Today’s Headlines for Thursday, August 24

  • CDOT’s Plan for Pedestrianizing Cornell Includes Adding Lanes to LSD & Stony Island (Tribune)
  • Lack of TOD on the South Side, Need for More BRT Discussed at Lincoln Square Forum (DNA)
  • Driver Turns Herself in After Killing Male Pedestrian, 45, and Fleeing the Scene (Sun-Times)
  • Victim’s Attorney: IPRA to Release More Videos of Fatal West Side Police Crash (NBC)
  • Man, 60, Seriously Injured After Collision With Another Cyclist on the Bloomingdale (Chicagoist)
  • Lawsuit: CTA Bus Driver Knocked Down Woman, Ran Over Leg & Foot on NW Side (Sun-Times)
  • Blogger Recommends Defensive Walking as a Response to Dangerous Conditions for Peds (RIC)
  • Where Tickets Are Being Written for Parking in Bike Lanes (WBEZ)
  • Dozens of Protesters Call for Renaming Balbo Drive and Removing Mussolini Pillar (Tribune)
  • Some Recommended Route for Divvy Excursions (RedEye)
  • “Blueprint for Bronzeville” Affordable Housing Activism Doc Screens on 8/28 (Chicagoist)

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  • Chicagoan

    They want to re-name Balbo Drive after Ida B. Wells? That’s a noble thought. But, do we really need a Wells Drive and a Wells Street in the Loop?

    I like the idea of Fermi Drive.

  • Louis Sullivan Drive and statue.

  • Defensive walking? The best defense is a good offense in this case. Militant pedestrianism using all the guerilla tactics we can muster is what is needed from those of us able bodied enough. Yes we will continue to suffer martyrs but the war on pedestrians must be fought. Jay walking is one of our best tactics and counter-intuitively often the safest. Most of our casualties occur at corners so especially mid-block jay walking is important. Critical masses are another important tactical weapon. They are responsible for some of the best traffic calming around. And don’t be afraid to use the stiff-arm used by football running backs. Used in cross-walks when we have the right of way against approaching drivers it sends a strong signal that often shames as well. Remember, forcing a car to honk at us is a huge win even as we step back. It does more to high-light bad driving behavior than anything else.

  • Chicagoan

    I like the idea of keeping it Italian. If I’m not mistaken, Fermi left Italy because his wife was Jewish, so he was fleeing the laws that Balbo may have not liked, but he still stood by. Fermi Drive!

  • Unfortunately in my mind his legacy is linked even if only tangentially to nuclear weaponry. I suppose it could be said to be linked to scientific discovery as well. I suppose further that if the column is Italianate that Sullivan wouldn’t want to be associated with it anyway.

  • Carter O’Brien

    Great find re: the WBEZ map on bike lane tickets. I can personally attest to the travesty that is the block of Harrison just east of State.

  • Carter O’Brien

    I was sadly unable to attend the TOD forum, but I would have to say that story supports everything I have been saying for years. Quick summary seems to be:

    “The plan hasn’t looked at what the transit system can handle,”

    i.e., there has not been any long term planning to ensure that new developments are being approved with L capacity in mind.

    “”A disappointment of the ordinance is it’s not being seen on the South Side,” said Schweiterman.

    Why not?

    Because developers are following the market, rather than being forced to lead it, he said.”

    i.e., development is skewing where existing market conditions combined with zoning bumps mean developers will make the most profit, not where communities need the economic stimulus.

    And my personal favorite topic:

    “Transit to get to and from work isn’t enough”

    Facepalm city. Everyone who didn’t simply move here from college to get a job knows this. For starters, schools are located across Chicago. So are hospitals, grocery stores, laundromats, etc. And retirees obviously don’t commute downtown, but planners keep assuming that putting seniors by L stations mean they won’t drive.

    The assumption that everyone works downtown but lives/plays along an L line is exactly why we need more diverse voices in the larger conversation. Chicago’s hub and spoke L system is great in many ways, but with the decline of manufacturing jobs and retail centers within the City limits, it has also shoehorns development and growth in a very unsustainable way. Because yes, “The bus really is the missing link,” but a larger vision of the Circle Line is an even bigger one. BRT will never supplant the desire of people to simply move around Chicago using the L lines.

    Go to the global cities we yearn to mimic, and there you will see light rail coverage integrated in a far more holistic fashion. Guess who isn’t included on any of these lists?

  • Chicagoan

    I wouldn’t put New York’s transit system up with those systems, Guardian.

  • ohsweetnothing

    Why is it developers’ responsibility to ensure adequate transit capacity? Shouldn’t that be placed squarely in the lap of our transit authorities??

    And while I’m also disappointed at the lack of Southside TOD development, I think it also speaks to how underdeveloped ALL of Chicago is that finding suitable TOD development opportunities on the Northside is easy enough that the market doesn’t have to bother looking south…yet. ie – even the highrises springing up in superhot/supergentrified Logan Square are coming out of vacant lots/buildings!

  • Chicagoan

    We quite simply need more TOD in the areas along the L that can handle additional capacity.

    ^ According to this, the Blue Line’s O’Hare branch north of Damen has ‘Available Capacity’.

    But, I do agree that we need developers to follow the market less and lead the market more, but it’s not that easy.

  • Chicagoan

    Sullivan would despise that column!

  • Carter O’Brien

    It is totally not the developers’ responsibility, it is the politicians and agency heads (plannning and CTA) that is where the buck stops. Really, this is a capitalist society – anyone expecting developers to do anything but maximize their profits while minimizing their risk needs their head examined.

    BUT – some of the responsibility also lies with the bike-ped advocates, as many have been willingly bamboozled into promoting TOD. These findings are no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention.

  • ohsweetnothing

    No snark intended at all, but I honestly don’t get where you’re going here. And how are bike-ped advocates being bamboozled?

  • Chicagoan

    Active Transportation Alliance’s support of the TOD ordinance, perhaps.

  • Carter O’Brien

    Read the official CTA studies that Streetsblog themselves posted. Already at/bear max capacity at Western. And this is *before* hundreds of new units come on line, and there is no plan B in the cards.

    As for “we need more TOD,” who is the “we” referring to, exactly? Developers? It isn’t a cry from people living on these corridors, we had a massively vetted community driven plan for density along Milwaukee Ave, TOD had nothing to do with it.

  • Chicagoan

    ‘We’ meaning citizens of the city of Chicago, but by we, I mean the city besides the North and Northwest sides.

    There’s a lot of TOD potential along the Green Line (Both branches.), as well as the Orange and Pink Lines, but all we’ve got to show for it is the Woodlawn Station development.

    What can we do to push development along these lines and make the TOD ordinance beneficial to people beyond the Blue, Brown, and Red lines?

  • ohsweetnothing

    I mean I get who the characters would be, but how are they being bamboozled? Like…I’m a bike-ped advocate, but I’m also someone who’s lived in/around cities of all sizes for most of my life. How am I being bamboozled by supporting more density with less mandated on-site auto infrastructure?

  • Carter O’Brien

    No argument there. How to make it happen? Sell the neighborhood residents on the benefits of increased density. I grew up in Lake View and Logan Square, you don’t have to sell me. People are the lifeblood of a city, no people, no juice.

  • rduke

    “Why is it developers’ responsibility to ensure adequate transit capacity?”

    I ask the same thing of the parking minimums in the zoning code. The market will build until it won’t hold anymore.

    Kill parking minimums and bada bing, the whole damned city turns into one big TOD.

  • Tooscrapps

    As a cyclist/pedestrian, I enjoy fewer curb cuts and fewer vehicles exiting out of garages.

  • Carter O’Brien

    TOD was sold as reducing parking minimums within (500 ft?) a designated area surrounding L stops. Totally understandable. But that immediately was repackaged into massive zoning & density increases for developers.

    Many people on this forum and in the transit planning world (not to mention the affordable housing crowd) knowingly went along with that not-too-subtle bait and switch. Some assume that cramming in more TOD units must lead to better bike infrastructure. Some clearly have/had financial and professional motivations. Others are simply enamored with the idea of fast tracking the already in-motion extension of Lakefront neighborhood/Wicker Park nightlife and dining options northwest. To varying degrees, I’m sympathetic to all of these groups.

    But let’s call a spade a space when we’re talking about what TOD is. It is not getting cars off of the road. There are all kinds of reasons why we may want to convert old commercial corridors to mixed-use ones, but when you are converting a parking lot or a light manufacturing property into a 12 story tower, even if people there drive 50% less than their peers, it is still a large net addition of cars to the area. Personally, I feel the positive tradeoffs on some levels are worth it. But there is a huge difference between the thought and care that went into the City’s existing Milwaukee Avenue corridor plan and the developer gold rush we see now.

    The ones who continue to claim the TOD boom is going to lower rents are the worst. As an econ major I cringe every time I hear “supply and demand, it’s Econ 101”. Such commenters either didn’t pay attention to the nuances in Econ 101 or might want to consider that Econ 201, 301 and beyond introduce all of the complexities and factors that explain why building a supply of luxury housing in a City where international investment drives development leads to displacement. The latest spin – you can’t make this up – is that these master planners are actually providing the affordable housing of the future, being so clever that they are intentionally ushering in luxury TOD developments knowing that they will depreciate and be cheap places to live in 2067.

    IF the goal is to develop a city where access to public transit is a right, not a privilege, we have to recognize how our hub and spokes light rail model means that artificially creating upper-middle class hotspots in working class neighborhoods ultimately results in people of less means getting pushed further away from access to L stops.

    But I see a lot of people fooling themselves into thinking that they aren’t part of that land grab, even as it’s painfully obvious walking down Milwaukee Avenue who is around to enjoy the “new and improved” neighborhood and who has been shown the door. TOD’s build to the moon mutation was always there to fuel the fires of gentrification along the Blue Line, it could not have been more clear. Those of us who said, hey, let’s maybe take this a bit slower and see how this all shakes out & who asked for long term impact studies and a holistic plan were dismissed as NIMBYs, people against progress, people against affordable housing, people who see parking as an entitlement, etc.

    Chicagoan’s comment above about extending the TOD boom to parts of the City that *need* the economic stimulus and better transit infrastructure is spot on. Allowing developers to treat the Blue Line like an oil field ripe for exploration is what I’m irritated about. And allowing them to do it under the auspices of being environmentally friendly urbanists is greenwashing on a nuclear level, and that’s the bamboozlement I’m referring to.

    Sorry for my wordiness here. I really do believe in Streetsblog mission and I applaud them, and Active Trans (where I’ve been a member since 1998), for really stepping up on the need to be more inclusive and to work with communities instead of projecting on to communities what is allegedly good for them. I just wish this courtesy would be extended to the neighborhoods many of us have spent good portions of our lives in. I don’t want to be gentrified out of my neighborhood, and that’s what TOD ultimately means for me, a college graduate with a decent job and a working spouse with the same. People forget the days of the property tax 7% “solution” and don’t understand how the larger economy and how Chicago’s reliance on (and ruthless need to increase) property taxes to fund schools, cops, firefighters, etc is connected.

  • Carter O’Brien

    I despise curb cuts with every bone in my body. But please see my response above – TOD may make a very minute dent in the overall person-to-car ratio, but that is not the same thing as reducing the number of cars on the streets.

  • ohsweetnothing

    1. The density increases aren’t “massive” and most of the properties would need to go through the City’s zoning process with or without the existence of TOD. If you have a beef with said process, that’s a different discussion and probably one that we’re on the same side of.

    2. Your light manufacturing/parking lot conversion example is speculative, to the point where you clearly have examples in mind…examples that don’t fit what several TODs look like today. It’s not all 12 story buildings on former hardware store lots. It can be 4 stories with 9 units and 3 parking spaces.

    3. In general, I gotta say it sounds like you’re stripping the arguments that TOD (and YIMBY) proponents are making of any nuance, good intention, and quite frankly intelligence. Your example of how filtering is discussed for starters. I’m sure they’re out there, but I’ve not heard one single urbanist-minded individual hail filtering as providing the affordable housing of the far flung future. Not one. What I HAVE heard is certain publications CLAIM that is the argument that pro-TOD/YIMBY proponents are making. In a similar vein, saying that TOD is a net positive by allowing development that doesn’t encourage as much auto use is not “TOD is going to get cars off the road!!”. I could go on, but my general point is that disingenuous interpretations doesn’t do serious discussion any favors.

    4. I agree that TOD alone isn’t going to solve housing affordability and can/will in fact create access issues for working/poor Chicagoans. In fact, I’d argue that access is the biggest problem that needs to be addressed in Chicago. But you can and should address access in the city at the same time that you address how development should look in the city as well. Should TOD be tabled until a Circle Line is up and running? Because if I were against expanding transit, I could flip that argument on its head as grounds for never building a Circle Line.

    5. I’ve been gentrified out of two neighborhoods. I’ve gentrified families out of 3 neighborhoods. From the sound of it, YOU’VE gentrified people out of the neighborhood too. All of that happened prior to the existence of TOD, and it was going to happen along the blue line with or without TOD. It just would have looked different that it does now. Is TOD going to fix that by itself? Nope. Is TOD the reason it is happening? Not especially.

    6. Finally as someone who’s worked on, with, and around all sorts of master plans in Chicago…in this city at least, a masterplan is pretty shaky ground to be pro or against any sort of development. Sorry to say.

  • Carter O’Brien

    I appreciate the thoughtful response, alas, no time to respond in kind right now.

    Quickly though, yeah, it’s really the process that is the problem here. And while I don’t doubt there are good intentions by people like yourself in that mix, the people driving the process are the millionaires/billionaires.

    The bottom line is that there’s a fundamental aspect of human nature being ignored here, and that is that rich people want to live around poor people. They do not. And they will find all kinds of ways to push them out of the urban centers/near choice infrastructure, it’s just the way it is.

    As for gentrifying people out of places, not sure I see that one. I was pushed steadily west over 45 years of my life, but have neither flipped property nor raised rents and kicked anyone out of an apartment, if anything staying put for 16 years and counting has provided stability. In fact the vast majority of my neighbors have been around 20, 30, in some cases 50 years. Just because developers now smell profits doesn’t mean they should be run over and disregarded.

    I think we could both agree there are respectful and less so ways to go about development. Would love to meet you in person at some point and chat over a beer or two!