Currently viewing the tag: "Chicago"

GOOD Magazine has published an interactive graphic comparing our country’s largest mass transit systems (here). The abbreviated study looks at Chicago, San Francisco, New York City, Boston and Washington, DC. It’s an interesting visual study of what ‘works’ and reminds us that if you build it, maintain it and keep it convenience, the masses will come. What do you think?

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In Chicago, Thomas Lynch slammed on the brakes of his truck in front of some bicyclists in order to make them crash into them. Why am I posting this? Because he’s from Florida. Fort Lauderdale, to be specific. Read the article here. More importantly, read the 75+ comments from many people who thought the bicyclists deserved to crash. And we thought Miami Herald or Sun-Sentinel commenters were bad!

I’m surprised we don’t have more of this intentional harm around here, although I am pretty certain I experienced some last week. I was riding in an undesignated bicycle lane coming up to a red light, slowing down, when the passenger in a truck I was passing opened his door right in front of me. Needless to say I went down, luckily with little more than a scraped knee due to my low speed. Since the truck had just passed me and I was wearing a neon yellow jacket, I found it hard to believe that he didn’t know I was there. I was ready to punch the guy in the face but I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. Next time I will probably call the police just to see if they’ll give the guy a ticket. They may try to give me a ticket instead, but it’s worth a try. So check your mirrors if you ever open a car door on the road. This is the second time I’ve been doored that way and I won’t let the next person get away with it, intentional or not.

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Exciting news for livable cities advocates — it looks like bike sharing will finally be coming to America in 2008. According to sources, Washington D.C. is likely to be the first U.S. city to implement such a program, at least the modern version similar to many European cities.
The program, similar to Paris, Barcelona, Stockholm, and other European cities, will likely be funded through an agreement with a major advertiser (such as Clear Channel), which will pay for the system in return for exclusive advertising rights on bus shelters and other outdoor furniture.

Unlike Paris, however, Washington will initially roll out a “lite” version of bike sharing, offering about 120 bicycles at 10 locations around the city. Details such as costs for usage and membership have not yet been announced. If all goes according to plan, the first phase of the D.C. program could start in March or April of 2008.

As for the bikes themselves, they will be locked into docking stations that will be opened with special cards for members. Washington plans on using a “sturdy” bike, which can be adapted to people of various heights. The bikes will also have some special features including a small front wheel that makes it “more maneuverable, but also quirky enough to discourage theft.” For nighttime safety, all bikes will be equipped with automatic lighting.

Chicago is also in the process of implementing bike sharing. The Windy City is studying two proposals, one from France-based advertising giant JC Decaux — which operates the Paris system — and one from London-based OYBike. The city’s mayor, Richard Daley, has expressed strong interest in a bicycle program, having viewed the Paris system.

“Mayor Daley’s vision is to make Chicago the most bicycle-friendly city in the United States,” said Ben Gomberg, bicycle program coordinator for the city.

“In Chicago, almost 60 percent of all trips by city residents are three miles (nearly five kilometers) or less, which are distances very suited for bicycling. That’s why we’re interested.”

Additionally, Gomberg said Chicago is flat and relatively compact compared to many US cities, making cycling easier. He said city officials see many advantages to the program including improving physical fitness and reducing pollution.

Besides Washington and Chicago, San Francisco and Portland, Oregon are also in the process of launching their own bike sharing systems. Given the direction New York is going in, I expect to see it added to this list in the near future. While all of this pleases me tremendously, I’ll be ready to party the day Miami (or Miami Beach and Coral Gables) takes the bike sharing plunge. I’ve said it so many times: Miami is blessed with natural cycling conditions most cities could only dream of.

The timing is right. With gasoline costing over $3/gallon, global warming concerns reaching the forefront, increasingly unbearable traffic congestion, and a national obesity crisis, there couldn’t be a better time for Miami (or any major city) to devise a bike sharing program. Moreover, given the global popularity and proven success of these programs, the formula for implementation is well established.

Come on Miami, it’s time to act.

Photo: Courtesy www.flickr.com

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Green Alleys coming soon to Chicago…

In a green alley, water is allowed to penetrate the soil through the pavement itself, which consists of the relatively new but little-used technology of permeable concrete or porous asphalt. Then the water, filtered through stone beds under the permeable surface layer, recharges the underground water table instead of ending up as polluted runoff in rivers and streams.

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Transit Miami reader/contributor Dave sent me an excellent price comparison he composed on the cost of transit:
Listed are the comparable monthly passes (basic all purpose pass for busses, trains and transfers) and what the single cash fare would be for one trip. The number of trips listed is how many trips you would have to make in a month for the pass to be worth while for simple round trips.

Miami monthly metropass: $75, single fare $1.50 (50 trips)
Boston monthly metropass: $59, single fare $2 (29.5 trips)
New York monthly metropass: $76, single fare $2 (38 trips)
Chicago monthly metropass: $75, single fare $2 (37.5 trips)
San Francisco (Muni&some Bart stations) metropass: $45, single fare $1.50 (30 trips)

Maybe its because Miami-Dade’s transit thinks we need to pay more than other cities for our monthly pass because we use the transit system so much more often than these other cities do (sarcasm)?

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Disclaimer: The following post, you’ll find, has little to do with Transit or recent development, but I’d like to take the time to address the apathetic attitude of our locals when it comes down to our city’s culture, history, and identity by discussing the re-branding of our local brand Burdines to Macy’s.

On June 1, the behemoth corporation known as Federated Department Stores will officially become Macy’s Inc., a move which further unifies but isolates the national retailer in the eyes of many. Federated Department Stores, which itself only acquired Macy’s in the mid 90’s, was responsible for the re-branding of local retailers across the country including our very own Burdines stores (acquired by Federated in 1956.) Other local regional retailers affected by the name games include: Bon Marche (Washington), Goldsmith’s (Tennessee), Lazarus (Cincinnati), Kauffman’s (Pittsburgh), Filene’s (Boston), Foley’s (Houston), L.S. Ayers (Indianapolis), Hecht’s (Maryland), and Marshall Field’s (Chicago) among others. In 2005, Federated Department stores completed the renaming of these and several other department stores nationwide.

Part of me can’t blame Federated for making a move to create a national brand image for their department stores. However, another part of me longs for the unique qualities of each retailer, the names, the history, and the traditions they instilled in the communities which fostered their growth.

It’s the removal of a crucial piece of local history- and the public reaction since which really strikes a chord within me. In early 2004, when Burdines became Burdines-Macy’s I encountered many people who shared my same displeasure with the new moniker. I, like many people, had always associated the Macy’s name with New York, the Thanksgiving Day parade, and iconic store in Herald Square. Likewise, we had always associated Burdines with our hometown, the Downtown Christmas display (for those old enough to remember it), the tacky plastic palm trees, or the Art Deco Marquee on Meridan Avenue. Simply put, to see the two names combined was appalling if not downright confusing. What shocked me most (which with 20/20 hindsight really shouldn’t have) was the passive response of locals. It irked me to see the work of William M. Burdine, a pioneer in our community in 1898, just two years after Flagler’s FEC arrived, wash away so easily under a corporate renaming scheme. The History which built Burdines into “The Florida Store,” is nearly repeated and identical when looking at all the other stores listed above. Each city had its own distinctive flagship store located downtown and started by an entrepreneur in the mid to late 1800’s.

Like Burdines, many of the department stores went down without major local opposition. There is one key exception, however: Marshall Fields. The citizens of Chicago have organized in opposition of the Macy’s re-branding in an effort to revert the Chicago Icon to its former glory and if not, at least preserve the history that Federated has consciously tried to erase. The Marshall Fields Supporters have held rallies, gathered thousands of signatures on petitions, and have been boycotting Macy’s since it removed the Chicago name. So far, it’s working. Macy’s sales at the once flagship store have dropped considerably. Federated’s sales are down nationwide and the chain missed analyst’s expectations. The same effect can be seen in the Ohio area where the Lazarus stores were re-branded and in Seattle where Bon-Marsh once thrived. As this article is careful to point out, sales have dropped nearly nationwide, except Miami:

MIAMI
At Burdines, another market where Macy’s has been around for two decades, the renaming appeared to have little effect. Of those shoppers surveyed, 47 percent said they shopped at Macy’s in 2006, unchanged from the 47 percent in 2004 that shopped at Burdines-Macy’s. In 2002, 57 percent surveyed shopped at either Burdines or Macy’s. When asked to break it out, 51 percent of shoppers frequented Burdines and 24 percent visited Macy’s.

Coincidence? I think not, it seems like more of a lack of local identity to me…

Former flagship Lazarus Department store in downtown Cincinnati compared to the bland, characterless new store introduced under the Macy’s name (Via Wikipedia)…

Here is an interesting piece of information I just discovered. The site of the “iconic” Sears Tower, integrated with the struggling Carnival Center, was originally a Burdines store before Sears bought the land next door, built the tower, and bought them out…

  • Thanks to Magic City on SSC for the Historical Pictures…
  • This article was written in part due to an e-mail sent to me by the South Beach Hoosier, thanks for the contribution David…

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