photo by Steven Vance
Ooops, I forgot to post a reminder about todays Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council meeting. The next one is September 12th so consider yourself reminded.
You’re lucky that a lazy Summer affords me the opportunity to attend on your behalf and relay all the relevant details that I was able to take in short hand, well, those that are still legible a couple hours after the fact that is. Must replace this darned disappearing ink pen.
The first speaker today was Luann Hamilton who gave us a brief explanation of the new system under which the meetings will be conducted. I got a harsh lesson in this early in the meeting when I was asked to move from the usual spot I sit at so some newbie board members could get me cushy VIP seat. I’ve got 99 problems. Basically now the MBAC meetings are mostly catered to the board members like they used to be in the early 90s. Citizens are still welcome to attend but our meandering Q&A period has been significantly curtailed. One used to be able to ask questions while speakers were presenting and throughout the meeting but now Q&A from non-board members is limited to whatever time remains at the end of the meeting. Next time around I will have to remember to write down questions as members present since by the time the allotted time for questions rolled around I’d already forgotten any that I was storing in my limited capacity cranial spaces.
Since most people seemed to have the same problem I did, the meeting wrapped up on time for the first time in the 2 years I’ve been attending. So, there’s something to be said for efficiency.
The next speaker was CDOTs Mike Amsden who’s helming the Streets for Cycling 2020 project. Most of what he spoke on at today’s meeting I already covered with my last SfC post so here are a few new bits of info:
So far 6.5 miles of protected bike lanes (PBL) are under construction or completed. 30+ miles are currently in the design phase and will break ground this construction season. The goal is still a lofty 100 miles of PBLs by 2015.
A bike count was taken during this morning’s commute on Milwaukee at Elston and the data collectors charted more than 1,000 cyclists in a two hour period. I think that is only those headed toward the loop, so those figures are pretty impressive.
The current leader for the ‘bicycle superhighways’ moniker is ‘spoke lines’ which I called as the obviously least embarrassing name in the last SfC post. I mean, four-star bike routes? Boooooring.
Tonight is the last webinar for community members to provide input on the plan so CDOT is about 90% complete. The next steps will be finalizing the plan, prioritizing projects and obtaining additional funding sources. The plan should be publicly released in August or September.
Next Carlin (with CDOT) spoke in place of Chris Gagnon about bike parking. She went about ten thousand miles a minute. Here’s what my chicken scratch says:
They’ve hired a new intern to help with bike parking installation field work. There will be 500 new rack installations this summer. The on-street corral at Wicker Park’s 6 corners was reinstalled this spring. Two other locations in the city will receive on-street corrals this summer. They will be located in Pilsen and Andersonville but exact streets weren’t announced. I assume they’ll be somewhere on 18th near Ashland in Pilsen and on Clark between Foster and Summerdale in Andersonville.
Next up Charlie Short spoke about the Bicycle Ambassadors program. This year they’ve extended their season to ticket you for running red lights, erm, maintain law and order and protect you from yourself. They’ll now be working March through October. Their targeted enforcement focuses on “high crash locations”. They’ll also be partnering with aldermen in 16 wards to offer more light giveaways this season.
Finally, Luann Hamilton spoke again about the Green Lane project that was awarded to Chicago a few weeks ago. Six cities were selected to participate nationally including Austin, Memphis, Portland, San Francisco and DC. The plan focuses on bringing innovative bicycle facilities to cities that the organizes believed could more forward by leaps and bounds within two years. These facilities include PBLs, buffered bike lanes, intersection improvements and painted lanes (like the green lanes that have been popping up sporadically). The goal of the project is to learn more about the impact of these new facilities and identify obstacles to innovative design. As part of the project, Scott Kubly (CDOT), Ben Gomberg (CDOT), Ald. Pawar (47th Ward) and others are currently in a investigative tour of Copenhagen. Ah, to be saddled with the hardships of that gig.
At this point board members were given an opportunity to ask any questions. Ron Burke from Active Trans chose to convey his excitement for the future of transportation cycling in Chicago by saying that cycling used to be treated as merely recreation but progressive cities across the globe have picked up the torch and turned their locales from abysmal bicycle mode share numbers to success stories in a few short years. He cited Laon, France as an example. By adding PBLs and a bike share program their mode share went from 1% to 6-7% in a matter of three years. He believes that Chicago is on their way toward this model.
Another board member asked about the process of quantifying a perceived increase in cycling and how this could be accomplished. Mike Amsden said that they currently perform bike count assessments before and after new facilities are built but that bike counter boxes roadside would streamline the process and divert CDOT employees away from time intensive counting. Another participant suggested modifying the speed/red light cameras that are ubiquitous in Chicago for this purpose.
And now a sad one, Alex Wilson from West Town Bikes inquired about the status of the much touted bike share program. Apparently despite having all their funding lined up from the CMAQ and TIGER grants, the program ran into permitting snafus and now will not be able to launch this year. This will hopefully not jeopardize any of the current grant funding and all 4,000 planned stations should roll out next spring.
On a more positive note, as part of the downtown bus rapid transit project, Randolph and Washington through the loop will now receive PBLs on at least some part of their length. Hurrah.
Steven Vance then asked about the status of the current IDOT debacle preventing the completion of the Jackson protected lane from Ogden to Halsted. Mike Amsden announced that the concerns raised by IDOT were valid though he didn’t elaborate as to what those were. He said that the process was coming along and that he expected that project to be completed within the next two months.
That’s basically it for relevant/newish info. See you in room 1103 of City Hall at 3pm on September 12th for the next action-packed MBAC.