Tagideas

Ideas for CTA’s incoming 5000-series train cars

Update: Stay current on this topic at Grid Chicago. Latest post was on July 25, 2011, about the latest rail car order
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is not exactly seeking feedback from the public at this time about the Bombardier-built 5000-series train cars it’s testing now. But this is our one chance to make these trains eve better.
  • No beige. This is not the 1980s.
  • The seats shouldn’t define individual spaces if they’re going to be longitudinal. Seat cups mean “If you fit into one, then you fit into one. If you take up 110% the width of one, you now take up two.” But if they were benches like in New York, people would only fill exactly as much space as they take up.
  • The end caps should be a different color plastic, not something intended to look like the aluminum siding from afar, which then up close is clearly nothing more than a plastic approximation. Even without redesigning the endcaps, the dye color being darker and some reflective striping (to make them not vanish into the night if the car has no lighting), would make them look ultra modern.
  • Remove the modesty panels. They serve little purpose in this day and age.

If you have ideas, leave them in the comments or email the Chicago Transit Authority.

Written in conjunction with Better bicycle storage on trains.

Photo by Jeff Zoline.

Emanuel releases plan for safe bicycling in Chicago. I reconsider.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention in the original post that Rahm gave a press conference on Sunday at Rapid Transit Cycleshop in Wicker Park (the bike shop doesn’t endorse any candidate for mayor). More photos from the event here and here.

Before Sunday, January 30th, 2011, when candidate for Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel released details of his plans for bicycling in Chicago, I was a big fan of Miguel Del Valle (read my earlier posts).

I was excited by what he included and it made me think that someone’s been to New York City recently (or knows someone else who did), or Rahm watched Randy Neufeld talk about ten great ways to make bicycling great in Chicago.

So what does Rahm say? (Specifics in bold.)

  • Chicago lags behind many other cities in the rate of new bike lanes each year and providing bike parking in buildings. – Yep, check San Francisco, Portland, and New York City.
  • He will build 25 miles of new bike lanes each year and prioritize protected bike lanes. Great, Chicago will finally catch up on this sought-after bikeway over 12 years after one was installed in Davis, California. New York City installed several miles of this (“cycletrack”) in Manhattan in 2008 and continue today.

New York City’s first protected bike lane, or cycletrack, on 9th Avenue in Manhattan’s west side. Will Rahm’s administration install something like this in Chicago before 2015?

  • “…initiate a review of [the Bike 2015 Plan’s] goals and timelines to identify opportunities to expand the plan and accelerate the pace of implementation.” Right on. This needs to be done so we know our progress.
  • “…create a bike lane network that allows every Chicagoan – from kids on their first ride to senior citizens on their way to the grocery store – to feel safe on our streets.” Hey, that’s exactly what Randy said: Make bicycling for everyone, “from 8 to 80.”
  • Rahm will have the Bloomingdale Trail open and functional by the end of his term. The abandoned, elevated rail line promises to be an important part of the bikeway network, but also a neat recreational facility.

The Bloomingdale Trail is an elevated railroad viaduct (at 1800 North) running from Lawndale Avenue east to Ashland Avenue (possible to Elston Avenue). It is just under 3 miles of uninterrupted, car-free transportation for people walking and bicycling. Photo by Kasey D.

  • Make an ordinance that says buildings with over 200 workers must install indoor bike parking. More than their desire for workplace showers, people who bicycle to work (or are considering it) want a secure place to store their bike for 8+ hours.
  • Double the number of on-street bike parking, including in neighborhoods. This is another point Randy made – there must be a place to park one’s bike at home!

There are many opportunities in Chicago to install bike parking for neighbors. Not everyone can fit their bike inside or bring it up to the fifth floor. Bike parking could occupy a section of a wide parkway, or be in the street, providing space for 16 bikes where only 1 car can fit. Photo by Jonathan Maus.

So far, no other candidate for mayor has released such a detailed and specific plan to include bicycles as a part of Chicago’s transportation system.

What is your goal for your city?

I have two favorite photo categories from Amsterdamize’s photostream*: the first is people riding side saddle as passengers on someone else’s bike and “borrowing” someone else’s energy. It’s borrowing because they’ll eventually return the favor, to the original lender, or to a friend of their own.

The second, and the one that is more important, is photos of older people riding bikes.

These photos, and the older folks’ running errands on their bikes, help make cycling look like the most normal and sensible thing that anyone could be doing right now. And that’s what my goal is for my city.

*Amsterdamize is Marc van Woudenberg, an Amsterdammer (you know, from The Netherlands?).

Can we use location-based services to make urban planning “rise”?

Facebook launched a feature called Places that allows its users to “check in” to Places and to see where their friends are. People can also see where the most popular venue is at any given time (provided they have friends there).

SeeClickFix has mobile apps (and a website) that enables users (in participating locales) to report issues (like graffiti and potholes) in their neighborhoods.

Augmented reality apps for smartphones overlay the virtual world (of yellow pages and restaurant reviews) on the physical world depending on where you point your phone’s camera.

Is there something (an app, a concept, a teaching) that we can develop that uses these apps or the same technology to raise awareness of “urban planning” in all of our cities’ citizens? Such a scheme would attempt to educate and involve more people into the city’s social, cultural and built environments, the urban fabric (buzzword alert!), as well as the history of their surroundings.

Possible scenarios

1. While riding the train through a neighborhood, the new location-based service that encompasses everything about urban planning might aggregate information relevant to the location and activity. Perhaps the application would display to the user information about the history of this particular elevated train’s construction on this branch as well as pull up information on upcoming schedule changes. Lastly, the transit operator may ask the user to take a survey about this particular trip, looking for information on how the user accessed the station (via bike, walking, car, or bus?).

2. My friend Brandon Souba created a proof-of-concept app called Handshake that tells you about nearby app users with similar interests. But this hardly raises civic or urban awareness. Maybe non-profit organizations who need volunteers could create profiles in Handshake and when you’re near a staff member or the headquarters, your phone alerts you to a possible volunteer opportunity.

3. What are your ideas?

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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