Today’s Headlines for Tuesday, April 17

  • Committee Approves Reilly’s Proposal to Triple Double Parking Fines (Sun-Times)
  • O’Hare Express Hopeful Elon Musk Raises $113M for Tunnels & Hyperloop (Crain’s)
  • Officers Accused of Scheme to Provide Free United Center Parking to Cops (Sun-Times)
  • Developers Propose City’s 2nd-Largest Skyscraper Next to Trib Tower Condos (Tribune)
  • CBS Talks With Residents About the Proposal to Extend Green Line to Obama Center
  • Jim Dalke From Chicago Inno Discusses the Pros & Cons of Dockless Bike-Share With WGN
  • LimeBike and Ofo Have Launched in Saint Louis (Next STL)
  • West Dundee Is Installing Bike Racks Downtown (Tribune)
  • U. of Illinois is Working With Bike Shops to Promote Cycling on Campus (Daily Illini)

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  • Jacob Wilson

    RE triple double parking fines:

    I love everything about this.

    The e-commerce and delivery corporations are a cancer to urban life and have no interest other than their own profit. If only there was some model of consumption where you could go to a local area that had buildings that contained reasonably priced products you could buy and take home that day. Sounds so convenient and sensible! If only…

  • Carter O’Brien

    That model is capitalism. I like shopping local (and by foot) when I can, but we’d be wise not to forget that the reason the e-commerce took off in the first place is because so many of the so-called local Mom and Pop shops were in fact terrible at delivering what people wanted at a reasonable price. I do think the tax-exemption for e-commerce was extended many, many years too long, addressing that imbalance is what we’re going to need to get back to walkable businesses that aren’t simply dog grooming parlors, dry cleaners, bars and restaurants, and other service industries.

  • Jared Kachelmeyer

    I think Amazon does charge sales tax, but it is still a lot cheaper with or without tax on most things.

  • Cameron Puetz

    If only there were a network of pathways that let delivery vehicles pull right up to the service doors and loading docks of buildings. Maybe a path in the back of buildings so that loads didn’t have to be unloaded onto the sidewalk and carried across that path of pedestrians.

  • Carter O’Brien

    Totally agreed.

  • Jacob Wilson

    Local shops are not exclusive to capitalism as an economic system at all. They existed before capitalism and will exist after it. That’s a whole other discussion though.

    I agree that my purchasing power cannot buy the same quality products for the same price locally which is why like most other people I have no choice but to buy many products online.

    That is an issue that can’t be solved through ‘ethical consumption’ or personal consumption habits. As long as companies like Amazon and Walmart are allowed to exploit desperate workers both here and abroad they will dominate the market and make it impossible for local competition.

    If anything unfettered capitalism is what has allowed the experience of the consumer AND the worker (not to mention the environment) to become objectively worse.

    Despite their ideology about convenience it’s just worse in every way to have to buy products online. The social cost is also much higher because it relies on more wasted fuel, cheap labor, increased congestion.

  • Carter O’Brien

    I agree with your larger points here about the shortcomings of capitalism and e-commerce. Totally. But there was no pre-capitalism here. Our “local shops” as an economic and social model in Chicago exist due only to industrial capitalism, the same way the City grew based on property speculation and financing by outsiders after the Great Fire. These things are fundamentally a part of our DNA. The corner store so many of us grew up with was basically a small, inefficient delivery system of goods. There’s a reason people flocked to A&P, Butera, Jewel, Dominick’s, etc. as soon as they had that option (insert Sears, Montgomery Ward, etc for non-foodstuffs).

    This is probably the very best book ever written on the subject: https://owlcation.com/humanities/Review-Natures-Metropolis-Chicago-and-the-Great-West. Bill Cronon is a Professor at UW Madison and (assuming if you haven’t read this already) I guarantee you will see Chicago and our surrounding environment in an entirely new light after reading it.

    And while I share your major skepticism about e-commerce and congestion, I have actually read a few studies suggesting that e-commerce is actually better for cities in that regard, as one truck running around all day delivering packages is still better than all of those people driving to a store to purchase just a few things. Which – sigh – is how so many people live, even in a dense city like Chicago.

  • ohsweetnothing

    “delivery corporations”
    …like USPS?

    Your other beefs with e-commerce and delivery corporations aside, I see far more double parking from food delivery (does that count as “e-commerce” these days?) and passenger pickup/dropoff (rideshare these days, taxis in the old days) and in downtown specifically, where this ordinance will apply…it’s the large trucks with trailers that load and unload from the street.

    UPS and FedEx vehicles are usually small enough to find a curbside space (whether they’re paying for it or whether the space is legal is another thing) and sorry but IMO curbside space is always going to be in high demand as a part of urban life.

  • Jacob Wilson

    I wasn’t specifically talking about mom and pop shops and I have no problem with supermarkets. In fact Aldi is one of my favorite places to shop! I don’t really think small businesses are inherently better and in fact often are hotbeds of exploitation and unethical practices. If it was up to me they’d all be worker owned coops!

    I agree that if everyone drives to pick up their packages it could be less efficient but I think it’s pretty cynical to base a system on the assumption that that model is sustainable.

  • planetshwoop

    This reminds me of my deep hatred of the wholesale businesses on Lawrence Ave, who like to unload a giant semi directly next to a bus stop. Grr.

  • Jacob Wilson

    USPS actually tends to be pretty good about loading. Probably because the drivers are well paid professionals.

    The private delivery corporations like UPS, Fedex, DHL and now Amazon rely heavily on low paid private contractors a la uber. Amazon seems to be the worst by far.

    These drivers are incredibly reckless and inexperienced and one of the worst offenders. The other is, as you said, ride share.

  • planetshwoop

    One of the fascinating things for me (and despisted, honestly) is how Uber will route a lot of people to the EXACT same spot. Cabs have a bit more leeway to pull forward (i guess?) but Uber loves to route people for the Merch Mart all at the same corner of Kinzie and Wells. Which creates a total cluster since it’s the bike lane, and a bus stop, and a major ped intersection… why it can’t use the entrance, or the drive, is beyond me.

  • planetshwoop

    Agree on Amazon.

    Don’t agree about USPS–they like to park curbside more than anyone else, I think.

  • Tooscrapps

    Always gotta tell other cyclists to be careful with that light at in the morning. Seen one too many close calls with an Uber driver turning left onto Wells (after clearing the intersection on a red) and immediately merging across the bike lane.

  • Tooscrapps

    Food and liquor distributors are the bane of bike lanes, especially on Wells.

  • ohsweetnothing

    Did you just state that UPS relies heavily on low paid private contractors?!?

    I’m done here.

  • Carter O’Brien

    Offering a cheers on all this. If I can ever get my behind to a SB gathering and you’re there, a beer (or two) on me!

  • Jared Kachelmeyer

    I never understood why those types of businesses were there. One would think they would want to be somewhere with more parking.

  • Cameron Puetz

    Those deliveries should go down the alley and straight into the kitchen door.

  • Jacob Wilson

    Turns out I was wrong about UPS but fedex are private contractors. Amazon which have exploded recently are DEFINITELY private contractors. They even rent the vehicles from third parties. The workers driving them obviously have very little training.

  • Fred

    This is pointless. Most of the delivery companies rack up tens of thousands of dollars worth of tickets, then when the city demands payment, negotiate to pay pennies on the dollar.

  • Carter O’Brien

    Private drivers are the same. Doesn’t matter if we’re talking about daycares and schools or private residences or businesses, if it’s perceived as a drop off or pick up, people will double park in front of their desired location instead of using an empty space that would require them having to walk even 50 ft.

    Driving seems to be today’s poster child of American privilege.

  • Anne A

    I deal with FedEx and UPS a lot. There may be some segments of their service that rely on private contractors. I know some of these guys who are long-term employees with decent pay and benefits.

  • Anne A

    It would be great to see you at one.

  • rohmen

    Honestly, I find Amazon to be a pretty mixed bag on savings. Maybe it’s a dollar or so cheaper, but generally I find things to often be the same price.

    What seals the deal for me, and I assume many, is I can order something delivered to my house in 2 days that would otherwise be a pain to get to a store and buy. Not to mention the ability to group things that would require trips to multiple stores. Unfortunately, that advantage to Amazon is the exact cause of the problems we’re all discussing here.