, Ravenswood, and North Center. That plan originally included traffic diverters, but these were scrapped due to similar opposition from residents.

The watered-down treatment on Berteau, which involved contraflow bike lanes, curb bumpouts, and a traffic circle, made the street somewhat better for cycling than it was before. But due to the lack of traffic diverters, the street still gets plenty of cut-through car-traffic, which means it’s still not an “8-to-80” facility for biking, and it’s not as safe or pleasant a street for walking as it would have been with diverters. The lack of good infrastructure changes ensures that only the fittest and boldest will cycle.

The petition also says, “This planned diversion of traffic will force frustrated drivers onto streets that have far more homes than Manor Ave., thus creating an unsafe environment for the many families that reside on these adjacent blocks.” CDOT’s analysis of predicted traffic flows after the diverter is installed indeed show that other streets will likely see some additional cars, but the analysis was limited because it assumed all drivers diverted from Manor would use Sacramento and Francisco Avenues. Read more…

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Dates Announced for CDOT’s Bike Classes, Suitable for Absolute Beginners

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Bike ambassadors (in red) in the parking lot of the Garfield Workforce Center, where the West Side classes will be taught. Photo: CDOT

Today the Chicago Department of Transportation announced the dates and locations for its free adult bike-handling classes on the South and West sides, part of the department’s strategy to encourage more use of the Divvy bike-share system in low-to-moderate-income communities of color. Here’s the info:

Garfield Workforce Center 
10 S. Kedzie Avenue

  • July 25-29, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
  • August 8-12, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Kennedy King College
 710 W. 65th Street

  • August 15-19 , 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
  • August 22-29, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
  • August 29 – September 2, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

These one-time classes, suitable for people who never learned to ride a bike, as well as those who wish to brush up rusty cycling skills, will be taught by CDOT’s Bicycling Ambassadors outreach team. Divvy bikes will be provided as loaners, so participants won’t need to bring their own cycles. Attendees will also get free helmets, funded by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, the Divvy sponsor. Slow Roll Chicago and other community organizations are helping to promote the classes.

An RSVP is required to attend a class to make sure there are enough instructors available. To RSVP any time before the class, call 312-744-8147.

The seminars are geared towards adults, but they’re also open to children if space is available. However, kids under 16 need to bring their own bikes, since the Divvy system is only available to riders 16 and older.

Participants will start out by riding on a Divvy bike with the pedals removed to get the hang of coasting, steering, and braking, until they can coast for at least 20 seconds without putting a foot down. Next the instructor will add one pedal so that the students can try starting the bike with the pedal. Once they’ve mastered that, the second pedal will be installed.

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What’s Causing Chicago’s Latest Wave of Cycling Deaths and Serious Crashes?

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The memorial ceremony for Viriginia Murray at the crash site. Photo: Donte Tatum, 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.]

In early June, I noted that there had been no fatal bike crashes so far this year in Chicago. “I’m crossing my fingers that this year’s good luck streak continues,” I wrote.

Tragically, it didn’t. Since then, two people have lost their lives while biking in Chicago.

I’ve also heard of at least 11 collisions that occurred since June 12 that resulted in injuries, many more than usually cross my desk in a month. At least three of those incidents resulted in serious injuries.

Anecdotally, this seems to be an unusually high number of bike crashes for a 30-day period. But it’s a difficult thing to prove, since collisions that don’t result in serious injuries or fatalities often go unreported. And while the Illinois Department of Transportation is responsible for documenting local crashes, the agency doesn’t release its findings until about two years after the fact.

So going by the anecdotal evidence, if there has indeed been an uptick in bike crashes, what factors are to blame? And what we should be doing differently to bring these numbers down?

The first crash of the recent wave to draw widespread attention was the June 15 death of 29-year-old courier Blaine Klingenberg, who was fatally struck by tour bus driver Charla A. Henry during the evening rush at Michigan and Oak.

The second fatality occurred July 1 around 9 AM, when a 28-year-old male flatbed truck driver struck 25-year-old Virginia Murray while she was riding a Divvy in Avondale. Video from a nearby gas station’s security camera shows the truck was facing north on Sacramento, stopped at the light at Belmont. As Murray rode up to the right of the truck, the light changed and the driver turned east, striking her. The driver, who works for nearby AB Hardwood Flooring and Supplies, has so far been issued only a citation for not having the proper driver’s license classification to drive the truck.

Until a few weeks ago Murray worked in marketing for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, a Divvy sponsor. She had been preparing to apply for graduate school in library sciences. A spokeswoman for Blue Cross described Murray as “an avid Divvy supporter, a wonderful employee, and a special person.”

The first of the three crashes that resulted in serious injuries took place on June 21 at the intersection of Wilson and the Lakefront Trail. At around 7:20 PM, a 61-year-old man who has not been named by police was bicycling north on the path and was critically injured by an eastbound SUV driver as he crossed Wilson. The driver, Liliana Flores, 32, received three traffic citations.

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Eyes on the Street: Vigil at the Avondale Corner Where Virginia Murray Died

Ghost bike vigil for Virginia Murray

Parents of fallen cyclist Virginia Murray’s childhood friends recite two prayers at a vigil to install a ghost bike in her memory.

Motorists drove carefully around the large crowd of supporters that had gathered and spilled into the roadway last night at the corner of Belmont and Sacramento, where Virginia Murray was fatally struck while riding a bicycle on July 1.

Over 40 people had come for a vigil for Murray, and to watch the installation of a ghost bike in her honor. Ghost bikes are a worldwide tradition memorializing the life of someone who died riding a bicycle. Anthony Arce, a nearby resident who witnessed the crash, and Kristen Green, a former neighbor of Murray, organized the event.

Ghost bike vigil for Virginia Murray

Anthony Arce, a witness to Murray’s fatal crash, helped organize the vigil with Kristen Green.

Around 9 a.m. on Friday, July 1, Murray was riding northbound on Sacramento when the nortbound driver of an AB Hardwood Flooring flatbed truck turned east onto Belmont, running over Murray. Security camera video from the gas station across the street proves that this was a “right hook” crash. Attorney Mike Keating (a Streetsblog Chicago sponsor) wrote about the crash on his blog, stating that “Ms. Murray’s path was exactly the one that a Chicago bicyclist should follow.”

The crowd was silent for nearly 15 minutes, while friends and family placed candles, balloons, flyers, and other mementos. Pamela Lowe, the parent of one of Murray’s friends, broke the silence and said, “In times when there’s a lot of upheaval in our world, Ginny stood for everything that was good,” according to DNAinfo. Then Lowe and other parents of Virginia’s childhood friends recited the “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” prayers.

Alder Deb Mell (33rd Ward) joined the vigil and spoke with the parents, Lowe, and Green. Mell’s office organizes a Transportation Action Committee, of which I’m a founding member, to advise her on active transportation issues in the ward, which includes parts of Avondale, Albany Park, and Ravenswood Manor.

Mell told DNAinfo that plans to install bike lanes on Belmont from Kedzie to Halsted had “been put on hold.” Staff from the Chicago Department of Transportation’s bike program told the Transportation Action Committee two times in 2014 that CDOT was planning to install the bike lanes that year or in 2015.

I’ve asked CDOT to comment on the status of this project and will update this post if they provide one. Bike lanes on Belmont would help remind drivers to check for bicyclists before turning onto the street, which could help prevent crashes like Murray’s in the future.CDOT and Divvy staff also attended the vigil. The TAC meets on the fourth Thursday of each month at Horner Park Fieldhouse.

Ghost bike vigil for Virginia Murray

Mourners and supporters mingle after the prayer. 33rd ward Alder Deb Mell speaks to vigil organizer Kristen green in the background.

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Public Invited to Sunday’s “Ghost Bike” Ceremony Honoring Virginia Murray

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A ghost bike memorial to Jacqueline Michon was temporarily placed at Wacker and Wabash. Photo: John Greenfield.

Safe streets advocates are inviting the public to the installation of a white-painted “ghost bike” memorial as a tribute to Virginia Murray, who was fatally struck by a truck driver while cycling last Friday. The installation will take place this Sunday, July 10, at 7 p.m. at the crash site at Belmont venue and Sacramento Avenue.

Murray, 25, was riding a Divvy bike northbound on Sacramento on Friday, July 1, at about 9 a.m., according to police. At Belmont, the northbound driver, employed by nearby business AB Hardwood Flooring, made a right turn, striking Murray in what appears to have been a “right-hook” crash.

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Virginia Murray

Murray was pronounced dead at Illinois Masonic Hospital about an hour later. Her case appears to be the first bike-share–related fatality in the U.S. So far the driver has received no traffic citations or criminal charges, police said.

According to Murray’s LinkedIn profile, until a few weeks ago she had been working at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, the Divvy sponsor, since 2013, most recently as a lead marketing communications consultant. A spokeswoman for the company described Murray as “an avid Divvy supporter, a wonderful employee, and a special person.”

A statement released by the North American Bikeshare Association in the wake of the crash offered condolences to Murray’s loved ones and the Chicago bike community for this great loss. The association also noted that this was the first fatality in over 70,000,000 bike-share trips taken in the U.S. It added that a recent study by the Mineta Transportation Institute found that crash and injury rates for bike-sharing are lower than previously computed rates for personal bicycling.

Sunday’s installation is being organized by local resident Anthony Arce, who says he witnessed the crash, and Kristen Green, who serves on the board of the South Chicago Velodrome Association. “Anthony Arce has been deeply moved by this and reached out to our community to get a ghost bike in [Murray’s] honor as he was so deeply saddened by what he witnessed that day,” Green wrote in the event invitation. “So we have come together with other members of the community and will be placing a memorial “ghost bike”… to honor her. If you would like to drop a flower or a candle or note there please do.”

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Eyes on the Street: RYB Fest — A Memorial Ride for Blaine Klingenberg

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The ride on Michigan Avenue in the Loop. A display of flowers spelling “RYB” was carried on a cargo bike similar to the one Klingenberg rode. Photo: John Greenfield

About 200 people on bikes filled the streets of Chicago today to honor fallen bike courier Blaine “Beezy” Klingenberg during RYB Fest. The bike ride and barbecue was described by organizers as “a day of remembrance and celebration, and to remind all that bicyclists should also be viewed as equals when riding on the road.”

Klingenberg, 29, was fatally struck by a double-decker tour bus driver on Wednesday, June 15, during the evening rush at Michigan Avenue and Oak Street, while on his way to meet up with friends at Oak Street Beach. A native of Bakersfield, California, he moved to Chicago 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.

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Blaine Klingenberg. Photo: Facebook

Klingenberg worked for Advanced Messenger Service, delivering envelopes and packages via a large yellow, Danish-style cargo bike. Employers and colleagues have described him as a hardworking, likable, and safety-minded courier. Read more about his case here.

RYB Fest, named after the hashtag #RideYourBike or #RideYoBike, was organized by family members, friends, and the Chicago Bike Messenger Association. According to the organizers, the purpose was “to raise awareness of insecurities in bike infrastructure, the presence and vulnerability of cyclists on the streets, and celebrate the life that Beezy brought to all of us.”

The ride met at Humboldt Park’s formal garden, headed downtown to stop at some of Klingenberg’s favorite standby spots, and proceeded up Michigan to the crash site. Afterwards, the group headed northwest to riverside Richard Clark Park for the barbecue and trail riding at The Garden, a dirt jump course within the park.

Far too many people have been injured and killed on bikes in northeast Illinois in recent weeks. In addition to being a fitting tribute to a man widely described as a terrific person, RYB Fest was a reminder that we have much more work to do before Chicago streets are safe for all road users.

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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.

Hang out with Streetsblog’s John Greenfield and Steven Vance (just back from his European sabbatical) 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.

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Cycle of Peace Event Will Bring 500 Bikes to Kids in North Lawndale

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Kids at the Bronzeville Bike Builder bike giveaway in 2014. Photo: TAG Foundation

Illinois Bicycle Lawyers - Mike Keating logo

Two years ago the TAG Foundation and Working Bikes joined forces to stage the Bronzeville Bike Builder, distributing 500 refurbished bicycles to local families. Kids 12 and under were invited to come learn bike safety skills and leave with a free cycle.

This year they’ve partnered with the North Lawndale Restorative Justice Hub to stage the event, rebranded as The Cycle of Peace, on the West Side. The bike giveaway takes place on Saturday, June 25, at North Lawndale College Prep’s Collins Campus, 1313 South Sacramento, starting at 9 a.m.

The TAG Foundation, a nonprofit promoting sustainable, healthy, and affordable living in Chicago’s communities of color, is run by Angela Ford, a sustainability consultant. The foundation has done much of the coordination for the event. “Putting 500 bikes in a neighborhood changes people’s perception of the community,” Ford said. “It also changes a community’s perspective on bicycles as active transportation.”

Working Bikes, a community bike shop located at 2434 South Western in Little Village, is sending 13 shipping containers of 500 bikes to partners in other nations this year. They view the Cycle of Peace as a similar initiative: getting bikes in the hands of youth who can benefit from them, right here in Chicago.

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