Today’s Headlines

  • Clybourn Protected Bike Lane Meeting Tonight, Hosted by CDOT & IDOT (Active Trans)
  • CDOT Will Review 9,000 of 13,000 “Undeserved” Red Light Camera Tickets (Tribune)
  • Former Redflex Worker Testifies How CDOT Staffer Coached Company To Win Contract (Tribune)
  • Divvy Less Popular Among Women in Hyde Park Than Citywide (Hyde Park Herald)
  • Only 5% of Chicagoans Live Near Their Work (MPC)
  • Lake Shore Drive: Bus Lanes & New Bike Path, Okay; New Shoreline, Forget It (Tribune)
  • Divvy Trips Often Bounded by Expressways, Natural Barriers (Chicago Mag)
  • Gov. Candidate Rauner Asks Quinn to Veto Uber, Lyft Regulation (Crain’s)
  • Metra Investigates More Engineer Lapses This Year Than Last (Daily Herald)
  • FK Law Illinois (Sponsors) Joins National Bike Lawyers Collective (My Bike Advocate)

Read about today’s national news at Streetsblog USA.

  • Cameron Puetz

    I’m not surprised at all that many Divvy trips are bounded by interstates. There are very few safe places to cross interstates on a bike, so it makes sense that few Divvy users do make the crossing. Sort segments to contact routes separated by interstates have long been an overlooked need in planning additions to Chicago’s bike network.

  • ohsweetnothing

    Thank you for putting the scare quotes around “undeserved”. I’ve yet to see the Trib (or anyone really) show any evidence that the citations issued were in fact unfair or for non-violations.

  • The Tribune offering the ticket data (4 million citations) for download so the public can analyze the data. I may try this…

    Download here:

  • The Rock

    What if I told you that you can ride them across a bridge?

  • During the Streets for Cycling 2020 Plan public planning process, a lot of feedback was given from Chicagoans about the difficult, frustrating, and scary experiences they had riding under and over the interstates.

    The SCP2020 plan and subsequent bikeway expansion have failed to address these concerns.

  • Cameron Puetz

    Many streets have a different lane configurations on freeway over/underpasses than on either side of the freeway. Often a street that is two lanes with a bike lane will briefly become four lanes with no bike lanes. This brief configuration change encourages aggressive passing on the right and dangerous traffic patterns.

  • Cameron Puetz

    I remember several of those meetings. It seemed like everyone except CDOT wanted to talk about interstate and river crossings. CDOT wanted to talk about PBLs and other trendy things that had grant money available.

  • The Rock

    I may be mistaken, but isn’t the state responsible for roads that go over/under highways? This could explain the inconsistencies.

  • Not really. The state, whether or not they have jurisdiction on that route, allows the city to take responsibility. The state just needs to be involved in the planning.

  • CDOT has planned buffered bike lanes, separated with flexible posts, for the Belmont bridge over the Chicago River at Rockwell.

  • Cameron Puetz

    How far away from the bridge does this project extend? Belmont seems like an odd choice of bridge to improve since the rest of the street isn’t particularly bike friendly. I’d rather see the effort put into a street that is good except for the river or highway. Fixing the Logan freeway underpass and the Diversy bridge would create decent route from Cicero Ave to Lincoln Park. Fixing those two trouble spots would create a 6 mi E/W route by improving less than 1 mi of road.

  • skyrefuge

    Yep, so far I’m the only one I’ve seen who has done any actual analysis ( ), and my conclusion at two intersections was that if anything is “wrong”, it’s that many drivers are going uncaught. Now with this reinvestigation being triggered, we’re coming gleefully closer to a moment where the city says “Thanks Trib, for pointing out all those violators we were missing, we’re gonna fix that!”

    Is anyone else doing any reporting/analysis on this? The Trib is driving it into the ground, but they’re just repeating their own biased narrative so that’s pretty useless.

  • skyrefuge

    Problem is, that’s an unsupported conclusion drawn from the same map visualization that was linked here a few weeks ago. The author of the piece looked at a bunch of maps and saw interstates acting as barriers. I looked at the exact same maps and saw Divvy routes simply tending to stay within a small area, regardless of whether there was an interstate nearby.

    It’s ironic how the article highlights the value that comes from the uniqueness and precision of the Divvy data, and then immediately turns around, looks at a map where that precise data is blurred, and then subjected to our human visual biases that cause us to see patterns where they don’t exist. “We have all this great data, now let’s draw the world’s most half-assed and error-prone conclusions from it!”

    At least this time the map-creator attempted to set him straight: “It’s just an inference from the visualizations, not proof. As Gaster put it, the visualization is a good starting point to generate hypotheses; it’s not, in and of itself, a statistical test.”

  • skyrefuge

    hey, thanks, I hadn’t seen that before. Unfortunately, it’s not very useful for a deeper analysis. All it would really do is allow us to search for “spikes” on our own, not analyze the cause of those spikes. For that, we really need the visual evidence, which is still a PITA process of entering 2 fields into a web page and passing a (surprisingly-difficult!) captcha. And with no videos available, any analysis of right-on-red violations is essentially impossible.

    At best it will allow a more-rigorous analysis of the appeal-rate and appeal-success-rate at individual cameras, to see if they did in fact change significantly during the “spikes” (which the Trib tried to claim, but did not support).

  • The plan is to have a bike lane from Kedzie to Halsted.

  • Does the Tribune’s data set they have for download include a traffic count?

    The speed camera data includes the number of vehicles passing it each day. So you see spikes on weekends and holidays when there are fewer cars being driven (thus more room to speed).

    I made this very simplified graph.

  • cjlane

    “Fixing the Logan freeway underpass [to provide a safe-feeling biking experience]”

    Yeah, that’s a helluva task. That intersection is fooked up for *everyone* (peds, bikes, drivers, buses) in *all* directions. Which is one reason I think that the Western Viaduct removal project zone should extend south of Jones.

    The best solutions involve a significant reconfiguration of the space under the railroad.

  • IIRC, interstate and river crossings are both IDOT’s jealously guarded turf. But if that’s true, then I’d say CDOT does a poor job of making it clear.

  • Wait, then why _hasn’t_ the city taken responsibility for fixing all those nonsensical overpass configurations?

  • cjlane

    “Only 5% of Chicagoans Live Near Their Work”

    The dataset is sort of silly–basing it on Community Area.

    Thus, someone who lives just south of the river in the Loop, and walks less than one block across the river to their office in River North (or vice versa; or east and west, or across Roosevelt) is “not living near their work”, is “commuting”–counting the same as someone who lives in the Loop, but works in Lake Forest.

  • skyrefuge

    No, it’s just a list of violations, with a timestamp, vehicle identifier, and location (but not even the leg of the intersection at which the violation occurred).

    From the single-location graphs on their website, I was actually a little surprised that I couldn’t visually identify weekends with violation-counts, like you can with the speed cams, but perhaps that would become visible in a system-wide analysis (which would be another new thing that could be done with the data, along with seeing effects of weather). Or maybe their captured violations are just so noisy and random that there are no patterns to be found!

  • ohsweetnothing

    I was going to echo Jennifer’s comment. If recent memory is any indication, it doesn’t appear like CDOT and IDOT collaborate all that well with each other.

  • Brian

    So do you know for a fact that those tickets were “undeserved?”
    Let me ask- do you realize the entire program was built on a bribe? Do you really think Redflex is a reputable company?
    Who are YOU to judge whether or not those tickets were issued properly?
    It’s amazing that you anti-car people lose your ability to draw logical conclusions.
    ALL photo enforcement is about taking in money. It has NOTHING to do with safety, and in many cases makes the roads less safe.
    Here’s a good example- a driver constantly looking at their speedometer so they don’t get a ticket, may not see you riding your bike! And bam! You’re hit!
    Be careful what you people wish for!
    And take a moment to think before you speak.
    Oh, and keep in mind, the tribune is an actual newspaper, with credibility. Something Streetsblog lacks.

  • Brian

    Must be nice to not have a job and live off government cheese to have time to do your own “analysis”
    I read your other comments- why do you think the city should be catching more “violators?”

  • ROFLcopter


    “I read your other comments”

    Stalker. Maybe you’re the one living off “government cheese.” (I hope you’re not lactose intolerant).

    So you went from being a far right wing Republican who advocates cutting government benefits to a far left wing Democrat who is soft on crime. SMH make up your mind.

  • skyrefuge

    If you’ve read my other comments, you should have seen my rationale for that belief, but I’ll restate it here as clearly as possible.

    The Trib cites the Halsted, Fullerton, and Lincoln intersection as one of “the most dramatic examples” of a “spike”. The “spike” occurs August 2nd and 3rd, 2012. After averaging 5 violations per day for the month prior, the average suddenly leaps to 35 per day for those two days, before returning to 5 per day. Definitely a dramatic spike, no argument there.

    I looked at the photographic evidence for every one of the 30 tickets issued on August 3rd, and every single one appeared legitimate. For every violation there are two photos. The first photo shows a red light and the offending vehicle not yet in the intersection, and the second photo shows the light still red and the vehicle in or past the intersection. You can (and should!) repeat the exercise yourself quite easily if you don’t trust my analysis.

    So this “spike” was clearly NOT caused by invalid tickets being issued because of mechanical or human error. It is because 35 people per day definitely drove through a red light.

    This leaves only two possibilities in my mind:
    1) Something on these two days caused 7 times as many people to drive through red lights as normal.
    2) 35 per day is actually the “normal” number people who drive through red lights at this intersection, but due to human or mechanical error, an average of only 5 per day receive tickets.

    If you have any explanation for why #1 would be true, I’m all ears. But until then, #2 seems like the more likely possibility.

    Note that this analysis only applies to this one intersection. However, I have sampled around a dozen other intersections and never seen a straight-through-the-intersection ticket that was issued in error. Again, you can verify this yourself. Right-turn-on-red violations are a somewhat different story, as a video would be needed to detect whether the vehicle came to a stop before turning right, and those videos no longer exist.

  • ohsweetnothing

    Looks like we’re playing fast and loose with the word “good” today, huh.

  • Fred

    Yes, I am a perfect example. I live in River North and walk or bike to my job in the Loop. By nearly every definition, I live near my work, yet not according to the MPC.

  • Brian

    No, I don’t live off government cheese.
    I did look at about 5 of the violations at the H/L/F intersection.
    They do appear legitimate to me, although the video is not very clear, and in some it is very difficult to see the lights.
    One theory is that there was error with the camera, and maybe dates/ times were improperly recorded, and so Redflex falsified the dates/times of earlier violations. Which could explain why some intersections see a blackout period before the spike.

    I tried to see if I could find inconsistencies in the weather, but I could not.