Tagevent

Why architects should learn OpenStreetMap

I’m teaching OpenStreetMap 101 at the first MaptimeCHI.

Architects will learn that OpenStreetMap can be used as a data source when developing projects and as a basis for designing custom maps in project publications (website, anthology, monograph, client presentations).

This meeting is about getting an introduction to OpenStreetMap and learning to make your first edit in the “Wikipedia of maps”.

Thursday, July 17th, from 6-8 PM
Thoughtworks office
200 E Randolph St

RSVP on EventBrite.

Here are two examples of how architects could use OpenStreetMap data.

Example 1 of how to use OpenStreetMap. Instead of publishing a screenshot of Google Maps in your documents or website, create a custom design map like this without having to spend so much time tweaking it in Illustrator. This map was created by Stamen Design using TileMill.

Example 1 of how to use OpenStreetMap. Instead of publishing a screenshot of Google Maps in your documents or website, create a custom design map like this without having to spend so much time tweaking it in Illustrator. This map was created by Stamen Design using TileMill.

And the second.

Willow Creek Church on OpenStreetMap: After

Here’s one example where OpenStreetMap could be useful. Let’s say you’re working on a site plan for Willow Creek Church in South Barrington and you need a general layout of the parking lot. 1. You can get it from OpenStreetMap because it’s already there. 2. You can draw it in OpenStreetMap yourself (to benefit all other OSM users) and then extract it as a shapefile.

Maptime is time for mapmaking and it’s taking the country by storm.

The Green Lane project is announced in Chicago

I covered this event for a Streetsblog article (which has been delayed). Essentially the Bikes Belong Foundation and its donors are trying to get “better bike lanes” (Euro-style) installed faster across North America. It’s more of a strategic planning thing; the money isn’t going to be used for paying for construction of the bike lanes.

It’s about knowledge sharing and technical assistance and documenting the process. Eventually this knowledge will be shared with all cities in the whole country. But essentially, Austin, Texas, can use this network to be able to get some help from Chicago or San Francisco, without incurring on those cities’ ability to quickly get their own lanes in.

See all photos from the soirée and then the next day’s press conference (Wednesday, May 30, and Thursday, May 31).

I am somewhat impressed that the director of the Federal Highway Administration*, Victor Mendez, pictured above, came from Washington, D.C., to tell us about the federal government’s support for bike lanes. I wish he could have said the same thing about House Republicans’ support. They’re against transit, too. I asked Victor to tell transportation secretary Ray LaHood to read Grid Chicago.

Watch this video by Nick Brazinsky. I believe he was hired by Bikes Belong to shoot it. That he roller skates to take video makes the film a little cooler.

The Green Lane cities are:

  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Austin, Texas
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Portland, Oregon
  • San Francisco, California
  • Memphis, Tennessee (this one’s inclusion is exciting)

* The FHWA administers bike lane funding, as well as funding for roads and highways. They are in charge of the CMAQ, Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality, funding program.

Listening to Jeanne Gang

Buy the book, Reveal.

Jeanne Gang is Chicago’s “in-house” starchitect. Sure we’ve got Adrian Smith (Burj Khalifa), but he’s jumping around the world while Jeanne (like Jeanie) has been maintaining Chicago’s status as a city with architectural and design marvels.

Architecture critic Lynn Becker calls her part of the Chicago “third school”:

Gang, Garofalo, Ronan, and other local rising stars are on the verge of defining a third Chicago school of architecture, following in the footsteps of Sullivan, Burnham, and Root in the 19th century and Mies van der Rohe in the 20th. This new school won’t be characterized by the kind of uniform visual style that marked the architecture of Mies or Frank Lloyd Wright, but by diversity, changeability, and an intellectual restlessness that compulsively tests accepted wisdom. (From the Chicago Reader)

People around here know her for the Aqua Tower (see my dramatic photos) and J.C. Gabel and her talked a lot about it at a recent book release party in the Stop Smiling storefront at 1371 N Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park. But enough about that tower, I’d rather mention something else.

In the photo above you see a model of interior of a University of Chicago study room. Think about all the dramatic films that take place in heralded college campuses: the study room in the library is a big hall with desks in neat rows for quiet, private research. But more often students must work in groups and need closed off spaces to avoid disturbing others. So Studio Gang Architects envisioned little cubicle rooms and built the 3D model of the study room and then threw in an ice cube tray to represent the cubicles.

Said Gang about the ice cube tray, and I’m paraphrasing, “Our studio, like many others, has a 3D printer so we can quickly create models of our work. But all the models end up looking the same. We just wanted to envision it differently.”

One of the coolest parts of the evening was when this self-identified substitute teacher (in above photo) stood up to talk about one of his students, an 8th grader who has a knack for drawing and 3D computer design. Someone at the school asked the student to design a new campus building. The teacher was concerned about the student’s design being stolen or ripped off and wanted advice on how he can protect his work. Jeanne laughed and said she didn’t think she would be asked to talk about copyright laws tonight. She then said that the student should continue his passion for drawing and that manual drawing was a dying but still revered skill. Jeanne agreed to meet with the student and teacher afterwards to take a look at his drawing. (I saw the drawing on paper the student made as well as the version he drew in Google SketchUp – very impressive.)

Buy the book, Reveal.

Bike To Work Days have a positive correlation with cycling rate

Today is Winter Bike To Work Day in Chicago at Federal Plaza. If the results below are true, we should hold this event weekly during the winter! Held on January 20th to celebrate the coldest temperature on record, in 1985.

I was looking for research on why more people don’t ride bikes, or why they don’t ride bikes more often. I started my search on Professor John Pucher’s website at Rutgers University and found this about Bike To Work Days and other promotional events.

There is some evidence that BWDs increase bicycling beyond the event. The number of “first time riders” has increased in many programs: in Seattle, from 845 new commuters in 2004 to 2474 in 2008; in Portland, from 433 in 2002 to 2869 in 2008 (LAB, 2008). In San Francisco in 2008, bicycle counts at a central point were 100% higher on BWD and 25.4% higher several weeks later; bicycle share was 48.3% before BWD, 64.1% on BWD, and 51.8% afterwards (LAB, 2008). In Victoria, Australia, 27% of first time riders on BWD were still bicycling to work 5 months later (Rose and Marfurt, 2007).

Read it on page 8 of this PDF. I thank John for distributing all of his work for free online so that those without expensive journal subscriptions (or those who lost it by graduating college) can read the latest in bicycle research.

Here’s me surveying an attendee at the 2009 Bike To Work Day Rally in Chicago’s Daley Plaza. The results of the surveys taken each year by the Chicago Department of Transportation are not published.

Bike light giveaway event

I’ve volunteered for three different organizations this year for approximately 43 hours. I feel my record keeping is falling a little short, though.

Last night was my favorite time. I took photos for the Active Transportation Alliance during a bike light giveaway (or “distribution”). I also helped attach a few lights to the hundreds of people riding bikes through Wicker Park without headlights. I spent most of my time in front of Bank of America at 1585 N Milwaukee, in the northbound direction.

All of the volunteers, including two staff members from ActiveTrans, and lawyer Jim Freeman (who donated the lights), made a lot of people happy.

Most states have laws requiring people riding bikes at night to have a front white headlight and a rear red reflector, although I, and many others, including ActiveTrans, suggest that you also ride with a rear red light. I’ll help you find a local bike shop if you’re in need of a light.

Closed for a good cause

At least two times per year, parts of Lake Shore Drive, an ugly but seemingly necessary highway on the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago, close down to auto traffic for athletic and recreational events.

Last Sunday, 20,000 people pounded their feet on the south part of LSD in the Chicago Half Marathon.

Any event where you can see the greatest skyline in the world is bound to be a good one 😉

The last time I know the Drive was closed this year (and since 2002) for Bike The Drive. The whole road is closed for the fundraising event that benefits the Active Transportation Alliance (formerly Chicagoland Bicycle Federation).

Screenshot from a video I took from my bike’s handlebars when I entered the ride from 31st Street and rode to Grant Park for my volunteer shift at the Active Transportation Alliance booth.

Randy Neufeld’s 10 ideas for bicycling in Chicago

UPDATE: Download the presentation as a PowerPoint or PDF.

This past weekend, David Byrne visited Chicago to speak alongside Luann Hamilton, Jacky Grimshaw, and Randy Neufeld. Randy Neufeld served as the Executive Director of the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, now the Active Transportation Alliance. He is now a board member of Active Trans and the director of the SRAM Cycling Fund.

At the “Cities, Bicycles and the Future of Getting Around: A Special Urban Sustainability Forum with David Byrne,” Randy gives Chicago 10 ideas to make bicycling great. What follows is my paraphrasing of the presentation.

“We need to make the streets more inviting to a broader spectrum.” 8 and 80. The criteria for urban cycling infrastructure should be whether it is suitable for 8 year olds and 80 year olds.

10 Ideas for Bicycling in Chicago from Steven Vance on Vimeo.

  1. Open Streets – “What if Bike The Drive were every weekend?”
  2. Slow Down – 30KPH (under 18 MPH) zone.
  3. Cycle Tracks – The basic bike lane has been widened, parked cars moved to the left, and a buffer has been painted.
  4. Bike Boulevards – Lightly traveleed streets without bike lanes to make it easier to take the side streets across town.
  5. Bike Parking – Chicago is the best with on-street bike racks. Need covered off-street bike parking. Bike parking starts at home. “There’s free public auto parking on the street in front of my house, why not free public bike parking on the street in front of my house?”
  6. New Public Space – Follow New York City’s example. Build a Parklet like in San Francisco.
  7. Wayfinding – Not impressed with Google Maps’ bicycling directions. Active Transportation Alliance Chicagoland Bike Map.
  8. Better Bikes – “In Chicago, one could live without a suspension fork, and fewer than 21 gears. For $370, you’re going to wish they included lights, fenders, a kickstand, and a rack to carry your beach bag. In civilized places, bikes come fully equipped.
  9. Public Bikes – “Maybe you don’t need your own bike.”
  10. Get Going! – Take action, get involved. Take something you’ve seen today and make it happen. Put fenders and a basket on your own bike, and go shopping! [I’m not sure if number 10 is an idea but really the conclusion to encourage people to further inspect ideas 1 through 9.]

Randy used, with my permission, several photos from my Flickr photostream. You can see those again now – perhaps you’ll want to use them in your presentation about bicycling and Chicago!

© 2017 Steven Can Plan

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