Today’s Headlines

  • Former CDOT Manager Who Oversaw Red Light Cams Indicted (Expired Meter)
  • Claypool: CTA Whistle Blower “Has No Clue What He’s Talking About” (Sun-Times)
  • CTA to Pay $1 Million for Electrical Work on Mothballed Block 37 Station (Sun-Times)
  • Driver Intentionally Runs Over 2 Men in Old Town — Twice (DNA)
  • Family of State Trooper Killed by Trucker Gets $10.9 Million Settlement (Tribune)
  • More Details About Proposed Land Acquisition for Red Line Extension (Tattler)
  • CTA Board Votes to Fund Science Museum Bus for 2 More Years (RedEye)
  • Transit Authority Says Stroller Courtesy Campaign Is Working (RedEye)
  • Lakeview Chamber Launches Bike-Friendly Business Program (DNA)
  • CTA Survey seeks Input on Rider Satisfaction (RedEye)
  • Konkol Encourages Drivers to Use Residential Streets as Cut-Throughs (DNA)
  • Sun-Times Gets “Immortal Class” Author’s Take on State of Chicago Biking

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA.

  • JacobEPeters

    I don’t disagree with Konkol, it is a much better use of the street grid for someone headed to a neighborhood to use a side street for the last 1/4 mile of their trip than to sit in traffic on a major thoroughfare. As long as they aren’t speeding, I don’t see the problem. These are the streets that I use to get around the city whether I am biking or driving.

  • “It is a much better use of the street grid for someone headed to a
    neighborhood to use a side street for the last 1/4 mile of their trip
    than to sit in traffic on a major thoroughfare.” That’s easy to say if you don’t happen to live on that side street and don’t have to deal with the additional pollution, noise, and visual blight of all those cars.

  • JacobEPeters

    John, short segments of a trip on side streets is not the apocalypse. You can’t champion the flexibility of the street grid, then bemoan it’s effective use. If people want their streets to have fewer cars, then build real Neighborhood Greenways, and promote cycling. If you live on a street, you can’t complain about car use of that street unless you take the steps to take it back from cars. Until then, they’re free reign, and that is the problem, not a reporter pointing out these slower moving shortcuts around deadlocked traffic.

  • 2Fast2Furious

    If you don’t want the “visual blight” of all those cars, move to a private neighborhood with cauldesacs and such, oh wait thats the suburbs.

  • JKM13

    I don’t see the issue either. On the one hand, we say Chicago can support Ashland BRT because of ‘The Grid’, on the other hand, columnists should not advise how to avoid congestion via the same grid.

  • 1/4 mi trips are almost never the problem for side streets — and I say that as someone who lives on a northbound-only really narrow side street just off Pulaski (which is often congested or torn up). The people who piss off us locals are the ones who want to bomb through at 40mph from south of Montrose to north of Lawrence (they’d go straight through to Foster if there weren’t a school blocking the street before then), not pausing at stop signs, not looking to see if someone’s getting into or out of a car, and ignoring the fact that the driveable part of my street is approximately 8″ wider than an SUV.

    People who use my street because of left-turn avoidance or to make the last bit before their destination aren’t in any way a problem, because they’re mostly driving slower, looking at the houses, and in general treating it like a RESIDENTIAL SIDE STREET, instead of a high-speed ‘secret’ bypass.

    In evening rush hour it gets particularly bad, especially now that the street’s been restriped and rearranged for the Pulaski streetscape stuff. Note: it’s still two nice wide travel lanes (plus left turn swoops) even on the part that is “narrowed,” but because it looks like there’s construction going on people think there’s horrible congestion and want to avoid it. By going 40mph up a really narrow, one-way residential side street. Sigh.

  • Or Mayfair, where they deliberately have all their streets one-wayed and dead-ending against each other in ways that confound anyone who hasn’t memorized the setup beforehand … or Sauganash, which simply has very few ways INTO the neighborhood by car, so can act like a suburban gated subdivision while only paying Chicago taxes. Though now at least they have to put up with O’Hare landing noise, that gives me a schadenfreude grin regularly.

  • 2Fast2Furious

    So when people unite together to better their neighborhood in a way you don’t like they should be punished?

    Instead of wishing evil upon them, try bettering your own situation if you are that unhappy.

  • Specifically I’d quibble with one of his shortcut choices. Far-North to Cubs Games, for example — park in a remote lot and get a shuttle, for goodness’ sake! It’s far less stressful and it’s cheaper to park the car as well.

    None of the rest really even amount to ‘cutting through residential neighborhoods for long trips’ — they’re straightforward “take the arterial grid to avoid highway traffic” options that anyone who’s lived here more than 10 years figures out.

  • No, when people unite together to calve themselves off from the city in which they live so they can pretend to be an enclave of ‘the right sort of people’ while still using all the services and network effects provided by the larger city, it annoys me. And it makes them come off as elitists who’d probably feel better living in the suburbs.

  • ohsweetnothing

    There’s one that I’m admittedly not familiar with, but he specifically says “cut through the neighborhood”.

    My concern is that “cut through” drivers are trying to save time, so they’re the ones I envision blowing stops signs (not even rolling stops), going 35 down residentials and treating the little residential traffic circles as an opportunity to demonstrate their vehicles agility. I also concede that I can’t prove that, but that’s my perception.

    …but I think JacobEPeters is onto something. Maybe the bigger problem is that our residential streets (in my neighborhood at least) are designed in such a manner that allows such behavior to occur. Keep the grid, calm the traffic…everyone wins.

  • That’s the one I objected to, that HAS a far better solution (the remote lots with shuttles). Starting this baseball season one that’s right NEXT to the shortcut he suggests will be extremely cheap and have a free shuttle bus.

    There’s no reason people shouldn’t, if they wish, go multiple miles on small side streets … as long as they treat them like small side streets, not try to exceed 25mph (MAX, not average), etc. There are times when, because of congestion, it’s significantly faster to cruise at a relaxed 20mph-except-at-stop-signs up my street than to take Pulaski. I just object to the people who want to pretend my tiny side street is Foster. :->

  • 2Fast2Furious

    What are the “right sort of people.” Because anyone who can afford it is allowed to by a house there just a little FYI. And what city services are you talking about, if anything Sauganash gets screwed over when it comes to CTA. no train and the Pulaski bus ends at Peterson, despite Sauganash going for another 1/2 mile.

  • None of the Sauganash residents I know would be caught dead on the CTA, they drive or bicycle everywhere.

    I would note that even the cheapest house currently on the market in Sauganash costs three times what mine in Albany Park did — people with that much money ARE the ‘right sort’ of people.

  • 2Fast2Furious

    So Saugnash residents pay higher property taxes than many folks, don’t use a lot of city services, but yet you want them to be annexed by Lincolnwood

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    You really have to look at Sauganash to know Sauganash. It is a post war (WWII) neighborhood. No one has recently gone in and ripped up the streets to get rid of the famous Chicago grid. It was laid out by developers in the late 40s and early 50s who in post war urban planning wanted street patterns specifically that were not grids. Many of the homes have larger lots and have garages up front, not in the alley. This allowed for larger back yards so kids could play.

    Here’s my favorite old saw about urban planning. It may looks good on paper when the design is spinned out. And a lot of times it works. But times change, people’s taste in home styles change and sometimes things don’t always work out the way they are planned. Even sometimes all the components of urban planning don’t get fully incorporated into a plan (developers and city planners sometimes cheap out).

    Urban renewal plans of the 60s and 70s looked plenty good to a lot of people. Unfortunately, the implementation and the expectation that investors would run back to the city and grab up this land did not always work out. Hey, in the 50s, 60s and part of the 70s, Lincoln Park was pretty rough and gang infested. But it took until the 80s before some people would consider coming back.

    People moved to the suburbs for a number of reasons. Certainly, racial motivations played a role, but people had more money in real terms in the 60s and 70s and could afford to splurge on their dream house. The notion of the “starter house”, or sharing a 2 flat with Grandpa and Grandma went out of fashion as incomes went up. Beginning in the 80s, Catholic schools, which were nearly always no or low tuition to parishioners began to charge tuition. More people poured out of the cities again because of the lousy schools.

    I think in some repect this whole Complete Streets plan of Urban planning may eventually go down the toilet too. You are going to have the very well off that will be able to own a car and cost will not matter. They will be able to afford the enormous rents/costs of home ownership in the city. But for the rest of us we are going to be pushed out by higher taxes, the head-aches of having to live in smaller spaces without ready access to personal transportation, the still rotten school system, (you have a kid with a B+/A- average and you can’t get them into one of the premier public schools, what do you do?) TOD won’t be the answer for everybody.

    When a studio apartment in that Ashland Division TOD building costs upwards of $1500/mo without parking, I could say, hmmmm maybe living here isn’t such a good deal. Oh its fine when I am single and have no familial attachments, but hey I got a kid now.

    Suddenly what happens when you have the perfect transportation system, but it still isn’t enough to keep the brain drain from happening? Or what happens when the prices for living here get so enormous that only the very rich and the very poor (subsidized by taxes) can afford to live here.

    So in summary, what I am trying to say is in the past people have had wonderful urban plans but in later years maybe not so good. It’s a crap shoot. So when these wonderful plans are promoted and then rolled out like street diets, no be surprised that years down the road people don’t say hmmmmm maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.

  • rohmen

    At least one other poster noted it above, but there’s a pretty big logical disconnect between your comment above on Konkol’s piece and your prior stance on how concerns of area residents relating to diversions to side streets in relation to the Ashland BRT are worrying over nothing.

    Can you honestly say Konkol’s DNA article is really going to lead to more traffic on side streets such as Wood than the proposed Ashland BRT plan will? If not, how can you show outrage in response to an article suggesting using side streets as shortcuts but largely brush off residents around Ashland who are concerned as to whether the BRT plan adequately takes increased side street traffic into account??

  • I expected I’d get a comment like this. As I’ve written many times before, the post-BRT traffic impact on any particular residential block is likely to be minimal. If issues arise with excessive traffic volume or speeds on a particular side street, these should be addressed with traffic calming, such as speed humps or traffic circles. It’s reasonable for residents and aldermen to want a guarantee from CDOT that traffic calming will be implemented as needed before they endorse the BRT plan.

    On the other hand, if lots of people followed Konkol’s advice and used a street like Belle Plaine as a cut-through, that would be a problem for residents, and traffic calming would be warranted. For all I know, it already is a problem on game days. Hmm… you’ve given me a story idea here — thanks!

  • rohmen

    Well, I would argue Wood (a specific cut-trough street mentioned in Konkol’s article) already has some serious traffic problems based on the development that has occurred on division, and likely also warrants a look at if you do write such an article.

    Between the proposed Trader Joes on Division–which is another situation where area residents concerned on increase traffic loads have been assigned the NIMBY label by people who want to see a TJs there (not by you guys, I know, but by many others)–and the proposed BRT plan (which, even if minimal as you claim, will add some traffic to a street that may not be able to handle much more in light of development in the area), a very real danger exists as to problematic increased traffic loads on Wood at this point.

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