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Posts from the Streetsblog Chicago Category


Join Us for a Reader Meetup Next Week With Go Pilsen at Lagunitas Brewery

Lagunitas #Chicago #northlawndale

Lagunitas Brewery. Photo: Eric Allix Rogers

We’re continuing to hold our reader meetups in various parts of town and co-hosting them with local groups that promote sustainable transportation. Next Wednesday, November 2, from 6-8 p.m. we’ll be convening with members of Go Pilsen at Lagunitas Brewery, 2607 West 17th St.

Lagunitas can be accessed via the California Pink Line station or the #49 Western bus stop at Western and 16th. There’s a Divvy station by the California stop.

I plan on biking there after that afternoon’s Mayor’s Pedestrian Advisory Council meeting, which takes place from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. at City Hall in room 1103 and is open to the public. Drop me a line at if you’re interested cycling from the Loop to the brewery around 5 p.m.

The taproom has a huge beer selection and a full kitchen menu, so it’s likely a good time will be had by all. I’m looking forward to meeting more Streetsblog readers and Go Pilsen folks and learning more around transportation issues in the area.

RSVP for next month’s event on Facebook if you like.

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What the Price of Parking Shows Us About Cities

Check out the interactive chart at this link.

To see where your city falls, check out the interactive chart at this link.

Cross-posted from City Observatory

Earlier, we rolled out our parking price index, showing the variation in parking prices among large US cities. Gleaning data from ParkMe, a web-based directory of parking lots and rates, we showed how much it cost to park on a monthly basis in different cities. There’s a surprising degree of variation: While the typical rate is somewhere in the range of $200 a month, in some cities (New York) parking costs more than $700 a month, while in others (Oklahoma City) it’s less than $30 a month.

As Donald Shoup has exhaustively explained in its tome, The High Cost of Free Parking, parking has a tremendous impact on urban form. And while Shoup’s work focuses chiefly on the side effects of parking requirements and under-priced street parking, we’re going to use our index of parking prices to explore how market-provided parking relates to the urban transportation system.

In the United States, the majority of commuters travel alone by private automobile to their place of work. But in some places — in large cities and in dense downtowns — more people travel by transit, bicycle or walk to work. It’s worth asking why more people don’t drive. After all, the cost of car ownership is essentially the same everywhere in the U.S. The short answer is that in cities, parking isn’t free. And when parking isn’t free, more people take transit or other modes of transportation.

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D.C. Riders: Late-Night Transit Cuts Would Leave Workers Stranded

Hard to believe, but one of the biggest transit agencies in the U.S. — WMATA — is moving to eliminate eight hours of late-night Metro service per week. The whole system will simply not be available for those eight hours, and people in D.C. are livid.

Protestors demonstrate against late-night service cuts outside a Metro board meeting last week. Photo: Greater Greater Washington

Protestors demonstrate against late-night service cuts outside a WMATA board meeting last week. Photo: Greater Greater Washington

How would those cuts affect transit riders? At a recent public meeting on the service cuts, people spoke about how they rely on late-night Metro service. Greater Greater Washington shares this synopsis from contributor Nicole Cacozza:

One man came to testify on behalf of his former coworkers in the service industry who worked long shifts and needed Metro to get home.

A woman from WMATA’s accessibility committee spoke about just not being able to travel on weekends if Metro cut its morning service, because she cannot get around without public transportation.

One woman who immigrated to Maryland as a child said that she used Metro to travel to Virginia after school in order to spend time with other people from her home country, and she currently knows people who use it to attend GED classes after work.

Read more…


Today’s Headlines for Monday, October 24

  • CTA Budget Holds the Line on Fares for 8th Year in a Row (Tribune, Sun-Times, Crain’s)
  • More Opinions About the Proposed Lockbox Amendment (Crain’sJ.C. Lind)
  • Metra Will Test Real-Time Info Screens at 3 Loop Stations, 22 in ‘Burbs (Sun-Times)
  • Cyclist Injured in Milwaukee Ave. Crash Assisted by Another Crash Survivor (DNA)
  • Ald. Michele Smith Want 10-Acre Park as Part of Finkl Redevelopment (DNA)
  • Plan Commission Approves Upgrades to Theater on the Lake (Curbed)
  • The Tribune Looks at the Advantages of Transporting Kids by Cargo Bike
  • A Look Inside the New Kenect TOD Apartments (Curbed)
  • Wrigleyville Parking Prices Skyrocketed During the Playoffs (Tribune)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA

Streetsblog USA
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London Is Going to Ban the Deadliest Trucks From Its Streets

Photo: Transport for London via Treehugger

Image: Transport for London via Treehugger

Heavy trucks with big blind spots are a deadly menace to cyclists and pedestrians.

In Boston, eight of the nine cyclist fatalities between 2012 and 2014 involved commercial vehicles, according to the Boston Cyclists Union [PDF].

Between June and September this year, there were six cyclist fatalities in Chicago, and all six involved heavy trucks.

In New York City, drivers of heavy trucks account for 32 percent of bike fatalities and 12 percent of pedestrian fatalities, despite the fact that they are only 3.6 percent of traffic.

U.S. cities are starting to take steps like requiring sideguards on some trucks. But no American city is tackling the problem like London is.

In London, city officials estimate that 58 percent of cyclist deaths and more than a quarter of pedestrian deaths involve heavy trucks, even though trucks only account for 4 percent of traffic. Evidence suggests trucks pose an especially large risk to women cyclists.

Read more…

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Comparing the Price of Parking Across U.S. Cities

This article was cross-posted from City Observatory

How much does it cost to park a car in different cities around the nation?

Today, we’re presenting some new data on a surprisingly under-measured aspect of cities and the cost of living: how much it costs to park a car in different cities. There are regular comparisons of rents and housing costs between cities. The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports on regional price variations among states. But the price of parking falls into a kind of unlit corner of the statistical world.

Parking is central to the operation of our automobile dominated transportation system. There are more than 260 million cars and trucks in the United States, and most cars sit parked about 95 percent of the time.

It isn’t free, in any sense of the word. (Flickr: reflexblue)

It isn’t free, in any sense of the word. (Flickr: reflexblue)

While we have copious data about cars—the number registered, the number of gallons of gasoline they burn (over 140 billion), the number of miles they travel (over 3 trillion)—we actually know precious little about the scale of the nation’s parking system.The best estimates suggest that there are somewhere between 722 million and more than 2 billion parking spaces in the United States.

Read more…

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Private Toll Road Backed By $430 Million in Federal Funds Goes Bust

From the beginning, there were plenty of reasons to suspect that Texas 130 — a private toll road between San Antonio and Austin — was a bad idea.

For one thing, the state of Texas looked into extending the highway in 2006 and concluded it wouldn’t generate nearly enough toll revenue to pay for construction.

Nevertheless, when two private firms, Cintra and Zachary Corp., decided to take the project on in 2008, the state of Texas and federal officials were happy to help. Cintra and Zachary put together a deal to build the $1.35 billion freeway. They lined up $430 million in federally-backed TIFIA loans, and promised to share toll revenues with the state of Texas and pay $25 million upfront.

Today, four years after the road opened, it is bankrupt. Katherine Blunt at the San Antonio Express-News has done some Pulitzer-worthy reporting about Texas 130 and the questions raised by similar toll road projects. Here are a few of the highlights of her report:

Read more…


Today’s Headlines for Monday, October 17

  • $15M Belmont Blue Upgrade Will Include Permanent Prepaid Boarding (Curbed)
  • Metra Proposes 5.8% Fare Hike to Take Effect February 1 (DNA)
  • CTA Gets $400K Grant to Incorporate Divvy Info, Payment Into Ventra App (FTA)
  • Ventra App Has Been Downloaded 1 Million Times (Tribune)
  • Tribune Looks at the Transportation Lockbox Amendment
  • Four ‘L’ Stations Will Receive Artwork From Award-Winning Artists (CTA)
  • Woman’s Arm Partially Severed in Kennedy Rollover Crash (Sun-Times)
  • Driver Gets 3 Years for DUI Crash That Killed Passenger (Sun-Times)
  • Police Warn of String of Robberies Onboard Forest Park Branch (NBC)
  • Ravenswood Residents Pass Judgement on Diverter Before Test Is Over (Tribune)
  • Ben Joravsky Discusses Divvy TIF Funding With Dave “Mr. Bike” Glowacz (
  • Hearing on Bike Improvements to Chicago, Sheridan in Evanston Tonight (Northwestern)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Talking Headways Podcast: Remixing the Future of Transit Planning

This week I’m joined by Tiffany Chu, co-founder of the transit planning software firm Remix, which helps agencies quickly assess the impact of potential changes in service. Tiffany discusses the response the company has received from the transit industry and what got it started. We also talk about the possible policy implications of Remix, as well as the movement towards open data.


Cycling in “The Six”: Toronto Infrastructure Offers Lessons for Chicago


Biking in a protected bike lane on Bloor street, by the quirky Bata shoe museum. Toronto has installed over 17,000 of it’s distinctive post-and-ring bike racks. Photo: John Greenfield

This article also ran in the Chicago Reader weekly newspaper.

Toronto’s late mayor Rob Ford was notorious for his cocaine consumption, but there were some other white lines he didn’t care for. The Chris Farley-esque politician, who famously called bicyclists “a pain in the ass to motorists,” made a point of having existing bike lanes removed to create more room for cars. This led to a memorable showdown in 2012, when protesters temporarily stopped the removal of the Jarvis Street bike lanes by laying down in the street to block the pavement-scraping machine.

But when I visited “the Six” (as Toronto native Drake calls the city) earlier this month, I found that post-Ford Toronto is a highly bikeable place. It even has a network of high-quality protected bike lanes with features that Chicago would be wise to emulate.

In some ways Toronto is a parallel universe to Chicago. They’re both cold, northern cities on Great Lakes, with consistent street grids and generally flat terrain (although Toronto slopes downward towards Lake Ontario).

Canada’s largest city recently overtook Chicago to become the fourth-most populous city in North America, with 2.83 million residents as of 2015, slightly more than our 2.72 million inhabitants. But since more than 100,000 immigrants settle in the Toronto area annually—about half of the city’s population is foreign-born—while Chicago lost about 2,890 residents in 2015, that gap is likely to grow in the future.


Painting a mural on a bike shop on Bloor Street. Photo: John Greenfield

And since Toronto is a sister city to Chicago, there’s been some sharing of ideas when it comes to improving conditions for biking. The Chicago Department of Transportation’s Bicycling Ambassadors outreach team was directly modeled after Toronto’s Road and Trail Ambassador program.

There’s been some friendly competition between the cities too. In the early 2000s, when I worked as CDOT’s bike-parking czar, Toronto was my white whale. Even though Chicago had installed more bike racks than any other U.S. city, Toronto had put in a few thousand more of their distinctive “post-and-ring” parking units. The current tally is about 15,000 Chicago racks to more than 17,000 in Toronto. Annoying, eh?

Much more importantly, our neighbor to the north has us beat when it comes to traffic safety. Chicago averaged about six bicycle fatalities annually between 2009 and 2014, but Toronto typically only sees between one and four fatal bike crashes a year, according to Jacquelyn Hayward Gulati, who manages cycling infrastructure programs for the city. And while Chicago averaged roughly 110 total traffic fatalities annually between 2010 and 2014, Toronto has only about 50 traffic deaths a year, Gulati says.

Read more…