Welcome to Steven Can Plan. Here’s some stuff I’ve posted recently around the interwebs…
On my other blog, Streetsblog Chicago, I wrote about how we need to do a better job counting bicyclists.
In Copenhagen, a permanently installed device counts cyclists all day, every day.
And a guy from Brooklyn was visiting his friend in Chicago and was struck by a car whose driver escaped – he spent the night in the hospital for cranial bleeding and went back home on Sunday. The Chicago Police Department is its slow self in getting the lawyer the crash report and witness information.
The scene of the crash.
The Chicago Bike Guide includes my burrito recommendations.
Lastly, on this blog, I boasted about how cool it is that anyone can improve OpenStreetMap: I showed you how much I drew to make Willow Creek Community Church appear in South Barrington, Illinois. It was previously an empty space! If you want something changed on OpenStreetMap, I’ll do it for you.
A screenshot shows what I added: parking lots, parking aisles, driveways, retention ponds, and the church building.
That’s the kind of stuff you can expect from me; my tone isn’t always so negative. I also post a lot of articles about GIS, QGIS, and geocoding, but I haven’t in a while.
A parking meter in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, displays the word “fail”. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.
I want nothing more than to believe Mayor Rahm Emanuel has created a good deal but I believe his own parking meter deal is just as ridiculous as the deal – from Richard M. Daley and 45 aldermen – that preceded it.
Rahm’s deal changes none of what Chicagoans abhor about the current deal, which include:
- It scheduled many price increases, without offering the buyer, those who pay to park, any additional value. Value could come in the form of a parking benefit district, where the revenues pay for local infrastructure improvements.
- The city gets none of the revenue (it collects fines, though).
- It costs us more than we ever expected (disabled parking placard, reimbursement for street closures, road work, and festivals).
- It removes control from the city administration and aldermen over our streets. Thanks goes to Active Transportation Alliance for pointing this out in their excellent June 2009 original report (since retracted and revised) in which the organization said, “As a result [of the lease], planners and neighborhoods have lost control over one of their most powerful urban planning and revenue generating tools.”
It changes nothing that policy makers dislike about it:
- We can’t implement dynamic or market or congestion pricing, unless the revenues for CPM stayed the same or were increased (although this would have to be negotiated).
- It throws another cog into the city’s plans to expand bike lane mileage. We’re already having a difficult time with merchants not wanting to lose parking in front of their store, despite all the evidence pointing to bike lanes increasing revenues. To make way for a bike lane, the metered parking space has to be moved to an equally valuable spot within the same Parking Region. The alderman has to get involved and it’s not an easy process.
Rahm’s deal, which the city council must approve as an ordinance, doesn’t help Rahm’s priorities.
The Active Transportation Alliance report said, “This lease agreement [from 2009] compromised the city’s ability to adjust parking policy; because of the agreement terms, meters will be the primary consideration in the planning of our city streets. Everything else, from traffic flow to pedestrian, bicycle and transit facilities may only be considered after meters and their corresponding income has been considered.”
Rahm’s new deal doesn’t change that, but in fact will likely give CPM the same or more revenues under the plan. It will reduce the chargeable hours by 12 hours on one day (the newly free Sunday) and increase by 1 hour at more valuable times (weekday and weekend evenings) in areas that charge $2 and $4 per hour, and is increased by 3 hours at the same times in areas that charge $6.50 per hour. I’ve attempted to estimate how much more revenue with the spreadsheet below.
The city isn’t saving $1 billion – it hasn’t spent that money and there was no surety that it would; the press release acknowledges this, calling them “ estimated future charges”. The point here is that CPM and the city have agreed on how things like street closures and disabled parking placards will be paid for (by the city). CPM isn’t going to agree to any deal that reduces the value of the company to its shareholders.
No one asked to have free parking on Sunday. No one asked to have free parking on any day. Sunday is the day when people drive the least! If anyone deserves a break, it shouldn’t go to a small segment of the popular (“Sunday churchgoers”, Rahm said, acting as if they’re being harmed, and excluding churchgoers who don’t attend on Sundays), but to everyone who had to pay more than the parking space was worth and anyone who couldn’t get a bike lane in while people are being doored left and right.
Why else is free parking a bad idea? The experts at Active Transportation Alliance wrote:
Underpriced curb parking is a hidden source of traffic congestion and stimulates the most inefficient form of urban transportation. Underpriced parking encourages drivers to cruise for cheap parking, which harms everyone’s health and safety, slows down automobiles and buses behind the cruiser, and provides little benefit to the cruiser. It is a danger to bicyclists and pedestrians because cruisers focus on finding the right spot, not on whether a pedestrian is crossing the street.
It’s this last point, the lack of focus on anything but the parking spot, that is believed to be the cause of a cyclist being severely injured last week on Milwaukee Avenue.
Just like Daley, Rahm didn’t consult the one alderman whose ward might be affected most (it’s unknown if any aldermen were consulted). If this trend of the current city council being the most “rubber stamping” in all time (by my favorite local blogger Whet Moser), I predict it’ll be passed.
|Region||M-Sa||Hrs||Su||Hrs||$/hr||Weekly hours||Total $ per space||M-Sa||Hrs||Su||Hrs||$/hr||Weekly hours||Total $ per space|
|River North (new)||8-24||16||8-21||13||$4||109||$436.00||8-21||13||8-21||13||$4||91||$364.00|
|Central Business District (excludes Loop and River North)||8-22||14||8-22||14||$4||98||$392.00||8-21||13||8-21||13||$4||91||$364.00|
|Neighborhoods. Until 9, maybe 10 PM.||8-22||14||0||0||$2||84||$168.00||8-21||13||8-21||13||$2||91||$182.00|
|Neighborhoods. Until 6 PM.||8-18||10||0||0||$2||60||$120.00||8-18||10||8-18||10||$2||70||$140.00|
Since the number of spaces doesn’t change between the old and new scenarios, there is no need to calculate the total $ per space per region. Revenue estimate assumes the space is always occupied. In the new scenario, proposed by Rahm Emanuel and CPM, all spaces not in neighborhoods have become slightly more valuable, enough to more than make up for the reduced value of spaces in neighborhoods.
Updated May 3, 2013, 15:51 to add a link to the current version of Active Transportation Alliance’s parking meter report and to say that it replaced the original report.
I added a lot of parking lots to OpenStreetMap this weekend, but I also added the Willow Creek Community Church (South Barrington, Illinois) parking lots, driveways, buildings, and retention ponds. I’ll let my before and after screenshots show you what I did. Ian Dees, local organizer for Chicagoland OSM data – he has other roles, too – said there’s an application that can generate these images automatically.
I’m also writing a draft tutorial on how to convert GIS data stored as a shapefile to a format you can import into AutoCAD. GRASS will take a .shp and convert it to .dxf (a geo-aware CAD file).
55th Street road diet from summer 2012. This is the best road diet photo I’ve got. Traffic counts here indicate 15,700 cars daily (based on a single day of measurement in 2006).
“Roadways with Average Daily Traffic (ADT) of 20,000 or less may be good candidates for a road diet and should be evaluated for feasibility”, via FHWA. The documents – here’s the second one – I’ve found so far on FHWA’s website don’t explain the research behind this assumption. How should a road be evaluated for feasibility? The second one bases review of a street on crash type, severity, and rate.
View 4600 W Foster Avenue in a larger map. Alderman Laurino is correct in her description of how many lanes are here. The road is only striped for 1 lane in each direction.
This concerns me because CDOT seems to have adopted this as a policy. They are using it as a reason to not consider a road diet on Foster Avenue. However, though, Foster Avenue between Pulaski Road and the Edens Expressway has only “1 and a half lanes” in each direction, according to local Alderman Marge Laurino of the 39th Ward (see John Greenfield’s interview below, which is an expanded version of one published on Grid Chicago in two parts).
Greenfield: Where in your ward would you like to see speed cameras installed?
Laurino: Well right now I don’t know that we have locations that would fit some of the criteria that we’re looking at. Currently I think the ones that they’re putting in are going to be where there have been pedestrian fatalities and I don’t know that I have anything that fits that really strict criteria but I would… Just a suggestion, Foster Avenue in front of Gompers Park. I mean it’s often times an area where cars really speed because for whatever reason, where there are no homes and that and it’s just wide-open parkland people just seem to hit the accelerator. I don’t know why that it but it appears to be the case.
JG: Is that a long stretch with no stoplights?
ML: From Pulaski to Cicero it’s a long stretch and it’s not one lane. I want to call it one-and-a-half lanes. There really shouldn’t be two lanes of traffic going in one direction but they seem to squeeze that in. So anyway that might be a potential place for a camera. We’re also looking at something called a road diet, where we just, through paint markings and paint striping, make the street narrower. That would be on Foster Avenue, let’s say between central Park and Cicero.
JG: Is there any talk of putting in bike lanes there to take up the extra space?
ML: No, for whatever reason it doesn’t fit their criteria.
A mapping party! Photo by MapBox.
I use OpenStreetMap (OSM) heavily since I learned how to edit the map. OSM is the Wikipedia of worldwide mapping: it allows anyone to edit and contribute and allows anyone to copy and extract the data.
I edit places that lack information, fix mistakes (like how roads are drawn, or typos), and add new places. This work is important to my app because what is shown on OpenStreetMap is what appears in my iOS app, the Chicago Bike Map app.
The Chicago Bike Map app map tiles currently look like the above screenshot. Before releasing the next version I will download the latest version of “planet”, which has 100% of buildings now, thanks to Ian Dees.
When I locate a place that needs more detail and I want to add it, I open JOSM.app and then, on the OpenStreetMap.org website, I click “Edit>Edit with Remote Control”. JOSM pans over to that spot and downloads all of the OSM data. It works very much like a GIS application and AutoCAD: it has points and polygons that you can move or resize. When you’re done adding features or editing the geometry or metadata of existing ones, click “Upload data”, add a message summarizing the changes you made, and hit the “Upload” button.
Screencast showing how I locate places to which to add detail and then add them with JOSM.
Your changes will be integrated in the OSM database almost immediately. The changes will appear on the live OpenStreetMap.org map tiles in minutes. The “extract services”, which take the data out and send to you as a compressed file or even ESRI shapefile, will read the “planet” file (complete OSM database) soon; some update nightly while others update weekly.
Here are the extract services I use (each one for different reasons):
- BBBike.org – nightly; allows you to select any area with a self-drawn polygon; exports in ESRI shapefile and other formats; extracts take 15-30 minutes.
- Michal Migurski’s Metro Extracts - monthly; has ~100 cities pre-extracted; this is now hosted on Smart Chicago Collaborative’s resources alongside my Crash Browser.
- GEOFABRIK - nightly; all continents, many countries and all fifty states are pre-extracted;
These are copied straight from the Smart Chicago Collaborative website. I will be at the Map-a-Thon. I’m still thinking about the Hackathon. While I can’t program in the languages required, I can write decent documentation.
Beginning mappers are invited to be a part of a national OpenStreetMap Map-a-thon by learning how to use our tools to improve the map in your area. You can add your favorite restaurant or comic book store, a local school or hospital. During the map-a-thon we’ll walk you through the process of finding your area, creating an account, and making your first edit. With that foundation, you can go on to make an impact by adding tons of information relevant to you and your community!
Attend the Map-a-thon April 20th and 21st at 1871 on the 12th floor of the Merchandise Mart, 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza from 12 PM to 6 PM. Participants will enjoy food and drinks thanks to Smart Chicago Collaborative.
For more information about the map-a-thon and to RSVP, please visit the Meetup page for the event.
OpenStreetMap Hack Weekend
If you know your way around a compiler, feel comfortable with JSON and XML, or know the difference between an ellipsoid and a geoid, then the Hack Weekend is for you. We’re looking for those with technical know-how to help make a difference in OpenStreetMap’s core software by writing patches and new software to help make mapping faster and easier. Special thanks to Knight-Mozilla OpenNews for their support and sponsorship.
The hack weekend will be held April 27th and 28th at 1871 from 9 AM to dinner time each day.
About Steven Can Plan
I started this blog in 2007 as the writing assignment for an introductory urban planning class at UIC. It's about cities (mainly Chicago), GIS oftentimes, and transportation (mainly bicycling). Learn more about me, Steven Vance. I also write for Streetsblog Chicago.
Steven Can Plan is hosted on Dreamhost.
Chicago Bike Map App
The Chicago Bike Map app is a bike and street map stored entirely in your iOS device – no data connection required. The map is designed to look much like the City of Chicago's official printed and online bike map. The app works on iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
Highly Recommended Bike Products
I've used this pannier to carry groceries, books, my laptop, clothing, anything. I like it because it's stylish (but also "normal" looking at the same time), stands up on its own, is extremely durable, and has the most universal attachment system: two hooks.
Bells can be quite useful, especially to tell people in front that you're passing them. I like the ding-dong bell the best. It makes a solid DING and then DONG on the spring's return.
The best value taillight. It has three red LEDs that alternate and provide extreme brightness. I have two of these.
Instant City: Life and Death in Karachi by Steve Inskeep
I reviewed this book that the publisher sent to me.
The Practice of Local Government Planning (Municipal Management Series) by
You could basically design and administer a new town kind of effectively after reading this huge and boring textbook.
The Death and Life of Great American Cities (50th Anniversary Edition) (Modern Library) by Jane Jacobs
Sustainable Transportation Planning: Tools for Creating Vibrant, Healthy, and Resilient Communities (Wiley Series in Sustainable Design) by Jeffrey Tumlin
I was sent a review copy. I'm really excited to open it up and start reading because I've been disappointed with textbooks in the past that don't focus on bicycle and pedestrian planning.