- A Blog by Kevin Zolkiewicz

30 Jul 2013

DNAinfo’s Adeshina Emmanuel:

City officials presented initial designs for the Argyle Streetscape project Monday. Janet Attarian, complete streets director at the Chicago Department of Transportation, said the design concept eliminates curbs, forces cars below 15 miles per hour and creates a shared space without hierarchy between road users.

I went to this meeting last night expecting the typical streetscape treatment: gateway lights, new sidewalks, stamped crosswalks, etc. I was practically on the edge of my seat once I realized that CDOT’s Janet Attarian was describing something entirely different.

Argyle’s new design will essentially take Lincoln Square to the next level. Cars will still be allowed, but all curbs will be removed and pedestrians will be able to cross the street wherever they please. While a true car-free street would be awesome, this will be a huge improvement over the current situation. One benefit of the design, explicitly mentioned by Attarian, is that it will allow for easy conversion to a pedestrian street in the future.

20 Apr 2013

Streetsblog Chicago’s John Greenfield sat down with representatives from the CTA and CDOT yesterday to get more details on the agencies’ newly-announced plans for Bus Rapid Transit on Ashland.

If the city manages to pull this off, we’d be home to the country’s first “gold-standard” BRT line at a cost of just $116 million for the first segment. That’s pretty cheap when you consider that a single elevated heavy rail station can run up to $203 million.

7 Mar 2013

Reuters via Crain’s:

Walgreen Co. is getting behind the “green” part of its name, as it aims to build what it believes will be the first store in the United States to produce at least as much energy as it consumes.

Just pay no attention to the car-centric design that requires pedestrians to walk across a parking lot to access the store.

Walgreens deserves credit for their recent pedestrian-friendly stores in the city that have limited or no parking, but they’re back to their typical suburban format here. Evanston might be a suburb, but it’s not Schaumburg. I understand that they see a business need for having parking, but at least build the store up to the sidewalk and give pedestrians a first-class experience.

19 Feb 2013

CTA’s switch to the open fare Ventra system may not result in fare increases, but it will result in new fees for some users. Some are more understandable, such as a $0.50 production fee for one-time use cards that include RFID chips. But the $5 “dormancy fee” for transit accounts on both Ventra-branded and personal credit/debit cards certainly makes CTA sound like a greedy bank.

After the story regarding the F rating for the company running the debit card portion of Ventra cards, I’m sure the press will have a field day with this news.

19 Feb 2013

I don’t know why the cars didn’t get LED interior lights rather than fluorescents from the beginning, but better late than never. LEDs do have a rather significant impact on the brightness and appearance of the cars. A few years ago, CTA retrofitted a pair of 3200-series cars with LEDs and the difference is immediately noticeable. They even make the beige interior look slightly less ugly.

In related news, Streetsblog Chicago recently published my thoughts on what CTA should do for their upcoming 7000-series railcar order.