Today’s Headlines for Monday, November 7

  • Sun-Times Looks at the Funding Behind the Safe Roads Amendment Ballot Referendum
  • 1 Killed, 2 Injured After Driver Collides With School Bus in Garfield Park (Sun-Times)
  • Police: Man Posing as Ride-Share Driver Sexually Assaulted Woman (Tribune)
  • Car-Sharing, Ride-Share Companies Offer Discounts for Election Day (Tribune)
  • Demolition of Children’s Memorial Hospital Is Nearly Complete (Curbed)
  • World Series Rally Ranked as 7th Largest Gathering in Human History (Fox)
  • Parade Tested the Limits of the Region’s Transportation Network (Tribune, Chicagoist)
  • Active Trans, Green Line Wheels Tag 200 Bikes With Reminder to Use Lights
  • Lake Shore Drive Construction Uncovers Chicago Fire Debris (Tribune)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • skyrefuge


    I’m resigned to the fact that the mainstream local news outfits will never question the absolutely ridiculous crowd estimates put out by the city, but didn’t expect you guys would parrot the nonsense.

    The “five million” number is likely off by a factor of 10. There was something like 50,000-60,000 people at Hutchinson Field (which you can measure pretty easily with a photo, Google Earth, and 5th grade math), and maybe another 400,000 along the parade route.

    I think there’s actually a Streetsblog story here. I haven’t seen ridership numbers yet from the rally day, but Metra’s previous biggest day ever had only 65,000 more round-trips than an average weekday. CTA’s biggest rail day had 70,000 more round-trips than an average weekday. That’s 135,000 “extra” people. Double that number (assuming some of the regular commuters stayed home), add a bunch on top of that, and you’re at 300,000, a number that already probably far exceeds the capacities of the rail networks to deliver people to a rally. And that number suggests the streets and sidewalks had the capacity to deliver and 4.7 million people, 2 million more than the entire population of Chicago?

    If no one ever fights back against these numbers, the next time someone is looking for increased transit funding, opponents can just say “hey, 4.7 million people got to the Cubs rally by roads, and only 135,000 by transit, so obviously our roads are awesome and why should we spend all those billions on a transit project that moves barely any people?”

    On top of that it’s supposedly the Office of Emergency Management and Communication that pulled that “5 million” number out of their ass, and it seems like there should be a public interest in having a city department with the words “Emergency” and “Communication” in their name not use their ass as a source of quantitative numbers. They might actually *believe* now that having a crowd of 5 million people gathered in Chicago can be done safely, when in reality that would likely lead to a lot of mayhem and death.

  • planetshwoop

    I would highly recommend readers go and check out the Children’s Memorial demo. It’s fascinating to see the guts of a building and the process of taking it down. The team there is VERY GOOD with safety and make bikes a priority if you’re near the area. (For example, there is the name, email, and phone number of the safety manager for the site. And he even responded back when I had a compliment for the flaggers.)

  • Jared Kachelmeyer

    Isn’t there something like ten million people in the Chicago Metro area? I’m pretty sure 1 out of 2 people didn’t attend the rally and I doubt all that many came from outside the area.

  • BlueFairlane

    Here’s what I’d estimate for the downtown portion of the parade route.

    From personal observation coupled with footage I saw on TV, I’d say that all of Michigan Avenue was packed, and every available cross street was packed for about two blocks from Michigan. That gives a total length of packed street of about 29,700 feet. Using the Jacobs’ Method with the belief that crowd density was about 4.5 square feet per person, I get a crowd size of 1.04 million along the Michigan Ave. and Columbus Dr. portion of the parade route. I didn’t personally see the layout at the rally itself or up in Wrigleyville.

    I’d say the 5 million number is off, but I think it’s by a factor of 2 or 3 instead of a factor of 10.

  • ardecila

    Don’t forget the people who crowded around Wrigley and the folks who lined up along LSD. I’m skeptical of the 5M number as well, but we should know more once ridership numbers come out.

    Metra’s previous high ridership day was the last Stanley Cup rally… I rode Metra that day, and only a fraction of riders actually had their ticket punched and their presence recorded by conductors. With the extreme lines for tickets, many riders never even bought tickets. This time there is the Ventra app, so total ticket sales may come closer to the true ridership.

    And for highway capacity, don’t forget that the everyday traffic jams on the expressways include a majority of single occupant vehicles. But events like the Cubs rally significantly increase the percentage of carpoolers, so the capacity of the highway (in people) can double or triple without adding vehicles.

  • BlueFairlane

    I didn’t personally see the set-up at Wrigley or along LSD, so I’m just counting Michigan down to Columbus, where I have a feel for how things were organized. (I watched the parade at Michigan and Illinois). I think Wrigley, LSD, and the rally itself would likely at least match the numbers along Michigan and Columbus or maybe push it a little more. My guess is the true number is around 2.5 million. I’ll be interested in what the ridership numbers say.

  • Anne A

    Regardless of what the actual numbers were at the various sections of the Cubs parade/rally and overall, the event certainly DID test the limits of our transit systems.

  • skyrefuge

    Packed for *two blocks* off of Michigan? The deepest parade-route crowd I saw on TV was standing on Michigan as the route turned east onto Randolph. According to video, it only ever got about 200 feet deep. At Wacker west of Michigan, it got 130 feet deep. With those numbers, even 20,000 linear feet is a generous estimate. So that factor is about 1.5x off.

    And reversing your math, it looks like you converted that linear distance to an area by multiplying it by 157 feet? Where’d that number come from? Most of the Loop cross-streets are less than 70 feet wide, and of course only about 30-40 feet on Michigan were available for standing. So that factor is maybe 3x off.

    Along LSD it looked like it averaged about 1 person deep, so maybe 10,000 people there. And the Addison section wasn’t very dense, I heard an on-the-scene reporter say 4-to-5 deep, so maybe 50,000 in that section.

    All that puts it again near or below the 500,000 mark that I’ll stand by until you can show me some evidence of the “2 blocks deep”.

    And don’t worry, 500,000 is still an insane number of people! I think everyone has just gotten so used to the ridiculous over-inflations from previous rallies, and humans are generally just bad at understanding such large numbers.

    Michigan and Randolph (yes, this was before the parade passed, but you can tell that there’s a distance beyond which people decide it’s too far and they stop packing in):
    Michigan and Wacker:
    Pioneer Court with plenty of room:
    Good wide view of Columbus + half-filled Hutchinson:

  • Carter O’Brien

    I was there and it was hands down the most insanely packed state of downtown I have ever experienced. There were three tourists there from Hamburg, Germany, people from Iowa, people from SE Wisconsin, so I wouldn’t assume you’re on solid ground using the Chicago Metro as your baseline.

  • skyrefuge

    Good point about the missed Metra riders. I’ll note the percentage difference between “previous-peak” and “average” was only 8% for CTA rail (which is presumably measured exactly), while it was 17% for Metra. So I wonder if Metra is already including some kind of “missed fares” estimate in their numbers, or if they have better expansion capability, or if the Metra system is simply more popular amongst rally-goers than CTA trains (any and all would seem like possibilities to me).

    For cars, assuming there are 4 people in every single vehicle, there are 20 available highway lanes funneling into the rally locations, every single one of those people are going to the rally, and each lane is running at maximum throughput of 2000 vehicles per hour, it would take 29 hours to deliver the remaining 4.7 million people. They would have had to start driving right after the final out was made in Cleveland.

    It would still take more than 3 hours to deliver only 500,000 people.

    In reality, according to, inbound traffic on the expressways on Friday morning was barely worse than average (and significantly better than today’s morning rush).

    Every different way I approach the problem, the 500,000 number seems to gain more support.

  • skyrefuge

    The 9.5 million people who live in the “Chicago Metro” includes areas as far away as DeKalb, Rensallaer, IN, and Kenosha, WI, so those SE Wisconsinites may have already been in that baseline. Even if not, if we assume 10% were from out of the Chicago MSA, a crowd of 500,000 would still require 1 of every 21 people in the Chicago MSA. That seems a lot more reasonable than 1-in-2. I’m aware of no more than 10 of my Facebook friends who attended, and since I have 201 friends, that fits about perfectly.

  • Carter O’Brien

    The number itself isn’t terribly important to me so much as it is impressive when compared against other events (which seem to be measured using the same methodology). I have to think we pulled more people than that Rod Stewart concert in Brazil!

    But the truth is we’ll never know barring major resources going to study the footage/aerial photos. That “4.5 sq ft per person” would be the first assumption worth studying. Also, train capacity is not an accurate way to try to calculate the number, it’s an important but not all-in one variable as you can’t say people only entered the City as of x time the morning of the rally, and of course, highway capacity (as people here routinely bemoan) is pretty excessive around Chicago.

    Really, we can’t say with any degree of accuracy what DAY people were coming into Chicago for this, as many came while the World Series was still happening. I met several young guys from Denver while at a bar at Addison and Ravenswood during game 5 who just showed up due to the excitement and were staying with friends. I have no doubt they were still around on Friday.

    So I think your 10% figure is a lowball on several orders of magnitude, as the geographical reach of “the Cubs” extends way beyond the Metro area, which is substantial as all kinds of people either are raised here and then leave, or move here for a significant period of their time and then return where they grew up (think Big 10 graduates across the Midwest). I’ve been going to Cubs games for almost 40 years, you’d be amazed how far people travel to go to a landmark like Wrigley Field & see the Cubs, even when they’re not having a good year.

    In terms of density, I’m picturing sold out concerts at spaces like Alpine Valley, Wrigley at max capacity (~43K), Soldier Field (60K+) and having no trouble seeing several million attendees given the sardine-like packing in of all of us.

    Just look at Wrigley itself – from what I saw there were elbow-to-elbow people surrounding it for some 1/4 of a mile in every direction. I could easily see five hundred thousand people packing the streets just north of the River.

    I do agree 5 million sounds over the top (it’s a bit too nice and neat of a figure), but, keep in mind that this number was adjusted upwards in real time from an initial early estimate of 3 million. It would of course be nice to have more facts about how they come up with the number of all of these events, but the most important thing is that we’re even having a conversation based on the Cubs winning the World Series!!!

  • Carter O’Brien
  • OP Rider

    Active Trans and Greenline Wheels “…recently tagged 200 bikes at the local train stations (in Oak Park) to increase awareness about the importance of using a light.”
    Except you can’t leave lights on a bike at a train station because they’ll get ripped off.
    Maybe they should stick with the schoolkids (and not the high schoolers, either; The Elementary school kids seem to be more their speed) and leave the adults alone.
    Maybe they didn’t notice, but people don’t leave their class ‘A’ bikes near the train. They’re workhorse bikes (I don’t like the term ‘beater’). They’re good bikes, but they’re used mainly to get around town. They don’t go far, and probably don’t cost much. I’d estimate they ride it about a mile, or less.
    Now, that guy taking his bike to his second shift job? He needs a light. Hey, Active Trans, give him one for free. One of those 100 lumen ones you talk about in your video.
    Wonder if the high schoolers got 100 lumen blinkies?


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