The bridge carries the St. Charles Air Line which itself carries freight and Amtrak traffic over the Chicago River at 16th Street. The City of New Orleans, Illini and Saluki routes use the line (after crossing the bridge, they back in to Union Station).
The park in the foreground is the extension of Ping Tom Park, and has a boathouse in which kayaks are stored.
The massive vacant parcel was once owned by Tony Rezko who was convicted of corruption and fraud.
The land is separated from that history, now, and will be developed by Related Midwest.
I can never remember the names that other people use for this land. I’ve always known it as the “Rezko lot”, so I’m sorry to perpetuate its relation to someone who was convicted of fraud and corruption.
The wonderful Bloomingdale Trail ends at Ridgeway Avenue because any further and you would be bicycling on or next to active passenger and freight railroads.
Even if you walk up to the solstice viewing area at the terminal, which is slightly elevated above the trail level, you can’t get a good view of Chicago’s west side.
Just over the fence is the Pacific Junction where three Metra Lines here (NCS, MD-W, and UP-NW) and Amtrak run. Ten years ago, Canadian Pacific serviced industrial clients along the Bloomingdale Line branch from the junction.
Rahm Emanuel has opened a lot of cool new parks – Maggie Daley, Northerly Island, 606, and Grant Park Skate Park – since he became mayor. (Making arguments that the parking lot south of Soldier Field can’t be anything but a parking lot pretty lame.)
This morning Emanuel cut the ribbon on the Big Marsh Bike Park, first announced in July 2014. It’s still known as Park 564, until the Chicago Park District board adopts a new name.
The single-track trails, terrain park, and pump track, are free and open to the public every day from dawn until dusk. It resembles the Valmont Bike Park in Boulder Colorado, which I visited in 2014.
Big Marsh was listed in the city’s Habitat Directory in 2005, noting, “Big Marsh is the largest individual wetland in the Calumet Open Space Reserve with approximately 90 acres of open water. Hiking and biking trails and canoe launch are ideas for this area in the future. As of this writing, the site is undeveloped.”
A map of the Big Marsh wetland in 2005 in the City of Chicago’s Habitat Directory. The bike park is mainly in the cleared space east of the #2 on the map.
The area is also part of the the State of Illinois’s Millennium Reserve program, a group of projects to restore natural areas, create new economic development opportunities in the area, and build more recreational sites.
There is no bike infrastructure to access the site, and many roads leading to the site are in bad condition, or have high-speed car traffic. There is a large car parking lot at the site.
* If you would like to help me map the bike park into OpenStreetMap, you can load the architect’s map of the site into JOSM using this WMS tile layer.
Most of the urban block pattern in Barcelona is this grid of right angles (like Chicago) with roads between blocks that range from small to massive (like Chicago). Barcelona’s blocks, called “illes”, for islands*, are uniform in size, too. This part of Barcelona is called Eixample, designed by ldefons Cerdà in 1859.
The city is rolling out its urban mobility plan from 2013 to reduce noise and air pollution, and revitalized public spaces. Part of this plan is to reduce car traffic on certain streets in a “superblock” (the project is called “superilles” in Catalan) by severely reducing the speed limit to 10 km/h.
My favorite quote from the video is when someone they interviewed discussed what tends to happen when space for cars is converted to space for people:
“What you consistently see is when people change their streetscapes to prioritize human beings over cars is you don’t see any decline in economic activity, you see the opposite. You get more people walking and cycling around, more slowly, stopping more often, patronizing businesses more. That center of social activity will build on itself.”
A superblock is a group of 9 square blocks where the internal speed limit for driving is reduced to 10 km/h, which is slower than most people ride a bicycle. That’s the second phase, though. The first phase reduces it first to 20 km/h. During phase 2, on-street parking will disappear. In addition to the reduced speed, motorists will only be able to drive a one-way loop: into the superblock, turn left, turn left, and out of the superblock, so it can’t be used as a through street even at slow speeds, “allowing people to use the streets for games, sport, and cultural activities, such as outdoor cinema” (Cities of the Future).
A grid isn’t necessary to implement the “superblock”; it can work anywhere.
In Ravenswood Manor, the Chicago Department of Transportation is testing a car traffic diverter at a single intersection on Manor Avenue, where drivers have to turn off of Manor Avenue. This effectively creates a small superblock in a mostly residential neighborhood, but one that is highly walkable, because schools, parks, a train station, and some small businesses are all within about four blocks of most residents.
The Vox video points out that “walkable districts are basically isolated luxury items in the United States”. I agree that this is often the case, although NYC, pointed out as a place where people spaces are being made out of former car-only spaces, is spreading its “pedestrian plaza” throughout all boroughs.
Ravenswood Manor is a wealthy area, but the reason this project is being tried there and not one of the dozens of other places where a lot of car traffic makes it uncomfortable or dangerous to walk and bike is because of the need to connect the trails.
These temporary car traffic diverters are set up at Manor Avenue and Wilson Avenue to force motorists to turn off of Manor Avenue while still allowing bicyclists and pedestrians to go straight. Photo: John Greenfield
The diverter should drastically reduce the amount of through traffic in the neighborhood. Its effect on motorists’ speeds will be better known when CDOT finishes the test in November.
A worker installs a barrier identifying the entrance to a “superilla” (singular superblock) last month. Calvin Brown told me, “I prefer the name ‘super islands’ because it is more poetic and captures the peaceful setting that they create.” Photo via La Torre de Barcelona.
I see a connection between the “superilles” plan in Barcelona, and what CDOT is piloting in the small neighborhood. The next step for CDOT is to try iterative designs in this and other neighborhoods and start converting asphalt into space for other uses, but we may have to rely on local groups to get that ball rolling.
I had the great fortune of visiting Barcelona a year ago, and I had no idea about the plan – but I was impressed by Cerdà’s design of Eixample. I will return, and next time I’ll spend a little time bicycling around.
People wait at a stop light on the first major ring road in the city center of Amsterdam. Photo: Northeastern University, Boston
I was flabbergasted to learn today that there are only 5,500 signalized intersections in all of the Netherlands. I was reading Mark’s blog “Bicycle Dutch” and he interviewed a city traffic signal engineer in Den Bosch, who described how different road users are prioritized at different times based on the complex programming. (Watch the video below.)
In Chicago there are more than 3,000 signalized intersections. And I believe this is way more than we need.
I understand more than the average person how traffic moves in each place and how it “works”. There is such a thing as too many traffic signals because at some point the signals (their proximity and their programming) start causing delays and conflicts.
Saying that traffic – of all kinds, bikes, trucks, buses, delivery vans, and personal vehicles – moves better in cities in the Netherlands than in Chicago is an understatement.
Aside from their impacts on traffic (which can be good in some situations, but aggravating existing problems in other places), signals are very expensive to purchase, install, and maintain.
In Chicago, an alderman (city councilor) can use part of their $1.3 million “menu” money annual allocation to purchase a traffic signal for $300,000. That’s money that won’t be used for transportation investments that reduce the number of severe traffic crashes as well as reduce congestion like bus lanes and protected bike lanes.
I compared their populations (about 17 million in the Netherlands and 2.7 million in Chicago) and saw that Chicago has a lot more traffic signals per person.
On Twitter, however, I was challenged to find the number of traffic signals per mile driven, not per capita.
So, I did, and I was surprised by the result.
This assumes I collected the right statistics, and converted the driving figures correctly.
The surprise: There are more passenger miles driven (known as VMT) in the Netherlands, per capita, than in Chicago. I actually can’t even get passenger miles driving in Chicago – I can only find “all miles” driven. And that includes trips on interstates that pass through Chicago but where the driver or passengers don’t stop in Chicago.
Here’s the analysis, though.
According to the OECD, there were 145,400 million kilometers driven on roads, for passenger transport, excluding bus coaches, in the Netherlands in 2013 (the latest year for which data was available in the Netherlands). That’s 145.4 billion kilometers. (Source, no permalink.)
According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, there were 11,150,109 thousand miles for all kinds of road transport, in Chicago in 2013. That’s 11.2 billion miles, which converts to 17.9 billion kilometers. (Source)
In 2013, the Netherlands had 16,804,430 inhabitants (they had declared reaching 17,000,000 this year), according to the OECD.
In 2013, the City of Chicago had 2,706,101 inhabitants, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2009-2013 ACS 5-year estimate.