TagLittle Village

What abysmal pavement quality on a brand new bike lane means

Approaching the intersection and bike lane minefield. 

I find it very embarrassing that Chicagoans are supposed to ride their bicycles in this. I feel embarrassed riding my bike in this. I rode my bike on this pavement of abysmal quality and then felt ashamed and uncomfortable that I exited the bike lane and rode elsewhere.

The bike symbol succumbs to flooding which occupies half the bike lane’s width. 

I felt like a person in a wheelchair given an “accessible” theater seat behind a column that blocks a majority of my view of the stage. I felt like I was a reporter at a newspaper given a new computer where the keyboard was missing 42 keys. The bike lane was unusable, I was the butt of a cruel joke. This felt like a pittance, throwing crumbs to the masses.

2013 April Fool’s Day came early, in fall 2012. 

The photos in this post show a bike lane in Douglas Park against the curb, with a painted buffer, running in a minefield of patches and potholes on asphalt pavement. The bike lane was installed in the fall of 2012, as part of Mayor Emanuel’s efforts to construct 100 miles of protected bike lanes. The goal has since been reduced after the definition of a protected bike lane was surreptitiously changed. The change was revealed by Grid Chicago.

You can find this at the intersection of Sacramento Boulevard and Douglas Boulevard in Lawndale on the Near Southwest Side of Chicago. View more photos of this and the other West Side Boulevards bike lanes on my Flickr. They’ve probably been the most controversial: there were complaints because of ticketing cars parked in the under construction bike lane on Marshall Boulevard; then there were complaints about the “decreased safety” of the protected bike lane on Independence Boulevard which has prompted CDOT to agree to remove it and replace it with a buffered bike lane. The Independence Boulevard debacle started because of ticketing cars parked in the under construction bike lane – I doubt it would have become an issue if cars weren’t ticketed.

Franklin Boulevard at Kedzie Avenue, taken on the same day. Thankfully it’s wide enough that you can bike around it while still being in the bike lane. 

Let’s get Chicago off coal

Updated May 26, 2011: Added new photo and video; new information about arrests and bail.

Activists working with Greenpeace climbed hundreds of feet into the sky on the Fisk power plant’s smokestack this past Tuesday morning. They hung banners that say “QUIT COAL” and painted the same message vertically on the side of the smokestack facing the Stevenson highway.

The Chicago city council continues to delay a final vote on the Clean Power Ordinance which would force the Fisk (1111 W Cermak in Pilsen) and Crawford (3501 S Pulaski in Little Village) to either shut down or clean their emissions. The coal-fired power plants can legally spew so much toxins into the air because they were grandfathered into the EPA’s regulations. The presidents of Midwest Generation and Edison International will tell that they’re cleaning up the act and reducing mercury emissions, but the laws applicable to this plant are already so lax. So this cleanup is still insufficient.

The action was timed to go along with an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hearing on Tuesday, May 23, 2011, at which the EPA discussed “proposed rules that would regulate toxic emissions, including mercury, from coal-fired power plants for the first time.”

It’s insufficient for the hundreds of local residents who’ve prematurely died because of the polluted air they breathed.

It’s too bad the pollution fighting bike lanes on Blue Island down the street from the Fisk plant can’t mitigate the spew.

Since I took the above photo on May 24, 2011, the QUIT COAL message has been amplified with a red outline. It must have happened overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday, as the activists came down Wednesday morning (and were arrested) by waiting Chicago Police. The Chicago Tribune reports:

The eight Greenpeace anti-pollution protesters who were arrested Wednesday after climbing down from the smokestack of a Pilsen coal-fired plant were charged this morning with felony criminal damage to property.

The three women and five men were also charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass, police said. They are scheduled to appear in bond court later [Thursday].

Bails for the “arrestees” was set between $15,000 and $30,000.

Photo by Greenpeace USA.

Video by Greenpeace via Good.is.

Chicago aldermen are complicit with Midwest Generation and its parent company in polluting Chicago and harming its citizens for everyday they delay passing the Clean Power Ordinance.

Pilsen pollution

Pilsen is a neighborhood in Chicago’s Lower West Side that is made mostly of Mexican immigrants and descendants. It’s sister neighborhood is Little Village, which is close by to the southwest. I lived here for two years from 2006-2008.

When I moved in, the smoke from a nearby, but yet unseen, exhaust stack was quite apparent. An uninformed or malicious local offered that it was a heat generation plant for the nearby public housing homes. This seemed unlikely, and only slightly plausible, but I didn’t question it.

Both neighborhoods have coal-fired power plants. There is Fisk Generating Station at 1111 W. Cermak in Pilsen (which I mentioned above and pictured above), and Crawford Generating Station at 3501 S. Pulaski in Little Village. Both are owned by Midwest Generation

It was not long until I read several news reports in the major Chicago newspapers about the actions of local social advocacy organizations trying to bring awareness about the danger the Fisk plant was causing for the minority residents in Pilsen. The problems became well-known in 2001 after a group of five researchers from Harvard and two private consulting agencies (one for wind, and one for environment) studied coal-fired power plants in the Midwest exempt from the provisions of the Clean Air Act. See “More information” below for a local group’s opinion on these plants’ impacts on health using information derived from the study.

The most recent call for action was from the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, who, in August 2008, demanded that Mayor Daley close the Fisk plant on Cermak.

Now, the Sierra Club magazine is reporting on a new and younger organization ready and willing to fight alongside LVEJO the battle to fix the pollution problems in Chicago’s west side Latino neighborhoods. I recently read this article at work in our “office lending library” – this along with the fact that I pass by the station quite often prompted me to write this blog entry.

More information:

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