Friday, November 17, 2017

Friends of the Major Taylor Trail meeting on Mon. 11/20

Friends of the Major Taylor Trail will meet on Mon. 11/20 at Ridge Park fieldhouse (1817 W 96th St.), 7:00 to 8:30 pm.

For those who aren't familiar with our group and what we do, we are a non-profit advocacy group working to improve and maintain the Major Taylor Trail and promote its use. We have an active working relationship with the Chicago Park District, Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Openlands and other non-profits and government agencies. We organize volunteer workdays, bike rides and other events.

We'd love to have your ideas and help with future events and projects. Please join us! Everyone is welcome.

non sequitur Friday



Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Whistler Woods habitat restoration workday Friday 11/17

It's great to get outdoors. Volunteers are needed this Friday 11/17 from 10 am to 1 pm for a habitat restoration workday - brush cutting and bonfires.  Light snacks and water will be available.


Hiking boots or other boots or shoes that offer good support and traction are a good idea. When you arrive, look for volunteers along the lefthand side of the main parking lot, near the end of the parking lot. If you have work gloves, bring them, otherwise gloves will be available.  

How to get there:   Whistler Woods is just east of 13400 S Halsted in Riverdale.

By bike: if you're coming from the north, ride the Major Taylor Trail south until it ends in Whistler Woods and continue to the parking lot to find the volunteers.

By car: take Halsted to Forestview (13400S) - parking lot is the first left turn after you turn east onto Forestview.

From I-57, exit at eastbound 127th, then turn right on Halsted, then continue to 13400S and follow the directions above.

From I-94, exit at westbound 130th.  Continue past the viaduct, right (northbound) on Indiana, then continue left on 127th. Follow the directions above.

By transit:  Pace 352 Halsted bus

Saturday, November 11, 2017

2018 Metra fare increases and service changes

If you haven't gotten the details about what's going to change with Metra fares and service in 2018, here's the scoop:

A Zone C to A monthly pass will increase from $149.75 to $159.50.   A 10-ride will increase from $47.25 to $52.25. A 1-way ticket will increase from $5.25 to $5.50.

The price of $8 weekend passes will increase to $10.

For more details on new fares, click here. Fare increases will take effect 2/1/18.

Service cuts on the Beverly branch are as follows:

• Train 622 (arrives at LaSalle Street Station at 6:44 p.m.) will be eliminated.
• Train 424 (currently arrives at LaSalle Street at 6:28 p.m.) will now make all stops from Joliet to LaSalle Street via the Beverly Branch to accommodate Beverly Branch passengers who previously took Train 622, arriving at LaSalle Street at 6:45 p.m.

• Train 526 (arrives at LaSalle Street at 7:42 p.m.) will be eliminated.

• Train 532 (arrives at LaSalle Street at 11:50 p.m.) will be eliminated.

• Train 533 (departs LaSalle Street at 12:30 a.m.) will be eliminated.

• Train 527 (currently departs LaSalle Street at 8:45 p.m.) will depart at 9:15 p.m.

• Train 529 (currently departs LaSalle Street at 9:45 p.m.) will depart at 10:30 p.m.

• Train 531 (currently departs LaSalle Street at 11:15 p.m.) will depart at 11:45 p.m.

I don't know about you, but I often attend events and meetings downtown or in other neighborhoods after work.  These changes are going to hurt. Sometimes this will will mean later nights and longer trips home. Some of those trips will be longer because departures from downtown are too late for my trip, so I'll end up taking the red line and 95th St. bus more often instead of sitting around a long time to take Metra.

For more details on service cuts (including other lines), click here.

Mary Wisniewski of the Chicago Tribune has an article the subject today.



Friday, November 10, 2017

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Dan Ryan Woods habitat restoration workday on Sat. 11/11

It's great to get outside. Come out and volunteer at Dan Ryan Woods this Saturday 11/11 from 9:00 am-noon for Friends of the Forest Preserves' monthly habitat restoration workday.

Tools, gloves, and training provided. If you have work gloves you like, bring those. Wearing hiking boots or work boots is recommended.

91st St. parking lot (just north of the 91st St. Metra station).  Please contact Benjamin Cox at 773-398-1178 or benjamin@fotfp.org for more information and to let him know if you plan to attend.

community safety meeting tonight (Wed. 11/8)

News from BAPA:

"In response to the number of calls we have received from community residents regarding the recent armed robberies in Beverly/Morgan Park, BAPA, the 19th Ward Office and the Beverly Ridge Homeowner Association are hosting this meeting. Neighborhood residents are vital to keeping a community safe. People are encouraged to attend this meeting to help make a plan of action.

Here's the background, in case you missed yesterday's news:
Armed robberies were reported Oct. 12 at 10:40 a.m. in the 9500 block of S. Damen;  Nov. 5 at 9:37 p.m.in the 9900 block of S. Damen; Nov. 6 at 9:15 a.m. in the 10800 block of S. Church; and Nov. 6 at 9:40 a.m. in the 2100 block of West 98th Street.

According to police "suspects were described as two African-American males, thought to be between 14 and 18 years old, weighing between 130 and 150 pounds and standing about 5-foot-5, police said. Two other males were waiting inside the car, described as a silver, four-door sedan. Anyone with information on the armed robberies is asked to contact Area South detectives at (312) 747-8273."



Sunday, November 5, 2017

give and take

The local business gods giveth and taketh away.

Longer hours at Wild Blossom Meadery - yeah!

Shorter hours at Bridgeport Coffee (6 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekends).  :(

Saturday, November 4, 2017

miracles on 98th St. (and nearby)

In this week of tricks or treats, we've gotten a few little treats.

The section of 98th from Damen to Hoyne was ground down for repaving about 2 months ago and has effectively been a not-so-bike-friendly traffic calming zone.  It's finally been repaved. Yeah!!!


The sinkhole at 98th and Winchester that has been the subject of previous posts is in the process of being repaired and actually has proper barriers while work is being done. Yeah!!!!


The third wonder - progress on the new fieldhouse roof at Ridge Park. YEAH!!!!!



Miracles can happen. ;)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Whistler Woods habitat restoration workday Sat. 11/4

It's great to get outdoors. Volunteers are needed this Saturday 11/4 from 10 am to 1 pm for a habitat restoration workday - brush cutting and bonfires.  Light snacks and water will be available.


Hiking boots or other boots or shoes that offer good support and traction are a good idea. When you arrive, look for volunteers along the lefthand side of the main parking lot, near the end of the parking lot. If you have work gloves, bring them, otherwise gloves will be available.  

How to get there:   Whistler Woods is just east of 13400 S Halsted in Riverdale.

By bike: if you're coming from the north, ride the Major Taylor Trail south until it ends in Whistler Woods and continue to the parking lot to find the volunteers.

By car: take Halsted to Forestview (13400S) - parking lot is the first left turn after you turn east onto Forestview.

From I-57, exit at eastbound 127th, then turn right on Halsted, then continue to 13400S and follow the directions above.

From I-94, exit at westbound 130th.  Continue past the viaduct, right (northbound) on Indiana, then continue left on 127th. Follow the directions above.

By transit:  Pace 352 Halsted bus

Friday, October 27, 2017

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

98th and Winchester update #3

I previously posted about a sinkhole at 98th and Winchester that wasn't properly covered, creating a hazard.

Last night there was a bigger steel plate and construction horses, forcing traffic around the plate. This morning there was a crew working to fix the sinkhole - yeah!!!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Vincennes update

I posted recently about a hazard created by a half-finished project along the Vincennes bike lane.  A few days I noticed that one of the spots was fixed. I took a trip over the weekend and confirmed that ALL the trenches have been filled. 


Thank you to Alderman Brookins and CDOT for taking care of this hazard..

Friday, October 20, 2017

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Major Taylor Trail ride on Sat. 10/21

Join us for a bike ride on Sat. 10/21.

Facebook event link - please respond here to let us know you're coming!


Link for Wild Blossom grand opening, including ticket info.

98th St. - belated work or traffic calming?

It's been about 2 months since 98th St. from Damen to Hoyne was ground down for repaving. Is this intended to be a permanent traffic calming measure or will we see new pavement before winter?


98th and Winchester update #2

It's been a week and the plate is already starting to move. Soon the sinkhole will be uncovered again. There are no bolts holding it in place, only the ridge of asphalt. Why can't they put some bolts in already?



--------------------------------------------
I got a response from the alderman's office yesterday. This morning I found that the plate had been moved. There's a ridge of asphalt around it. Can't tell if they anchored it with any bolts, but I'm guessing that they didn't. We'll see how long this lasts before the plate moves again.

--------------------------------------------
If you're passing through the intersection of 98th and Winchester in the near future, watch out for this.



A sinkhole opened up recently.  The city obviously knows about it, because it got covered by a steel plate. Unfortunately they didn't properly secure the plate - in this intersection with no stop signs and plenty of speed-through traffic - so the plate shifted. This is how it looked around 6 p.m. on Thursday night.

I emailed this to the alderman's office first this this morning, but they're taking a 4-day weekend, so nobody responded to email or a phone call attempt. I reported it through 311, but I'm not counting on anyone getting to it right away.

Use caution if you're walking, biking, jogging or driving through this intersection.  Hitting this the wrong way could cause serious injuries.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

hazard in Vincennes bike lane - or - a job half done

A few weeks ago, I spotted something on my Metra ride home that was baffling and disappointing.

In some spots along the east side of Vincennes, there are little areas of concrete that aren't connected by any sidewalk. They look like they might have been bus stops at some point. Are these used at all now, or are they just remnants?

One of several new ADA ramps with unfilled trenches in the northbound bike lane
At several locations along the northbound side of Vincennes from 95th to 89th, new ADA curb ramps were installed at these concrete remnants. There's a narrow trench along the right edge of the bike lane at each of these locations. Someone threw a bit of loose asphalt in the trench right at the bumpy part of the ramp, but the rest of each trench is unfilled - a potential hazard if someone riding in the bike lane doesn't see it before they hit it.

The thing that makes it more baffling is that the curb ramp installations on the west side of the street were completed with asphalt that was properly packed down, as seen in the photo below.

Vincennes at 89th St
I reported this to contacts at CDOT and never got any response. This week I reported it again - to CDOT and the 21st ward office. No response so far.

C'mon folks, can't this job be finished properly before winter to eliminate this hazard? Please make the northbound Vincennes bike lane safe again before we reach days of early darkness, when those most likely to get hurt are low income people of color who are riding for transportation.

If you're bothered by this, please share - on Twitter, Facebook or both. If you ride Vincennes or live in the 21st ward, please contact the 21st ward office.

Dan Ryan Woods habitat restoration workday on Sat. 10/14

It's great to get outside. Come out and volunteer at Dan Ryan Woods this Saturday 10/14 from 9:00 am-noon for Friends of the Forest Preserves' monthly habitat restoration workday.

Tools, gloves, and training provided. If you have work gloves you like, bring those. Wearing hiking boots or work boots is recommended.

Meet at the 91st St. parking lot (just north of the 91st St. Metra station).  Please contact Benjamin Cox at 773-398-1178 or benjamin@fotfp.org for more information and to let him know if you plan to attend.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

a missed opportunity on 91st St.

After all the water and sewer work along 91st St. this summer, I hoped that the traffic diverter that was temporarily removed at 91st and Leavitt might be replaced with a smarter, more bike friendly design. Nope, same old STOOPID design.




These openings are wide enough for a confident bike rider, or perhaps a less confident one when the pavement is clean and in good condition. For a less confident rider in less favorable conditions, or for a senior riding a utility trike, these are less than adequate. A number of seniors in our neighborhood ride utility trikes like this one below for basic transportation. They should be able to ride safely through this intersection and others with diverters.


These Portland examples are much more suitable for accommodating bike traffic.




When infrastructure like these traffic diverters gets removed for construction, there should be an opportunity for public input for potential improvement.  We definitely need to see improvement at 93rd and Damen and at 94th and Leavitt whenever water and sewer work reaches those locations.

I'd love it if the diverter at 94th and Leavitt could be moved to 93rd. The fact that so much traffic is concentrated at 94th, only 1 block from the stoplight at 95th, causes a LOT of traffic conflict and often creates hazardous conditions for cyclists. This is one of only 2 direct street crossings with stoplights to get across 95th, so it's very important for bike use - and for everyone else trying to get across 95th.


Friday, October 6, 2017

household hazardous waste collection this Saturday 10/7

Beverly Unitarian Church will host a collection of household electronics and hazardous waste in the church parking lot, at 103rd and Seeley, tomorrow - Sat. 10/7, 8:30 to 11 a.m.

This event is sponsored by the church’s Green Sanctuary Group and Beverly Bank. Donations are encouraged to help cover costs. 

Accepted items include computers, monitors, printers, small electronics, TVs under 35 inches, cell phones and pagers. Hazardous items must be properly sealed and include mercury fluorescent bulbs, anti-freeze, used motor oil, oil based paints, batteries, lawn chemicals, pool chemicals and solvents.

Beverly Art Walk is happening on Sat. 10/7

Yes, there's a LOT happening tomorrow.

You can find a full program for Beverly Art Walk venues and programs here.


habitat restoration workday at Whistler Woods Sat. 10/7

It's great to get outdoors. Volunteers are needed this Saturday 10/7 from 10 am to 1 pm for a habitat restoration workday - seed gathering.  Light snacks and water will be available.


Hiking boots or other boots or shoes that offer good support and traction are a good idea. When you arrive, look for volunteers along the lefthand side of the main parking lot, near the end of the parking lot. If you have work gloves, bring them, otherwise gloves will be available.  

How to get there:   Whistler Woods is just east of 13400 S Halsted in Riverdale.

By bike: if you're coming from the north, ride the Major Taylor Trail south until it ends in Whistler Woods and continue to the parking lot to find the volunteers.

By car: take Halsted to Forestview (13400S) - parking lot is the first left turn after you turn east onto Forestview.

From I-57, exit at eastbound 127th, then turn right on Halsted, then continue to 13400S and follow the directions above.

From I-94, exit at westbound 130th.  Continue past the viaduct, right (northbound) on Indiana, then continue left on 127th. Follow the directions above.

By transit:  Pace 352 Halsted bus

non sequitur Friday



Sunday, October 1, 2017

coffee with a cop

If you'd like an opportunity to have a conversation with 22nd district commander and other officers, come to Bridgeport Coffee (9135 S Western) on Wed. 10/4 from 9 am to 10 am.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

bikes for basic transportation and as mobility devices

I was having a conversation with someone yesterday about the problem of drivers who think that bikes are only for recreation and should be out of their way, off the street. People who only drive and don't ride often fail to grasp the basic reasons why many people ride.

I know quite a few people who use bikes as their primary transportation and don't own cars. For them, a bike is for visiting friends, hauling groceries, taking young children to day care or school, and many other purposes.

Some people I know choose bikes for other reasons. If someone has a medical condition that makes it unsafe for them to drive (such as epilepsy or poor vision), they may ride because driving is not an option. Riding a bike gives them freedom and allows them to get around without having to depend on someone else to give them a ride.

A growing number of seniors use utility trikes as an alternative to driving - for grocery shopping, going to socialize with friends, to visit the library, etc.
Utility trike

Recumbent trike
I recently met a woman with multiple sclerosis whose ability to walk is very limited. She rides a recumbent trike and straps her cane on the side for use when she gets off the bike. She is able to drive, but she likes having another option that lets her gets some aerobic exercise and enjoy fresh air. A friend with epilepsy uses a recumbent trike as her favorite form of exercise and transportation.

Our bike infrastructure and traffic laws should accommodate all types of riders, regardless of what they ride and why they ride.


Saturday, September 23, 2017

when ADA creates new problems

The installation of new ADA curb ramps across the city has definitely been a mixed bag. Some of them are very well done. Some create moats whenever there is any significant moisture - counter-productive when you're trying to improve walkability, and even worse in winter when the moats turn into mini skating rinks.

Then we have the special case of corners where a multi-use trail crosses a busy street, like the intersection of 87th, Damen and Beverly Blvd.  Sometimes large groups ride through this intersection, and these newly installed ramps create potential hazards.

Crosswalk for Damen - nice wide ramp, safer design
I rarely see anyone crossing here.
Ramp for crossing 87th, following Major Taylor Trail -
forces a sharp turn. Traffic waiting to turn (just out of frame to the left)
usually limits opportunity to use EB ramp as spillover space for riders
trying to go SB and get across 87th during one light cycle.
If you're riding with a group of people trying to get across
87th during walk signal, competing with turning cars,
does having this edge that could cause someone to fall
seem like a good idea?
Southwest corner - 87th at Beverly Blvd.
If you were riding from the opposite corner with a group of people
trying to get across 87th,  would you want this raised corner
in your path of travel, or would you want something like the corner shown below?
No hard edges next to curb ramp
Doesn't an installation like this make a LOT more sense 
for a location where a trail is crossing a busy street?
We need MUCH better oversight over contractors doing these ADA curb ramp installations.  Too many mistakes like this are made, causing close calls, accidents and injuries that could have been avoided.

Friday, September 22, 2017

non sequitur Friday





Take a few minutes to listen to his thoughts on music.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Friends of the Major Taylor Trail meeting on Mon. 9/18

Friends of the Major Taylor Trail will meet on Mon. 9/18 at Ridge Park fieldhouse (1817 W 96th St.), 7:00 to 8:30 pm.

For those who aren't familiar with our group and what we do, we are a non-profit advocacy group working to improve and maintain the Major Taylor Trail and promote its use. We have an active working relationship with the Chicago Park District, Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Openlands and other non-profits and government agencies. We organize volunteer workdays, bike rides and other events.

We'd love to have your ideas and help with future events and projects. Please join us! Everyone is welcome.

non sequitur Friday



Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Dan Ryan Woods habitat restoration workday on Sat. 9/9

It's great to get outside. Come out and volunteer at Dan Ryan Woods this Saturday 9/9 from 9:00 am-noon for Friends of the Forest Preserves' monthly habitat restoration workday. This one is a special seed gathering workday.

Tools, gloves, and training provided. If you have work gloves you like, bring those. Wearing hiking boots or work boots is recommended.

Meet at the 91st St. parking lot (just north of the 91st St. Metra station).  Please contact Benjamin Cox at 773-398-1178 or benjamin@fotfp.org for more information and to let him know if you plan to attend.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Tree ride on Sunday 9/10



Would you like to learn the identity of this grand old tree and more about trees in Beverly and Morgan Park? Come out for an easy-paced 10 mile bike ride. You don't have to be a TreeKeeper to learn more about our trees.

Optional lunch/mead stop afterwards at Wild Blossom Meadery.

It's happening on Sunday 9/10 from 10 am to 1 pm. We'll meet at the Dan Ryan Woods 91st St. parking lot, just east of Beverly Blvd. If you're driving there, the easiest access is from 91st and Ashland - go west on 91st across the Metra tracks and it's on your left after the Major Taylor Trail - just before the cul de sac. We'll see many familiar species and some uncommon ones.

FYI - I've been a volunteer with the Openlands TreeKeepers program for several years, helping with tree planting and tree care here in the neighborhood, along the Major Taylor Trail and in other neighborhoods across the city. It's a great experience and I highly recommend it.

Watch this space for info about future workdays to take care of neighborhood trees. I am partnering with Openlands  in offering this ride.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Whistler Woods habitat restoration workday on Sat. 9/2

It's great to get outdoors. Volunteers are needed this Saturday 9/2 from 10 am to 1 pm for a habitat restoration workday - invasive species removal.  Light snacks and water will be available.


Hiking boots or other boots or shoes that offer good support and traction are a good idea. When you arrive, look for volunteers along the lefthand side of the main parking lot, near the end of the parking lot. If you have work gloves, bring them, otherwise gloves will be available.  

How to get there:   Whistler Woods is just east of 13400 S Halsted in Riverdale.

By bike: if you're coming from the north, ride the Major Taylor Trail south until it ends in Whistler Woods and continue to the parking lot to find the volunteers.

By car: take Halsted to Forestview (13400S) - parking lot is the first left turn after you turn east onto Forestview.

From I-57, exit at eastbound 127th, then turn right on Halsted, then continue to 13400S and follow the directions above.

From I-94, exit at westbound 130th.  Continue past the viaduct, right (northbound) on Indiana, then continue left on 127th. Follow the directions above.

By transit:  Pace 352 Halsted bus

what's next?

A month ago, many of you experiencing our big Slow Roll ride in Beverly and Morgan Park, either by riding it or seeing it go by.



It was an amazing day that wouldn't have been possible without the involvement of great community partners like Beverly Area Arts Alliance and BAPA. The assistance of police from the 22nd district made it much easier for a group of 200 (yes, 200!) riders to pass through the neighborhood and cross major streets safely. That was especially important because we had so many families with children on the ride.

So what's next? A lot of good conversations came out of that ride - about the possibility of various types of future bike events, how encouraging bike riding for transportation could boost local business districts, how safer bike conditions could encourage bike riding for transportation, etc. The seeds have been planted. How well they grow depends on all of you.

Do you want to be part of future events and/or advocacy work? Do you just want to ride your bike in the neighborhood - for fun or transportation? Is there a neighborhood business or other location you want to ride to but it lacks bike parking? You can search here to see if someone's requested a bike rack, or make a request if there's none in the system yet.


Do you want to see more events like this? Do you want bike lanes, greenways and other changes to help create safer conditions?  Contact Alderman O'Shea and tell him safer bike conditions matter to you. Tell BAPA too. Seeing such a big crowd at Slow Roll was a good start. We need to keep the momentum going to make a difference.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Friday, August 18, 2017

Monday, August 14, 2017

Chicago Shakespeare at Ridge Park

It's that time of year again. Chicago Shakespeare will be performing Romeo and Juliet at Ridge Park on Fri. 8/18 and Sat. 8/19 starting at 6:30 p.m.



Click here for more info.  If you enjoy what you see and would like to go to one of their regular productions, you can find info on the upcoming season here.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Are you visible while riding your bike at night?

When I ride my bike at night, sometimes I'm riding for transportation, sometimes for relaxation. I do what I can to make myself more visible with lights and reflectors to minimize the risk of close calls or crashes.

A book on bike laws gives the following caution, which is worth considering. "If you are operating your bike without a light “during darkness,” you may be cited; more importantly, in the event of an accident, riding without lights will be either per se negligence or prima facie evidence of negligence, depending on your jurisdiction."  In plain English, if you're riding at night and you get hit by a car, failure to make yourself visible by using lights and/or reflectors can make it difficult to collect an insurance settlement from the driver who hit you.

Are you familiar with laws regarding visibility? I've included some below.

Illinois law: Sec. 11-1507. Lamps and other equipment on bicycles. (a) Every bicycle when in use at nighttime shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front and with a red reflector on the rear of a type approved by the Department which shall be visible from all distances from 100 feet to 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector.

Illinois law also requires that new bikes be sold with reflectors "visible from each side of the bicycle from a distance of 500 feet and shall be essentially colorless or red to the rear of the center of the bicycle and essentially colorless or amber to the front of the center of the bicycle provided. The requirements of this paragraph may be met by reflective materials which shall be at least 3/16 of an inch wide on each side of each tire or rim to indicate as clearly as possible the continuous circular shape and size of the tires or rims of such bicycle and which reflective materials may be of the same color on both the front and rear tire or rim."

In other words, if your tires have reflective sidewalk striping, that can meet the requirement for side reflectors. The bike shown below has both.

Reflective sidewalls and wheel reflectors
Uniform vehicle Code Section 12-702. Headlight and taillight required at night. Every bicycle in use [during darkness] shall be equipped with a headlight on the front emitting a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front, and a taillight on the rear emitting a red light visible from a distance of at least 1,000 feet to the rear.

LED headlight

Tail light
Uniform vehicle Code Section 12-703. Rear reflector required at night. Every bicycle shall be equipped with a red reflector of a type approved by the department which shall be visible for 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlights on a motor vehicle.

Rear reflector and tail light
Uniform vehicle Code Section 12-704. Side reflector or light required at night. Every bicycle when in use [during darkness] shall be equipped with reflective material of sufficient size and reflectivity to be visible from both sides for 600 feet when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle, or, in lieu of such reflective material, with a lighted lamp visible from both sides from a distance of at least 500 feet.

Uniform vehicle Code Section 12-705. Additional lights or reflectors authorized. A bicycle or its rider may be equipped with lights or reflectors in addition to those required by the foregoing sections. These lights and/or reflectors may be LED or regular, steady or flashing, as long as they comply with the requirements or limitations of the department.

Helmet mounted tail light

Reflective vest

There are many inexpensive LED light options available. Some can be mounted to your helmet. I've often heard people say "I used to have lights but somebody stole them and I couldn't afford to buy new ones." It's worth looking at lights that are easily removable so you can stash them in your bag and avoid this problem.

Reflective bands that can be worn around the ankles are a great idea for visibility. When you pedal, the movement of the reflective stripes makes you easily recognizable from side or front.

Reflective band for arm or leg

I'm glad to see more runners using lights and/or reflective items at night and in low light condtions. It's safer for them and for cyclists and pedestrians who may be sharing the same space. Please, please, if you're riding at night, get lit, get reflective, and make yourself visible to reduce your risk of getting hit. I'd rather see everyone get where they're going safely without any crashes or scary near misses.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Dan Ryan Woods habitat restoration workday on Sat. 8/12

It's great to get outside. Come out and volunteer at Dan Ryan Woods this Saturday 8/12 from 9:00 am-noon for Friends of the Forest Preserves' monthly habitat restoration workday. This one is a special seed gathering workday.

Tools, gloves, and training provided. If you have work gloves you like, bring those. Wearing hiking boots or work boots is recommended.

Meet at the 91st St. parking lot (just north of the 91st St. Metra station).  Please contact Benjamin Cox at 773-398-1178 or benjamin@fotfp.org for more information and to let him know if you plan to attend.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Whistler Woods habitat restoration workday on Sat. 8/5

It's great to get outdoors. Volunteers are needed this Saturday 8/5 from 10 am to 1 pm for a habitat restoration workday - invasive species removal.  Light snacks and water will be available.


Hiking boots or other boots or shoes that offer good support and traction are a good idea. When you arrive, look for volunteers along the lefthand side of the main parking lot, near the end of the parking lot. If you have work gloves, bring them, otherwise gloves will be available.  

How to get there:   Whistler Woods is just east of 13400 S Halsted in Riverdale.

By bike: if you're coming from the north, ride the Major Taylor Trail south until it ends in Whistler Woods and continue to the parking lot to find the volunteers.

By car: take Halsted to Forestview (13400S) - parking lot is the first left turn after you turn east onto Forestview.

From I-57, exit at eastbound 127th, then turn right on Halsted, then continue to 13400S and follow the directions above.

From I-94, exit at westbound 130th.  Continue past the viaduct, right (northbound) on Indiana, then continue left on 127th. Follow the directions above.

By transit:  Pace 352 Halsted bus

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

our trees need water

We've seen news stories about serious flooding in parts of our metro area, but that rain has been very unevenly distributed. Many storms that dropped huge amounts of rain in areas north, west or south of us left little or nothing in Beverly or Morgan Park over the last several weeks. In the last week, I've seen a few things that were vivid reminders of how dry our soil really is here in the neighborhood.


In areas that have not been watered, I've seen cracks in the bone dry soil. Recently I saw a gingko tree (a very tough species) that had lost all its leaves and was starting to grow new ones after we had 1/2" of rain. I've also seen a few young, recently planted trees that had dropped all their leaves and looked like they were dead or in very tough shape.



Other signs of drought: oak trees dropping acorns prematurely (before they reach full size and ripeness), tree leaves looking withered or starting to drop. I have seen these signs in various locations around the neighborhood this week.



Ideally, 1 inch of rain per week will keep a tree healthy. We've had a occasional heavy rain since early May, but it's usually been of a brief enough duration that we've only gotten 0.1" or 0.2" of water - nowhere near enough to make up for the long-term lack of soaking rains.

Our trees need water to stay healthy. If you don't regularly water the lawn area around your trees, please consider using a soaker hose around the base of each tree, or using a sprinkler over the root area (at least the area of the tree canopy). In weeks when we don't get at least 1" of rain, letting it soak for at least an hour is a good idea. That will help our trees catch up and stay healthy.

Trees under extreme stress become more vulnerable to health issues from disease, infestation or damage. Drought is a form of stress that we can do something about. As of today, there's no significant chance of rain in the forecast for the next several days, continuing the pattern we've been seeing for weeks.

In the more extreme weather we're seeing now, we get more heavy rains and more extended periods of heat and minimal rain. This is hard on our trees when it happens year after year. Please be kind to our trees and help them live longer, healthier lives. This makes neighborhood and our environment healthier. 

safer crossings

The challenge of safely crossing our major streets continues, with minimal assistance from our alderman. The addition of signs by the crosswalks at 97th and Longwood and the restriping of the crosswalks has helped a little. Now a few drivers are stopping and yielding to pedestrians crossing to/from Ridge Park instead of none at all. Many people need to cross here - folks with young children going to the playground, people walking their dogs, or anyone else using or passing through the park. For some, difficulty in being able to cross safely means that they drive to the park instead of walking. This makes the problem worse.

97th and Longwood, adjacent to Ridge Park
Meanwhile, we still have trouble crossing at locations like 95th and Hoyne (Southtown Health Foods, Top Notch, the new Barraco's location, and other businesses), 95th and Longwood (Jimmy Jamm, farmers markets, etc.), 95th and Oakley (Chipotle, Chase Bank and others) 104th and Western (Horse Thief Hollow, Boot Camp Fitness, Dunkin Donuts, etc.) and others. These businesses have limited parking. Traffic and demand for parking often drive away potential customers. 

If more people feel comfortable crossing the street in these locations, we could see a lot of benefits: more customers served at businesses without parking being an issue, reduction in speeding, reduction in crashes, people getting more exercise, more interaction between people in the neighborhood, etc.

Under current conditions, when a class is in session at Boot Camp Fitness, Horse Thief Hollow often loses potential business because nearby parking is maxed out. This happens every single week. We could create a safer crossing at 105th and Western to make it easier for people to walk or bike from the east side of Western.

105th and Western - with visualization
of concrete median
Southtown Health Foods' parking is often maxed out, and overflow ends up conflicting with customers for Top Notch, with the result of people parking across the crosswalk and in other illegal spots. Improving crossing conditions isn't a complete solution here, but any reduction in parking demand can make a positive difference.

95th at Hoyne

The strip mall on 95th between Oakley and Claremont (Chipotle, Chase Bank, formerly Panera Bread and Athletico Physical Therapy) has always had a problem with parking and traffic. That's not a fun place to cross 95th. It's been losing businesses in the last few years. Parking is only one factor, but it makes a difference. Without a fair number of people walking or biking there, the amount of parking available isn't enough to support those businesses. I almost always walk or bike there, but I don't have much company in my choice of non-motorized transportation.

When I stopped to take the photo below, the parking lot was nearly full, and there was a line of several cars waiting for someone to back out of a space. The backup extended a few cars into the righthand westbound lane of 95th. There was enough traffic that a bus was trapped behind the line of waiting cars, and all the people on that bus ended up having to sit and wait for the parking lot jam to clear up. I had to wait several minutes for a break in traffic to be able to cross to the middle of the street to take the photo, and a few more minutes to get back to the curb. No one would even slow down.

95th St. fits the definition of a stroad - a wide street with higher travel speeds designed to funnel traffic. Stroads kill - not just pedestrians and cyclists, but people in cars, as mentioned in the linked article.

95th at Oakley

95th at Longwood

I've written previously about problems at 99th and Walden, adjacent to All Day Montessori, the 99th St. Metra station, Beverly Montessori and several nearby businesses. The lack of significant pedestrian improvements was a big missed opportunity when the streetscape project was finished last year. I've seen some improvement in driver behavior at that location since the project was completed, but I attribute that mostly to pedestrians insisting on their legal right of way and forcing drivers to stop.




Of course, all the infrastructure tweaks in the world won't make a significant dent in the problem unless we get some enforcement on the speeding that is such a major problem on 95th, Western, 99th, 111th and other streets in the ward. We need ticket writing blitzes - in random places at random times - with no exceptions for off-duty first responders and special people. I appreciate those few drivers who do stop. The rest need an incentive.