We propose creating a gateway connection between the University of Illinois at Chicago’s east campus and the West Loop neighborhood over the Peoria Street bridge by nearly eliminating car traffic, completely eliminating parking, removing curbs, and adding amenities to make this a place to go to instead of through.
The Peoria Street bridge over I-290/Eisenhower expressway, between Van Buren and Harrison Streets, was closed to car traffic in 1965 when a new entrance for the CTA station opened. This entrance of the UIC-Halsted Blue Line station is by far the most used access point to the busy station, as it’s the closest to campus buildings. In fact, according to a CTA letter to IDOT, “weekday passenger volumes at this station entrance exceed 11 of the other 12 total station passenger volumes at the other stops on the Forest Park Blue Line branch”.
The UIC Campus Master Plan of 2010 calls for creating a gateway at this place, and the Illinois Department of Transportation is proposing to rebuild this bridge as part of its Circle Interchange project. The bridge should rebuilt to accommodate a pedestrian street. However, rebuilding isn’t necessary and our proposal can be implemented in situ.
Ryan Lakes with Vocalo producer and cohost Molly Adams at the Vocalo studio in the WBEZ studio.
Updated March 20 to bring the chronology of events up-to-date.
Note: I originally posted this entry immediately after writing the notes from Aaron’s keynote at the UIC Urban Innovation Symposium, put on by the graduate students in the Urban Planning and Policy Student Assocation or UPPSA. Aaron Renn writes The Urbanophile and works for a management consulting firm.
The ideas in and of itself don’t make things happens.There are enormous structural barriers to innovate in the world.Â Most of you inspire not just to have innovative ideas, but to actually change for the better the places you live and work.
Consulting for businesses
Aaron’s career: Doing consulting for clients. “I used to think that people hired consultants because ppl think we’re smart guys.Â I thought I could use some of my ideas in the company.Â Nothing happened.”
Why do people and companies really hire consultants?
First off, there’s the tyranny of the organization chart.Â Everyone is in a box.Â Everything you do is seen in the box you occupy.Â What are the odds you will get an audience with the CEO, and then take your idea?
The reason people hire consultants is because they exist outside the organization chart.Â Innovation occurs in the bottom 95% of the organization chart pyramid. There’s no mechanism to have those ideas bubble up.
If something is untried, unproven, people are afraid to do it cuz they think their career’s on the line. So they bring in the biggest consultant they can find (meaning they have the biggest reputation).
On becoming known
I started my blog 4 years ago. I had no credentials. I started having journalists contact me. They would only paraphrase Aaron’s responses becauseÂ “You are not authoritative enough to be quoted in my article.”
Only after I won the innovation challenge about the CTA would they start quoting me.
Building ideas for our cities
Aaron gave the audience a metaphor from the Bible of the sower [I missed the exact reference if he gave one]: “Our problem is not enough fertile seeds. It’s a problem of not having enough fertile soil.”
“I think building on assets is a trap. It’s the stuff we did yesterday.”Â Having a lot of assets to focus on may blind you to the ways you need to think about in order to innovate.
I see cities all the time defending the past.Â Cities are about people, not buildings. We always talk about building and form, but we don’t think about the people.
It’s very clear they’re talking about the buildings in that neighborhood – you can’t love the neighborhood if you hate the neighbors. Think about the actual human beings your project affects.
“If you don’t know where people are, you can’t lead them somewhere else.”
I like to travel. I like to meet the local bloggers and have them take me around. If I didn’t know [which city I was in], nothing about that building would tell me where I was. I don’t get a strong sense of the place. I think we have to think deeper about our cities. Think about the unique chartacter, history, and vlues of the cities we’re in. A lot of our cities seem kind of the same, and they don’t have that quaint Euro charm.
How can we make our plans, our cities, and our buildings more expressive of where they are? This is in this place and it’s right here. I think Chicago is one city that has done that. “It’s not about creating a sense of place, it’s about creating a sense of this place.”
Two Mondays ago someone on the sidewalk yelled “Happy birthday” to me while I was riding to Bridgeport through University Village (UIC’s south campus). It was my birthday. I turned around to identify the shouting person. Joe was a classmate and now I most often see him at a local bike shop or playing bike polo. We went inside the store and chatted for awhile.
The bicycle is an extremely social tool. While it helps me get to the places I need to go, it does so in such a way that fosters community and interaction. As I ride, I’m exposed to the whims of the street: the noises, the chatter, the honks, the people, and the people I know. But it also helps me get to know new people.
I met some new people on the Zombie Ride in October that started at West Town Bikes in Humboldt Park and finished at Johnny Sprockets bike shop in Lakeview.
I participated in another bike light distribution with Active Transportation Alliance on November 17, 2010. I photographed a previous distribution in Wicker Park a week earlier. This time around, at the corner of Halsted and Roosevelt at the UIC campus, I took a more direct role by flagging people riding bikes without lights to pull over and stop. I would then attach a brand new headlight to their bicycle, courtesy of customers of Groupon and the law office of Jim Freeman. During the two minutes I had their undivided attention, I told them about the state law requiring a front light and the role of Active Transportation Alliance in the city and suburbs.
This time I wanted to record more information about all the people I helped and talked to. I kept a little note card in my pocket and recorded the revealed reasons why the person didn’t have a headlight, how many men and women I helped (I only recorded two categories), and some select quotes.
I think six people refused my offer for a free headlight – this is because they couldn’t hear me (several wore headphones), didn’t understand our intentions, or both. Also confused, a man driving a car said, “You little bastard with your bikes,” but I won’t let anyone distract me.
Genaro installs a headlight to someone riding on Halsted Street in University Village.
Of all the people I stopped, I identified 21 men and 11 women (32 total). Four people said they lost their lights or had them stolen and hadn’t yet replaced the lights. One person forgot their lights. 27 of the 32 people riding bikes didn’t know it was state law to ride a bike with a headlight on at night. Here’s what some riders had to say:
“No one told me that!” I suspect this is an extremely common explanation. This is definitely an opportunity for local bike shops to educate their customers, but there are other places people can get this information, like resident advisers at dorms, churches, and workplaces. The Active Transportation Alliance fights tirelessly to instill basic information into the minds of people riding bikes around town.
One person I was talking to hadn’t heard of the Active Transportation Alliance and after I explained to him what the organization does, he said, “My friends and I want to start our own group.”
Someone on foot asked me, “How long are you going to be here? I want my friend to get one.” This guy came back with his friend and they both got free headlights.
Speaking of the bicycling leading me to meetings with people I know, three friends were walking by and said hello. I had met one of them, Andrew, at the same spot, in front of the UIC Skyspace as we both raced in an October 2006 scavenger hunt.
Walk under the Skyspace to get a direct and undistracted view of the sky and space.
“What are the qualifications to be mayor of the city of Chicago?” asked Ryan Graves. “Be eighteen years old, a registered voter, a city resident, in no debt to the city, and no felony convictions. I meet all of these qualifications.”
After the forum, Danny Davis and Miguel del Valle started talking to reporters.