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Do you want this facility? Where?

Take a look at this protected two-way bike lane in Brooklyn, New York City.

Some people are suing to remove (or change it). If you’re someone who doesn’t live there, here’s why this fight could still be important for you. Or maybe you want to know why the bike lane was installed.

If your city’s transportation or public works department proposed a protected bike lane or cycle track for your town, where should the first one go?

I propose 11 locations for Chicago (see link for ideal segments):

  • Blue Island Avenue
  • Chicago Avenue
  • Fullerton Avenue
  • Grand Avenue
  • Halsted Street (in some discrete locations)
  • King Drive (connecting downtown/South Loop to Bronzeville, Hyde Park, Washington Park)
  • Ogden Avenue (the entire street, from the city boundary on the southwest side to its dead end at the Chicago River near Chicago Avenue)
  • Wabash Street (connecting downtown and IIT)
  • Washington Boulevard/Street
  • Wells Street – this may be one of the easiest locations to pull off, politically at least, especially if Alderman Reilly pays for all or part of it with his annual appropriation of $1.32 million (“menu funds”).
  • Western Avenue

    Notice how I didn’t propose Stony Island. Here’s why.

    P.S. This will not be like the case of high-speed rail in America, where if one governor refuses money for an HSR project, other governors can compete for that money. The Prospect Park West bike lane will not be picking up and moving to another state 😉

    Look at all that room for people to go about their business, whether by car, bike, roller skates, wheelchairs, or their own two feet. Photos by Elizabeth Press.

    Where I went in 2009 through 2011

    I think my trip to San Francisco this past weekend for visiting friends and Transportation Camp West winds up over a year of domestic and international travel. This post links you to all the recap entries and Flickr photo galleries for the awesome cities I traveled to, rode the train in, and biked through.

    2009

    September

    December

    Approximate 2009 travel distance: 3,792 miles*

    2010

    April

    August

    September

    November

    December

    Approximate 2010 travel distance: 17,515 miles (does not include intercity train trips)*

    2011

    January

    March

    May

    August

    September

    Approximate 2011 travel distance: 8,271 miles (does not include intercity train trips and one car trip)*

    *Travel distances exclude biking, walking, and trips on transit.

    Construction update: Halsted bridge over North Branch Canal

    The Chicago Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) contractor*, Walsh Construction (search for them on the City’s contracts website), is hard at work removing the existing bridge on Halsted Street between Goose Island and Division Street (about 1150 N Halsted).

    The two-lane bridge with dangerous open metal grate deck will soon be replaced with one that has 4 shared lanes, 2 bike lanes and made with a concrete deck. CDOT has not released any information explaining the widening or how the street north or south of the bridge will be aligned. This is disconcerting as street width and street design are the major factors that determine traffic speed. While the road surface will be improved, especially for those bicycling, the added street width may influence an increase in automobile speeds negating any perceived improvement in safety.

    As of Monday, January 24, 2011, parts of both spans of the moveable bridge have been removed and crews were actively removing additional parts of the deck and overhead cross pieces.

    Using a torch to remove the cross pieces.

    Removing the deck.

    The official detour does not invite people bicycling to go any certain way. If people bicycling take the car route, they will be guided onto a narrowed lane over another part of the North Branch Canal on Chicago Avenue (lanes were realigned from two to three – two eastbound, one westbound).

    Idea to improve the detour

    As the detour exists now over the Chicago Avenue bridge (between Halsted and Kingsbury), there are three narrow shared lanes (two eastbound, one westbound) on an open metal grate bridge. When dry, the bridge is slippery. When wet, the likelihood of falling while bicycling over it increases. I propose that an official detour be created for people bicycling on this route to go on the sidewalk as near to the bridge span as possible. On the eastside of the bridge sidewalks are stairs – build a ramp over each staircase. Allow people to ride their bikes on the sidewalk but install signage to ask them to dismount and yield when people walking are present. For those biking north in the detour (onto Kingsbury), a bike box will be provided at northbound Kingsbury before it crosses Chicago Avenue (so people riding bikes can position themselves in front of the queuing cars). See the graphic below:

    *Walsh has had at least $292,639,510.94 in contracts awarded in 2007-2010 and is one of the Illinois’s largest construction companies.

    The first thing I see in Amsterdam

    I got off the final train of a 4 hour trip from Wuppertal, Germany, to Amsterdam Centraal Station via Venlo and Eindhoven and the first thing I see is parking for about 7,000 bicycles. WOW!

    7,000 is just the quantity at the front of the station. There’s additional parking in the rear along a major “bike highway” going east-west (on two defunct barges in the river IJ) and underground (guarded) parking as well. In all there “officially” 10,000 parking spaces for bicycles – and it’s not enough. During construction of the new north-south subway, bicycle parking and station access by bike will be reconfigured. Some people say that when the additional bike parking comes online, it will again be insufficient.

    Since you read this blog, you know I have a passion for bicycle parking. Just like planning for automobile storage, bicycle storage requires similar attention and infrastructure.

    I’ve uploaded more photos of bike parking in Europe (so far just 16 photos), including the fancy underground garage at Amsterdam Zuid Station, with its own escalator! For more sweet bicycle parking in Netherlands, check out the Fietsappel on Daniel Sparing’s blog, Railzone.nl.

    Europe trip recap: List of cities I visited

    All links lead to a photo or photoset of that city. More links will be added as I upload more photos. Cities are in the order I traveled through Europe, over 18 days.

    All blogs about this trip are under the tag, Europe trip.

    A bike “jam” – everyone in the photo is performing a “Copenhagen left” or box turn.

    The Schwebebahn is the world’s oldest operating monorail that operates daily in the North Rhine-Westphalia city of Wuppertal, Germany.

    I value photography

    I’ve made photography a very important feature of this blog. The photos help me tell the story. I spend an equal time taking and processing photos for the blog as I do writing it. I take over 200 photos each week. When I travel, I take 1,000 photos. Of 5,814 published photos, almost 64% have been added to the map, bringing more context to the subject and allowing it to be discovered geographically.

    I think photography (and photos) is an important aspect of quality urban planning. When talking to the public and trying to get across your ideas, photos and other graphics make a vision come to life. They demonstrate what is and what could be. The right photo will invoke, without prompting, passion and enthusiasm – support you might need. The wrong photo may do the opposite, or have no effect at all. Take as many photos as needed so you ensure they will intimate the feelings you need for your project, or story.

    What’s the story here? It could be several things. Simply, that it snowed recently. Or complexly, that while growth in this area has been phenomenal and immediately recognizable (most of the visible buildings starting at the blue-topped one and going south did not exist 10 years ago), our 100 year-old electric interurban train still runs.

    I take photos for two reasons: to share on my blog, and to share them publicly, worldwide so that anyone who needs a photo can find it. A variety of my photos have been used to narrate events and ideas in organizational publications (with and without attribution), websites, and even a book!

    I want my readers to take photography seriously. I don’t want you to be discouraged by that term, either. Don’t think you need a good camera or know how to take good pictures. Begin today and take one photo per day for a year. In one year, you will be an extremely proficient photographer (or “picture taker”). You’ll be able to tell your story, without a caption, in little time.

    Read more about my photographic arsenal:

    This photo tells us about the practice of designing malls, and designing malls for dense cities (like Chicago, where it’s located). The escalators are designed to get you in fast, but getting out requires a bit more walking.

    Another case for integrating biking and transit

    Integrating biking and transit can reduce a user’s transportation costs.

    A friend just instant messaged me to describe his “bike instead of transit” commute,

    “I spent $440 on Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) this year and $300 on bike stuff. When I was just taking the CTA it was $1032 per year. I used to have the monthly pass deducted from my paycheck, $86 per month. Now I pay as a I go, and I go much less.”

    In some places, and for other people’s situations, commuters could bike TO the train or bus and reduce their costs by eliminating a transfer. Transit also lengthens a bike rider’s possible trip distance when they combine the modes. In this sense, providing services or facilities for people riding bikes attracts new customers or maintains relationships with existing customers.

    The Department of Transportation is now funding projects that improve bicycling (and walking) connections to bus and train stations. We should continue focusing on expanding and improving our bikeway networks by connecting them with our transit networks. By doing so, we make each system more robust and give people more options to choose the route that’s best for them.

    Boarding northbound Caltrain at Palo Alto University Avenue station.

    Some buses can hold three bikes (see Seattle and Silicon Valley). Highway 17 Express bus Santa Cruz bound at San Jose State University stop. Photos by Richard Masoner.

    Introducing Grocery Store Bike Parking Ratings

    This article is part of a series (it seems) of grocery stores with poor bike parking – it first started with my local Dominick’s. I started an inventory and rating system for Chicago. I welcome your contribution. If you want to start a page for your town, I can help you with that.

    After seeing the photos of the wacky bike parking situation at the Lincoln Park Whole Foods on Ding Ding Let’s Ride, I had to take a trip there myself!

    By my count, I find that with 3 wave racks (of 2 sizes) and 3 grill racks, there are 27 bike parking spaces. You can debate me and possibly find 4 more.

    Surely you can fit more, just like you can fit 4 bikes on a 2-space Chicago u-rack.However, the racks are installed so closer together to make this area quite a pain to find a space. And if you have a long wheelbase cargo bike (bakfiets, Madsen, or Yuba Mundo), GOOD LUCK!

    The only space available for a longtail cargo bike like my Yuba Mundo is in a car parking space next to a hybrid Chevy Tahoe illegally parked in a handicapped parking space.

    Photo showing too-close placement of the two kinds of racks. Notice that some bikes hang into the curb – it was the only way to use that bike rack. Other spaces might not have been opened when these people arrived.

    But officially, for planning purposes, the Chicago Department of Transportation considers that rack as only fitting 2. This area could easily be sheltered. I think it’s something the store should look into. It provides sheltered car parking, which costs proportionally more than sheltered bike racks!

    In the future, I expect better from Whole Foods.

    For now, Target takes home the cake for providing consistently “good” bike parking. (Great’s the best a store can achieve.) So far, the rating system isn’t fully formed or automated. It’s a work in progress!

    Sidenote: Access to Whole Foods via bicycle really sucks. There’s a 5-way intersection controlled by stop signs; then there’s the old railroad track and potholes. It might be better if you come in from the south, but then you have more RR track to deal with.

    Photo montage showing how to access Whole Foods from Sheffield by bicycle.

    Update on the new Chicago harbor

    Since I posted an article about new, non-auto infrastructure projects in Chicago, a lot of people looking for information on the 31st Street Harbor (now visibly underway) have come across my blog. For them, I give this update.

    A new breakwater and new piers will be built. I really want to know what the floating eyeballs are for. I imagine they’re markers for construction.

    I was counting people entering the Lakefront Trail from the 31st Street access point yesterday for an Active Transportation Alliance project. Afterwards, I moseyed over to get a glance at the construction.

    This photo shows how the pier has been closed for construction. I hardly see anyone using the pier except just to walk down and back – it seems few people fish here.

    Bikes and transit – share your knowledge

    UPDATE: Why bikes and transit go together (PDF) – read this brochure from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

    While you’re reading up on the 80+ comments on the story about some Seattle bike riders suing the city, I want to take this opportunity to again promote the Bikes and Transit group on Flickr. The group’s purpose is to document interactions between bicycle riders, bikes, and transit vehicles, both buses and trains. The definition of “interaction” is quite loose.

    Photo from the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition taken one 3rd Street during the May 24, 2010, Sunday Parkways.

    Many times, bicycle riders are also transit users. If not, they’re riding in streets shared by streetcars, light rail, and buses. The pool of photos from around the world can help us learn about practices in other countries. Or we can find out that fat bike tires won’t fit in many bus-bike racks (see photo below).

    Richard Masoner points out that 2.6 inch wide tires don’t fit into the bike rack on Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority buses, using the Sportworks Veloporter racks (common to bus operators across the United States).

    Add your own photos! Or link me and I’ll invite your photos one by one.

    © 2017 Steven Can Plan

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