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Council Approves Milwaukee Ave. Bike Counter, Slated for Spring Installation

11:11 AM CDT on November 2, 2016

Illinois Bicycle Lawyers - Mike Keating logo

At yesterday’s City Council meeting, aldermen passed an ordinance, supported by First Ward alderman Joe Moreno, to allow the developer LG Partners to install a bike counter in front of its new building at the northeast corner of Division, Ashland, and Milwaukee. Here’s the announcement from the mayor’s office:

The panels for the bike counter at the the Eco Counter workshop in Montreal. Photo courtesy of LG Partners

An ordinance that passed today will allow the developer of an upcoming transit-oriented development at 1237 North Milwaukee to install an Eco-Totem bike counter on the adjacent sidewalk. The counter will be installed at no cost to the City and will feature a digital display to inform the public about the number people using the city’s most heavily-used bike route. Under the proposed ordinance CDOT will receive a livestream of the data from the counter, which will inform future decisions about bicycle infrastructure in the area. Additionally, the public display of the data can show businesses along the corridor the number of potential customers bicycling by their establishments.

Milwaukee, aka “The Hipster Highway” is well known for its heavy bike traffic, and the corridor has also seen an epidemic of dooring crashes in recent years. Better quantifying the number of cyclists could help build support for reconfiguring the street in Wicker Park to make it safer.

LG Partners received three different proposals for the image panels of the counter, a vertical, rectangular device called an Eco-TOTEM, manufactured by the Montreal-based company Eco Counter, and they asked Streetsblog to host the poll to pick the winner. The design titled “Enjoy the Ride” by Jay Byrnes from design company Fourth is King won with 326 votes out of the 531 total votes cast.

The bike counter project, which includes building a curb bump-out to hold the device, will cost $40,000, of which LG Development is paying the lion’s share. They previously asked the public to chip in the remaining $10,000 via a crowdfunding site, which raised about $3,500. There was some backlash to the funding campaign, according to LG’s Barry Howard. “We got painted on social media as greedy developers, so lesson learned,” he said.

But Howard says he’s excited about being able to add a useful amenity to the neighborhood, which will advertise its bike-friendliness. Eco Counter has already created the panels for the counter with Byrnes’ design. “It came out awesome,” Howard said. While most municipal bike counter designs are merely utilitarian, he said “ours is this wild, pop culture, pop art piece.”

1237 N. milwaukee view 3_compressed_140725
Rendering of the new building at 1237 North Milwaukee. The bike counter will be installed on a bumpout near the intersection.

The device was originally slated for installation this fall but at this point it looks like the bumpout will go in in February, the counter will be installed and tested in March, and a formal ribbon cutting will be held in April, Howard said.

The new building, a stone’s throw from the Blue Line’s Division Station, will include 60 rental units, six of which will be affordable, but only 15 car parking spaces. It will also feature at least 60 indoor, above-ground bicycle parking spaces, which will be accessible from the street via a bike-only ramp. The developer may use some below-ground space to double the number of bike spots. There will also be a pump and a work stand with tools for basic repairs.

This post is made possible by a grant from the Illinois Bicycle Lawyers at Keating Law Offices, P.C., a Chicago, Illinois law firm committed to representing pedestrians and cyclists. The content is Streetsblog Chicago's own, and Keating Law Offices neither endorses the content nor exercises any editorial control.

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