Skip to content

Posts from the "Transportation" Category

No Comments

Second Person in One Week Killed After Exiting Vehicle Under Kennedy


View Larger Map

The crash site. Image: Google Street View

This morning, a truck driver was fatally struck after he exited his vehicle following a minor crash on Division Street by the Kennedy Expressway. It was six day after a similar tragedy only four blocks north, at North Avenue and the Kennedy.

Last Saturday morning, Kim Kyeyul, 72, was driving a car on North, just east of the expressway, when he rear-ended a semi truck. Kyeyul got out of his vehicle to talk to the truck driver, who was stopped in the outside lane of the four-lane road. He was then struck and killed by a second trucker who was attempting to pass.

Today around 6:30 a.m., a male truck driver pulling a dump trailer was involved in a minor collision with a female minivan driver at Division and the northbound offramp of the Kennedy. Names have not been released. The trucker, believed to be in his thirties, got out of his vehicle to take pictures of the damage.

He was then struck by another truck driver’s rear wheels as the second trucker turned east onto Division from the offramp, according to fire department spokesman Larry Langford. The victim died at the scene. The second truck driver, who was unhurt, remained at the crash site. The car driver was also uninjured, but she witnessed the fatal collision and was traumatized. She was taken to Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center for evaluation, authorities said.

In the wake of the crash, state police closed all the expressway ramps on Division for several hours. The Chicago Police Department’s Major Accidents Investigation Unit is looking into the case.

Fatality Tracker: 2014 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths

Pedestrian: 10 (4 were hit-and-run crashes)
Bicyclist: 0

Streetsblog USA No Comments

Omaha Gets Serious About Transit

omaha_transit

There are plenty of reasons why Omaha, Nebraska, isn’t known for being a walkable, people-friendly city. It has one of the lowest bike commuting rates in the country. In a vote last year, Streetsblog readers crowned a location in Omaha as America’s worst intersection.

But there are some signs that the city is moving in the right direction. Omaha launched a B-Cycle bike-share system in 2012 that, while it started with only five stations, has been slowly expanding. Bike commuting has increased 125 percent since 2000.

More ambitious changes are on the agenda now that the city has unveiled a transit plan with the potential to make the city a more walkable, urban place.

A “preferred alternative” developed by the city of Omaha and the local transit agency calls for an eight-mile bus rapid transit route, estimated to cost about $33 million, as well as a 3.25-mile modern streetcar line, estimated to cost $140 million. The city is applying for a TIGER grant to help fund the BRT plan.

The streetcar will run through downtown Omaha, between “north downtown” to the University of Nebraska Medical Center. The BRT will share much of the same route but extend several miles further west, past the medical center. The BRT will run on both dedicated and mixed-traffic lanes and will include signal priority.

In public meetings, planners emphasized that the enhanced transit lines would help downtown become a “park-once” district, where people would not have to drive between destinations. With less pressure to supply parking, more land could be developed. Planners estimate that the transit lines could spark as much as $1 billion in new development, leading to an increase of 8,500 jobs and 3,150 residents downtown [PDF].

Read more…

1 Comment

Driver Who Killed Woman in Austin Charged With DUI, Hit-and-Run


View Larger Map

The crash site from the driver’s perspective.

Maurice McDowell, 32, has been charged with fatally striking Jennie Davis, 64, on Easter Sunday and then fleeing the scene. Around 9:40 p.m., Davis was crossing the street at 5532 West North in the Austin neighborhood, a block north of her home on the 5500 block of West Lemoyne, police said. It is not known which direction she was walking, according to Officer Michael Sullivan of News Affairs.

McDowell, of the 1800 block of South 10th Avenue in Maywood, was driving west in a 2013 Ford Focus, Sullivan said. According to witness Sheila Davis, the driver hit a parked car before striking Davis, who flew up in the air, ABC News reported. The victim was taken to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, where she died from her injuries, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

9510577_600x338

McDowell’s car. Image: ABC News

After the crash, McDowell did a U-turn and drove away. His unoccupied car was found shortly afterwards on the 1500 block of North Laramie, a few blocks east of the crash site. After police arrested him, he was charged with three felonies: aggravated DUI causing injury or death, leaving the scene of the accident causing injury or death, and failure to report an accident or death. McDowell was also charged with a parole violation in connection with a previous offense. He was due to appear in bond court Wednesday.

“[Jennie Davis] didn’t deserve this,” neighbor Lula Beck told ABC. “She was a wonderful lady. She’d help you if you needed something to eat, she’d feed you. If you needed a place to stay, she’d give you a place to stay.”

Community members said speeding is common on this stretch of North, ABC reported. Resident Janice Harris said Davis is the third person she’s known who was struck by a car on the street. “They need to put up cameras,” Sheila Davis said.

Fatality Tracker: 2014 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths

Pedestrian: 9 (4 were hit-and-run crashes)
Bicyclist: 0

 

28 Comments

Banning Pedicabs on Downtown Streets Could Strangle the Industry

photo

Antonio Bustamante at today’s Wrigley Field anniversary celebration. Photo: Matt Green

Members of the recently formed Chicago Pedicab Association say they can live with various rules and fees imposed under a proposed ordinance to regulate the city’s burgeoning pedicab industry. However, they maintain that the ordinance’s restrictions on where and when they can work downtown would drive them out of business.

In May of 2013, 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney introduced the ordinance regulating the licensing and operations of pedicabs to City Council, arguing that such legislation was long overdue. Tunney’s Lakeview district includes Wrigley Field, a popular place for pedicab operators to pick up customers.

After discussion of the ordinance with other aldermen, city departments and members of the pedicab industry over the last year, the legislation is finally moving forward. A joint hearing by the Committee on License and Consumer Protection and the Committee on Transportation and Public Way will take place next Tuesday, April 29, at 12:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers. The full council may vote on the ordinance that Wednesday at its 10:00 a.m. meeting.

“While pedicabs are a unique and green transportation option for residents and visitors to our city, they remain one of the few business activities not licensed under city code,” Tunney said in a statement. “While many pedicabbers are good, safe operators, we need to ensure proper licensing, consumer protection and public safety.”

The ordinance would require operators to obtain a license, at a cost of $250 a year, plus a $25 decal for their vehicles, which would have to meet safety standards, including being equipped with seatbelts. Pedicabbers would need to carry liability insurance and post their fare structure on their vehicle, instead of negotiating the price before or after a ride. The number of operators in the city would be capped at 200.

The dealbreaker for the pedicab association members is a provision banning them from operating during rush hours in the Loop, defined by the river, the lake and Congress, or from riding at any time on State or Michigan, between Congress and Oak. In his statement, Tunney says that the ordinance will help “improve the flow of safe traffic on our congested streets.”

CPA board member Antonio Bustamante argues that pedicabs don’t contribute to the problem of traffic jams downtown, and at ballgames and festivals. “There’s congestion to begin with,” he said. “We’re able to get in and out of congestion much easier because we fit between the traffic lane and parked cars, and we can get around stopped cars. We’re definitely part of the solution.”

Although Bustamante says pedicabbers can make good money working at special events like Cubs and Blackhawks games, he says the downtown tourist districts are their bread and butter. Numerous tourist attractions are located on State and Michigan, and he argues it’s virtually impossible to navigate the downtown grid without using these streets, since they’re the main two-way, north-south thoroughfares.

Read more…

No Comments

Bike2Campus Points to Broader Possibilities for Campuses to Embrace Cycling

Student bike mechanics from the University of Oregon Bike Program work on the program's bicycle fleet in their on-campus facility, affectionately known as "the Barn." Photo: Briana Orr

Student bike mechanics from the University of Oregon Bike Program work on the program’s bicycle fleet in “the Barn,” their on-campus facility. Photo: Briana Orr

This week, the inaugural Bike2Campus Week seeks to spur students’ budding interest in bicycling to reach Chicago’s many university and college campuses. A partnership between the Chicago Network of Sustainability in Higher Education, the Chicago Department of Transportation, and Divvy seeks to entice students with prizes, like a four-year Divvy membership for the top pedaler, and with friendly competition between schools.

The city’s most populous campus, the University of Illinois at Chicago, also hopes to lead the pack by recording the highest percentage of students bicycling to class. A series of Earth Month campus events will showcase the benefits of biking, and coax students onto two wheels with free Divvy day passes. “We all came together to make something exciting, fun, and friendly, with a little bit of education so that everyone can participate,” says Kate Yoshida from the university’s sustainability office and coordinator of UIC’s Bike2Campus effort.

A close look at the competition press release, however, reveals a mixed message: The partnership defines the event as “a five-day alternative transit challenge to get Chicagoland university and college students on their bicycles.” Even as the competition extolls the benefits of bicycles, it still classifies bicycling as “alternative” transportation. Conversations with other university transportation departments suggest refocusing the lens.

Read more…

24 Comments

Training for the Big Game: Why Is There No ‘L’ Stop at the United Center?

IMG_0336

The United Center and its parking moat, as seen from the Pink Line. Photo: John Greenfield

[This article also ran in Checkerboard City, John's transportation column in Newcity magazine, which hits the streets on Wednesday evenings.]

Every time I take the Pink Line to Pilsen and gaze out the window at the United Center, I’m struck by the apparent stupidity of train service that goes right past Chicago’s largest sports and music arena, but doesn’t stop there. The nearest existing stations, the Blue Line’s Illinois Medical District stop to the south, and the Pink and Green lines’ Ashland-Lake stop to the northeast, are both roughly twelve-minute walks to the stadium, long enough to discourage train use. But a new Pink station near Madison and Paulina would be a four-minute hop, skip and jump to the front doors.

As it is, the land use around the arena encourages driving to Bulls, Blackhawks and Bruce Springsteen events. While Wrigley Field, next door to the Addison Red stop, is surrounded by bars and restaurants where fans can spend money after games, the House That Jordan Built sits in a vast moat of parking lots.

Streetsblog USA took notice and included the United Center in its annual Parking Madness bracket, a competition between asphalt atrocities. The stadium made it to the Final Four before being defeated by a parking crater in Jacksonville, Florida. In fairness, the Bulls are currently building a $25 million practice facility on one of the lots east of the arena, and they’ve proposed building a $95 million entertainment complex nearby.

The funny thing is, there used to be a train stop near Madison/Paulina that served the arena’s predecessor, Chicago Stadium. According to the history site Chicago-L.org, the station was established in 1895 as part of the northwest branch of the Metropolitan West Side Elevated.

The Madison stop closed in 1951 when the northwest line was rerouted to the current Blue Line route. The old station house was eventually converted to a hotdog stand, and it was demolished in the 1990s. In 2006, this stretch of track, known as the Paulina Connector, was activated again when the CTA created the Pink Line. However, spokeswoman Lambrini Lukidis told me the agency has no current plans to rebuild the Madison stop.

The United Center management didn’t respond to my request for a comment on the Madison Pink stop concept, but when I checked in with the Active Transportation Alliance, they were all over the idea. “It seems like such an obvious location,” says spokesman Ted Villaire. “The goal should be to reduce the number of car trips to a facility like the United Center. A convenient train station would encourage more people to leave their car at home.”

Read more…

No Comments

Rogers Parkers Discuss Plans for Divvy Stations, Greenway

DivvyProposal4.9_Page_02

Proposed 49th Ward Divvy locations — none go north of Touhy.

The city is gearing up to add 175 more Divvy bike-share stations this year, bringing the total to 475. On Thursday, 49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore hosted a community meeting at Eugene Field elementary to discuss potential Divvy station locations within Rogers Park. The meeting also covered the proposed north-south neighborhood greenway that’s a ballot item in the ward’s upcoming participatory budgeting election. Joining Moore to discuss these projects were Chicago Department of Transportation deputy commissioner Sean Wiedel and bikeways planner David Smith.

Wiedel began by discussing the nuts and bolts of the bike-share system: how to join, pricing, station locations and the expansion plans. There are currently about 15,000 annual members, 2,675 bikes and 5,152 docks in the system. Assuming that the January bankruptcy of Bixi, which supplies the bikes and stations for Divvy, doesn’t throw a wrench in the works, there should be a total of 4,750 bikes available in Chicago by late 2014. When an attendee asked about crashes involving Divvy users, Wiedel replied that over the system’s nine month history, there have only been a handful of reported crashes, which have resulted in no serious injuries.

Read more…

7 Comments

Senior Fatally Struck After Exiting Car During Traffic Dispute


View Larger Map

The crash site at North Avenue and the Kennedy Expressway.

Kim Kyeyul, 72, died Saturday morning after he got out of his car to talk with a truck driver following a traffic crash and was then run over by the driver of another semi.

Around 6:45 a.m., Kyeyul, a resident of west-suburban Riverside, was traveling west on the 1400 block of North Avenue in Chicago in his 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer, according to Officer José Estrada of News Affairs. The driver of the first truck, a 32-year-old male, had slowed down in order to safely pass under the viaduct for the Kennedy Expressway, when the Kyeyul rear ended his vehicle, Estrada said. Polices sources said that, had Kyeyul survived the tragic crash, he likely would have been cited for failing to reduce speed to prevent a crash.

Kyeyul stepped out of his car and walked up to the trucker, who was stopped in the outside lane of the four-lane roadway, Estrada said. The confrontation became heated and Kyeyul stepped back into traffic. He was then struck by the second trucker, a 38-year-old male, who was attempting to pass.

Kyeyul suffered severe injuries to his upper body and pronounced dead at the scene, Estrada said. Neither truck driver was cited; their names have not been released.

Fatality Tracker: 2014 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths

Pedestrian: 8 (3 were hit-and-run crashes)
Bicyclist: 0

86 Comments

A Huge Garage Doesn’t Belong on a Thriving Pedestrian Shopping Street

The proposed development, anchored by a Mariano’s, would pump more car traffic into the neighborhood, delaying transit and making streets less walkable and bikeable.

A parking lot at 3030 N Broadway in Lakeview, formerly the site of a Dominick’s grocery store, could soon be the home of a new development with a Mariano’s supermarket, an Xport Fitness health club, and four small retail tenants. This stretch of Broadway, designated as a Pedestrian Street by the city, is currently very walkable. The Active Transportation Alliance recognized this and included the street in its list of 20 Chicago thoroughfares that should be considered for pedestrianization. In the surrounding census tracts, 30 to 50 percent of the households don’t own cars.

Despite the car-lite nature of the neighborhood, Mariano’s is planning to build 280 parking spaces for the site. I was told this was the number required by the city’s zoning ordinance, but Mariano’s can request a zoning variance from local alderman Tom Tunney. So far they’ve chosen not to do so.

Dan Farrell, vice president of retail estate at Mariano’s, told DNAinfo that even though this location is easy to get to without a car, the supermarket and gym need “ample” parking. However, offering large amounts of free parking encourages people to drive, which fuels the demand for more parking and makes conditions worse for transit, biking, and walking.

Maureen Martino, director of the East Lakeview Chamber of Commerce, told me Mariano’s stores have already been well-received in several Chicago neighborhoods, but acknowledged that this particular location in a dense, residential area presents special challenges. “But parking is important and the zoning code mandate for 280 spaces should be followed,” she said.

Read more…

4 Comments

A Plan to Fill the Hole in Rosemont’s Heart

Rosemont station view

Currently, the hotel at right is the nearest building to Rosemont station, but it’s a nine-minute walk away. Photo: CTA

The northwest suburban village of Rosemont has always been divided by busy transportation routes that funnel people through a crossroads. Occupying the geographic center of the town is a giant interchange, where the Kennedy Expressway, the Jane Addams (Northwest) Tollway, the Tri-State Tollway, and the I-190 spur to O’Hare Airport tangle over 300 acres of land — an area larger than Grant Park and Millennium Park combined. Overhead, a steady stream of jets roar into O’Hare. CTA Blue Line trains roll down the Kennedy’s median, toward the airport or a CTA facility within the interchange.

Yet transportation is also what makes Rosemont tick. Those busy routes deliver up to 100,000 visitors a day to a village of just 4,202. Many go to work in the village’s 5.2 million square feet of high-rise offices, convenient to commuters from all four directions. Others come to sleep in its 15 airport-adjacent hotels. Still others attend events at the village’s convention center or arena, or join the merrymakers on their way to the town’s newest commercial attractions — the Fashion Outlets of Chicago shopping mall and MB Financial Park at Rosemont, an entertainment district housing an 18-screen cinema and 200,000 square feet of restaurants and bars.

All of this development might look impressive to passengers on airplanes flying into O’Hare, or for motorists speeding by on the Tri-State — but it’s far from appealing when approached on foot from the ‘L’ station. A forthcoming planning study, funded by the Regional Transportation Authority and the federal government, could change that. The study will examine access to the ‘L’ station and ponder the potential to develop the adjacent bus facility and parking lot.

The nearly two million ‘L’ passengers who arrived at Rosemont last year all stepped out from the station and into a parking lot in the middle of a cloverleaf interchange. Not only does any walk from that point require leapfrogging highways and on-ramps, but the walks are long: Five minutes from the platform doesn’t even get a pedestrian past the edge of the cloverleaf.

Read more…