Divvy Up: Chicago Launches Bike-Share Program

Midwest
Friday, June 28, 2013
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Get on your bikes and ride — Chicago’s long-delayed Divvy bike share program launched Friday, kicking on 65 solar-powered docking stations and unleashing 700 “Chicago” (read: powder) blue bikes.

But some West and South Side residents may have to wait for the program’s full benefits, if they get them at all. Optimized for short trips in high-density areas, the Divvy system requires a credit or debit card and few of the initial stations serve the far West and South sides. The Department of Transportation plans to rollout a total of 400 stations and about 4,000 three-speed bicycles in all.

Chicago’s Department of Transportation unveiled its bike share plans in April, tapping Portland, OR–based Alta Bicycle Share, which also runs DC’s bike-share program. The rollout follows a similar program, Citibike, which launched in New York in late May.

If you’re riding Divvy today, watch out for stragglers from the Blackhawks Stanley Cup parade.

Anthony Foxx & Tom Prendergast Confirmed as Head of USDOT and NYC MYA

National
Thursday, June 27, 2013
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Tom Prendergast (left) and Anthony Foxx (right).

Tom Prendergast (left) and Anthony Foxx (right).

We’ve known for a while that Tom Prendergast and Anthony Foxx would be leading New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation for a while now, but now it’s official. The New York State Senate has confirmed Prendergast has been appointed as the new chairman and CEO of the MTA and Congress has okayed President Obama’s selection of Anthony Foxx as the new Secretary of Transportation.

Prendergast, who has extensive experience working in the transit system, is replacing Joe Lhota who left the position to run for New York City Mayor. With Prendergast’s new role comes the heavy responsibility of managing an annual $13 billion dollar budget and effectively serving 8.5 million commuters per weekday.

Anthony Foxx, former mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, replaces Secretary Ray LaHood, a notable enforcer of safety who initiated a strong campaign against distracted driving. Foxx says that he will follow from LaHood’s example, making safety a priority as well.

Contest Aims To Enliven Chicago’s Union Station

Midwest
Friday, June 21, 2013
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Chicago Union Station (J. Stephen Conn via Flickr)

Chicago Union Station (J. Stephen Conn via Flickr)

Although it gets more daily traffic than Midway Airport, Chicago’s main rail hub remains little more than a waypoint for most people—a bustling transit station buried beneath an often empty Beaux Arts volume.

The Metropolitan Planning Council wants to change that. Their new placemaking contest, Activate Union Station, calls on architects, landscape architects, planners and designers of all stripes to submit ideas for a design-build program that will enliven the underused West Loop hub.

Continue reading after the jump.

Burnham Prize Winners Imagine Chicago BRT Designs

Midwest
Friday, June 7, 2013
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View of the winning entry, Form vs. Uniform.

View of the winning entry, Form vs. Uniform.

During the discussion that followed the announcement of 2013’s Burnham Prize winners, much was made of the difference between “gold-standard” bus rapid transit and watered-down “express bus” service. The key difference is that the real thing not only runs more smoothly, but that it feels like a special experience.

So it was for the honorees of the prize ceremony, which this year included three winners, three honorable mentions, and three citations. Their prompt, “Next Stop,” asked them to design stations for Chicago’s burgeoning network of bus rapid transit systems.

View all the winners after the jump.

Bike Share Programs Roll Along in New York, Chicago

City Terrain, East, Midwest
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
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"Divvy," Chicago's forthcoming bike share program, features three-speed bicycles painted the same blue as seen as seen in the city's flag. (Courtesy Divvy / Alta Bicycle Share)

“Divvy,” Chicago’s forthcoming bike share program, features three-speed bicycles painted the same blue as seen as seen in the city’s flag. (Courtesy Divvy / Alta Bicycle Share)

Chicago’s bike-for-rent made its test premiere during the annual “Bike the Drive” event on the Windy City’s Lake Shore thoroughfare Sunday, and Wednesday opened the new service for membership sign-ups.

Chicago’s Department of Transportation unveiled its bike share plans in April, tapping Portland, OR–based Alta Bicycle Share, which also runs New York and DC’s bike-share programs, to roll out 400 stations and about 4,000 three-speed “Chicago Blue” bicycles across the city.

Continue reading after the jump.

New Navy Pier Plans, McCormick CTA Renderings Revealed

Midwest
Friday, May 17, 2013
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navy_pier_redo_01navy_pier_redo_02

Above: “Gateway Fountain” in warm and cold seasons. (Courtesy Navy Pier)

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration Wednesday revealed details about two initiatives they said would amount to $1.1 billion in investment: a new 10,000-seat arena for DePaul University located across the street from McCormick Place, and an overhaul to Navy Pier — the city’s largest tourist attraction.

More details after the jump.

Where Are Chicago’s Most Bikeable Neighborhoods?

Midwest
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
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Protected bike lanes on Kinzie Street. (Image courtesy Josh Koonce via Flickr.)

Protected bike lanes on Kinzie Street. (Josh Koonce / Flickr)

Steven Vance, editor of StreetsBlog Chicago and frequent contributor to AN, dug through Walk Score’s breakdown of the most bikeable neighborhoods in Chicago.

The rankings are based on several factors, including the prevalence of bike lanes, connectivity, commuting mode share and hills. It also considers the number of neighborhood destinations and, as Vance points out, may consider a shared lane marking as a bike lane. That led to the Illinois Medical District’s surprising fourth place ranking, tailing East Ukrainian Village, Ukrainian Village and Wicker Park.

See the national list of WalkScore.com’s most bikeable neighborhoods here, and read StreetsBlog’s post here.

Rockefeller Foundation Issues Grants To Support Bus Rapid Transit

East, Midwest
Monday, April 29, 2013
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Chicago BRT Proposal. (Courtesy CDOT)

Chicago BRT Proposal. (Courtesy CDOT)

The Rockefeller Foundation has announced that four cities will receive a combined $1.2 million in grants to foster research, communications, and community outreach efforts in an endeavor to educate local stakeholders about the advantages of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems. The Foundation’s solution to “Transform Cities” and promote fiscal growth and quality of life proposes better mass transit investments. Boston, Chicago, Nashville, and Pittsburgh will participate in the project.

Read More

Obama Selects Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx As Next DOT Secretary

National
Monday, April 29, 2013
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Mayor Anthony Foxx (Courtesy City of Charlotte)

Mayor Anthony Foxx. (Courtesy City of Charlotte)

White House officials revealed on Sunday that Charlotte, North Carolina Mayor Anthony Foxx will be named President Barack Obama’s next Secretary of the Department of Transportation, replacing outgoing Secretary Ray LaHood.

The Charlotte Observer reported that Foxx rose to prominence last year when his city hosted the Democratic National Convention, and has garnered continued attention for his efforts to tackle Charlotte’s transportation challenges, from expanding the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, to extending the city’s light-rail system, and brining street cars to the city-center.

The 42-year old Mayor was first elected in 2009, then re-elected in 2011 with 70 percent of the vote. Earlier this month Foxx announced that he would be leaving office at the end of the year to spend more time with his family, though now it appears those plans have changed. If his nomination is confirmed, Foxx will assume his position July 4th.

Cincinnati’s Bike Hub Connects the City With Smale Riverfront Park

Midwest
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
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The bike hub in Cincinnati's Smale Waterfront Park. (Randy Simes / Urban Cincy)

The bike hub in Cincinnati’s Smale Waterfront Park. (Randy Simes / Urban Cincy)

As one of a slew of successful placemaking initiatives of late, along with the recently reopened Washington Park, Cincinnati’s Phyllis W. Smale Riverfront Park is a key component of the city’s resurgent urban identity. It’s a multi-faceted design, aspiring to filter water for flood control, provide green space and connect two downtown stadiums with a multimodal trail along the Ohio River.

Continue reading after the jump.

Competition Seeks Help Designing Chicago’s BRT Stations

Midwest
Monday, April 1, 2013
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Cleveland's BRT program has been hailed as a success.

Cleveland’s BRT program has been hailed as a success.

As Chicago rolls out bus rapid transit routes, the benefits of BRT are often presented as a given. But the experiences of bus systems around the world prove design matters.

It might bode well for the burgeoning BRT movement in Chicago, then, that the Chicago Architecture Foundation and Chicago Architectural Club have launched a bus rapid transit station design competition. Dubbed “NEXT STOP,” the station design contest will be the subject of the 2013 Burnham Prize Competition.

Submit designs for three stations (downtown, near State and Madison; Bucktown-Logan Square at Western Avenue Blue Line ‘L’ Stop; Pilsen near 18th and Ashland) by noon May 13.

Illinois Takes Helm of High-Speed Rail Group

Midwest
Thursday, March 21, 2013
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High-speed rail in Taiwan, where trains run at approximately 185 mph. (Image courtesy Flickr user loudtiger.)

High-speed rail in Taiwan, where trains run at approximately 185 mph. (Image courtesy Flickr user loudtiger.)

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today named Illinois’ Department of Transportation the leader of a multi-state effort to advance high-speed rail. Illinois, California, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington will use $808 million from the FRA to build 35 new diesel locomotives and 130 bi-level rail cars. California led the group last year, in which 130 bi-level rail cars were procured for high-speed service.

Read More

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