TagHumboldt Park

See how Chicago is a low-rise city from this 360° photo

Smokestacks at a former incinerator in Humboldt Park

Smokestacks at a former incinerator in Humboldt Park – click through to see the 360° photo.

I love the new perspectives that taking photographs from a DJI Mavic Pro quadcopter is showing me.

Chicago is a very large city, by land area, and has a low average neighborhood density. This 360° photo, taken from the corner of Ohio Street and Kilbourn Avenue in Humboldt Park, shows the cityscape five and a half miles west of downtown Chicago. It shows the cityscape west of this point, and north and south.

A little southwest of the center point is a small group of mid-rise buildings at the west side of Garfield Park. One of the buildings, the Guyon Hotel, has been abandoned for a while, and another is a residential building for senior citizens that’s undergoing a complete renovation.

Chicago’s “four tallest skyscrapers” are easily visible in the background; from north to south you’ll see the John Hancock tower, the Trump International Hotel & Tower, the Aon Center, and the Sears (Willis) Tower.

Bicyclists in Chicago can travel pretty far in 15 minutes

Mapzen* released Mobility Explorer last week. It is the graphical user interface (GUI) to the Transitland datastore of a lot of the world’s transit schedules and maps.

It also has isochrones, which are more commonly known as “mode sheds”, or the area that you can reach by a specific mode in a specific amount of time.

I wanted to test it quickly to see what these mode sheds say about where I live, a block north of Humboldt Park. From my house, on a bicycle, I can reach the edges of an area that’s 25 square miles in 15 minutes.

Isochrones map of transportation distance from my house

The distance you can travel from my house at the north end of Humboldt Park in 15 minutes by three modes, assuming you leave at 2:21 PM today (in increasing distance/area): Transit (dark purple) Bicycling (burgundy) Driving (pink)

You can request these isochrones through this API call for any location and they’ll be returned as GeoJSON.

I’m still learning how isochrones work, and how they can be adjusted (to account for different rider seeds and route costs or penalties). One difference between bicycling and driving is that the driving area is increased by expressways while the bicycling area has a more uniform shape.

The bike shed is 25.7 square miles, and the driving shed is 52.0 square miles.

*I do contract work for Mapzen and maintain parts of the Transitland Feed Registry.

Park beauty

My friend and her son cross the lagoon on their bike in Humboldt Park, Chicago.

Other views of the park:

“Angry geese in Humboldt Park. They were really hissing.” Photo by Joshua Koonce.

“A lovely gravel path by a lagoon in Humboldt Park.” Photo by Eric Rogers.

Let’s keep talking about protected bike lanes

Rahm Emanuel was sworn in as mayor on May 16th, 2011.

On page 36 of the Chicago 2011 Transition Report (PDF) is a 100-day deadline for IDENTIFYING the first two miles of protected bike lanes.

That 100-day deadline is August 24, 2011.

You’ve read about my thoughts on CDOT’s plan for a Stony Island cycle track, my list of 13 locations for protected bike lanes (like Clybourn and Grand Avenues), and now Alderman Moreno’s F-bomb about parking preventing a protected bike lane on Milwaukee Avenue through Wicker Park.

And the latest news comes from Alderman Maldonado and the 26th Ward offices’s partnership with Humboldt Park Advisory Council, the Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities, and the Active Transportation Alliance. At this meeting on Wednesday night, the consultant, Sam Schwartz Engineering (SSE), presented its proposals to make the street network in and surrounding the park safer, mainly by creating pedestrian refuge islands, protected bike lanes, and slowing car traffic.  I never blogged about the Chicago Department of Transportation’s plan to calm traffic on the north-south Humboldt Drive, but John Greenfield discussed this road diet. To the disappointment of some residents, including myself, the road diet will not include any bike facilities, especially not this two-way cycle track I designed.

SSE displayed proposals for protected bike lanes and a road diet on a future version of Humboldt Drive from Palmer Square to Augusta Boulevard, and on Division Street between California Avenue and Central Park Avenue. I asked if they will share their slideshow online.

This is how some people voted. There were four identical poster boards. It’s up to SSE to count the votes. As you can see, because of the differing dollar amounts, votes are weighted. I put $50 on one and $30 on another ($20+$10).


This design will not be happening, nor will any bikeway appear on this street because “it doesn’t connect with the bikeway network.” But there’s a bike lane on Augusta Boulevard just two blocks south of Division Street! It’s a bad excuse. People ride on streets without bikeways all the time.

WE HAVE TO KEEP TALKING ABOUT THIS ISSUE.

Humboldt Park “do over”

Read the story below and the final paragraph to fully understand this drawing.

If you, like Alderman Roberto Maldonado (26th Ward), received complaints about speeding traffic and difficulty crossing Humboldt Drive, how would you respond?

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) responded by temporarily changing “the four-lane street into two travel lanes with a center lane used as a combination left-turn lane and pedestrian refuge area, using orange traffic barrels to keep moving cars out of the center lane.” (All quotes from Vote With Your Feet / Time Out Chicago, by John Greenfield.)

Narrowing the lane could reduce automobile speed and the refuge island should make it easier to cross the street, even if it has to be done in two movements. “After CDOT analyzes the effects on traffic speed and behavior, [CDOT spokesperson Brian] Steele says, the changes may become permanent next year.”

But bicyclists are not considered in this installation. That seems to be by design.

“He [Alderman Maldonado] told me that he has no intention of adding a bicycle lane or any other accouterments on that stretch because ‘the road is too dangerous for pedestrians,’” she says. Lottes recently posted on the local bike website thechainlink.org, asking members to lobby Maldonado for bike lanes on Humboldt. “To me the road seems too dangerous for pedestrians because there are no sidewalks, crosswalks or bike lanes.”

A local resident, Gin, asked me if I could draw up something for Humboldt Drive and I drew what you saw above. I based it on a bike lane design I saw in New York City: two-way, barrier protected (see photo below). The intersections between the bike lane and the other lanes will need special care – I don’t have any expertise there, but I know some people in Portland and New York City who do.

What else might you propose? Here’s a map of the park (centered on where I drew the bike lane), and a street view of the location.

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