This week the Chicago Architecture Foundation and the Chicago Architectural Club announced the 2013 Burhnam Prize Competition: NEXT STOP, a design competition for Bus Rapid Transit stations. NEXT STOP is an international design ideas competition intended to catalyze iconic, sustainable and functional design for representative corridors in Chicago’s planned Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.
The competition asks designers to focus on three locations that reflect current BRT projects in Chicago: downtown near State and Madison, Bucktown-Logan Square at Western Avenue Blue Line ‘L’ stop, and Pilsen near 18th and Ashland.
The stations are a critical element of Bus Rapid Transit, so we’re excited that the competition will help bring increased attention to their design. BRT is all about making the bus more like the train – faster, more reliable and more convenient. One of the key elements that distinguishes the train experience from the bus experience is stations, so careful consideration needs to be given to station design in order to make the BRT experience feel more like taking the train for the rider.
We’d also like to see stations that are responsive to what riders are looking for, which is why we conducted a rider survey about transit stations that could help inform the design competition and the city. We collected more than 1,000 responses from riders in Dec. and Jan. and have shared the results with the city and Chicago Architecture Foundation. Rider experience and community feedback have been integrated into the competition evaluation criteria, and a summary of our survey results is included in the appendix of competition materials (PDF).
Interested in designing a BRT station? Entry information, including a complete set of rules, can be found at www.chicagoarchitecturalclub.org. Entries are due by noon, May 13, 2013.
Good news! The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is in the process of drawing up a bike transportation plan for Illinois!
The plan will make recommendations in a variety of areas, including:
In short, the plan will lay out the policies, practices and strategic direction for implementing a sustainable, multimodal vision for Illinois. Sounds enticing, doesn't it?
To help this process along, IDOT wants to connect with community members, namely you.
As an initial step, the agency is distributing this questionnaire, which will be the first of several opportunities for community members and transportation professionals to share their thoughts and opinions on bicycling in Illinois. By adding your email address to questionnaire, you'll be signing up to receive updates about the plan.
And you'll be glad to know that your favorite biking, walking and transit advocacy organization (yes, Active Trans!) is helping to develop this groundbreaking bike plan.
Walking to work. It’s good for your heart, it’s good for your lungs and it’s good for the environment. Strong scientific evidence supports the numerous health benefits of regular walking.
Think you live too far away to walk to your job? It's probably easier than you think.
To get their daily walking in, many people take transit or drive for part of the distance and walk the rest.
As program manager of DriveLessLiveMore at Active Transportation Alliance, I'll be celebrating National Walk to Work Day on April 5 by walking nearly eight miles to work in River North from where I live in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood!
To say thanks to our generous Bike Commuter Challenge 2013 sponsors (yes, it's coming!), I'll be stopping in for Caribou Coffee, grabbing Clif Bars at REI Chicago and dropping in at Village Cycle along the way.
Those who @ reply or use the hashtag on Twitter are eligible to win a drawing for 2013 MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive registration —a $45 value!
Pictured above the are walkers who joined Brian Morrissey last year for Walk to Work Day.
There's an opportunity next week to help improve biking, walking and transit in the UIC/West Loop area by attending a public meeting.
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has received approval to redevelop the Circle Interchange.
IDOT has funding for a project study and design/engineering, but funding for construction hasn't been identified yet. The project's goals are to reduce crashes, fix old infrastructure and reduce traffic congestion.
The project has impacts on nearby streets, including plans for three new flyovers above Halsted and Harrison. IDOT is also proposing to add bicycling, pedestrian and transit infrastructure.
The Peoria Street bridge and CTA station entrance will have to be rebuilt, and a group of citizens has proposed creating an active, lively, pedestrian street that gives priority to pedestrian and bicycle traffic on this important and heavily used gateway to UIC and the connection between UIC and the West Loop. Learn more at http://peoriastreet.info.
IDOT will hold a public open house on Wed., April 3, 4-7 p.m., at Marriott Chicago at Medical District/UIC, 625 South Ashland Avenue. After this meeting, IDOT and its consultants will begin design and engineering. You can attend the open house to submit comments asking for more improvements for biking, walking and transit, including the Peoria Street pedestrian project.
Image courtesy of GAPS: the Group that's Activating Peoria Street.
Correction: The address for the April 10 expo in the 49th Ward has been corrected since this was originally posted, to 1709 W. Lunt.
There's an exciting opportunity coming up for Chicagoans to make their neighborhoods a better place for biking, walking and transit. This May, four Chicago wards will use "Participatory Budgeting" to give residents the chance to vote on how to spend $4 million in ward "Menu Money" on infrastructure.
The mulit-ward process kicked off last fall with neighborhood meetings that solicited thousands of ideas from community members in the participating wards. Over the winter, ward residents formed committees charged with evaluating those ideas and deciding which to put on the ballot.
In April, residents in Ald. Joe Moore’s 49th ward, Ald. Leslie Hairston’s 5th ward, Ald. John Arena’s 45th ward and Ald. James Cappleman’s 46th ward will come together at ten expos to unveil projects they have proposed to build in their neighborhoods. The expos, which combine elements of a high school science fair and campaign event, will feature volunteers pitching their proposals to other ward residents before voting begins in early May.
If you live in one of these wards, please attend one of the upcoming Project Expos below in your ward. Learn more about all the projects that will appear on the ballot for a public vote in the first week of May. (Look up your ward here.)
5th Ward, Alderman Leslie A. Hairston
45th Ward, Alderman John Arena
46th Ward, Alderman James Cappleman
49th Ward, Alderman Joe Moore
For more information, visit PB Chicago or contact your alderman.
If you have ever ridden the Calumet Trail along the Indiana Dunes, you may know it's often underwater (see photo).
This 9-mile crushed-limestone trail connects Chesterton to Michigan City, following the NIPSCO (Northern Indiana Public Service Co.) right-of-way, the South Shore train, U.S. Route 12, and Lake Michigan. This trail connects train stations, Cowles Bog, the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indiana Dunes State Park, Mount Baldy and the Lighthouse Place Outlets.
Improvements to this trail would encourage more use by commuters, beach goers and even shoppers.
Porter County Parks and consultants SEH Inc. want your opinion on about the rehabilitation of this trail. The westernmost two miles of the trail, from Mineral Spring Road to approximately Tremont Road, are being re-designed.
All are invited to learn about the project and weigh in on the proposed improvements. An open house will be held on Wednesday, April 3, 6-8 p.m., at the Dunes Visitor’s Center, 1215 IN-49 in Porter, Indiana.
If you read Wednesday’s Tribune headline, "CTA's Ventra debit option rife with fees," you might wonder why CTA is sticking transit riders with a bunch of new fees. Read beyond the headline, and you’ll find that’s a bit overstated.
Let’s start with this: The new Ventra card will be very similar to the current Chicago Card as a touch-and-go, reloadable transit fare card for CTA and PACE. There are two big changes coming that we know of.
As with any debit card you would get from a bank or Master Card, you'll pay various fees — fees that are often lost in the fine print until you get your bill — to use and manage the debit function. So, if you don’t want to deal with the fees or just don’t need another debit/credit card, then don’t activate the debit function on the Ventra card. Let’s hope this is clear and people don’t accidentally register for the debit feature.
At the same time, I fear some people might read the news articles and think all these new fees apply to paying for transit with Ventra, which they don’t. So how does Ventra compare to the Chicago Card in that respect? Lose your card, pay $5 for replacement — same as the Chicago Card.
There are some new transit account fees we don’t like, including the “dormancy” fee of $5/month that would be assessed for accounts that are inactive 18 months or more. And we hear employers will be charged $1.50 per month for making pre-tax transit benefit payments on behalf of their employees. Currently, RTA charges 50 cents per month and the CTA/Chicago Card nothing. This fee increase makes the transit benefit less attractive for employers to participate in.
There is much discussion about what Ventra means for “unbanked,” low income people. CTA says it gives them access to financial instruments they don’t currently have or that they have to pay more for at currency exchanges. Others worry that low income people will sign up for the Ventra debit card feature, not understanding that they have to pay the fees.
That’s a fair concern. We also worry about low income people paying the escalated $3 fare for single use cards rather than getting the Ventra card, which requires going through the registration process and making a minimum $5 purchase.
Ideally, everyone will switch to touch-and-go Ventra cards and personal credit cards (which means faster loading of buses and trains), avoid the single use cards, and knowingly decide whether to opt into the debit feature. CTA needs to step up the outreach to make this happen.
This blog post was updated March 28, 2013 to clarify that the $1.50/month charge for transit-benefit administration is paid by employers — not customers.
State transportation officials are accepting public comments on the route of the Illiana Expressway, which will run from I-55 near Wilmington in Illinois to I-65 near Cedar Lake, Indiana.
State transportation agencies are working on the planning, design and identification of a 400-foot right-of-way for the corridor. They are studying its environmental impact and engineering, as well as interchange locations, layout and alignment of the roadway, and local road closures.
Many of the possible street closures are great streets for cycling. Communities and destinations in the region need to retain access by foot and bike. The alignment location and road closures can be adjusted with your input. The actual alignment will be determined in fall of 2013.
Ensure foot and bike access along this route by leaving comments on the Illiana Corridor website, which has an interactive map. You can also attend open houses and spread the word to residents and visitors of the region.
Open houses will be on April 16 in Indiana, and April 18 in Illinois. Locations have not been identified. Keep watch on the website for locations.
The Cook County Forest Preserve District has just released its new Recreation Master Plan. The plan sets forth recommendations for improving and enhancing existing facilities, like walking and biking trails, as well as creating new recreation opportunities.
Highlights from the plan related to walking and biking include:
The plan also calls for the creation of a Trails Master Plan, which (among other things) would outline ways to improve trail crossings and connectivity, as well as develop trailhead standards and a wayfinding/mileage sign system.
Download the full plan here.
Active Transportation Alliance is searching for a woman of color, ideally between the ages of 35-60, who rides a bike for the starring role in our 2013 Bike Commuter Challenge promotional video.
This is a non-paying volunteer-opportunity. Meals will be provided, but there will be no other compensation for this work.
Transportation to shooting locations (Highland Park, Glenview, Chicago's River North neighborhood) may be provided if needed.
• Must be able to ride a bike
• Must own suitable business attire
• Be available on Saturday, April 6, 2013 for a full-day shoot (up to 12 hours)
• Sign a liability waiver and media release
This video will serve as a promotional tool for Active Trans' annual Bike Commuter Challenge, which had participation from 7,000 people last year.
If interested, please send a self-portrait wearing business attire with a bicycle to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, March 25.