Is It Just Me, Or Are We Winging It?


Background Reading

I’m all for getting things done in an expeditious manner but sometimes it appears that Chicago is in a “Shoot, Ready, Aim” pattern that is troubling. We just had Active Transportation Alliance complaining that the Governor of the State was not allowing CDOT to move forward fast enough to get all of the Protected Bike Lanes in place that were promised. And before that the folks over at StreetsBlog passed on the news that CDOT was in fact redefining the very meaning of protected bike lanes in a downward fashion to make things a bit cheaper and easier to accomplish. Then we learn that protected bike lanes in various areas of the city are not welcomed by the folks live there.

This is all beginning to sound like a very horrible punchline to a very raunchy joke. Had this been Detroit and a city run by a black mayor the long knives would have been out in the cycling community with charges of incompetence and worse. But this is a city run by whites and for whites and it takes a some really stupid stuff before anyone white has the nerve to “call a spade a spade“.

No one is arguing (at least not me) that have a BRT lane that runs east-west to the Navy Pier area is not a good thing. What is concerning is that there are so very many “fits and starts” to all of this. You rush to put a bike lane in put a bike lane in on Madison that will now have to be relocated to Randolph. Is anyone at City Hall thinking through their actions long enough to avoid “check mate in three“? We’ve got a city going up in gun-fire flames and folks in City Hall who cannot find their behinds in the dark when it comes to sequencing activities that are costly.

Where are the thinkers and planners? This group could not get Dearborn Street’s Protected Bike Lane right and yet they want to have the Governor give them “full speed ahead” to make more blunders? I should think that the Governor is doing them a favor by putting on the brakes a bit. Things are clearly out of hand.

Hurrah for IDOT. Make they make these knuckleheads do their “due diligence” before another dime is spent recklessly. At this rate John Kass will not have been the object our cyclist hatred. We will have run into the enemy and he will have been ourselves.

When describing this new BRT lane strategy here are the words being used:

“This was the clear winner. It balanced the right of way in favor of all users,” Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein said. The $32 million cutting-edge transit plan is scheduled for a 2014 kickoff.

“I think we’ll see big operational changes in the way the street works. We are segregating the cars and the bikes and the buses and the pedestrians, and by doing that, you’re creating less friction.’’

On eastbound Washington, there will be two car lanes, a dedicated bus lane and raised bus island, and a bike lane.

Westbound Madison will have a similar configuration, but with a curb-level boarding area, and the bike lane will be relocated to Randolph.

Designers expect to shave 7 1/2 minutes off a bus rider’s round trip by eliminating two to three stops in each direction; giving buses a few seconds head start at traffic lights, and speeding up boarding by using a raised island and pre-boarding ticket-purchase area, CDOT officials said.

Original estimates were that the reconfiguration would add 90 seconds minutes to a car driver’s round trip, but Klein said his guess was that “you will see no difference and possible improvements for automobiles” because he thinks the plan will make Chicago bus travel so attractive that fewer people will use cars.

About 80 parking spaces will have to be relocated, but Klein predicted that in the end, the city may pick up additional spaces. Any eliminated parking space requires the city to compensate the company that paid $1.15 billion to lease Chicago’s parking meters for 75 years.

A parking lot south of Jackson, between Canal and Clinton, will be acquired and converted to a bus shelter as part of another leg of the Central Loop plan involving Union Station that’s still under development. Klein expects drivers to park instead at a nearby Amtrak lot.

At rush hour, 50 percent of people around La Salle and Madison are on foot, Transportation Department officials said. Of the remainder, 47 percent are in buses and deserve priority, they said.

“We have more people in buses than cars,” Klein said. “We have to stop thinking about moving vehicles and start thinking about moving people.”

That last line was borrowed from elsewhere. But it was dropped to give us the impression that he is at the top of his game and keeping up with the current thinking on traffic management.