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News & Notes

Chicago Holga-ish

A city bus in Downtown Chicago. Photo (cc) CameliaTWU

News & Notes→ Will Rahm Emanuel Show America What BRT Can Do? [Streetsblog]

With impressive urgency, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has spent his first months in office retooling and reconfiguring how the “City That Works” works. Emanuel’s energy is evident in changes from beat-cop deployment to the push for a longer school day, but perhaps the mayor’s most tangible efforts can be seen in his ambitious transportation agenda.

With Chicago DOT Commissioner Gabe Klein at his side, Emanuel has already implemented the city’s first protected bike lanes as part of a plan to add 100 miles of bike lanes within four years, announced a $1 billion upgrade to the Chicago Transit Authority’s Red Line, and passed a $2 “congestion fee” on downtown parking garages that will go towards the creation of a CTA Green Line stop that serves McCormick Place – the nation’s largest convention center – and a downtown circulator bus route being billed as bus rapid transit.


→ Top cities stories of 2011 [The Grist]

It’s that time of year again: When public schools everywhere cast about desperately for a holiday celebration that doesn’t involve Jesus or a dude in a red suit; when families gather from thither and yon to spend a few days remembering why they’ve scattered thither and yon in the first place; and yes, it’s time to take stock of the year past, and look ahead to the one coming up. As the guy charged with keeping an eye on all things urban around here, I curled up with my laptop on a winter’s night that was definitely not as cold as they used to be, dug through the archives, and now offer this, my most humble (and totally non-denominational) retrospective of 2011.


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News & Notes

Fare Box

Photo (cc) Nick Bastian

News & Notes→ Make bus service free [New Urbanism Blog]

It’s true. Nothing is ever free. But my proposition is that the basic city bus service that so many places fund would be better off as a basic municipal service, like fire or police. Fund it through a dedicated tax of some kind – sales, property, etc, and don’t bother to charge for the ride itself. Allow me to elaborate.


→ The bike whisperer [RedEye Chicago]

The wheels of change are in motion for city cyclists thanks to new initiatives from [Chicago] Mayor Emanuel. In the works are 100 miles of protected bike lanes, increased bike parking and a widespread bike-share program that could put Chicago on the map as one of the nation’s most bike-friendly cities.

Enter Gabe Klein, the city’s Department of Transportation commissioner, who took office this year.


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News & Notes

Chicago Pedestrian Safety Campaign

Mannequin on Chicago’s Wacker Drive part of that city’s pedestrian safety campaign. Photo from CDOT’s Facebook page.

News & Notes→ Mannequins stand up for safety along Wacker Drive [The Chicago Tribune]

Mannequins representing dead pedestrians were placed along Wacker Drive downtown on Tuesday to focus public attention on fatal crashes in Chicago involving vehicles and people on foot, officials said.

“You’ll notice that some of it is sort of hard-hitting, some of it may even be a little bit shocking,” said CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein. “But we want to remind people that when you are frustrated behind the wheel, these are real people and real lives we are talking about here. Please take that into consideration when you are driving, when you are riding your bike and when you are walking to look out for those around you.”


→ What works in cities: Why placemaking requires passion even more than big budgets [YongeStreet]

Before Detroit’s Campus Martius Park opened in 2004, many of the historic buildings around it had emptied. Major department stores were vacant or torn down.

To turn it around, the mayor’s office established a task force that studied the best public spaces in the world and quizzed the locals on how they would use a new park. After a $20-million investment, the park started buzzing year-round with music, a bistro, and ice skating under colourful lights and a giant Christmas tree. The park has since attracted several new corporate headquarters, new condos and a whopping one million park visitors each year.


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Like: Chicago’s bus tracker at stops

Chicago bus stop bus tracker

Real time bus tracker at bus stop in Chicago. Photo from @CDOTNews on Twitter via Grid Chicago.

Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Director of the Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein (pictured, center with CTA President Forrest Claypool at left), announced today the installation of real-time tracking of buses at bus stops in that city.

It just goes without saying that I like this, right?

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News & Notes

→ Chicago’s New Protected Bike Lanes [The City Fix]

Along with a new mayor, Chicago got its first protected bike lanes this past month. Funded by a federal grant, the Chicago Department of Transportation is installing the half-mile bike lane as a pilot program. The protected bike lanes will have a three feet buffer to parked cars and will be separated by delineated posts.


→ Amid Budget Cuts, Nation’s Mayors Speak as One [Wall Street Journal]

LOS ANGELES-It may not seem like the Republican mayor of Mesa, Ariz., and the Democratic mayor of Hilo, Hawaii, would have much in common.

But these days, they have the same complaints.

Their cities’ once-vital construction industries have withered, and their unemployment rates are at 9%. Both have cut funding to schools and police, and both rely on federal dollars to help their struggling cities.

Mayors from 50 cities gathered here Thursday for a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors to collectively vent about the impact that a sour economy and years of budget cuts—as well as possible cuts to federal funding if the debt ceiling isn’t raised—is having on their cities.


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