Most commuters, visitors and residents in Chicago’s Loop can quickly identify the biggest transportation challenge: moving east-west across downtown.
Whether you’re walking, biking or riding transit, getting across the Loop is often frustratingly slow and unpredictable, particularly during peak rush hour times.
That’s why the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) is installing a new rapid transit corridor this year with dedicated bus lanes on Washington (image below) and Madison, and connections to Ogilvie and Union Stations in the West Loop.
In addition to transit riders, the project also will benefit people walking and riding bikes. Existing bus shelters will be relocated from the sidewalk and replaced with new stations on the corridor, opening up sidewalk space for people walking. People riding bikes will be able to take advantage of new protected bike lanes on Randolph and Washington.
The data shows the vast majority of people are riding transit, walking or biking to get around the Loop. Buses carry nearly half of all travelers in vehicles on Washington and Madison, yet travel as slow as 3mph during rush hour, or walking speed.
With construction beginning this spring and service scheduled to launch later in 2015, we’re stepping up our advocacy efforts to help ensure the project is implemented efficiently with the benefits promised to people riding transit, walking and biking.
We are looking for Loop commuters and residents who use the corridor regularly and can provide feedback on their experience. Activities may include sharing their stories with our members and supporters, speaking with a reporter about transportation in the Loop or signing on to a letter of support.
Images courtesy of the CTA.
Congratulations to Lakemoor, Illinois for adopting the nation's third-best Complete Streets Policy in 2014!
The Best Complete Streets Policies of 2014, released by Smart Growth America’s National Complete Streets Coalition, examines and scores each of the 74 Complete Streets policy enacted in 2014.
The report outlines ten ideal elements of a Complete Streets policy and scores individual policies based on these ideals. Lakemoor's policy scored an impressive 88.8 points out of 100!
Lakemoor, a village of nearly 6,000 residents that straddles Lake and McHenry counties in Chicago's North Suburbs, was inspired to adopt Complete Streets through its participation in We Choose Health, an initiative of the Illinois Department of Public Health and McHenry County Health Department and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Active Trans was delighted to provide technical assistance on the project by identifying model policies, helping define a process for policy development, and helping identify tactics for adoption and implementation.
Lakemoor joins an increasing number of Illinois municipalities and counties that are embracing Complete Streets principals as a key component of improving community health and wellness. Congrats to Lakemoor for the win!
Teamwork Englewood sincerely expresses our condolences to the family, friends and colleagues on the passing of JoAnn Thompson, 16th Ward Alderman.
This comes as unfortunate news for Greater Englewood as the community loses a long time resident, a great leader and a valuable asset.
The Alderman was devoted to her constituents and she worked diligently on improving the conditions of the communities in the 16th Ward.
Teamwork Englewood wishes her family and colleagues GOD Speed.
That walking and biking takes a back seat to driving in most cities is never more apparent than after a good snowfall. Even in downtown Chicago, where people moving on foot vastly outnumber those in cars, the streets generally get cleared before the sidewalks.
Making matters worse is the accumulation of snow removed from streets that blocks sidewalks and bike lanes.
Like streets, sidewalks in front of homes and businesses are public spaces. Unlike streets, however, most cities rely on private citizens to clear sidewalks.
Ideally, cities would treat walking and driving with equal respect by plowing sidewalks like they do streets. Forest Park, Winnetka and some other towns do this.
For cities hard-pressed to pay for sidewalk plowing, another option is to select priority "sidewalk snow routes," similar to "street snow routes," that the city will plow.
These would be high foot-traffic routes to schools, transit stops, grocery stores, etc. Cities can also do less street plowing on low-traffic streets and use the savings to pay for plowing sidewalks.
But for now, shoveling sidewalks is usually a civic duty for property owners, and it’s a law in most Chicagoland cities that is rarely enforced.
We are glad to see that Evanston, according to the Chicago Tribune, is doing something Active Trans has been recommending: ticketing owners who don’t shovel, and making them pay the tab for city contractors to do the shoveling.
The Tribune reports that Evanston began ticketing last Thursday, four days after the nineteen inch blizzard ended.
That’s plenty of time for property owners to do it themselves or, if they are physically unable, to find a neighbor, entrepreneurial teenager or landscape company.
Cities should use discretion and sensitivity when dealing with homeowners who perhaps struggle to even find someone else to shovel their sidewalk, and Evanston is doing this by lining up volunteers to help shovel.
The one red flag we see with Evanston’s approach is the bill for a contractor to shovel: $190 per property on average, according to the Tribune.
That seems awfully high, and with that price tag Evanston can skip the ticket and just send the shoveling bill!
Image courtesy of www.pedbikeimages.org / Dan Burden.
I write this blog post with an extremely heavy heart, and a plea to Chicagoland residents: please call 311 (in Chicago) or your local municipal public works department (suburbs) if you observe dangerous roadway conditions.
I failed to do so just a few days ago, and if I had, someone may be alive today.
According to the Chicago Tribune, a man was fatally struck and killed while walking on East 79th Street -- about one-half mile from my home -- early morning by an unmarked Chicago Police vehicle.
While many of the circumstances of the crash are not currently clear (was the man walking in the street due to unshoveled sidewalks? was the police vehicle responding to a call?), one fact has been established: an entire bank of streetlights was out.
I know because I was in that same location just one day earlier, on Monday night Feb. 2. The street was pitch black, and there were many folks walking in the street, which is, as we all know, a necessary evil following heavy snowfalls when sidewalks go unshoveled.
Again, there are likely several factors that may have contributed to this crash. Unshoveled sidewalks? Very likely. Amount of care exercised by the person behind the wheel? Maybe. But the darkness? I'm almost certain.
That stretch of 79th Street is not otherwise well-illuminated by businesses or other ambient light. Having that entire bank of streetlights out was indeed extremely treacherous.
I am pointing the finger of accountability squarely at myself on this one. The Chicago Department of Transportation and Streets and Sanitation cannot be everywhere at all times, and cannot possibly know when its facilities go on the blink.
They in many instances rely on us -- residents -- to alert them to dangerous conditions. Is their response time always perfect? Of course not.
The Trib reports that, according to the 311 log, these lights have been out since at least January 29. But as most Chicago residents know, the more calls to 311 that are placed about an issue, the more that issue rises to the top of the priority list.
So the next time I see a pedestrian signal that is out, or a curb ramp that is torn up, or a crosswalk that's badly faded -- or a bank of streetlights that have failed -- I am going to stop, take 30 seconds to call 311, and hopefully contribute to a quicker solution to a potentially dangerous situation.
I can afford the time. And it might just save a life.
Image courtesy of www.pedbikeimages.org / Dan Burden.