Monday, April 23, 2012

Meeting on CDOT Plan to put Bike Lanes on 55th

 -posted by chicago pop

Props to 4th Ward Alderman Will Burns. This is one of the best ideas I've heard about in a while. It's all about slowing things down. And when it comes to crazy traffic on the South Side's underutilized roadways, that's how it should be.

Substantial stretches of King Drive, 31st Street, and 55th/Garfield would be altered to incorporate protected bike lanes, and improved pedestrian safety and crosswalks. This would be done at the expense of lane space currently devoted to vehicular traffic. As a CDOT rep put it on the GRID Chicago blog:

CDOT traffic counts show that all of these roadways currently have more travel lanes and/or lane width than needed to accommodate their traffic volume, and this encourages motorists to drive dangerously. While studies show that road diets work well on streets that serve under 20,000 cars a day, actually improving traffic flow in many cases, 55th Street currently serves only 13,500 cars a day and King Drive only carries 9,000 to 11,500 cars per day. Due to the lack of congestion on these roadways, the agency found that 54% of cars on King are speeding, and 15% or motorists are driving over 40 MPH.

I'm sure lots of cyclists will agree with this traffic analysis based on their personal experience. Here again we see the pathological effects of the South Side's loss of density relative to historic levels: streets like King, Cottage, Indiana, 55th and others are far wider than their current levels of traffic would demand.

The North Side can only dream of having the kind of capacity we have down here. King Drive has 8 lanes! 55th is likewise quite broad as it passes through western Hyde Park and so encourages speeding and disregard for pedestrians.

So why not make room for bikes?

Details on the meeting:

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) is presenting on the 55th Street safety improvement project this Wednesday, April 25, from 6:30 – 8pmThis project, between Cottage Grove and Lake Park, seeks to create a safe and comfortable roadway for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit users accessing Washington Park, the University of Chicago, Hyde Park, and the Lakefront. The main features include enhanced pedestrian crosswalks and signage, protected and buffered bike lanes, and a ‘Road Diet’ between Cottage Grove and Kenwood.

The meeting is open to the public.
Date:                           Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Time:                           6:30 – 8:00 p.m. 
            Reception:                   6:30 – 7:00 p.m.
            Presentation:   7:00 – 7:30 p.m.  
            Q & A:                         7:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Location:                     Alumni House in the Klowden Library

Presentation by CDOT Project Development Staff:  Deputy Commissioner Luann Hamilton and Project Manager Mike Amsden
Thanks to HPP reader PM for the update.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Shoesmith and Murray Add Reformers to LSC's

-posted by chicago pop

The results of yesterday's local school council (LSC) elections are in for the two most hotly contested races. At both Murray and Shoesmith, reformers were successful in gaining seats on both councils on the back of extraordinary voter turnout at both locations. This is a strong sign that Hyde Park and Kenwood residents are against two things: backsliding (Murray) and the status quo (Shoesmith). It is an equally strong sign that they are for maintaining and improving the public school options available to residents of Hyde Park and Kenwood - and are willing to put in the time to make it happen.

This could be the local impact of an overall spike in CPS (and Catholic school) enrollment, due in part to a continued sluggish economy that is sending more and more families into the public school system - as opposed to private schools or suburban districts. It could also be the buds of a distinctly local parent activism, akin to similar movements that have taken shape on the North Side, as a core of local parents commit to improving public education options in the neighborhood

At Murray, the reformist Parents for Murray group saw its top four "Slate for Change" parent candidates pull in the most votes, together with a community member endorsed by the group. Together this represents a significant contingent of new voices to agitate for change at HP-K's beloved magnet school:

Josephine Njoku-Sanders: 240
Thomas Hoffer: 230
Michael Ewing: 227
Julie Hammond: 198

Community Members:
Michael Scott: 81

A similar story at Shoesmith. Here is a school in the heart of the neighborhood that has just signed a new principal. She is open to new ideas and is testing the waters for ways to improve the school's performance and make it an option for more neighborhood children. Unprecedented voter turnout for an LSC election landed two community members on the council who are both education professionals: Lina Fritz and Tom McDougal.

Community Members:
Lina Fritz - 96 votes
Tom McDougal - 78 votes
Camille Hamilton-Doyle - 73 votes
Roxanne Brown - 36 votes

 Both of them not only know the data on urban education inside and out, but can collaborate with the administration and demand accountability, to make sure what's being done is what works, and that Shoesmith reaches out to the neighborhood.

Worth noting in both cases were the high numbers of community member (non-parent) voters: out of 153 eligible votes cast in the Shoesmsith LSC election, 81 were cast by community members, 72 by parents. I don't have a similar breakdown for the votes at Murray, but the word is that community turnout there was also very strong. Undoubtedly some of those community votes were parents of children attending other schools.

The message is pretty clear: wherever your students come from, you're in Hyde Park. We all have an interest in how well you do.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

chicago pop Castigated by Local LSC Candidate for Not Posting More

posted by chicago pop

In this post, chicago pop engages in self-criticism. He does this with the aim of expunging all reactionary bourgeois inclinations towards laziness and indifference and not blogging about important stuff like the two local LSC elections in which he and his wife just voted.

It doesn't get more grass roots than that, baby.

Because Shoesmith and Murray are both in the throes of some major changes that could go either way. For Shoesmith, that can only be up. For Murray, unfortunately, since the new principal came on and started blowing stuff up, it could quite possibly be down. We wanted to be a part of it. You know what we think about Murray's situation -- we said it here. Some other folks said it here.

That may be too late for folks. Sorry. Life gets in the way of revolutionary blogging. I'm gonna be better, I promise. We'll start with the results of these elections as we get them. What we can say for now, is that the turnout at Murray was impressive, and notably among non-parent, community voters.

That's probably a good sign that recent antics might not sit well among neighborhood people. People who may have sent kids to Murray years ago, or who currently send their kids to Lab or Ancona but still want a high-achieving, diverse, and integrated magnet school in their backyard - not another segregated school that lowers the bar.

Meanwhile, everyone should check out this tumblr blog whatshoulduchicagocallme. It's absolutely hilariously right on about everything to do with the U of C and Hyde Park. Example: