WBEZ | Gabe Klein http://www.wbez.org/tags/gabe-klein Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago's Divvy bike program expanding, could become nation's largest bike share system http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagos-divvy-bike-program-expanding-could-become-nations-largest-bike-share-system-109101 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Divvy.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s Divvy bike program is expanding, thanks to federal funding which officials say could make it the largest bike-share system in North America. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>There are currently 300 Divvy <a href="http://divvybikes.com/stations">stations </a>up and running around Chicago, with 100 more stations in the works to be installed by next spring. Officials from the Chicago Department of Transportation said Wednesday they&rsquo;ve secured a $3 million federal grant to build 75 additional stations next year, bringing the total to 475 by next year. The grant comes from the US Department of Transportation&rsquo;s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program.</p><p>So far, the U.S. DOT has provided $25 million dollars in federal grant funding toward the Divvy bike share program.</p><p>There&rsquo;s been some <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/divvy-blues-bike-share-program-leaves-some-behind-107893">criticism </a>that Divvy stations are concentrated downtown, and don&rsquo;t serve the south or west sides of the city. CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein, speaking to alderman at his department&rsquo;s city budget hearing Wednesday, said they&rsquo;ll bring Divvy to Englewood by spring, and with this grant, they&rsquo;ll be able to expand the program farther in all directions.</p><p>&ldquo;Just like when you&rsquo;re building the CTA or a bus network, you have to start in one place, usually the densest area like the Loop where all the CTA rail is,&rdquo; Klein said. &ldquo;But we&rsquo;re gonna grow it out to the entire city overtime.&rdquo;</p><p>When asked by alderman how much revenue Divvy has brought to the city, Klein said he couldn&rsquo;t give an estimate until the bike share program had run for an entire year. But he says CDOT is close to signing an &ldquo;eight-figure&rdquo; sponsorship deal for the bikes by the end of this year. Klein says Divvy won&rsquo;t lose its name or brand in the sponsorship. In New York, the bike-share system is sponsored by Citibank, and is called citibike.</p><p>In other Divvy news, Klein says two suburbs - Oak Park and Evanston - have submitted their own federal grant applications to put bikes in their neighborhoods.</p><p>Wednesday likely marked Klein&rsquo;s last budget hearing in Chicago&rsquo;s City Hall. He said this month that he&rsquo;ll be stepping down from his post by Thanksgiving after serving for two and a half years. Klein&rsquo;s said he&rsquo;s stepping down for family obligations and plans to return to the private sector.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/laurenchooljian" target="_blank">@laurenchooljian</a></em></p></p> Wed, 06 Nov 2013 18:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagos-divvy-bike-program-expanding-could-become-nations-largest-bike-share-system-109101 Divvy blues: Bike-share program leaves some behind http://www.wbez.org/news/divvy-blues-bike-share-program-leaves-some-behind-107893 <p><p>Chicago on Friday morning launched a new component of its storied transit system. <a href="http://divvybikes.com/" target="_blank">Divvy</a>, the city&rsquo;s first bike-share program, kicked off with 65 solar-powered docking stations. The plan is to add hundreds more by next spring. With a fleet of 700 powder-blue bikes, the system will be one of the largest bike-sharing operations in the world.</p><p>But most of the stations will stand within a couple miles of the lakefront, clustered mainly in the Loop and densely populated neighborhoods along transit lines. This in a city that has a checkered history of providing low-income residents equal access to public infrastructure. It begs the question: Who gets to share the benefits of Chicago&rsquo;s new bike share?</p><h2 class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bikes_1.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Divvy’s first fleet of bikes, set up at the station at Daley Plaza. (WBEZ/Robin Amer)" /><strong>Bike share basics</strong></h2><p>The Divvy bikes themselves are heavy-duty commuter bikes with fenders, chain guards, built-in-lights and a small front basket, big enough for a purse or briefcase &mdash; but not a load of groceries. The bikes are painted the same sky blue as the stripes on the Chicago flag.</p><p>Users will be able to pick up a bike at any of 400 docking stations the city plans to install by next spring. After a ride, users will be able to return the bike to any other station.</p><p>Divvy&rsquo;s startup financing include $22 million in federal funds and $5.5 million in local funds.</p><p>The day-to-day operations will be up to Portland-based <a href="http://www.altabicycleshare.com/" target="_blank">Alta Bicycle Share</a>, which also runs bike-share programs in Boston, New York and Washington, D.C. Chicago Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein once consulted for Alta and received criticism when Chicago chose the company for the city&rsquo;s program. Klein said he recused himself from the selection process.</p><h2><strong>Who is Divvy for?</strong></h2><p>Divvy&rsquo;s Web site describes the program&rsquo;s participants as &ldquo;everyone 16 years and older with a credit or debit card.&rdquo;</p><p>But that doesn&rsquo;t take into account the proximity of stations or some residents&rsquo; limited access to bank cards (more on that below). Divvy is designed for short trips under 30 minutes. After that, <a href="http://divvybikes.com/pricing" target="_blank">late fees kick in</a>.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bikes_2.jpg" style="float: left; height: 200px; width: 300px;" title="Divvy’s first station appears at the corner of Dearborn and Washington streets in the Loop. Stations will be clustered in high density areas, leaving parts of the city unserved. (WBEZ/Robin Amer)" />Planners say that the system was primarily designed to address what they call the &ldquo;last two miles&rdquo; problem of commuting. Namely, how to get people to work or home after they&rsquo;ve stepped off the train or bus. Divvy is not optimized for recreational riding or long treks across town.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">The stations are concentrated in high-density parts of town &mdash; in and near the Loop and along some major transit lines. The further from the city&rsquo;s center, the fewer stations there are.</div><p>This program stems partly from the city&rsquo;s desire to spur economic development. Mayor Rahm Emanuel often touts the connection between building better bike infrastructure and attracting high tech companies to Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s part of my effort to recruit entrepreneurs and start-up businesses because a lot of those employees like to bike to work,&rdquo; he <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/16810704-418/mayor-defends-protected-bike-lanes-along-dearborn.html" target="_blank">told the <em>Chicago Sun-Times</em> </a>last December. &ldquo;It is not an accident that, where we put our first protected bike lane is also where we have the most concentration of digital companies and digital employees. Every time you speak to entrepreneurs and people in the start-up economy and high-tech industry, one of the key things they talk about in recruiting workers is, can they have more bike lanes.&rdquo;</p><h2 class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/BIKE_1_Bell.JPG" style="float: right; height: 450px; width: 300px;" title="Cynthia Bell of the Active Transportation Alliance says the city could do a lot for West Side cycling apart from bike sharing. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" /><strong>Few stations on West Side, far South Side</strong></h2><p>But this strategy, putting the first stations where the demand is already highest, means that from the outset, some of Chicago&rsquo;s poorest neighborhoods have been left behind.</p><p>There are no stations south of 63rd Street or west of Central Park Avenue. Altogether, black West Side neighborhoods like North Lawndale, East and West Garfield Park, Austin, and West Humboldt Park will have just two of the 400 planned bike-sharing stations.</p><p>The Chicago Department of Transportation said that one-third of its planned bike-sharing stations will be in census tracts below the city&rsquo;s median income. That proportion is higher than comparable systems in either Boston or Washington, D.C.</p><p>The city set up <a href="http://share.chicagobikes.org/" target="_blank">a Web portal for suggestions</a> about where to put the stations. The city received about 1,000 suggestions and another 10,000 &ldquo;likes&rdquo; on those suggestions. But suggested station locations for the West Side were few and far in between.</p><p>The city also held five community-input meetings last fall. Three were downtown, one was at a library in Roscoe Village, and just one was in a neighborhood with a high minority population. That was in Bronzeville, which is getting a handful of stations.</p><p>&ldquo;The location of the public meetings is in large part driven by our initial service area,&rdquo; says Scott Kubly, Chicago&rsquo;s deputy transportation commissioner. Kubly says CDOT has applied for additional grants that would be used to build stations beyond the 400 already planned. If and when that money comes through, Kubly said Divvy would go through a another public planning process to site those new stations.</p><p>But some West Side residents aren&rsquo;t content to wait.</p><p>Tiffany Childress Price lives in North Lawndale and teaches high school there. She bikes to work, as does her husband, who takes Ogden everyday to get to his job as a barber in River North.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s easy for the city to say, &lsquo;A community like North Lawndale is not interested in biking.&rsquo; It doesn&rsquo;t surprise me,&rdquo; Childress Prices said. &ldquo;Neighborhoods like this are often overlooked and, when asked why, it&rsquo;s that we&rsquo;re just not interested.&rdquo;</p><p>But Childress Price says people like her and her husband prove otherwise. The problem isn&rsquo;t a lack of interest but, rather, a lack of education and infrastructure, she said.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s going to take city attention, maybe city investment &mdash; time and resources into education,&rdquo; she said.</p><h2 class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/BIKE_2_Hawkins%20%281%29.JPG" style="float: left; height: 450px; width: 300px;" title="As Chicago’s West Side awaits more Divvy stations, resident Eboni Hawkins says the city ought to encourage bike-related businesses, from repair shops to bike-driven food carts. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" /></h2><h2><strong>More Black and Latino cyclists on the road</strong></h2><p>As it turns out, though, the number of black and Latino cyclists has increased dramatically in recent years. In May, <a href="http://www.sierraclub.org/" target="_blank">the Sierra Club</a> and the <a href="http://www.bikeleague.org/" target="_blank">League of American Bicyclists</a> released <a href="http://www.bikeleague.org/content/report-new-majority-pedaling-toward-equity" target="_blank">a study</a> that showed rates of minority ridership up all over the country.</p><p>Planners often measure cycling by the number of trips made by bike. While non-white riders still account for only 23 percent of trips made by bike, according to the Sierra Club study, between 2001 and 2009, the number of trips African Americans made by bike increased by 100 percent. Those made by Latinos increased by 50 percent.</p><p>In addition, 60 percent of people of color surveyed said &ldquo;more bike facilities&rdquo; would encourage them to ride, and there&rsquo;s a lot at stake. According to the study, crash fatality rates are 30 percent higher for African Americans and 23 percent higher for Hispanics than they are for white riders.</p><p>&ldquo;For too long, many of these diverse populations have been overlooked by traditional organizations and transportation planners,&rdquo; the study authors write. &ldquo;In too many instances, people of color have been largely left out of transportation decision making processes that have dramatically impacted their neighborhoods.&rdquo;</p><p>CDOT, meanwhile, has asked the city to be patient when it comes to expanding Divvy into more minority neighborhoods.</p><p>Gabe Klein, Chicago&rsquo;s transportation commissioner, acknowledged the dearth of stations on Chicago&rsquo;s black West Side and far South Side, but emphasized the need to concentrate stations in areas with more commerce and residents.</p><p>&ldquo;People ask you a lot, &lsquo;How do you make sure you have access for everybody?&rsquo; It&rsquo;s always a challenge, because they are nodal systems,&rdquo; Klein said. &ldquo;You can&rsquo;t really put a station out by Midway Airport and not have [another station] two blocks away or doesn&rsquo;t work as a network.&rdquo;</p><p>Klein compared the nascent bike-share program to the early years of the &ldquo;L&rdquo; system before it radiated miles out from the city center.</p><p>&ldquo;Imagine when CTA started 100 years ago,&rdquo; Klein said, describing a system with few stations but plans for growth. &ldquo;Now look at the CTA. It&rsquo;s ubiquitous, it&rsquo;s everywhere.&rdquo;</p><p>Whether the CTA is truly &ldquo;everywhere&rdquo; is a matter of debate, but for now CDOT is holding off on the placement of 20 stations until after next spring. Officials want to assess unanticipated demand, and make some data-driven decisions about where to expand.</p><p>&ldquo;It could very well be there,&rdquo; Klein said, pointing to the West Side on a city map. &ldquo;And 20 stations is a lot of stations.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><h2><strong>Access to biking harder for the poor and unbanked</strong></h2><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bikes3.jpg" style="height: 451px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="A prospective Divvy member tries out one of the new bikes. Some black Chicagoans want more more stations on the South and West sides. (WBEZ/Robin Amer)" />Even if the city expanded Divvy&rsquo;s bike stations and led a huge public-education campaign, there are still other potential barriers to entry.</div><p>First, there&rsquo;s the cost of membership.</p><p>CDOT officials claim the program&rsquo;s membership cost as a success. &ldquo;This will be the lowest cost form of transit available &mdash; probably less expensive than walking,&rdquo; Klein said. &ldquo;If you walked everywhere you&rsquo;d probably have to buy a couple pairs of shoes per year.&rdquo;</p><p>And while $75 a year is far cheaper than the cost of an annual CTA pass, the up-front cost could be prohibitive for some low-income users. The bike-share system in Washington, D.C., offers an $84 annual membership that can be paid for in monthly installments of $7.</p><p><a href="http://www.thehubway.com/" target="_blank">Boston&rsquo;s Hubway bikeshare</a>, meanwhile, offers steeply discounted $5 annual memberships to anyone on public assistance living within 400 percent of the poverty line. They&rsquo;ve funded this through the <a href="http://www.bphc.org/Pages/Home.aspx" target="_blank">Boston Public Health Commission</a>. So far, the Hubway has sold 650 such discounted memberships in a system of 14,000 members.</p><p>Boston&rsquo;s bike share grew out of multiple initiatives from the mayor&rsquo;s office &mdash; one focused on health and obesity, another focused on the environment and sustainability and another on economic development.</p><p>&ldquo;In many ways, biking is really at the nexus of all three of those,&rdquo; said Nicole Freedman, director of bicycle programs for Boston. She said that subsidized memberships were &ldquo;a very targeted effort to reach residents that tend to have more health and obesity issues.&rdquo;</p><p>While CDOT officials said they were excited about the public-health benefits of cycling, Chicago won&rsquo;t be offering either discounted memberships or the option of a monthly payment program to low-income residents here.&nbsp;</p><p>Equally complicated is the issue of liability.</p><p>With a few exceptions, in Chicago, you will need a credit or debit card to join Divvy or to rent a bike for the day. The system won&rsquo;t accept cash. This is about protecting the bikes, CDOT says. If you lose or steal one, Divvy will charge you $1,200 to replace it.</p><p>If you don&rsquo;t have a bank account or credit card, if you&rsquo;re living paycheck-to-paycheck or stuffing your savings under your mattress, you&rsquo;re what experts call &ldquo;unbanked.&rdquo; And if you&rsquo;re unbanked, you can&rsquo;t be charged for a replacement bike as easily.</p><p>Chris Holben, program manager of <a href="http://www.capitalbikeshare.com/" target="_blank">Capital Bikeshare</a> in Washington, D.C., said his program had faced that issue. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ll be tabling at an event,&rdquo; Holben said, &ldquo;and people will say to us, &lsquo;I don&rsquo;t have a credit card but I really want to join.&rsquo; &rdquo;</p><p>Sometimes, the hurdles to bike sharing go far beyond banking. &ldquo;Perhaps these people don&rsquo;t have access to the Internet or, if they do, they have to go to the library. Or the banks, there are a number of locations, but maybe not where they live,&rdquo; Holben said. &ldquo;If they&rsquo;re unbanked already they&rsquo;re already struggling to have access to some of the things that would make it easier.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Divvy%20map%202.jpg" style="float: left; height: 338px; width: 300px;" title="A map of Divvy’s proposed stations. The initial crop of stations won’t extend past 63rd Street on the South Side, or past Central Park Avenue on the West Side. (Courtesy of Divvy)" />So what are the unbanked to do?&nbsp;</p><p>Divvy and CDOT are planning a unique approach, one that takes banking out of the equation. They plan to partner with community groups including churches and job-training programs.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;The community-based organizations [will set] up the rules that work for their members, in terms of how many hours or time they&rsquo;ll allow members, or how they want to handle the rules around usage,&rdquo; Kubly said.</p><p>Then, the $1,200 liability will be shared between the community organization, the city and Divvy &mdash; not the user.</p><p>&ldquo;And, hopefully, when you get all those things pulled together,&rdquo; Kubly said, &ldquo;it actually takes the banking question out of it for those folks, and lets anybody have access.&rdquo;</p><p>But the city isn&rsquo;t specifying a date when it will launch the community partnership program.</p><h2><strong>Beyond bike sharing: Thinking in terms of infrastructure</strong></h2><p>Cynthia Bell, a lifelong West Sider who works for the Active Transportation Alliance, says the city could do more to encourage low-income biking, with or without Divvy.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of our people now are going to Walmart or Target, buying those bikes, which are low quality,&rdquo; Bell said. &ldquo;They break down within five months and, before you know it, people haven&rsquo;t been on their bike all summer just because of a flat. A flat kept them from riding their bike the whole summer.&rdquo;<br /><br />Bell says the city could do more to help set up bike-repair shops and safe places to park.</p><p>Tiffany Childress Price, a North Lawndale teacher and avid biker, says the reasons for bringing bike-sharing to low-income neighborhoods go beyond economic development and convenience.</p><p>&ldquo;We have the highest childhood obesity rates in the city so it seems like we&rsquo;d want to promote biking&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Chicago has made progress in laying down more bike lanes on the West Side. When it comes to the bike-share system, though, officials say most low-income neighborhoods will have to wait.</p><p><em>Robin Amer is a reporter/producer on WBEZ&rsquo;s digital team. Follow her on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/rsamer" target="_blank">@rsamer</a>.</em></p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 28 Jun 2013 07:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/divvy-blues-bike-share-program-leaves-some-behind-107893 Chicago bike share launch delayed http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-bike-share-launch-delayed-107654 <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/divvy%20flickr%20zolk.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="One of Divvy’s powder blue bikes. The launch of Chicago’s new bike share program is being delayed. (Flickr/Kevin Zolkiewicz)" /></div><p dir="ltr">The launch of Chicago&rsquo;s new bike share program is being delayed by two weeks.</p><p><a href="http://divvybikes.com/">Divvy </a>was supposed to open for business Friday, capping off <a href="http://bikecommuterchallenge.org/">Bike to Work Week</a>. But <a href="http://divvybikes.tumblr.com/post/5688369/an-update-on-divvy-launch">a statement</a> posted on the program&rsquo;s Tumblr site on Tuesday afternoon said the launch was being pushed back &ldquo;to ensure we have the necessary time to test stations and ensure the system is fully functioning.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Beyond the testing, Scott Kubly, Managing Deputy Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation, said his agency wasn&rsquo;t done building the 75 bike docking stations originally scheduled to come online with the launch.</p><p>A fastener used to connect bike holsters to the rest of the docking station arrived from a supplier only a few days ago.</p><p dir="ltr">Kubly called the components &ldquo;minor but important,&rdquo; and said that working without the parts in hand would have meant the majority of bike stations wouldn&rsquo;t be finished in time.</p><p>&ldquo;It would have been well below our goal of 50 [stations],&rdquo; Kubly said. &ldquo;It would have been in the teens at best.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">CDOT contracted with Portland, Oregon-based Public Bike Share Company to build Divvy&rsquo;s infrastructure. PBSC works with a variety of subcontractors to manufacture its parts.</p><p>Kubly said his team will use the extra time to finish building the docking stations, and to test out each of the 950 bikes they hope to have available for the launch. Ultimately Divvy plans to have <a href="http://divvybikes.com/stations">300 stations</a> with 3,000 bikes by the end of the summer, and an additional 100 stations and 1,000 bikes by next spring. Divvy is being launched in part with $22 million in federal funding.</p><p dir="ltr">Officials in Chicago have been closely monitoring the launch of another bike share program, New York&rsquo;s <a href="http://citibikenyc.com/">Citi Bike</a>, since it launched two weeks ago. According to the program&rsquo;s <a href="https://citibikenyc.com/blog">blog</a>, more than 36,000 people have signed up for annual memberships so far, and over 173,000 trips have been made. But the program has been <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/12/nyregion/two-weeks-in-riders-and-errors-for-bike-share-effort.html?pagewanted=all">beset by technical glitches</a>, and some have complained that New York launched its bike share too hastily.</p><p>Both Chicago and New York are partnering with Montreal-based <a href="http://www.altabicycleshare.com/">Alta</a> to run their bike share programs.</p><p dir="ltr">So far 1,200 Chicagoans have signed up for Divvy annual memberships, which run $75 to $125. Users can purchase a daily pass for $7. Because the program was designed to help users make very short trips, and to address what some planners call the &ldquo;last two miles&rdquo; problem of commuting, trips are limited to 30 minutes. After that a usage fee kicks in.</p><p>Despite the delayed launch, CDOT officials are going ahead with <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/bike_chicago4.html">a rally at Daley Plaza</a> Friday to open Divvy&rsquo;s first station.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I signed up for a membership,&rdquo; Kubly said. &ldquo;And it&rsquo;s not just because I&rsquo;m managing the program.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Robin Amer is a producer on WBEZ&rsquo;s digital team. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/rsamer">@rsamer</a>.</em><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 12 Jun 2013 06:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-bike-share-launch-delayed-107654 MPC Roundtable – Bus Rapid Transit on a Roll in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/mpc-roundtable-%E2%80%93-bus-rapid-transit-roll-chicago-106242 <p><p>Offering similar benefits to rail, but at a fraction of the cost, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) will make the most of Chicago&#39;s existing street infrastructure to better connect people to neighborhoods and destinations across the city.</p><div>This new form of public transportation not only will increase access to jobs, retail and institutions, including schools and hospitals, but also will run more efficiently than a regular bus, saving riders time and money.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The City of Chicago has big BRT plans, most significantly the development of a system plan to scope out future priority BRT routes. Already, individual routes are in the works: momentum continues to build for the Central Loop BRT route along Madison and Washington, as the City prepares to release the design, and soon the City will announce the locally preferred alternative for the Western and Ashland corridors. Meanwhile, the Chicago Dept. of Housing and Economic Development will begin a land use study for both corridors, and the Chicago Architecture Foundation is gearing up to kick off a station design competition in March to help influence new BRT stations.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Planning for BRT in Chicago has induced unprecedented partnerships between multiple City agencies and nonprofit organizations. At this roundtable, Gabe Klein, commissioner of the Chicago Dept. of Transportation; <strong>Nick Turner</strong>, managing director of the Rockefeller Foundation; <strong>Rebekah Scheinfeld</strong>, chief planning officer, Chicago Transit Authority; and <strong>Warren Ribley</strong>, executive director of the Illinois Medical District, will discuss exciting developments for this new form of transportation in Chicago.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MPC-webstory_3.jpg" title="" /></div></div><div>Recorded live Friday, March 1, 2013 at the Metropolitan Planning Council.&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 01 Mar 2013 15:53:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/mpc-roundtable-%E2%80%93-bus-rapid-transit-roll-chicago-106242 The five scariest things I learned from Chicago’s pedestrian plan http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2012-09-28/five-scariest-things-i-learned-chicago%E2%80%99s-pedestrian-plan-102736 <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/chicago%20crosswalk%20flickr.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px; " title="Can Chicago make streets safer for pedestrians? (Flickr/Vicki Wolkins)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F61491687&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;color=ffe12b" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Rose Harris was struck by a car and killed Thursday night, near the intersection of 79th Street and St. Lawrence Avenue. <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-woman-hit-by-car-dies-20120928,0,1432638.story?track=rss">According to the <em>Tribune</em></a>, the 59-year-old West Side resident stepped out into the street between two cars; the driver who hit her did not have time to react.&nbsp;</p><p>The stretch of 79th Street where Harris was killed is one of the most deadly in the city &ndash; at least for pedestrians. Chicago has labeled it a &quot;high crash corridor,&quot; respsonsible for a significant portion of the pedestrian deaths we see here every year. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>It&rsquo;s safer to be a pedestrian in Chicago than to be one in New York, Los Angeles or Dallas. Blame L.A. traffic, maybe, or those Texas super highways if you&rsquo;d like; according to an analysis done by the city, between 2005 and 2009 we averaged fewer crashes between cars and pedestrians than did our large urban peers.</p><p>But as the death of Rose Harris illustrates, that doesn&#39;t mean Chicago is safe for people on foot.</p><p>Thirty-four Chicagoans died in 2009 after being hit by cars. The victims that year included 36-year-old <a href="http://www.marthagonzalezmemorial.com/">Martha Gonzalez</a>, a mother of two who was killed by a hit-and-run driver while crossing the street at 18th and Halsted. Gonzalez and the others who died that year came from a total of 3,130 total collisions in which, according to the eerily technical language used in Chicago&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/cdot/pedestrian/2011PedestrianCrashAnalysisSummaryReport.pdf">2011 Pedestrian Crash Analysis</a> &ldquo;the pedestrian was the first point of contact for the vehicle.&rdquo; Turns out 2009 wasn&rsquo;t such a bad year, either: Nearly twice as many pedestrians were killed by cars here in 2005.</p><p>These numbers may seem small compared to say, the number of people who die in car crashes on Illinois highways: When I drove home via I-90/94 Wednesday night, the count from the digital sign read &ldquo;721 traffic deaths this year.&rdquo; By the next morning the count had ticked up to 724.</p><p>But Gabe Klein, Commissioner of Chicago&rsquo;s Department of Transportation, believes that even one pedestrian death here is too many. &ldquo;These are preventable,&rdquo; he told me earlier this week. &ldquo;They are not accidents.&rdquo;</p><p>Klein is spearheading Chicago&rsquo;s ambitious &ldquo;Vision Zero&rdquo; goal, a ten-year plan to eliminate <em>all </em>traffic fatalities in the city. To this end, earlier this month CDOT released <a href="http://chicagopedestrianplan.org/">the city&rsquo;s first-ever pedestrian plan</a>, a set of proposals aimed at making Chicago streets safer for walking.</p><p>Some of the interventions outlined in the plan are already being put into place: Signs popped up at intersections around this city this summer, reminding drivers that it&rsquo;s state law to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk. (Sadly, the plan does not <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/question-answered-why-don%E2%80%99t-chicago-drivers-stop-crosswalks-100855">call for mimes</a>.) Other ideas in CDOT&rsquo;s plan are more expensive and will take longer to implement: &ldquo;road diets,&rdquo; like the one given to Humboldt Boulevard through Humboldt Park, that shrink wider roads to slow down traffic and often make room for bike lanes. A few ideas suggested in the pedestrian plan &ndash; like straight up banning left- and right-hand turns at all of Chicago&rsquo;s iconic six-corner intersections &ndash; will strike many as audacious and unnecessary.&nbsp;</p><p>While proposals like the one above are certainly eye-catching &ndash; <a href="http://gridchicago.com/2011/building-chicagos-first-pedestrian-scramble/">pedestrian scramble</a>, anyone? &ndash; what really caught my eye was some of the stats that piece apart just what the city is up against here.</p><p><strong>Crashes in the crosswalk</strong></p><p>Let&rsquo;s start with this one:</p><ul><li>&nbsp;&ldquo;78% of all [pedestrian] crashes. . . occurred within 125 feet of the midpoint of an intersection.&rdquo;</li></ul><p><br />According to the city, the most common place for a pedestrian to be when a crash occurs is walking in the crosswalk with the signal. So as a pedestrian, <em>you can be doing everything right and still be killed</em>. Frankly I find this disturbing, and apparently I&rsquo;m not alone. &ldquo;It <em>is</em> disturbing,&rdquo; Gabe Klein told me. &ldquo;We think most pedestrians are obeying the law. We think people in cars are not taking seriously their responsibility as drivers of a 3,000 lb. piece of equipment.&rdquo; Klein cited by way of example a woman &ldquo;taken out by a cab&rdquo; while crossing in the crosswalk on Sheridan: &ldquo;He ran over her like she wasn&rsquo;t there.&rdquo;</p><p>Speaking of cabs. . .</p><p><strong>Watch out for taxis&nbsp;</strong></p><ul><li>&ldquo;28% of pedestrian crashes in the central business district involved taxis.&rdquo;</li></ul><p><br />Beyond the obvious &ndash; there are more cabs in this part of town as well as a higher concentration of pedestrians &ndash; Klein puts blame squarely on the cabbies themselves. &ldquo;My feeling is that there are some really bad actors on the taxi side that are driving really badly,&rdquo; he said. Klein said he takes cabs often and that he&rsquo;s &ldquo;seen them break the law when I&rsquo;m in the back of the car and had to call it into 311.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Ahead of the curve. . . in hit-and-runs</strong></p><ul><li>&ldquo;40% of fatal pedestrian crashes in Chicago were hit and run. By comparison 20% of fatal pedestrian crashes nation-wide were hit and run.&rdquo;</li></ul><p>I found this stat especially disturbing. I myself was the victim of a hit-and-run crash in 2008 (although I was riding my bike, not walking, at the time) so I know first hand that there are unscrupulous jerks driving around Chicago. But <em>twice as many</em> unscrupulous jerks?</p><p>&ldquo;We meet with the police every two weeks and we talk about this,&rdquo; Klein said. <strong>&ldquo;</strong>A lot happens after dark. I think often we have people drinking and driving &ndash; I think they hit someone and they get scared and they flee.&rdquo;</p><p>Klein also mentioned here how fast people in Chicago drive. Did you know that the speed limit in Chicago is 30 mph unless otherwise stated? You wouldn&rsquo;t know it from, say, driving down Western Avenue. . .</p><p><strong>Wide roads are the deadliest roads&nbsp;</strong></p><ul><li>&ldquo;Although arterial streets account for only 10% of Chicago&rsquo;s street miles, 50% of fatal/serious crashes occurred on them.&rdquo;</li></ul><p><br />Because of Chicago&rsquo;s grid, these wider, faster streets &ndash; Western, Fullerton, Cermak etc. &ndash; are unavoidable and apparently deadly. (<em>See: Rose Harris</em>)&nbsp;According to the pedestrian plan, they&rsquo;ll also take the longest and will be the most expensive to fix.&nbsp;</p><p>At least the city knows where to start?</p><p><strong>Your mom tells you to look both ways for a reason</strong></p><p>Finally, there&rsquo;s this:</p><ul><li>&ldquo;15 to 18 year old pedestrians had the highest crash rate.&rdquo;</li><li>&ldquo;Older pedestrians were more likely to be struck in a cross walk than other age groups&hellip;&rdquo;</li></ul><p><br />Because younger people drive less &ndash; as Klein pointed out, &ldquo;Millennials are not buying cars anywhere near the rate&rdquo; of people of his generation &ndash; and older people walk more slowly, <em>Chicago&#39;s most vulnerable citizens are getting hit and killed the most</em>. Kids are mostly likely to be hit during the after-school hours of 3 to 6 p.m. Maybe Rahm&rsquo;s plea for <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/quinn-signs-speed-camera-bill-chicago-96152">speed camera legislation</a> wasn&rsquo;t just a cynical revenue-generating ploy after all?</p><p>The city has a lot riding on getting this right, beyond even the lives at stake: Urban planners often point to a city&rsquo;s walkability as a key factor in its overall livability. And I for one hope the city does get it right &ndash; for the likes of Rose Harris and Martha Gonzalez, and for those of us already glad we don&rsquo;t live in L.A.&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 28 Sep 2012 08:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2012-09-28/five-scariest-things-i-learned-chicago%E2%80%99s-pedestrian-plan-102736 Protected lanes, bike shares and rapid transit, oh my! http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-08/protected-lanes-bike-shares-and-rapid-transit-oh-my-101585 <p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Steven%20Vance%20bike%20lane.jpg" title="One of Chicago's protected bike lanes (Flickr/Steven Vance)" /></p><p>Mayor Emanuel announced a plan over the weekend for 35 more miles of protected bike lanes downtown. Three days later, the <em>Chicago Sun-Times</em> <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/14315965-418/citys-bike-sharing-program-delayed-until-next-year.html">reported</a> that the unveiling of the city&rsquo;s bike share program has been stalled by close to a year. News of the delay comes as Inspector General Joe Ferguson conducts&nbsp;an ethics probe into the city&#39;s contract with Alta Bike Share. Adding to scrutiny of Alta are delays caused by software in its 10,000-bike rental program in New York City. The Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-07/bike-czars-new-clothes-100785">returns</a> to <em>Eight Forty-Eight </em>Thursday to discuss the implications.</p><p><em>The big picture</em></p><p>&quot;I don&#39;t think even I understood how much [Mayor Emanuel] was relying on transportation to lure companies to Chicago.&quot;</p><p>&quot;This is going to be different than anything people in Chicago have seen before&quot; [on the soon-to-be bike lane on Dearborn]</p><p><em>On bike lanes:</em></p><p>&quot;I don&rsquo;t think [bikers] will (ignore red lights). I&rsquo;ve built these before, and they don&rsquo;t because there are cars in the intersection.&quot;</p><p>&quot;We do have 23 bike ambassadors in season, they&rsquo;re out every day talking to people, explaining the rules of the road. We also meet with the Chicago Police Department and we work on different enforcement strategies. And there&rsquo;s more and more police on bikes. I actually road yesterday with an officer on a bike.&quot;</p><p><em>On delaying the bike system:</em></p><p>&quot;I can&rsquo;t speak for New York at all. What I can tell you is that this is a big project. This is basically launching a new transit system in Chicago. And just to be clear, we never thought that we&#39;d be able to launch the full system before the weather turned....Really, it&#39;s not that much of a slip.&nbsp;It&rsquo;s saying, instead of getting 50 stations out, we&rsquo;re going to wait until the spring.&quot;</p><p>&quot;I&rsquo;d rather do it really well then rush it and I think people are going to be thrilled.&quot;</p><p><em>On the issues with Alta Bike Share</em></p><p>&quot;Any contract that&rsquo;s done has all those types of protections for the tax payer. They had a problem as I understand it; it&rsquo;s been resolved. They launched in Chattanooga with the new software; it&rsquo;s gone very well. For us it&rsquo;s not a problem.&quot;</p><p><em>The details of the project, which will cover &quot;</em>32 square miles of city&quot;<em>&nbsp;with stations half a mile from each other and start</em> &quot;with a cluster in the densest area.&quot;</p><p>&quot;Just so you know, this is aimed at residents. Previously [when I was in DC] we launched the largest bike share program, still, in the country. We were designing it to be about 90 percent for residents. It ended up being 70 perceent for residents; we didn&rsquo;t know how much tourists would like it.&quot;</p><p>&quot;I would say CTA and CDOT are married at the hip at all the BRT and bus projects. They operate the service and we own and facilitate with the actual right of way on the street.&quot;</p></p> Thu, 09 Aug 2012 08:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-08/protected-lanes-bike-shares-and-rapid-transit-oh-my-101585 The bike czar's new clothes http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-07/bike-czars-new-clothes-100785 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><b id="internal-source-marker_0.4503714614547789" style="font-weight: normal; "><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Steven%20Vance.jpg" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; float: right; " title="(Flickr/Steven Vance)" /></span></b>I was riding my bike east along 31st street the other day, regretting not wearing a helmet. True, I was just going to the beach, which is a max 12-minute jaunt from my apartment in Bridgeport. But 31st street is loaded with potholes, you have to cross over 90/94 and Lake Shore Drive and there is no marked bike lane, despite signs suggesting that it&rsquo;s an eastbound bike route toward the lake.<br /><br />As I swerved around manhole covers and eyed right-turning cars, I thought about how many friends I had who had been in bike accidents. When I first moved to Chicago, I met a woman who had been doored &ndash; collided with a driver-side door being opened into the road &ndash; and ended up in a neck brace. Another friend was biking home from Target one day and didn&rsquo;t wake up until a stranger was getting her into an ambulance, no sign of the car that hit her. She ended up with chipped teeth and stitches on her face. WBEZ&rsquo;s own Robin Amer was doored by a car in 2008. Less dramatic injuries happen all the time; sprained wrists and scraped knees are considered the expected badges of those who choose two wheels.<br /><br />You can save a lot of money by biking to work everyday, but it&rsquo;s not worth much if you end up spending the savings on hospital bills. Luckily, before he even wore the crown, Mayor Emanuel took on the job of protecting bikers as well as increasing their numbers. Just shy of two years after he began his gig as Department of Transportation in Washington, D.C., Emanuel convinced Gabe Klein, Bike Czar, to head west.<br /><br />Chicago is flat, Klein noted in an early interview with <em><a href="http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2012/01/moveable-transportation-chief-conversation-chicago-transportation-commissioner-gabe-klein/1053/">The Atlantic</a></em>, and that makes for easy biking. Since making that observation, his accomplishments have come to resemble a laundry list: Protected bike lanes; in-street bike corrals; pedestrian safety programs for crosswalks; a budding bus rapid transit program.<br /><br />One initiative that hasn&rsquo;t been moving along as quickly as Klein and CDOT might have hoped, however, is bike share. Slated to take off in June, the release has been delayed potentially until next year because of allegations that the proposal process was flawed. Josh Squire of Bike Chicago &ndash; the company contracted throughout the city for bike rentals but did not win the contract for the bike share &ndash; claims that Klein&rsquo;s connections with the writers of the winning bid, Alta Bikes, influenced the final contract decision. A department spokesperson <a href="http://gridchicago.com/2012/bike-sharing-delays-bike-lane-designs-and-other-highlights-from-wednesdays-mbac-meeting/">made clear </a>in June that Alta presented the most viable proposal, but the controversy has certainly delayed the rapid progress in bikeability that Klein became known for in Washington, D.C.<br /><br />As a result, other projects have been getting extra attention from the Commissioner&rsquo;s office. Bus rapid transit lanes could soon break up rush hour traffic on major avenues and Klein is thinking about exceeding the Mayor&rsquo;s goal for 100-miles of protected bike lanes through the Chicago Forward transit action agenda. His ongoing accomplishments are eagerly chronicled by Grid Chicago, a transit blog run by a former CDOT employee that has, among other things, called Klein a <a href="http://gridchicago.com/2011/how-did-chicagos-progressive-transportation-czar-gabe-klein-get-that-way/">clotheshorse</a>.<br /><br />Commissioner Klein stops by <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> Tuesday morning, and we find out how Chicago compares to Washington, D.C. from the streets to City Hall. We ask how long he plans to remain in the Midwest, what his greatest ambitions are for Chicago&rsquo;s streetscape and &ndash;&nbsp;if he&rsquo;s wearing a snappy suit.</div></p> Wed, 11 Jul 2012 08:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-07/bike-czars-new-clothes-100785 Chicago announces master plan for Union Station http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-announces-master-plan-union-station-99513 <p><p>Chicago&#39;s main train station is being targeted with a master plan designed to increase its capacity and improve train passengers&#39; experiences.</p><p>There have been a number of grand plans for Union Station, the nation&#39;s third-busiest after New York&#39;s Grand Central and Penn Stations. Past plans included tearing down existing buildings and building a new structure in their place.</p><p>On Wednesday, City Hall released a plan with short-term projects with identified funding. They include improved station entrances; expanded Amtrak waiting rooms; and enhanced bus lanes on streets around the station.</p><p>The plan says projects that might be delivered in five to 10 years include creating wider commuter platforms.</p><p>Chicago Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein says the number of trains serving Union Station may increase 40 percent by 2040, prompting the proposed changes.</p></p> Thu, 24 May 2012 08:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-announces-master-plan-union-station-99513 Emanuel lobbies for school zone speed cameras with House vote pending http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuel-lobbies-school-zone-speed-cameras-house-vote-pending-93831 <p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is lobbying hard for a bill that would allow the city to use red light cameras to catch speeders near school zones and parks.</p><p>The measure quickly passed the Senate two weeks ago, but some representatives say it could face stiffer opposition in the House, which is expected to vote this week.</p><p>Emanuel insisted the cameras are needed to slow down drivers in school zones.</p><p>"If you follow the law, you have nothing to worry about," said Emanuel. "Simple. As you follow the law, this is not a problem. If you break the law, obviously you've got a concern, and all I'm saying is don't do it near a school or park."</p><p>Under the proposal, drivers caught speeding near parks and schools could face a $100 dollar fine. The bill approved by the Senate allows cameras around schools to operate from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on school days and from one hour before opening and after closing for parks. Emanuel said all ticketing revenue would go toward funding for various school programs, citing after school programs and speed bumps as examples.</p><p>Chicago Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein discussed how the city might use the cameras to catch speeders near school zones and parks. Klein said 79 current red light cameras are within one-eighth of a mile from a school or park. He said the city is looking into reworking those cameras to catch speeders.</p><p>"The goal is to change people's behavior," said Klein. "You have education, engineering and enforcement. And if you don't have enforcement the other two aren't as effective."</p><p>Klein said the city could start using the cameras as early as this summer. He said the city is also considering tracking speeders by placing specially equipped vans near safety zone intersections without red light cameras.</p><p>Klein said enforcement would follow a 30-day grace period, where warnings would be issued to people caught speeding.</p></p> Mon, 07 Nov 2011 22:58:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuel-lobbies-school-zone-speed-cameras-house-vote-pending-93831 Rahm vows bus rapid transit, but can he deliver? http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-23/rahm-promises-brt-can-he-deliver-90926 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-August/2011-08-23/Transmilenio.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>All this week, WBEZ is looking at <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/first-100-rahm-emanuels-first-100-days-chicago-mayor" target="_blank">Rahm Emanuel’s first 100 days as Chicago mayor</a>.</p><p>One of Emanuel’s pledges is to push for the creation of the city’s first bus-rapid-transit line. The idea behind BRT is to deliver the benefits of rail at a fraction of the cost. BRT shortens travel times through dedicated bus lanes, pre-paid boarding that’s level with station platforms, and traffic signals that favor the buses.</p><p>WBEZ’s West Side bureau reporter <a href="http://www.wbez.org/staff/chip-mitchell" target="_blank">Chip Mitchell</a> gives us a progress report on Emanuel’s ambitious plan.<br> &nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 23 Aug 2011 16:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-23/rahm-promises-brt-can-he-deliver-90926