Today’s Headlines

  • Citylab Wonders If Chicago’s Loop and Ashland BRT Routes Will Be Robust Enough
  • Wilson Station Rehab Work Will Slow Inbound Commutes on Red, Purple Lines (RedEye)
  • Here’s Why the On-Time Rate of Different Metra Lines Varies Wildly (Tribune)
  • Fatal Metra/Car Crash in Woodstock Blamed on Slick Road Conditions (Tribune)
  • Trucker in Fatal I-88 Crash Admits He May Have Been Drowsy (Tribune)
  • NBC Looks at the $400 Million Block 37 Superstation Boondoggle
  • FiveThirtyEight Argues Chicago Should Set Yellow Light Times to Accommodate Speeders
  • Opinion: Uber Needs to Clean Up Its Act If Its Going to Succeed in the Future (Crain’s)
  • Abus Bike Lock Company Moves to New Office Near SRAM Corporation (Bicycle Retailer)
  • Streetsblog Supporters Barton Crouch & Ruth Rosas Win Active Trans Volunteer Awards
  • Public Meeting on Pedestrian-Friendly Touhy/Ridge Reconfiguration on March 5 (DNA)
  • CDOT Will Discuss Bike-Unfriendly Belmont/Western Remix at Meeting Tonight (DNA)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Due to a funding shortfall, Streetsblog Chicago has suspended publication of orginal articles. Please see Streetsblog Editor-in-Chief Ben Fried’s message about the hiatus, and my post about the effort the revive the site via local fundraising. In the meantime, I am continuing to produce Today’s Headlines on a volunteer basis as a service to readers.

The Chicago Community Trust, a charitable foundation that was one of the early funders of SBC, has been impressed by the outpouring of support the site has received since we announced our hiatus on January 8. Thanks to the generosity of sponsors and readers like you, by February 16, we had raised $34K of the $75K needed to fund a year of operations.

As a result, CCT has very generously offered us a challenge grant. If Streetsblog reaches $50K in donations and sponsorships by our April 8 deadline to reboot the site, the Trust will provide the last $25K needed to resume daily publication of original reporting. In other words, our finish line is within sight.

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  • That 538 article on yellow light timing. The information is nothing new, but the chart is handy comparing what the yellow light duration would be according to different ways of calculating it. The chart is misleading, though, by suggesting we have streets with speed limits greater than 40 MPH.

    What bugs me is that they’re advocating a yellow light increase – but not necessarily settling on which formula is best – to reduce ticketing; the article makes no mention of crashes and safety except to link to the Chicago Tribune’s own study that ignored crash and injury severity.

  • jeff wegerson

    It’s my opinion that count-down times moot much of the concern around yellow lights.

  • jeff wegerson

    Nice BRT article. I haven’t read the parking fiasco contract but it seems to me that if you remove parking on say Ashland now that tomorrow the side streets should become as valuable as the spaces lost. So I would think that there should always be places to trade for. Likely there is some language that works in Morgan Stanly’s favor that kills that option.

    So how much would it cost to buy that contract back. With low interest rates now it seems that it could be doable. Especially if the cost could be kept near the original cost plus some more for whatever. There has to be a way to undo it with sufficient political will. I always thought the first step would be to convict Daley of theft of City Property or some other malfeasance.

    Anyone want to comment on Chuy’s likely or even stated Ashland BRT stance? I would think he could be convinced at least.

  • Any contract buyout would require probably a $2B+ lump sum payout, which I don’t see any way the city could lay hands on to spend all at once.

  • I’m for the Ashland and downtown bus lanes (and putting more in on other heavy arterial commute corridors, especially east-west to feed the trains), but like the activists quoted in the article, I really don’t see why people are looking at a modest bus-lanes project (with purpose-bought special busses) and trumpeting “WOOHOO BRT YAAAAY!”

    They’re bus lanes. Bus lanes that, without significant harsh enforcement, are going to be full of taxis and cars. It’s nice, and very useful, but it’s not in any way akin to trains in terms of level of service.

  • what_eva

    It’s actually not that hard. M-S sold the proceeds for well more than that, so why couldn’t the city bond it out based on the meter income? (ie borrow against the income instead of selling the asset).

    I suspect there is no buyout provision and that Rahm’s “improvements” made that more ironclad.

  • You can’t get a bond on something you don’t own yet, I’m pretty sure.

    Have you watched the city try to scrape up even hundred-million sums lately? Political napalm.

  • jeff wegerson

    Not sure I understand your thought here.

    Exclusive bus lanes are not modest. It is the heart of the most outspoken criticisms.

    You may be right about the lanes being abused. But I don’t think so. The vast majority of drivers obey traffic laws. The major exception is speeding, of course. But otherwise, for instance, when the expressway fills up how often do you see a car taking the shoulder? Me? Rarely. I see it but not very often.

    I think your comparison with trains shows your concerns here. You probably are someone who is a really strong supporter of trains and you may see BRT as competition. I see BRT as a potential slippery slope to rail.

    But you may see a BRT failure as foreclosing on a potentially more popular rail effort. And in that case I agree with you. I will join your organized effort to build an Ashland Avenue exclusive lane street-car/tram system.

  • jeff wegerson

    Two billion? Peanuts compared to revenue gained. The feds could print and loan Chicago the money at 0.25% interest over 20 years.

  • what_eva

    Sure you can, it’s similar to a mortgage on a house.

    And it would be a lot easier than the general tax revenue bonds they’re trying to raise because of the defined revenue of the meters.

  • The Feds could have bailed out Illinois’ pension underpayment problem (because the problem isn’t the pensions, it’s that the state has been habitually refusing to set money aside) four years ago and laid the basis for future strong economic growth, but they’re really not interested in doing any such thing.

  • R.A. Stewart

    I think you are right. I know I would find it helpful when driving.

    One aspect that I haven’t seen explicitly discussed much, but that I think is particularly important in the Chicago context, is the issue of trust. City Hall’s relationship with the city’s residents and visitors has for many years, I think, been widely perceived (deservedly, I further think) as predatory. It’s “gotcha governance,” the equivalent of the “gotcha capitalism” (author Bob Sullivan’s phrase) that we are all too familiar with. What the author of the 538 article says about red-light cameras, “it may be the nickel-and-diming that hurts the most,” could be said about almost any aspect of life in Chicago that our local government is involved in.

    I am not saying ditch the program. I note that it has reduced side-impact collisions, and I also note that what was once a common sight in our intersections–some fool accelerating from halfway down the block when the yellow light comes on so as to race through a fresh red light at 40 or 50 miles per hour–I almost never see now. So again–I’m *not* saying ditch it–I’m saying make some improvements, including displaying count-down times and going to the yellow light durations recommended by the Institute of Transportation Engineers–not necessarily making the further adjustments for “real driving” or speed limit plus 5.

    I’m saying the City should have known and accounted for the fact that many Chicagoans and suburbanites don’t trust City Hall and have reason not to. When that is the position you’re starting from, and you’re introducing a new program that is going to cost some people money, you have to bend over backwards to be transparent and to show that you are making fairness a priority, if you want it to be accepted. That’s not in the DNA of local government here, unfortunately, but I think if our city officials could learn it, not only would it be better for the ordinary people they govern, they might be surprised at how much easier governance would eventually become.

  • jeff wegerson

    Exactly right. They treat us as the EU treats Greece. Likely we could do better as our own country with our own money system. Or course we might have to include the deadbeats in Milwaukee and Detroit, but we might get St. Louis and/or the Twin cities in the mix as well.

    Of course I am suggesting a loan not a bail out for the parking.

  • I guess if crosswalk countdown timers are also useful to motorists to avoid crashing into each other, then that makes a second good reason to install them!

  • jeff wegerson

    Or even fess up. The Rahm Regime (and the others before them) could say, “yes this is a revenue enhancing scheme. Aren’t we all lucky that it falls on the back of bad drivers and maybe might even foster better driving behavior.”

    And signs that read “Revenue Donation Opportunity Ahead – Please drive recklessly.” Ok so take out the second part.

    In my mind the biggest erosion of trust has come from the “neo-liberal” privatization efforts like the parking deal, the charter school efforts and threats like privatizing the water.

  • jeff wegerson

    Since I am a pedestrian at times, yes their primary function is welcomed. Of course, still being agile enough, I do my militant pedestrianism duties by jay-walking the middle of blocks without timer aid. Jay-walking helps drivers too. We utilize gaps in traffic that would otherwise go wasted.

    But the timers have been a wonderful boon for my driving, especially as a stress reliever. Plus I often plan a stop around hitting the zero rather than going through on yellow.