TagPilsen

Driving in the protected bike lane, eh

Updated 4/5/12 to add links to other discussions on this topic, my response to one of the discussions, and a link to my tweet mention this issue to 25th Ward Alderman Solis. 

I was hanging out on 18th Street on Tuesday, watching traffic as I often do, and interviewing Alyson Fletcher about her bike count project. I captured this driver of a Chevy Malibu casually driving in the protected bike lane.

Aside from emailing this to Alderman Solis and the Chicago Department of Transportation, I have no idea what to do about this (I haven’t done either of those things yet – maybe you, as a resident, should do that; I tweeted to Alderman Solis on April 4, 2012). I think the design could be modified to physically prevent automobile traffic here (except, perhaps, emergency vehicles). Other things could be added to make this more apparent as a bike lane, by adding more color and doubling the size of the pavement bicycle symbols.

I also photographed two other people driving in the bike lane. Is there not a place where people can cycle without the danger of drivers impeding their space?

Kia Forte driver.

BMW driver.

Follow the discussion elsewhere:

  • The Expired Meter – Author poses question about possible lack of clarity in the signage, symbols, or road design that sends the message that the curbside lane is for cycling only. I haven’t investigated this part. I don’t know if there are signs at the entrances to the lane that describe it as “right lane bike only” (I’m not sure if this sign is acceptable to the MUTCD – I can’t find it there – but there are many instances of it being used in Chicago). However, that sign’s posted restriction is further than what’s necessary. A sign that says “bike lane” (R3-17) is sufficient to cause that any driving in said lane is a citable offense under Municipal Code of Chicago 9-40-060.
  • EveryBlock – I posted it here.
  • Grid Chicago – I posted this about this topic later on Grid Chicago asking which bike issues most concerns readers.

Clean Power Ordinance, delayed again

Updated September 30, 2011: The ordinance never got on the Committee on Health and Environmental Protection’s agenda for September. So my fingers are crossed for the October meeting.

Clean power advocates march in Pilsen on Saturday, September 24, 2011. Photo by Ryan Williams. 

Instead of voting on the Clean Power Ordinance on September 8, 2011, the Committee on Committees, Ethics and Rules “re-referred” it to the Committee on Health and Environmental Protection. This is a companion post to Rollin’ beyond coal, on Grid Chicago.

What the Clean Power Ordinance is

It sets emissions standards for coal-powered plants in Chicago. It applies modern standards about air pollution, as they apply to coal and natural gas power plants, to any coal-powered plant in Chicago.

The Chicago Clean Power Coalition has a summary of the ordinance.

Why this is needed

Residents of Pilsen, Little Village, Bridgeport and other communities (pollution has no boundary) have suffered for decades from the release of carbon dioxide, mercury, lead, hydrochloric acid and other chemicals into the air. Read the Toxics Release Inventory for the Fisk Generating Station.

A large portion of the population is 18 and younger; this portion is growing. Pollution has a greater negative effect on young people.

The Fisk and Crawford power plants, owned by Midwest Generation, a subsidiary of Edison International, were grandfathered in to the Clean Air Act of 1970. That means the standards imposed by that legislation don’t apply.

The ordinance’s “Whereas” clause lists six studies that define the effects of certain levels of particulate matter (better known as soot) on human disease, mortality, and life expectancy. A 2002 Harvard study (PDF) that found the power plants combined caused 41 premature deaths per year.

What else

It appears that Alderman JoAnn Thompson, 16th Ward, is no longer a co-sponsor. The Chicago Clean Power Coalition lists her as a co-sponsor as of August 12, 2011, but on the ordinance document (ordinance number O2011-6489) published on the City Clerk’s website, her name is missing.

Midwest Generation, or one of its sister companies, Edison Mission Energy, is known to have lobbied the City Council, the Mayor’s Office, and the Department of Environment in 2010. “Midwest Generation officials said the ordinance is not needed because they already have started to comply with federal standards that will significantly cut pollution at their plants” (Chicago Tribune). The company also claims that a shutdown of the plant will harm electricity supply in Chicago. On that:

Chicago doesn’t actually need the electricity from the plants, though if the plants go offline before ongoing upgrades to local transmission infrastructure are completed it could cause instability on the grid including possible blackouts, according to a spokesman for the utility ComEd. (Midwest Energy News)

Alderman Solis (25th Ward) joined Alderman Joe Moore (49th Ward) during the election time this year as a lead sponsor, to help save his seat on the council in a fight with Cuahetemoc “Témoc” Morfin.

What’s next

Since the Committee on Committees, Ethics and Rules (CCER) “re-referred” it to the Committee on Health and Environmental Protection (CHEP), the members of CHEP, 18 of which are also on CCER, must discuss the ordinance. Oddly, CHEP did not place on its agenda for their Tuesday, September 27, 2011, meeting a consideration of the ordinance. After discussion, the committee can recommend that the full council vote on it. If the council passes it, Mayor Emanuel can sign or veto it.

In July, Mayor Emanuel talked about his support for the ordinance but didn’t go so far as to endorse it.

Did you know Chicago has a full-size wind turbine?

I bet you didn’t know that a produce distribution company in a tiny warehouse in Pilsen (eh, Blue Island Avenue and 14th Street) moved to a huge, sustainable warehouse in Back of the Yards with a wind turbine and big solar panels.

Epstein Engineering has more information on their website:

Epstein provided architectural design, civil engineering and LEED consulting services for the new 91,300 square foot headquarters and produce distribution facility for Testa Produce, Inc. located in the old Union Stockyards complex in Chicago, Illinois. The 12.86-acre project includes 20,000 square feet of Class A office space and a distribution center containing a 7,600 square foot 0° freezer, 24,700 square feet of cooler space, approximately 39,000 square feet of dry warehouse and 40 truck dock positions on two refrigerated cross docks.

The building aims to achieve LEED Platinum, but is not yet certified.

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.

Chicago is the First City when it comes to permeable paving

The New York Times wrote on Sunday about the Pilsen pollution fighting bike lanes I’m really gung-ho about. They didn’t provide any new information, failing to even mention their location. But they did publish an excellent 3D graphic showing how it works! (The article’s main focus is how Chicago is predicted to become hotter and wetter, “more like Baton Rouge”, and how city planners, geniuses all, are working on this problem.)

First, here’s a photo of what the bike and parking lanes look like now, both made with a topper created by Italcementi that removes nitrous oxides from the air:

Then take a look at this diagram showing the streetscape design on Blue Island between Wood and Ashland (still under construction).

Hat tip to The Car Whisperer – “Chicago may stop paving streets altogether in ten years”.

What is gentrification?

Update: Read the discussion happening on YoChicago.com.

What is “a hipster”? The Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, was called a hipster last because he likes bicycles a lot.

What is Pilsen? What makes Pilsen different or not different from any other Chicago neighborhood? Does it have a similar history to Wicker Park or Old Town, other art communes?

Photo of a found drawing about getting intimidating “white hipsters” out of Pilsen by Jared Kachelmeyer.

I lived in Pilsen for two years and then moved south to Bridgeport for another two years, still riding through Pilsen almost daily and doing my grocery shopping at La Casa del Pueblo (it’s very cheap). I’ve written about Pilsen a few times before, first on pollution and then on its sticky relationship to University Village.

Pilsen is known for its mural art: each one is a statement about life in Pilsen or life before or after Pilsen. They’re messages to visitors and to residents; reminders about leaders and struggles.

A little street art does the body (and mind) good

“The Chicago Transit Authority [CTA] Series is an exploration of how a small change in a word can recontextualize otherwise expected results. David DuFault re-creates the CTA subway names of the original CTA stops with small modifications to change them into food names. Chicago loves its food after all. He limits himself by regulating the ‘rules’: only a maximum of two letters can be changed or by adding a word.” It should have been in the street art show, but the CTA removed it and doesn’t know what to do with it. If it returns the art, the CTA may appear to condone such trespassing of its property.

The Wellington Brown/Purple line station becomes “Beef Wellington.”

I went to the opening Chicago Street Art Show in Pilsen at the Chicago Urban Arts Society, 2229 S Halsted Street, this past Friday to check out what street artists have been up to. There was a lot of cool art on display via photographs. I believe the originator of the street art and the photographers whose prints were hung are two different people, but the exhibit didn’t make this clear. I couldn’t tell who the photographer was and who posted the street art.

The crowd at the gallery. Photo by Oscar Arriola.

I’ve seen this one. It’s on Milwaukee Avenue just north of Grand Avenue. It says, “I love you so much it hurts.”

I think Rod Blagojevich has been spotted running several times around Chicago (and the courts).

Construction update: Pilsen streetscape improvement

The most popular posts on Steven Can Plan are Chicago infrastructure construction updates.

In October 2009 I told you about the Cermak/Blue Island Streetscape project from the Chicago Department of Transportation. The article was called, “Pollution fighting bike lane coming to Pilsen.” I was kind of skeptical at first, but never mentioned this to anyone.

I’m happy to say it’s a reality and you can see the world’s first (I think) bike lane made of permeable pavers that have an ingredient that reduces the amount of nitrogen oxide in the nearby air. On Tuesday I was riding to Bridgeport via south Halsted Street and saw the construction on Cermak Street. I rode west to check it out. Then I saw work happening on Blue Island Avenue and had to check it out. These’re the results!

The construction situation at the northwest corner of Halsted and Cermak, where new sidewalks will be built.

Some vaulted sidewalks are being filled in.

The pollution fighting bike lane! Not complete: it needs signage and striping so you may see people parking in the future bike lane. The top inch of the permeable pavers has TX Aria from Italcementi.

New bike shopping

I know it’s winter time, and it took 2 hours, but it was worth it.

The showroom at Working Bikes Cooperative expanded after their move to 2434 S Western Avenue, giving my sister a lot of choices to peruse. She needed a new bicycle. Her current one had poorly working brakes, wheels in bad condition, and lacked features every urban bike should have: a way to protect the rider from puddles, snow and wet pavement; a way to carry stuff; an appropriate number of gears; a way to protect the rider’s pants from grease and getting them caught in the gear.

Over 50 bikes for sale right now, along with countless parts like seatposts, brakes, handlebars, fenders, and chain guards.

Working Bikes had road bikes, hybrid bikes, mountain bikes, and vintage cruiser bikes from Huffy, Schwinn, Miyata, Nishiki, Trek, and Schwinn. It’s no wonder Schwinn dominates – their bikes were made in Chicago for decades after the company started here. Bikes are still made under that name, and even though the quality may not be the same, the brand still has power and relevancy.

After walking around the showroom several times where I pointed out my preferred bikes for her (3-speed cruisers) and asking her questions, she selected, on her own, a Schwinn 3-speed cruiser that had been spray painted black. I supported the choice as it also had fenders (this helps keep the bike and the rider free of snow) and a chain guard (yay).

She talked to a staff member about test riding the bike and went off down 24th Place. She said of the ride, “I felt like I was cheating on Big Blue but it felt soo right.”

She bought a black Schwinn – not pictured. The day’s rain didn’t stop us.

I test rode the bike to ensure it was in working order. After more than twenty years, the internal gear hub still works – but I completely expected this.

I found a used Wald quick release basket and after showing my sister how easily it attached and detached, she was sold. The manager priced it on the spot at $10. When new it costs about $19. I pointed out the oddly short rear fender so my sister picked out a long blue one from a parts bin that the manager priced at $5. The blue was for flare. And finally, we found a slightly longer seatpost for $1. After tax, my sister’s new urban-appropriate bicycle came out to $119.

Our journey took two hours because it first took us longer than 30 minutes to get there as we yubered there on my Mundo. After she test rode the black one, I wanted her to test ride another Schwinn that came with an already long rear fender and had different gear ratios. I don’t remember how long it took us to get home, but we enjoyed some pan fried veggies and pasta when we arrived.

Related: Working Bikes Cooperative, which uses profits to send rebuilt bicycles to poorer countries, blended with West Town Bikes, a learning bike shop, gives you B.I.C.A.S. in Tucson, Arizona.

Placemaking contest

I submitted this photo to the “What Makes Your Place Great? Your Secret Corner of Chicagoland Contest.”

Stefano Rini took the photo for me.

The contest will have 4 winners, one of which will be chosen by popular vote. I want to increase my chances of winning so I want to win the popular vote. If I don’t win, then it’s up to the judging panel to choose mine amongst three winners.

Vote here!

(Scroll down or search for “growing station”.)

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