Saturday, June 30, 2018

dockless bike share update

Things have really been in flux in the last week. At first, it looked like the city would hold firm on the lock-to requirement and we would lose LimeBike and Ofo starting tomorrow.

I wrote to our alderman and CDOT, asking that they reconsider this, because so many potential destinations in the ward (especially on residential blocks) lack suitable fixed objects to which one could lock a bike at the end of their trips.

The point has been raised that the low number of bikes for such a large service area (the city south of 79th St. and east of the Skyway) was not sufficient for an effective pilot program.  I agree with that point. When bikes are equitably distributed so that neighborhoods through the service area have bikes in them, there aren't a lot of bikes to go around.

It's been a game of chicken between the city, LimeBike and Ofo going back and forth on the question of whether LimeBike and Ofo bikes without lock-to capability would remain in the service area until the 11/1 end of the pilot program.

Pace bikes is offering bike racks for installation on private property. I've heard that a few neighborhood businesses will be getting the racks soon, so there will be more bike parking available for both dockless bikes and personal bikes.

In the last few days, we've gotten some encouraging news. Jump, an e-assist bike with lock-to capability, will be launching here on Monday, so we will have another dockless option. The Forest Preserve District of Cook County also has its own dockless bike share program available in Dan Ryan Woods, Whistler Woods, and several other locations (including the Botanic Garden).

Today's news: the city is increasing the cap on the number of bikes with lock-to capability and allowing LimeBike and Ofo to stay. I'm curious to see how the big picture evolves between now and 11/1. Stay tuned...

Monday, June 25, 2018

Major Taylor Trail mural community painting workdays Fri. 6/29 and Sat. 6/30

Want to be part of a new public art project? You can assist artist Bernard Williams in painting our new mural on the trail bridge over the Little Calumet River.

For more info and to RSVP, please call 773-772-4416.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

dockless bike share - what I've seen so far

Since the 5/1 launch of dockless bike share in the ward, I've been taking rides using the bikes and seeing plenty of other people riding them. The patterns I've observed suggest that a lot of people are enjoying the bikes and finding them a convenient way to get around.

Someone rode this LimeBike to the church and thoughtfully parked
it at the edge of the sidewalk, where it doesn't interfere with access.
At this point, we have three companies operating in the service area specified by CDOT: LimeBike, Ofo and Pace. I've heard that Jump wants to come into the Chicago market, but I've heard nothing about approval or a launch date.

Ofo bike waiting for a rider
There might not be enough bike parking to go around if the lock-to requirement is enforced as of 7/1. The city allowed the pilot program on the condition that all dockless bikes have the capacity to be locked to a fixed object at the end of a trip. Right now only Pace bikes have that capacity, and it doesn't sound like LimeBike and Ofo will be adding it.

This is disappointing news. Many of us ride the bikes to get home from the train or other places, or from home to the train. I have been observing the bikes on the streets in various neighborhoods and seen very few problems. Occasionally I see a bike knocked over or left in an inappropriate spot, but that has been rare.

On many residential blocks in the dockless service area, there is nothing to lock to that's smaller than a light pole, so riders have to find a spot that may be 1 block or more from home. This makes dockless bikes less useful than they would be without this limitation. I would urge aldermen and CDOT to consider this and re-evaluate the lock-to requirement and 7/1 deadline. 

I understand why CDOT would prefer bikes that can be secured to a fixed object, because of problems in Dallas and other cities with large numbers of dockless bikes.

Even on a rainy day, bike parking at the 99th St. Metra station
is often full.

People lock up their personal bikes in creative places if there isn't an open bike rack nearby.
Is there a location where you often find existing bike racks full? If you want to submit a request to the city for a rack, click here. It's a good idea to check your desired location on the map and see if there is an existing request for that spot before requesting a new one. You can click Support (similar to Facebook's Like button) to give an existing request a vote. You can also add comments about why you want a new rack there. This can include replacement of an old rack that was hit by a car and destroyed.

Recently I've heard that Pace bike share is intending to install additional racks to help address this problem. I hope that it's enough to make a meaningful difference.

If you're using dockless bike share and you like it, please tell your alderman. If you have specific suggestions about the lock-to requirement or other issues, please share those too. If you're a fan of LimeBike or Ofo and want them to stay, now's the time to let your alderman know.

Contact info for each ward follows at the links below.
19th ward   34th ward  21st ward  9th ward   10th ward  8th ward  7th ward   6th ward  17th ward

Using a signpost for locking up is fine where there's no bike rack.
On many residential blocks, this is the only option.

Additional perspectives:
Dockless bike share and equity

Another perspective on parking

Chicago's south side gets dockless bike share

Friday, June 22, 2018

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Whistler Woods habitat restoration workday on Sat. 6/16

It's great to get outdoors. Volunteers are needed this Saturday 6/16 from 10 am to 1 pm for a habitat restoration workday - brush cutting and bonfires.  Snacks and water will be available. (3rd Saturday of the month will be the new regular day.)

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, June 1, 2018