WBEZ | safety http://www.wbez.org/tags/safety Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago's red "X": Meaning, myths and limitations http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicagos-red-x-meaning-myths-and-limitations-110315 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/153918243&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: We have an <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicago-quietly-phasing-out-red-x-program-110924" target="_blank">update to this story</a>, which expands on the red &quot;X&quot; program&#39;s lack of funding.</em></p><p>While walking around her Logan Square neighborhood Chicagoan Poppy Coleman noticed something peculiar about two rundown buildings: They bore metal signs emblazoned with a large red &quot;X.&quot;</p><p>Poppy says she wanted to know more, including: &ldquo;Who they were for, maybe what department put them up, and if it was something that I should know about.&rdquo; So, she sent Curious City this question:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>What do those red &quot;X&quot; signs mean on buildings?</em></p><p>She&rsquo;s not the only one who&rsquo;s confused. Since 2012, red &quot;X&quot; signs have popped up on nearly 2,000 properties around Chicago. It&rsquo;s not hard to find <a href="http://www.trulia.com/voices/Home_Buying/Are_the_red_X_buildings_for_sale_-613697" target="_blank">people posting in online forums</a>, wondering aloud whether the red &quot;X&quot; means a building&rsquo;s condemned, vacant or for sale.</p><p>But in the course of reporting an answer for Poppy, we encountered hard questions about the program that supports red &ldquo;X&rdquo; signage, including whether the city&rsquo;s doing enough to communicate its intentions. We also turned up some surprising news: This program, meant to save the lives of first responders and others, has <a href="#money">run out of money</a>.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The sign&rsquo;s origins: A mayday call</span></p><p>On Dec. 22, 2010, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCPw1aiQDO8" target="_blank">firefighters were searching for squatters inside a burning, long-vacant laundromat </a>on the 1700 block of East 75th Street, in Chicago&rsquo;s South Shore neighborhood. As firefighters continued their sweep of the building, a wall fell and then the roof collapsed, killing firefighters Edward Stringer and Corey Ankum. Nineteen others were injured.</p><p>&ldquo;When I first became alderman, one of the first visits that I paid was to Fire Chief Mark Neilsen,&rdquo; said 50th Ward Ald. Debra Silverstein, who sponsored two city ordinances in response. The first ordinance, passed in 2011, required the department to catalogue buildings with bowstring truss construction, a <a href="http://www.firefighternation.com/article/firefighter-safety/bowstring-truss-roof-construction-hazards" target="_blank">variety that&rsquo;s prone to collapse during fires</a>.</p><p>Silverstein&rsquo;s second ordinance sought to find and mark all of Chicago&rsquo;s dangerous buildings. For that program they decided on rectangular metal signs displaying a big red &quot;X&quot;, a symbol used by fire departments in New York City and other some other cities. <a href="http://dart.arc.nasa.gov/Recon/BUILDI~1Rev1.pdf" target="_blank">That iconography comes from a federal program for marking vacant structures</a>.</p><p>Chicago doesn&rsquo;t assign red &quot;X&quot; signs to just any vacant or abandoned building; a sign is a visual cue that a structure is structurally unsound and that firefighters and other first responders should take precautions when responding to emergencies there. It&rsquo;s also an extra reminder for anyone who might wander into a vacant building &mdash; which is illegal already &mdash; that they should stay out.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">Making a list</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Trip.jpg" style="width: 350px; float: right; height: 700px;" title="All three vacant buildings are marked with the red X, but display varying levels of disrepair. No signage indicates dangerous, structural disrepair. (WBEZ/Shawn Allee - Kathy Chaney)" /></p><p>Since Silverstein&rsquo;s <a href="http://chicagocouncilmatic.org/legislation/1135934" target="_blank">ordinance</a> passed in June 2012, the Chicago Fire Department has placed red &quot;X&quot; signs on 1,804 buildings. That&rsquo;s less than half of the more than 5,000 vacant properties registered in the city &mdash; itself a fraction of the estimated total of <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/bldgs/dataset/vacant_and_abandonedbuildingsservicerequests.html" target="_blank">vacant and abandoned buildings in Chicago</a> &mdash; but CFD Spokesman Larry Langford says it&rsquo;s a start.</p><p>&ldquo;We picked 1,800 that we wanted to get marked right away,&rdquo; he says. When the program started, Chicago&rsquo;s Department of Buildings sent over a list of structurally unsound properties for CFD to add to as they saw fit. The list from the Department of Buildings included a few hundred properties deemed more than 35 percent deteriorated.</p><p>Langford says &ldquo;It&rsquo;s based on structural damage rotting in some cases, vandalism, previous fire, the overall integrity of the building, what&rsquo;s missing from the building, if there are holes in the floor, porch in bad condition, roof about to go &mdash; things that might make it difficult for a fireman to work the fire, or for the building to come down quickly during a fire.&rdquo;</p><p>That list quickly grew to 1,800. Firemen took note of vacant buildings as they did their rounds, checking out potentially unsafe structures and adding to the initial list of red &quot;X&quot; candidates.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">&lsquo;They&rsquo;re everywhere&rsquo;</span></p><p>Records obtained by WBEZ show the city often put up dozens of signs at a time in parts of the city with a lot of vacant and structurally unsound buildings.</p><p>Poppy Coleman joined Curious City Editor Shawn Allee and reporter Chris Bentley for a short canvas of the South Side&rsquo;s Englewood neighborhood, which has hundreds of buildings sporting the signs.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe align="middle" frameborder="0" height="620" scrolling="no" src="http://interactive.wbez.org/curiouscity/redx/embed.html#/?address=7000%20S%20Normal%20Ave%2C%20Chicago%2C%20IL%2C%20United%20States&amp;radius=805interactive.wbez.org/curiouscity/redx/embed.html" width="620"></iframe></p><blockquote><p><em>(Curious City canvassed portions of the Englewood neighborhood near the intersection of 70th and Normal. There are 55 red &quot;X&quot; signs posted within a half-mile of the intersection. Map: <a href="http://wbez.is/1hMvplH" target="_blank">See the signs across the city and search by address</a>)</em></p></blockquote><p>Most of the residents we talked to around the intersection of 70th and South Normal Avenue described waking up to find several houses on their block marked with red &quot;X&quot; signs. The signs never go unnoticed, but neighbors are often confused about what they mean.</p><p>&ldquo;For some reason the red &lsquo;X&rsquo; became something totally different than what we intended it to be,&rdquo; said Langford. &rdquo;I thought they were kidding me when they said it, but some people thought that those were the buildings that were being targeted by the drones when the next war started, and that the red &lsquo;X&rsquo; is a drone target.&rdquo;</p><p>The department has largely left it up to aldermen and their offices to publicize the signs&rsquo; purpose. Langford says people have called to ask the fire department if red &ldquo;X&rdquo; buildings are part of a program by the city to sell distressed property at a discount, or to pillory property owners whose taxes are in arrears.</p><p>&ldquo;It has nothing to do with ownership, it&rsquo;s not a part of any kind of program to do anything with the buildings. For the most part they&rsquo;re privately owned,&rdquo; Langford says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s just a marking for danger. It&rsquo;s really just that simple.&rdquo;</p><p>Simple, perhaps, but there&rsquo;s a lot of confusion in areas where red &quot;X&quot;s are common. If these signs are here to save lives &mdash; both those of firefighters and anyone who might think of trespassing on potentially dangerous abandoned properties &mdash; is everyone on the same page?</p><p>There are several red &quot;X&quot; buildings on the 6900 block of S. Normal, where Maria Johnson lives. But her next door neighbor is an abandoned building that doesn&rsquo;t have a red &quot;X&quot;. She says just because a building&rsquo;s deemed vacant doesn&rsquo;t mean it&rsquo;s unoccupied.</p><p>&ldquo;Homeless people, people with nowhere to stay,&rdquo; said Johnson, who has lived on this block for three years. &ldquo;I know they went into the &nbsp;building next to me and someone set it on fire, it caught onto my crib. So I don&rsquo;t know if they were living in there, or getting high, or whatever, but I know there were some homeless people going through the back door.&rdquo;</p><p>There&rsquo;s no signage explaining the red &quot;X&quot; &mdash; just the &ldquo;X&rdquo; itself &mdash; so if you want answers, you have to find them yourself. Most of the people we asked in Englewood thought the red &ldquo;X&rdquo; marked buildings for demolition. Earl Liggins was one of the few people who knew what the signs&rsquo; real meaning, but that&rsquo;s only because he took matters into his own hands.</p><p>&ldquo;I called the alderman&rsquo;s office and I heard it from the alderman people themselves,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I was just concerned because there are so many of them. I was just wondering what does it mean, are they going to tear this many buildings down? I just wanted to know straight from them, what the situation was.&rdquo;</p><p>Liggins lives in a formerly vacant building on the 7000 block of S. Normal that he fixed up a few years ago. But he says whether they have a red &quot;X&quot; or not, most vacant buildings in his neighborhood stay that way.</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/untitled-3.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="Earl Liggins, right, lives in a formerly vacant building on the 7000 block of S. Normal. Fifty-five red ‘X’ buildings lie within half a mile. (WBEZ/Shawn Allee) " /></p><p>&ldquo;For the most part they stay vacant forever,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;The condition of the building gets worse and worse. That building across the street &mdash; I&rsquo;ve been here 10 years and that building has been vacant for about ten years.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Removing the red &lsquo;X&rsquo;</span></p><p>There is a process to rehabilitate vacant and abandoned properties, but the city requires owners to obtain special permission before performing work on red x structures. Two years after the program began, however, <a href="https://www.chicagoreporter.com/reclaiming-avenue" target="_blank">only one building has successfully been repaired and had its red &quot;X&quot; legally removed</a>.</p><p>The next red &quot;X&quot; property to move off the list might be one of the buildings that originally sparked question asker Poppy Coleman&rsquo;s curiosity: 2800 W. Logan Blvd. A fire ravaged the three-story building last summer, but owner Darko Tesanovic <a href="http://webapps.cityofchicago.org/buildingpermit/search/extendedapplicationstatus.htm?permitNumber=100480840" target="_blank">got a city permit</a> earlier this year to repair the damages and turn a ground-floor dwelling unit into retail space. If he finishes the repairs, Tesanovic could be only the second landlord in Chicago to legally remove a red &quot;X&quot; from his building. In the meantime he says the X isn&rsquo;t impeding his redevelopment efforts, but it might be adding to neighborhood anxieties about the vacant property.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not bothered by it,&rdquo; Tesanovic says. &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s creating more confusion for the neighborhood than myself, because people in the neighborhood don&rsquo;t know what it means.&rdquo;</p><p>Our question asker was glad to learn what the red &quot;X&quot; means, but she still wonders about its impact. Many of the <a href="http://wbez.is/1hMvplH" target="_blank">neighborhoods with high concentrations of red &quot;X&quot; signs</a> are already reeling from a downward spiral of disinvestment, blight and declining property values. She&rsquo;s worried red &quot;X&quot;s are like scarlet letters &mdash; just another obstacle in a rough neighborhood&rsquo;s struggle to improve its station.</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/untitled-4.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="Chicagoan Poppy Coleman, left, asked Curious City about the meaning behind more than 1,800 red ‘X’ signs posted on buildings across Chicago. (WBEZ/Curious City) " /></p><p>&ldquo;My disappointment is that once the &lsquo;X&rsquo; is up, it doesn&rsquo;t sound like there&rsquo;s any support to help move that building to a next phase, either to get it sold, get it taken care of, get it torn down,&rdquo; Coleman says in the shade beside a boarded-up red &quot;X&quot; building on the 7000 block of South Eggleston Avenue. &ldquo;Putting the &lsquo;X&rsquo; on it seems to be where the program stops.&rdquo;</p><p>Ald. Debra Silverstein, who sponsored the original red &quot;X&quot; ordinance, says she&rsquo;d be open to the city forming a task force charged with helping city agencies work together to resuscitate ailing properties after the fire department marks them.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not aware of any talk about the different departments working together specifically on the red &quot;X&quot;, but I highly encourage that,&rdquo; Silverstein says. &ldquo;I think we&rsquo;re all better off if all the different departments work together and form a task force to solve some of these issues. That&rsquo;s really important to get things taken care of.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><a name="money"></a>Out of money</span></p><p>While in Englewood, we ask the CFD&#39;s Larry Langford whether it makes sense to let the public know more about the meaning behind the &quot;X&quot; &mdash;maybe by putting up a smaller, less permanent sign explaining it&#39;s dangerous to enter such buildings.</p><p>&ldquo;If we expand the program, that&rsquo;s a suggestion that will be made,&quot; he says. &quot;It might cut some of the confusion down. Put a permanent sign up, put an adhesive sign up &mdash; could be.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Whether they&rsquo;ll get a chance to do that is an open question, because this program that was meant to save lives has run out of money. The city received $675,000 from <a href="http://www.fema.gov/welcome-assistance-firefighters-grant-program" target="_blank">the Federal Emergency Management Agency&rsquo;s Assistance to Firefighters grant program</a> to fund the red &quot;X&quot; program. Most of that federal grant money went to two local contractors: AGAE Contractors and M-K Signs.</p><p>Data obtained by WBEZ show the city spent all of that money over thirteen months starting in June of 2012, and <a href="http://wbez.is/1uNLXMp" target="_blank">hasn&rsquo;t put up any new red &quot;X&quot; signs since July 2013</a>.</p><p>Ald. Debra Silverstein, who sponsored the original red &ldquo;X&rdquo; ordinance, says she&rsquo;s eager to find more money for the program. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s office did not return requests for comment. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;We wish it would be funded for a longer period of time, but yes we think it was a success,&rdquo; says the CFD&rsquo;s Larry Langford. &ldquo;Are there more than 1,800 that could be marked? Absolutely. But we&rsquo;re not doing anything until we get more funding.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a href="http://cabentley.com/" target="_blank">Chris Bentley</a> is a reporter for Curious City and a freelance journalist. Follow him on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/Cementley" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>. <a href="https://twitter.com/shawnallee" target="_blank">Shawn Allee</a> is Curious City&#39;s editor. <a href="https://twitter.com/chrishagan" target="_blank">Chris Hagan</a> is a WBEZ web producer and data expert, and&nbsp;</em><em><a href="https://twitter.com/kathychaney" target="_blank">Kathy Chaney</a>&nbsp;is a WBEZ producer.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 10 Jun 2014 16:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicagos-red-x-meaning-myths-and-limitations-110315 Blue Line train derails, climbs escalator at O'Hare http://www.wbez.org/news/blue-line-train-derails-climbs-escalator-ohare-109909 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP661422106797(1).jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Last updated March 25, 4 p.m.</em></p><p>An emergency track-side braking system activated but failed to stop a Chicago commuter train from jumping the tracks and barreling to the top of an escalator at O&#39;Hare International Airport, a federal investigator said Tuesday.</p><p>The events that led to Monday&#39;s accident, which occurred around 3 a.m. and injured more than 30 passengers, might have begun with the train operator dozing off toward the end of her shift, according the union representing transit workers. But Tuesday&#39;s announcement that a piece of emergency safety equipment might have failed was the first indication the accident could have been caused by human error and mechanical failure.</p><p>National Transportation Safety Board investigator Ted Turpin said a preliminary review showed the train was traveling at the correct speed of 25 mph as it entered the station. Investigators said they have not yet determined whether the operator ever applied the in-cab brake.</p><p>Turpin, who is in charge of the investigation, said an automatic emergency braking system located on the tracks was activated but failed to stop the train as it burst onto the platform.</p><p>&quot;It activated,&quot; Turpin said of the emergency system. &quot;That&#39;s all we know factually. Now, whether it did it in time or not, that&#39;s an analysis that we have to figure out.&quot;</p><p>A team from the NTSB was also exploring how rested the train operator was before starting her shift and whether rules governing overtime had been violated, after a union official suggested she might have dozed off.</p><p>They planned to interview the train operator Tuesday afternoon.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re going to ask probably the operator how they felt ... because we always take into consideration the fatigue factor. It&#39;s one of the things we do investigate,&quot; Turpin said.</p><p>The operator, whom officials have not identified, was off duty for about 17 hours before starting work around 8 p.m. Sunday but had recently put in a lot of overtime, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308 President Robert Kelly said Monday.</p><p>&quot;I know she works a lot &mdash; as a lot of our members do,&quot; he said. &quot;They gotta earn a living. ... She was extremely tired.&quot;</p><p>Kelly said the operator took standard drug and alcohol tests after the derailment and that she assured him they were not an issue.</p><p>Asked whether she may have nodded off, Kelly responded: &quot;The indication is there. Yes.&quot;</p><p>Federal investigators hoped to turn the scene over to local officials later Tuesday to begin removing the train from the escalator at the underground Chicago Transit Authority station.</p><p>The train is designed to stop if operators become incapacitated and their hand slips off the spring-loaded controls. Kelly speculated that, upon impact, inertia might have thrown the operator against the hand switch, accelerating it onto the escalator.</p><p>Transit officials refused to discuss what other safety mechanisms are in place around the transit system while the investigation was ongoing.</p><p>Federal safety regulators keep a close watch on longer distance, city-to-city passenger rail and freight operations. But federal safety oversight of transit systems within cities has been weaker, and responsibility for any technology to prevent crashes and control speeds has been left to local authorities.</p><p>There are efforts to grant a safety oversight role to the Federal Transit Administration, which has primarily been a funding agency, said Sean Jeans-Gail, vice president of the National Association of Railroad Passengers, a Washington-based advocacy group.</p><p>In the meantime, local transit agencies like Chicago&#39;s make their own choices about how to spend scarce funding, juggling the needs of safely maintaining systems that are a century old in some places with pressure to expand systems to meet demand.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s always going to be a tension, but it&#39;s a tension that becomes more pronounced when there&#39;s not a healthy level of investment in both maintenance and ... capacity expansion,&quot; Jeans-Gail said.</p><p>Investigators have also been scrutinizing the train&#39;s brakes, track signals and other potential factors while reviewing video footage from more than 40 cameras in the station and on the train, Turpin said.</p><p>The station remained closed Tuesday, and CTA buses took passengers to and from O&#39;Hare to the next station on the line. Transport officials have not said when full Blue Line service will resume at O&#39;Hare.</p></p> Mon, 24 Mar 2014 09:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/blue-line-train-derails-climbs-escalator-ohare-109909 Chicago's flammable 'fire escapes' http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicagos-flammable-fire-escapes-109009 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/PORCH%20TOPPER.jpg" title="One version of Chicago's ubiquitous wooden back porch. (Flickr/corydalus)" /></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/122003293" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: The podcast episode above is one of two audio stories related to this topic. A shorter, excerpted version is paired with our <a href="http://wbez.is/VFsYaf" target="_blank">story on the history of a structure that frequently has wooden porches: the Chicago two-flat</a>. &nbsp;</em></p><p>If the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 taught the city one thing, it&rsquo;s that wood does not stand up to flames. This fact did not escape notice of Manhattanite-turned-Chicagoan Lee Kuhn, who moved to the Hyde Park neighborhood to attend the University of Chicago. He settled into a three-flat building which &mdash; like untold numbers of similar buildings across the city &mdash; had a wooden back porch.</p><p>At first glance, Lee said, the wooden structure&rsquo;s use as a fire escape seemed illogical: &ldquo;If this is a fire escape and it&rsquo;s made out of wood &mdash; what&rsquo;s going on here?&rdquo;</p><p>So Lee turned to Curious City with this question:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>What is the origin of Chicago&#39;s distinctive wooden fire escapes? Are they actually effective during fires?</em><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/PORCHES GROUP SHOT.jpg" style="height: 194px; width: 260px; float: right;" title="The University of Chicago group who helped research this story. From left to right: Jonathan Katz, Lee Kuhn, Maura Connors, and Hannah Loftus. (WBEZ/Jennifer Brandel)" /></p><p>As part of a special collaboration with a University of Chicago course called &ldquo;Buildings as Evidence,&rdquo; Lee and fellow classmates Jonathan Katz, Maura Connors, and Hannah Loftus helped Curious City find answers. Along the way, we learned how economics sometimes overrules logic, and there&rsquo;s a bit of irony here, too: While not technically &quot;fire escapes,&quot; these wooden porches are meant to keep residents safer from fire.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><strong>More than one way out</strong></div><p>For more than a century, Chicago&rsquo;s building code has demanded two means of egress (i.e., multiple exits) on typical two- and three-flat buildings, a fact that City of Chicago regulation and code reviewer Bob Fahlstrom confirmed after looking through the city&rsquo;s code library. He said as early as 1906 (the farthest back he could view), the building code stated that every two or three-flat apartment (also called &ldquo;tenements&rdquo; at that time) required either a fire escape or two separate stairs: one staircase located at the front of the building and another at the back.</p><p>Building code regulations were still new in the early 1900s, but Chicago did have the <a href="http://www.greatchicagofire.org/" target="_blank">Great Chicago Fire</a> under its belt as well as the <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/chi-chicagodays-iroquoisfire-story,0,6395565.story" target="_blank">Iroquois Theater fire</a>. And as the now ubiquitous short apartment buildings and homes that carpet most Chicago neighborhoods were being built in the late 1800s and into the 1900s, the two-exit requirement seemed a regulation born out of hard experience.</p><p>Fahlstrom said the rationale was common sense. &ldquo;In a fire situation,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;if you&rsquo;ve got one exit and the fire gets between you and that exit, you&rsquo;re in real danger.&rdquo;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/BACK%20PORCH%20view%20Flickr%20meconnors.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="The zig-zag of wooden porches, both enclosed and exposed, are a common sight from many of Chicago's back alleys. (Filckr/Maura Connors) " /></p><p>While technically not a fire escape, back porches did satisfy building code requirements and make for another option if a front exit was unpassable, and vice versa.</p><p><strong>Party in the front, business in the back</strong></p><p>If you walk from front to back on any Chicago two-flat, you&rsquo;re likely to notice one side is more comely. The fronts of buildings sport decorative flourishes such as limestone window sills, stained glass or arches. Likewise, the front interior staircases are often made of nicer-grade wood, sometimes with classy bannisters or carpets. The front is where you let your guests in and make an impression.</p><p>However, it&rsquo;s a different situation at the back of the building, where you hang laundry to dry and haul out garbage. Originally, these back areas were used to receive milk, ice and other deliveries, even when residents weren&rsquo;t home. Physical markers of those uses persist today; some buildings still have a small door in their back walls that once allowed icemen to place ice directly into kitchen iceboxes (fun fact: that&rsquo;s why kitchens in these buildings are next to the back porch). And a few porches still have wooden outdoor &ldquo;refrigerators.&rdquo;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/figure%201%20crop%20for%20thumb%20sc.jpeg" style="height: 378px; width: 270px; float: right;" title="An illustration by Herman Rosse from the 1922 book: 1001 Afternoons in Chicago by Ben Hecht. Scan provided by Tim Samuelson." /></p><p>According to City of Chicago historian Tim Samuelson, these back porches came about partially as an outgrowth of Chicago&rsquo;s characteristic back alleys. He said the extra room reserved for alleys also allowed extra space for large wooden structures such as porches. This is not the case in cities without alleys, such as New York City. Instead, those cities rely on the characteristic slim metal fire escapes, oftentimes <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/44613506@N07/5436965455" target="_blank">on the front of buildings</a>.</p><p>Samuelson also noted that back porches provided refuge from oppressive indoor heat in the days before air conditioning. Enclosed &ldquo;sleeping porches&rdquo; also used to exist in Chicago. And, in some cases, porches served as informal &ldquo;<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/95360819@N04/8938609009/" target="_blank">sanatoriums</a>&rdquo; for sick patients.</p><p><strong>But why wood?</strong></p><p>That answer comes down to basic economics. Since Chicago was a center for the lumber industry, and wood has historically been a cheaper choice than metal or concrete, wood won out as the logical material of choice for two- and three-flats&rsquo; porches. In recent years, though, metal has been gaining traction.</p><p>Bob Fahlstrom also said attaching the required rear exit to the exterior of apartment buildings and homes allowed builders to maximize indoor space and value for renters. So from the beginning of these buildings&rsquo; construction, wood as the porch-building material of choice came down to money and ease.</p><p><strong>Porch as fire escape: Does it work?</strong></p><p>While wood structures seem an illogical choice for a means to escape fire, they are indeed effective &mdash; at least if you consider the distinction between making residents safe from fire and making living spaces fireproof. In fact, the revised City of Chicago building codes directly address the use and effectiveness of these wooden back porches.</p><p>Let&rsquo;s start with the code. The city of Chicago has <a href="https://law.resource.org/pub/us/code/city/il/Chicago/archive.2012_12/Building/division07.pdf" target="_blank">rules and regulations</a> that allow wooden porches &ndash; especially those on three-flat apartment buildings &ndash; to act as emergency egress.</p><p><strong>Regulations include:</strong></p><ul><li>the porch must be behind a &ldquo;fire-rated wall,&rdquo; one made of fire-resistant brick or other material that burns at a slower rate compared to other materials</li><li>porches may not be wider than ten feet, in order to prevent unwieldiness and collapse</li><li>door frames leading to escapes must also be fire-rated to certain capacities.</li></ul><p>Porches built from sturdy, pressure-treated wood themselves do not burn particularly quickly; it takes a fire about 10-15 minutes to burn through a wood door of thinner width than an average porch, which might take somewhat longer to burn.</p><p>Chicago Fire Department spokesperson Larry Langford said when it comes to fire safety, wooden porches work well enough, adding that the department has a typical response time of about 3 minutes and 40 seconds.</p><p>&ldquo;The department is generally going to get there fast enough to make a good rescue if they get called in time on a fire,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Yet Chicago&rsquo;s fire escapes are far from perfect; they are, after all, still flammable &ndash; and they&rsquo;re often the site of the fire itself.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/PORCH%20CLUTTER.jpg" style="height: 213px; width: 320px; float: left;" title="Porches can catch fire from common porch activities, like smoking or grilling. A cluttered porch can add fuel to flames and make escape more hazardous. (Flickr/Maura Connors)" /></div><p>Langford said in the summertime, the city gets a few calls related to porch fires each week. The causes range from improperly disposed cigarettes that ignite trash or furniture, to Fourth of July fireworks that land on wooden slats. Of course, barbeques &mdash; both gas and charcoal &mdash; are culprits as well.</p><p>While winter porch fires are less frequent, Langford cautioned they often have malicious origins. He said arsonists are well aware of porches&rsquo; flammability, and they&rsquo;ll use them as a sort of fuse to set an entire apartment building ablaze.</p><p>Langford also stressed the importance of smoke detectors as a way to increase the likelihood the fire department will be able to minimize property damage and insure safety.</p><p><strong>Helpful in a fire, but ...</strong></p><p>Unfortunately, the physical history of Chicago&rsquo;s wooden back porches is rapidly being lost. In 2003<a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-06-23/news/ct-met-porch-collapse-anniversary-20130624-6_1_porch-complaints-porch-contractor-713-w" target="_blank"> a porch collapsed in Chicago&rsquo;s Lincoln Park neighborhood and killed 13 people</a>. After that tragedy, City Council toughened porch regulations, so building owners and contractors have been busy replacing porches, rather than just repairing them as they used to. These code revisions led to a veritable re-building boom; approximately ten new porch companies joined the existing five in the years following the collapse.</p><p>In almost all cases, the pre-2003 porches are original to their buildings, often dating back to Chicago&rsquo;s construction boom in the early 20th century. Victor Gonzon, a Chicago porch-builder (working at 1-773-Porches), said that hundred-year-old porches are not uncommon, and that he&rsquo;s aware of Chicago porches that may even be 120 years old.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/PORCH%20BEING%20BUILT.jpg" style="height: 442px; width: 330px; float: right;" title="After the tragic porch collapse in 2003 and the city strengthened the building code, most porches in Chicago needed improvements or total rebuilds to get up to code. (WBEZ/Jennifer Brandel)" />Gonzon observed that, over time, porches took on a social role in addition to their functional ones. For example, realtors prominently advertise back porches as an amenity, especially as porch parties became more common. Gonzon has even seen porch owners repurpose their icebox features as modern day beer coolers.</p><p>Adam Lesniakowski, who&rsquo;s been building porches in Chicago for four seasons with his aptly-named company <a href="http://www.porch-builders.com/porch-builders-chicago.php" target="_blank">Porch Builders</a>, said he still spots lots of old and new porches around town that violate increasingly stringent city code &mdash; even though there&rsquo;s a fleet of inspectors on the lookout. But code changes are among the reasons his own porch business is doing well.</p><p>The revised code doesn&rsquo;t change the fact that the porches are flammable, even if they are safer for more occupants and used differently. When asked about any apparent irony in having flammable structures act as fire escapes, Lesniakowski thought about it for a minute.</p><p>&ldquo;But our houses are built by wood, mostly,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And you&rsquo;re cooking in the kitchen, you got candles. ... &nbsp;Everything is by the wood.&rdquo;</p><p>He&rsquo;s right. Chicago buildings may have gotten better when it comes to fire safety, but the city will never be fire proof. &nbsp;</p><p><em>Keep up with Curious City&rsquo;s latest via <a href="https://www.facebook.com/curiouscityproject" target="_blank">Facebook </a>and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZCuriousCity" target="_blank">Twitter</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 25 Oct 2013 10:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicagos-flammable-fire-escapes-109009 Standing up to street harassment http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-10/standing-street-harassment-108847 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/vonderauvisuals%20Flickr%202.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Woman walking near Dearborn during rush hour. (Flickr/Vonderauvisials)" />Harassment shows its ugly face in many forms: a bully at school, an abuser at home, an underminer in the workplace, or an army of trolls online.</p><p>However, perhaps no form of harassment is more overt or troublingly common than catcalling: the whistles and kiss noises, the staccato beeps of car horns, the whispered or shouted evaluations of someone&#39;s physical appearance on the sidewalk, and the many other forms of street harassment (stalking, groping, leering, etc.) that women continually receive in public spaces, <a href="http://www.stopstreetharassment.org/resources/statistics/statistics-academic-studies/" target="_blank">often on a daily basis</a>.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">I have experienced public objectification&mdash;whether it be whistle and a wink, a double tap of a car horn, or an unwelcome comment on my body that sends a tiny shiver down my spine&mdash;every single time that I go out walking in Chicago.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">It doesn&#39;t matter which neighborhood I&#39;m in, whether I have makeup on or not, if I&#39;m wearing a miniskirt or a baggy sweatshirt and jeans.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Without fail, a complete stranger (usually a man or group of men, although women in their company have occasionally joined in) will take the time out of their day to put me in my place as a woman magnified through the lens of rape culture: a female specimen to be ogled, disrespected, and dehumanized as nothing but an object of their gaze.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Most of the time, I ignore them and keep walking; because isn&#39;t that what you&#39;re supposed to do? Other instances break the straw holding together an already fragile day, and I want to hide or scream or cry. I want to yell back that my body is not theirs to claim, that I&#39;m more than just a piece of meat to be verbally chewed and torn apart for sport.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">My look is more skinny nerdgirl than glamazon; but even if I did choose to wear high heels and skintight dresses every day, I still wouldn&#39;t deserve the &quot;Hey, sexy&quot; and &quot;Mmm, lookin&#39; good&quot; whispers, smacking of lips, and anonymous shouts from rolled-down windows, often followed by nervous laughter from passersby.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p>I am not alone in this. When I reached out to others on Twitter, asking if they would be willing to share their stories of street harassment, they responded with tweets of &quot;too many stories!&quot; and &quot;I feel like every woman in a city like Chicago has more than one experience to share.&quot;</p><p>One particularly frightening story that I received via email, from a woman in Chicago named Hannah, confirmed this for me. With her permission, snippets of one of Hannah&#39;s most harrowing experiences&mdash;in which a man harassed her outside of a bar in Wrigleyville, then followed her to a friend&#39;s apartment&mdash;are reposted with ellipses below:</p><blockquote><p>&quot;It wasn&#39;t the first time someone had shouted at me from a bar by any means, probably not even the first time that week, so I ignored it like I usually did. But he didn&#39;t go away. He kept following me, saying things like &#39;Come on, don&rsquo;t be like that,&#39; and walking faster so he was next to me... I kept shrugging him off, and saying I couldn&rsquo;t join him for drinks because I was meeting a friend. I&rsquo;d smile, and try to be&nbsp;apologetic&nbsp;about it, but he wouldn&rsquo;t stop asking, and getting more agitated ... Finally, I got to my friend&#39;s building and went into the little vestibule ... that&rsquo;s when he started screaming at me. Calling me a bitch for lying that I was meeting someone. Saying there was no one waiting for me upstairs, that I was just a lying whore who didn&rsquo;t know how to have fun.</p><div>It was one of the scariest moments of my life, fumbling with the keys ... I tried to think about what I&rsquo;d do if he did try to get closer to me&ndash;at this point, he was still standing inside the doorway to the foyer, not entirely off the street&ndash;but thankfully, the key slid into the lock and I was inside the stairwell, slamming the door behind me ... Once I got upstairs and related the story to my friend, all I kept thinking was that all down the four blocks, people were watching him follow me, and NO ONE said anything.&quot;&nbsp;</div></blockquote><p>Do we have to stand by and take this kind of harassment from strangers, watch it happen to others without saying a word, or &quot;just ignore it&quot; like many of us have often been told? The answer is <i>no</i>; you shouldn&#39;t have to shut up and take it. You deserve to walk down the street without being harassed by strangers. You deserve to stand your ground, and it&#39;s okay to ask for help.&nbsp;</p><p>Renee Davidson, Communications Director of the grassroots group <a href="http://www.collectiveactiondc.org" target="_blank">Collective Action for Safe Spaces </a>(CASS), says that she has received over 600 stories of street harassment in the D.C. metropolitan area.</p><blockquote><p>&quot;Our submissions are overwhelming from women, but men -- particularly LGBT and gender nonconforming men -- experience street harassment as well,&quot; says Davidson, &quot; Women and men can take a stand against this by speaking up when they&rsquo;re harassed, whether that means responding to the harasser, sharing their story with a group like CASS or Hollaback, or starting a conversation about street harassment with their friends and the men in their lives.&quot;</p><p>&quot;Street harassment is also intensely normalized, such that being told to &#39;brush it off&#39; has caused many women to accept it as just another part of moving in public. By speaking up about our experiences with street harassment, we are letting it be known that it&#39;s a problem.&quot;</p></blockquote><p>Yes, men also face sexual harassment from strangers on street corners, and their experiences matter just as much. But when stories of male-on-female aggression pop up again and again, like this piece from the Huffington Post about <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/soraya-chemaly/street-harassment-is-runn_b_4004394.html" target="_blank">a man running over a 14-year-old girl for refusing to have sex with him</a>, it&#39;s time to dig deeper into what&#39;s perpetuating this chronic narrative. And then we should actually do something about it.&nbsp;</p><p>Just as we should be educating men to not rape (instead of simply teaching women how to avoid rapey situations), we should also teach boys from a very young age that catcalling is degrading, hurtful, and harmful to the fabric of our society. Street harassment fuels rape culture, &quot;blurring lines&quot; to the point that many women can no longer tell the difference between a compliment and objectification. Leering at women on the street and hollering pointed comments about their bodies is the furthest thing from respectable behavior; it&#39;s blatant misogyny and patriarchy incarnate.</p><p>&quot;Learning tips on bystander intervention is also a great way to help prevent sexual harassment,&quot; adds Davidson, &quot;If you encounter someone street harassing another person, you can tell them to &#39;respect women&#39; or any other interjection that feels natural for you.&quot;</p><p>We don&#39;t have to keep our mouths shut. We don&#39;t have to grin and bear it. No one deserves to be harassed on the way to the grocery store or while walking home at night, and it&#39;s time for us to start talking back.</p><p><strong>Resources for education, inspiration and support:</strong> <a href="http://www.stopstreetharassment.org/resources/male-allies/educating-boys-men/" target="_blank">StopStreetHarassment.org</a>, <a href="http://www.collectiveactiondc.org" target="_blank">CollectiveActionDC.org</a>, <a href="http://catcalled.org" target="_blank">Catcalled.org</a>, this <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/09/an-app-to-help-women-avoid-street-harassment/279642/" target="_blank">Atlantic article</a> on a new app to help women and members of the LGBTQ community report street harassment, the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/03/stop-telling-women-to-smile-tatyana-fazlalizadeh" target="_blank">&quot;Stop Telling Woman to Smile&quot;</a> project, and <a href="http://chicago.ihollaback.org/about/" target="_blank">HollabackChicago!</a>,&nbsp;an anti-harassment forum for Chicagoans.&nbsp;</p><p>If you have a street harassment story to share, please sound off in the comment section below. Let&#39;s start talking.</p><p><em>Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. You can find her on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett" target="_blank">Facebook</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">Twitter</a>&nbsp;and<a href="http://hermionehall.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">&nbsp;Tumblr</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 04 Oct 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-10/standing-street-harassment-108847 Matteson officials sues Lincoln Mall over safety violations http://www.wbez.org/news/matteson-officials-sues-lincoln-mall-over-safety-violations-108335 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Matteson Mall_130807_AYC.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Village of Matteson today asked a Cook County judge to immediately close Lincoln Mall because of conditions officials said put patrons and employees in danger.</p><p>The 40-year-old mall was sold to New York-based businessman Michael Kohan. He paid $150,000 in a judicial sale last June. At the time, Kohan promised to fix the violations.</p><p>Village officials said they&rsquo;ve since approached Kohan with complaints about violations like blocked fire exits and exposed electrical wires.</p><p>They said they have filed 24 safety citations, but Kohan has done nothing to improve conditions.</p><p>Village Administrator Brian Mitchell said enough is enough.</p><p>&ldquo;Safety is first and foremost,&rdquo; Mitchell said. &ldquo;You know, to make this decision is hard, but we can&rsquo;t look at economic development and being pro-business when we have a building that is not safe.&rdquo;</p><p>The mall declined to comment.</p><p>A hearing is scheduled Thursday to decide on the mall&rsquo;s closure.</p><p><em>Aimee Chen is a WBEZ business reporting intern. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/AimeeYuyiChen" target="_blank">@AimeeYuyiChen</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 08 Aug 2013 10:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/matteson-officials-sues-lincoln-mall-over-safety-violations-108335 State senate bill mandates labels on genetically engineered food http://www.wbez.org/news/state-senate-bill-mandates-labels-genetically-engineered-food-108310 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/GM Foods 130807 AY_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A proposed Illinois senate bill aims to label all genetically engineered food. A hearing on the bill takes place this Wednesday in the southern Illinois town of Carbondale.</p><p>Emily Carroll of the advocacy group Food and Water Watch supports the bill..</p><p>&ldquo;This is not a ban, it&rsquo;s not about economics, it&rsquo;s not about science, this is just about the consumer&rsquo;s right to know,&rdquo; Carroll said. &ldquo;We can&rsquo;t track the effects of genetically engineered food because right now they aren&rsquo;t labelled. This is a huge public health experiment but without the information for people to actually know what they&rsquo;re eating.&rdquo;</p><p>The legislation won&rsquo;t address the merits or drawbacks of genetic engineering, says the sponsor of the bill, Senator David Koehler (D-Peoria). He says he&rsquo;ll leave that question to experts and scientists.</p><p>The last public hearing on the labelling bill is scheduled for September 17th in Chicago. Similar legislation earlier this summer passed in Maine and Connecticut, but failed in California last fall. More than 10 other states are considering labeling measures. In polls like these two, Americans support labelling genetically engineered food.</p><p>Back when the California bill was being debated, the American Association for the Advancement of Science issued a statement saying the science is clear -- &ldquo;crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe.&rdquo; AAAS says the Food and Drug Administration requires special labelling on food only if there is a special health or environmental risk without that information. It concludes that in this case, &ldquo;legally mandated labels will only mislead and falsely alarm consumers.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s not that simple, says Jennifer Kuzma, an associate professor of science and technology policy at the University of Minnesota. Last fall, she reviewed the scientific literature on genetically engineered food.</p><p>&ldquo;You can&rsquo;t really say that all genetically engineered foods are safe or unsafe,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>For example, scientists could take a scorpion toxin and put it into a corn plant, or an allergen from shrimp or seafood and put it into corn. Kuzma says that&rsquo;s probably not very safe. On the other hand, she points out plants have naturally occurring toxins to defend themselves against insects. For example, if farmers used conventional methods to breed potatoes that have more of their natural toxins, than those potatoes might not be safe for humans to eat. She concludes that both ways are capable of producing unsafe crops.</p><p>Kuzma says there are arguments for and against labelling, but points out it comes down to how much people trust the food industry.</p><p>&ldquo;Often these decisions about these crops are made behind closed doors, and all of a sudden, people are presented with &lsquo;oh, it&rsquo;s on the market and and I&rsquo;m eating it? Really?&rsquo; I think that can anger people.&rdquo;</p><p>She stresses safety is not just a scientific issue, but a social construction.</p><p>&ldquo;I can say, &lsquo;I&rsquo;ve tested this, and it showed no health effects over the two-year life of a rat, that doesn&rsquo;t necessarily mean that it&rsquo;s safe for humans to eat over a lifetime,&rdquo; Kuzma said. &ldquo;I think we need to decide what is safe as a society, what will we accept in terms of uncertainties that we&rsquo;re willing to deal with in order to reap the benefits of some of these crops.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Alan Yu is a WBEZ metro desk intern. Follow him @Alan_Yu039.</em></p></p> Tue, 06 Aug 2013 17:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/state-senate-bill-mandates-labels-genetically-engineered-food-108310 Achieving harmony in a city of pedestrians, cyclists and drivers http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-06/achieving-harmony-city-pedestrians-cyclists-and-drivers-91553 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-September/2011-09-06/Safety Summit.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>How can we make it safer for cars, bikes and pedestrians to get around the city? <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> listeners offered their pedaling pet-peeves, vehicle vexations and on-foot frustrations. <a href="http://www.activetrans.org/blog/1043" target="_blank">Adolfo Hernandez</a>, the Director of<strong> </strong>Outreach and Advocacy for the<strong> </strong><a href="http://www.activetrans.org/" target="_blank">Active Transportation Alliance</a>, and Brent Johnston, who taught driver's ed at <a href="http://central.hinsdale86.org" target="_blank">Hinsdale Central High School</a> for 34 years and now co-chairs the Legislative Task Force for the <a href="http://www.ihscdea.org/" target="_blank">Illinois High School &amp; College Driver Education Association</a>, joined the conversation.</p></p> Tue, 06 Sep 2011 14:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-06/achieving-harmony-city-pedestrians-cyclists-and-drivers-91553 Gov. signs school athletes concussions measure into law http://www.wbez.org/story/gov-signs-school-athletes-concussions-measure-law-89762 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-28/AP060824025195.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated at: 3:23 pm on 7/28/11</em></p><p>Student athletes from elementary to high school&nbsp;will get better safeguards against concussion injuries under a new law Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has enacted.</p><p>Quinn signed the bill into law at a ceremony at Chicago's&nbsp;Soldier Field Thursday morning.</p><p>According to the Governor's office, research conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that sports are the second-leading cause of brain injury in young adults ages 15 to 24. In addition, more than 40 percent of high school athletes return to play before fully recovering from a concussion.</p><p>“The desire to compete must never trump the safety of our student athletes," Governor Quinn said in a statement.&nbsp;</p><p>Quinn was joined by Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross and State Senator Kwame Raoul, who co-sponsored the legislation. Raoul said sports like youth football are gaining popularity in Chicago.</p><p>"It's been well established in the suburbs, but it's being reintroduced to the inner city," said Raoul. "And as we reintroduce it to the inner city, we must make sure that we do so in a safe manner."</p><p>The law also requires school boards to work with the Illinois High School Association to educate coaches, parents, referees and players about concussion symptoms. Studies show that repeat concussions can raise the risk of permanent brain damage.</p><p>Many athletic directors in the state support the law because it will put schools all on the same page. But some worry about lack of funds to pay for trained staff to monitor athletes and make sure they're removed from play after a suspected concussion.</p></p> Thu, 28 Jul 2011 15:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/gov-signs-school-athletes-concussions-measure-law-89762 Chicago's first protected bike lane completed http://www.wbez.org/story/chicagos-first-protected-bike-lane-completed-89605 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-25/AP080516028307.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It's a milestone for Chicago bike enthusiasts.</p><p>Chicago's Department of Transportation says the city's first protected bike lane has been completed on the city's near northwest side, not far from downtown. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Monday.</p><p>The lane is one that separates bike riders from vehicles. It's called a cycle track and is being tested on a half-mile stretch.</p><p>Flexible posts are being used to separate bikers from traffic.</p><p>Transportation department spokesman Brian Steele tells The Chicago Tribune that the cost of the project is about $140,000.</p><p>Plans are in the works for another test site on the city's South Side.</p></p> Mon, 25 Jul 2011 17:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicagos-first-protected-bike-lane-completed-89605 Cameras planned for 14 more Chicago high schools http://www.wbez.org/story/cameras-planned-14-more-chicago-high-schools-89592 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-25/RS789_56725747.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Security cameras linked directly to police stations may be coming to 14 troubled Chicago high schools in a bid to create a safer atmosphere.</p><div><p><a href="http://www.cps.edu/Pages/home.aspx">Chicago Public Schools</a> CEO Jean-Claude Brizard has proposed the $7 million strategy, following a pilot program at Fenger High School.</p><p>Officials say misconduct, arrests and crimes have dropped at the high school since installation of the high-tech camera system. The system also is installed at Solorio and South Shore high schools.</p><p>Under the plan, cameras would be expanded to high schools identified as having higher numbers of arrests and misconduct cases.</p><p>Schools selected to receive cameras are: Clemente, Hyde Park, Sullivan, Morgan Park, Orr, Marshall, Dunbar, Tilden, Bogan, Wells, Senn, Juarez, Julian and Farragut.</p><p>Brizard says creating safe schools is vital for teaching and learning.</p></div></p> Mon, 25 Jul 2011 14:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/cameras-planned-14-more-chicago-high-schools-89592