As A Box of Rocks…

Background Reading

Summary

The kerfuffle over the parking lot garage to be made part of the deal between the City of Chicago and the Ricketts Family is beginning to take on a quality of the absurd as Chicago Cycling Activists get involved. As with most things we Chicagoans are more about “doing whatever it is early and often” than we have ever been about doing it right.

We put up the Dearborn Street Showcase Protected Bike Lane (PBL) just in time to have the cameras rolling before the snow started to fly. But in the immediate aftermath of threats to Portland (of stealing their jobs) and promises to add PBLs down every aisle of every church on the South and West Sides we suddenly discovered that:

  • the pavement area in which Dearborn PBL was situated is uneven and collects water and if cold enough ice, thus making it “unsafe in bad weather”
  • the parking lane for cars was situated along the left side of the Dearborn PBL which means that car doors open into the PBL and that even worse drivers entering and leaving the cars have to be standing in the northbound side of the bi-directional PBL.
  • after a couple of weeks (or more) of battling with building snow maintenance crews along the Dearborn Street PBL it was discovered that the best way to coordinate the snow removal was to have two lonely guys from CDOT handle the job for what appears to be all of the PBLs in the city.
  • after a couple of months of complaints and injuries it finally happened that the bridge along the north end of the Dearborn PBL got much needed grate covers to prevent further mayhem to cyclists crossing in bad weather.

As I said before we like to do things (too) early and often here.

Getting Our Panties In A Twist

Lee Crandell one of the knee-jerkers who are fighting against the increased parking facilities in Wrigleyville proffered what he thought to be a cautionary tale of parking gone wrong in New York. In his article Joseph Cutrufo writes:

Ridership at the 161st Street subway station is up 5 percent since the new Yankee Stadium was built in 2009. | Photo: Michael Nagle/New York Times

Ridership at the 161st Street subway station is up 5 percent since the new Yankee Stadium was built in 2009. | Photo: Michael Nagle/New York Times

Bronx Parking Development LLC, the company that operates five parking garages near Yankee Stadium, missed a $6.9 million bond payment that was due yesterday.

This news should come as no surprise: since the garages (and the new Yankee Stadium) opened in 2009, they’ve operated at only 43 percent of capacity.

Expanded parking capacity around Yankee Stadium shouldn’t have been built in the first place. In a 2006 letter to New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Tri-State, along with environmental and public space advocates, urged the City not to make any unnecessary additions to parking capacity.

While the taxpayer subsidized parking garages continue to struggle, the number of people using transit to get to Yankees home games, meanwhile, is up. Ridership at the 161st Street subway station is up 5 percent since 2009 and Metro-North ridership now accounts for approximately one in 10 fans arriving at Yankee Stadium via the stadium’s new Metro-North station.

Ok, so what we learn from this article is that:

  • If you build it they will not necessarily come
  • If you build it with taxpayer money and no one comes you get left holding the bag

So does this situation in New York reflect what is happening here in Chicago? Actually, no. What is happening here is quite different:

  • Taxpayers are not paying for anything here. In fact the Ricketts Family is digging deep into their personal fortunes to pay for everything.
  • There already exists a parking shortage problem in Wrigleyville. This is not a projection but rather a reality.
  • Opponents to the parking lot construction are arguing that “If you build it more will come” as a reason to not build the lot. (But this flies in the face of the facts as indicated by the article in TSTC. But as usual trying to talk sense with this group is difficult.)
  • Contrary to the arguments of the Cycling Activists automobile traffic indicates that a vibrant viable entertainment economy exists in this area. Is there some wrong with that state of affairs?

This is yet again an instance of two things:

  • Wrigleyville residents are not unlike the folks who bought homes around O’Hare Airport and then decided to complain about jet noise. They got good deals on those homes and decided to buy, knowing full well that their homes lay along the glide path to the main runways. Likewise no one who has ever purchased a home in the Wrigleywille neighborhood could be truthful in complaining that they did not understand the problems you encounter when living next to the home field of one of the most profitable franchises in all of the major leagues.
  • Cycling Activists have absolutely no understanding of Capitalism or they are Socialists at heart. Either alternative is a bad mix for trying to save a cash cow sitting right in your neighborhood. One nutcase went so far as to argue that perhaps the team should relocate to Rosemont.

You really cannot hope to understand how city residents who should know better get so confused on what it takes to run a vibrant city and how you get the cash to make all the amenities possible. Just as the folks in Detroit whether they would gladly exchange places with us, new parking lot and all.

Finally, did anyone interview the folks who really matter in all of this, the small business owners in an around Wrigleyville? I am guessing that they are not unaware of the situation and probably have some strong opinions of their own. And my guess is that they are cheering for the arrival of more parking. If that parking is nearby to local businesses it means the nightlife will get a boost and that means that tax dollars will flow into the coffers of the city to help pay for the things that help the city to survive and thrive.

Perhaps the Cycling Advocates might consider a Plan B alternative? The could move en masse to Idaho and establish a compound adjacent to the Aryan Brotherhood. Parking lots are not likely to pop up their any time soon. And you can travel all day long in the hills on your bike, drinking in the sunshine and brewing beer to drink at night. Of course jobs might not be as plentiful, but hey the air would be cleaner. And you could always invite over your neighbors for a weenie roast. Nothing like entertaining folks who understand your idea of great body art, right? And you could regale one another horror stories about the “animals” who live in “Section-8 housing” for the better part of the night before stumbling off in a drunken stupor to your respective “shitholes“.