Friday, October 15, 2021
Friday, October 8, 2021
Friday, October 1, 2021
Friday, September 24, 2021
Friday, September 17, 2021
Friday, September 10, 2021
Friday, September 3, 2021
Friday, August 27, 2021
Friday, August 20, 2021
Friday, August 13, 2021
Tuesday, August 10, 2021
UPDATE: Since this was first published in August of 2017, I've seen a marked difference on 97th and Longwood and at 99th and Walden. Drivers are stopping and yielding much more often, at a rate I never would have imagined 10 years ago. It's still not perfect, but it's a huge improvement.
Another thing that's changed in that time is the addition of Nicky's at 105th and Western. They've been busy, and limited parking often hurts them. This is another reason to consider adding a pedestrian refuge island on the north side of the intersection.
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|
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
|95th at Hoyne with visualization of yield sign|
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 with visualization of yield sign|
|95th at Longwood with visualization of yield sign|
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.
Friday, August 6, 2021
Saturday, July 31, 2021
When I first saw restriping and new crosswalks on Longwood Drive, I was encouraged that these could be somewhat helpful in encouraging drivers to share street space with pedestrians and cyclists in more considerate ways.
I thought that the "curb bumpout" striping that accompanied the excellent new crosswalk striping at Longwood, Prospect and 110th Place would be filled in with colored paint similar to this treatment in the Loop.
I've seen similar treatments in Wicker Park and other locations.
Instead, this is all we got. Really?
It would be great if we could get planters along the Longwood and Prospect edges of this striped area so that it really functions as a curb extension, as intended. As is, it may lull some folks into a false sense of security and result in injuries.
Friday, July 30, 2021
Thursday, July 29, 2021
I'm glad to see people riding Divvy bikes in Beverly, Morgan Park and other nearby neighborhoods. Unfortunately, some folks seem to need a refresher on how to lock up bikes at the end of their trips.
Pedal-only Divvy bikes need to be docked in a Divvy station (91st St. Metra, 99th St. Metra, 107th St. Metra, Beverly Arts Center and other locations).
E-Divvy bikes can be locked up at other locations, but they need to be locked to a fixed object - Divvy station, bike rack, sign post, fence, etc. Because our ward has fewer stations, there is no additional fee for ending a trip in a location other than a Divvy station.
In the street or in the middle of a sidewalk is NOT a valid place to leave a Divvy bike at the end of a trip. Leaving the bike in Evergreen Park or another location outside the service area (Chicago and Evanston) can get you dinged for $25. If a bike is left outside the service area at the end of a trip, it is disabled until retrieved by a Divvy employee.
Please lock up the bike the right away at the end of your trip to help prevent damage, sidewalk blockage, or unavailability. A little courtesy goes a long way.
Friday, July 23, 2021
Tuesday, July 20, 2021
Plenty of people have buckthorn in their yards and have no idea that it is an invasive species that causes problems. I'm guessing that many people think that it's pretty foliage when it starts growing there. This attractive foliage was a big factor in the original importation of this terrible invasive.
If you look closely, you'll see berries - the way that buckthorn can spread so far from where it grows. Birds eat the berries and poop out the seeds anywhere and everywhere. Each year I have to remove some from my yard that undoubtedly got started that way.
I sometimes volunteer at habitat restoration workdays in local forest preserves. Removal of buckthorn is one of the top habitat restoration priorities throughout the Cook County Forest Preserve system. The photo below shows an area that was quite dense with buckthorn before a workday at Dan Ryan Woods this spring. We cleared a LOT of it so that the native species shown here could thrive.
The photo below shows another area of Dan Ryan Woods where buckthorn has NOT been cleared. It does not allow sunlight and air circulation and outcompetes native understory plants for water. With such intense competition, it's nearly impossible for fallen acorns to germinate and become new oak trees - critically important in what have historically been oak savanna ecosystems. Buckthorn emits chemicals that kill or stunt many native plant AND animal species. Left unchecked, this could eventually become a monoculture of buckthorn.
At many locations in our neighborhoods, buckthorn shows up weed tree fences and hedges. That's my name for borders made up of an assortment of invasive and aggressive species like buckthorn and mulberry. Here's an example that's been mostly neglected for years (invasives growing through a chain link fence) and allowed to grow aggressively to the point where it was taking over the sidewalk.
Here are some tips on how to get rid of buckthorn. It tends to resprout after cutting, so it may take more than one attempt. If you use Roundup, be careful to use it only on the cut stump so that you don't kill other plants around it. It's much less of a headache if you can remove it when it's small.
Eradicating buckthorn wherever possible is important for the health of our forests, wetlands, waterways and other ecosystems. Take a look around your property. If you find buckthorn, please do our local forests a favor and do your best to eliminate this pest.
Friday, July 16, 2021
Thursday, July 15, 2021
Wednesday, July 14, 2021
In a recent online discussion, it seemed that some folks in the neighborhood were a bit confused by the new markings on Longwood Dr. All they do is formalize the usage that's been in place for years. Lines mark designated parking areas on Longwood. Sharrows (shared lane symbols) send the message that the traffic lanes are SHARED lanes. The amount of space for each purpose, and the locations of those spaces have not changed.
I think that some people see the new bike markings on the pavement and misinterpret them. Notice that the chevrons above the bike symbol point in the direction of traffic. That's how you're supposed to ride - WITH the direction of traffic, not against it. Using a bike mirror is worthwhile to see what's coming from behind you. These mirrors are all good ones. They're not expensive or hard to install.
Lately my husband and I have seen families with young kids riding the wrong way against traffic on Longwood Dr. Please DON'T teach your kids that this illegal move is okay. They could pay for this mistake with serious injury or worse.
As more people ride in the Dearborn bike lane downtown, some mistakenly extend this model (a two-direction bike lane, rare in the city) to any place they see sharrows.
If you're in a head-on crash with a car or truck, the force of impact is greater than it would be if you were hit from behind (a rare type of crash in cities). In a wrong way scenario, there's a LOT less time for you and the driver to react safely and avoid a crash. Drivers are not expecting you to be coming at them in the wrong lane of traffic, so they're not looking for you.
Similarly, if you are riding on the sidewalk (in violation of Chicago law if you are over the age of 12), drivers are not watching for you when you cross streets or alleys, so you are at greater risk of a crash when you cross those streets or alleys compared to being in the traffic lane where you are more visible to drivers.
On the legal side of things, if you're in a crash that you caused and you are injured, good luck with that. The driver's auto insurance company and yours will deny the claim. They'll say that you broke the law so you're more than 50% at fault for the crash. Illinois law for bicycles states: "When riding, you must ride in the same direction as other traffic. Riding in the opposite direction of traffic is both dangerous and illegal." (Disclaimer - I work for a personal injury law firm that focuses on bike crash cases, so I have plenty of experience with how these situations play out.)
Here's another thing to consider - if you cause a crash because you are breaking the law, and you cause damage to the vehicle that hit you, it's very likely that the driver's insurance company will go after you for the cost of repairing the vehicle. Yes, this really IS a thing.
If you'd like a refresher on Bicycle Rules of the Road, it's worth taking a bit of to review current Illinois bike laws. Test your knowledge (or your kid's) with the Ride Illinois bike safety quiz. They have versions available for various age groups - and for drivers. If you drive but don't ride, it's worth taking the driver quiz. There are recently passed laws you should know about.
Wishing you many years and miles of safe riding. Please teach your kids (or grandkids) to ride safely and legally so their rides are safe, too.
Tuesday, July 13, 2021
Last night on Chicago Tonight, they mentioned that mosquitoes with West Nile virus have been detected in Beverly.
Here are some suggested precautions related to your landscape and gardening. Using mosquito repellent is a good idea right now, even in daytime. I got some bites yesterday morning when I went out to harvest from my veggie garden. There are plenty of mosquitoes active in the neighborhood.
Friday, July 9, 2021
Tuesday, July 6, 2021
Several years ago, I was happy to see a long-neglected home in the neighborhood getting a major renovation. I became increasingly concerned about the trees over the months when the trucks and heavy equipment were moving repeatedly over the lawn - and over the root zone of many mature oak trees on the property. Everything looked great when the project was finished. Over the last few years, I've noticed signs of deterioration in several of those trees. Now there are at least 5 huge oak trees that are completely dead. Oaks support many species of wildlife, so this has an impact on our local ecosystem.
A professional arborist who works regularly in the area and saw the renovation in progress says he noticed the amount of heavy equipment movement over the trees' root zones and wondered how long it would take for the trees to die from soil compaction. Soil compaction can gradually kill trees because it deprives the roots of oxygen. There may have been other factors involved in the death of those trees, but they probably would have lived a lot longer if their root zones had been protected during construction.
Years ago I knew a family who had an older house renovated and a new house built in heavily wooded locations. They worked with their contractor and a professional arborist to develop a plan to protect trees on each site during construction. There were penalties written into the construction contract for damage to trees. Construction fencing was put up around the root zones of trees close to the house and driveway. The contractor did an excellent job at instructing the crew, and there was no significant tree damage. 10+ years after construction those trees still looked healthy and had no dead branches. That was proof enough for me that it's feasible to preserve trees in spite of major construction if a well informed plan is made and the general contractor is on board with it. Those lots were more heavily wooded than all but the densest lots in Beverly and Morgan Park.
Now there's a nearby house with many mature oaks is in the middle of a comparable renovation. The contractors there have taken care to protect the trunks of vulnerable trees, and there's less heavy equipment movement across the lawn, so I'm hoping that the trees will suffer less of an impact from the construction and won't die prematurely.
Even if new oaks are planted now at the first house to replace the ones that died, it will take decades for them to reach the size of the trees that were lost - beyond the lifetimes of the children who live in that house.
Saturday, July 3, 2021
I stopped in to Ridge Park fieldhouse recently to ask a question. One of the staff mentioned that there would be some renovation work going on, and the fieldhouse would be closed for the summer. He said they were hoping to have the place fully opened up again in the fall.
I also saw a news story about the park district having difficulty hiring enough lifeguards for the summer season. The Block Club Chicago article mentioned that school swimming programs are a major source of lifeguards. Disruption of those programs due to the pandemic greatly reduced the number of qualified candidates for lifeguard jobs. Due to the shortage of candidates, the park district's indoor pools will be closed for the summer.
Hopefully things will be closer to normal in the fall. For now, there are portable toilets by each of the baseball diamonds.