30 November 2008

Tunnel Hill State Trail update, if anyone cares

They fixed it back in August, apparently.


More later maybe.

29 November 2008

Hennepin and I&M Canal Trail update

You heard it here last... Both the Hennepin Canal and I&M Canal trails/parkways are safe. Here's the news from the League of Illinois Bicyclists:
Trail Closings Averted

"On Thursday, November 20, Gov. Blagojevich finally addressed SB1103, affecting the planned closings of 11 state parks, many state historic sites, and other state programs. The bill to restore funding had passed the state legislature overwhelmingly in October. With his line item (amendatory) veto power, the Governor cut out many parts of the bill while retaining others. The $2.1 Million for staff at the 11 threatened state parks was approved. However, the Administration announced that the funds would be used to keep open only 4 of the parks: Kickapoo, Gebhard Woods, Channahon Parkway – and the Hennepin. (Staff at Gebhard and Channahon maintain large sections of the I&M trail)." [Links added.]
So, that's four-elevenths' worth of good news! Really sucks to be Oregon right now, though. Actually, the whole state loses money with Lowden being closed, assuming the Rockford Register Star is correct.

(Damn! Damn! Damn!)

Psst---Join the LIB! But not out of spite. If you're considering it now, then you should already have joined anyway.

Circus Transit Authority

Chicago Sun-Times:
Gov to transit agencies: Hike fares, I'll freeze pay

I had thoughts on this, but they weren't worth remembering.

Here's the news collection from our benevolent Google overlords, unless it doesn't work that way.

Still life

28 November 2008

Smaller than life

In honor of surviving yet another year, I was bestowed upon with a membership at the Museum of Science and Industry.

So guess where I'm going to be spending most of this winter?

That's right, it's The Great Train Story!

I stood on the balcony and watched this being built all through the summer of '02. Every conceivable detail is included. It's magnificent.

Every time I'm there I spot something new or notice something different. For example, these guys used to be marching down mini Canal St. in front of mini Union Station.

Expect many, many, many more photos in the future. Eventually I might even make it all the way over to the Seattle side of the exhibit.


To everyone in this photo I apologize, but the scene was just so hilariously adorable.

You are here.

I thought this was funny at the time.


26 November 2008

Another trend, or What's wrong with Union Pacific lately?

Chicago Breaking News:
Union Pacific trains running again [formerly "Union Pacific trains stopped due to signal problems," updated November 6, 2008 at 8:17 PM]
Metra trains delayed due to signal problems [updated November 25, 2008 at 7:04 PM]

Is anyone worried? I'm getting there.

25 November 2008

Detroit Critical Mass

From SearchChicago Autos: News and advice:
Auto industry planning car pool to Washington
"The Detroit area’s auto industry, whose livelihood depends on the health of Chrysler LLC, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. spent the weekend e-mailing and discussing how to set up a giant car caravan to seek help from Congress..."


Oh no, I'm in love again.

Don't tell the hybrid.

For Art Deco's sake, will somebody please lease some commercial/office space in this building?

The Gold Dome yet again. (Garfield Park)

I loved loved loved the powderpuff tree. (Garfield Park Conservatory)

Seems I did indeed get a picture of that one bridge before Digi died. Mostly I liked the clouds.

The Midway Plaisance is a great place to catch a pretty sunset.

I call this "tower watching."

It's beginning to look somewhat like X-mas. (Museum of Science and Industry)

I just found this plaque in the middle of the University of Chicago quads a few weeks ago.

"I'm so depressed I could go to Gary."

Informative plaque atop Mt. Tom. (Indiana Dunes State Park)

GAR Rotunda, with accidental (I swear!) self-portrait. (Chicago Cultural Center)

Pace bus fare hikes finally controversial

From the Chicago Sun-Times:
As Pace fares go up, so do top execs' salaries

"Come New Year's Day, it will cost an extra quarter -- $1.75 for adults, up from $1.50 -- to ride a Pace bus.

"But fares aren't the only thing going up at the suburban transit agency. Also on the rise: the number of Pace execs making more than $100,000 a year..."

In other news, tollways drivers are the biggest whiners ever.

24 November 2008


Thunderhead Alliance:
Thunderhead Alliance Name Change Contest

And if one more damn panhandler calls me "young man" or "sir," I really am going to create a support group for active transsexuals.

[Helmet tip to CycleDog for the first item, middle finger to the guy outside Hollywood Video for the second.]

22 November 2008

My thoughts exactly

Well, I guess I have several different sets of thoughts on the matter, but they boil down to about four points:

1. They changed the name!

2. The new name and logo don't make any reference whatsoever to Chicago, so it's no longer clear that the organization works in the Chicago metro area. I've lived here all my life (so far) and thus identify very strongly with this place, so now I'm finding it quite difficult to identify with an organization that no longer wants to identify very strongly with this place.

3. I don't care how sincere they are about continuing to lobby and advocate on behalf of the bicycling community---if that's not made clear until like four paragraphs down on the "About Us" page of the Web site, then the general public's perception of the Chicagoland bicycling community is going to default to Chicago Critical Mass, and to be brutally honest I think many of those people are a bunch of stupid assholes hell-bent on making a controversial political issue out of something that really does not benefit from being a controversial political issue. (Remind me to retell the story of how I first learned of the CBF's existence.)

4. I don't care how much pro bono assistance they got from whatever marketing firm, and I don't care how much market research that firm did or how many surveys, interviews, and focus groups they conducted---the CBF did this without any input from the general membership. (When people first learn about it because General Carlessness somehow gets her postcard early and blogs about it at 2am on a Saturday night for lack of anything better to do, that means it's done without any input from the general membership.) In the corporate world when such a stunt backfires it's called "bad management decisions" and an entire workforce gets laid off as a result. But the CBF is not a corporation; I pay them to be a part of it, and in return I expect my opinion on such huge matters as whether or not to change the fraking name to count for something.

On that note, here's another comment on the Trib article:

"It's a shame that the people who have been disagreeing with the secretive nature of this name change are being viewed as 'bitter cyclists,' or worse. The issue is not necessarily the name change, it's the fact that it was done undercover without membership consideration. I think that many members had our best interests at heart, but somewhere, somehow, the train began to move, and no one looked back. Someone needs to take responsibility for the unfortunate way this was marketed. A big apology is in order. Many of us feel betrayed that an organization that we were so proud of would make a decision this big without discussion, and/or permission from its members. I don't think this was done intentionally to hurt people, but nonetheless, it has, and someone needs to step up to the plate and admit they went about this the wrong way."


*huge sigh*

Less ranting, more pictures. Here's the UofC steam plant:

Speaking of radical decisions that drive people away.

21 November 2008

More ATA news

From Chi-Town Daily News:
Transporation coaches help plan bike, train routes

"A desire to reduce carbon emissions and encourage healthy habits has prompted a Chicago group to provide personal coaches who teach people how to bike or take public transportation instead of driving.

"The Active Transportation Alliance – formerly the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation – has launched a program that pairs one of its public transportation experts with those who are interested in cutting car rides, but are unsure how to do so.

"The Alliance launched to the program in the south suburbs and has a goal to enroll 300 people by September 2010. Though focused now on Rock Island and neighborhoods along Metra lines, the group hopes to expand the program into city limits in the coming years..."

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'm supposed to go celebrate the fact that my entire department has been laid off. Yeah, I'm confused too, but I hear there's going to be lots and lots of beer.

20 November 2008

South Branch

At Roosevelt Rd.

Shiny new Metra Electric station at Roosevelt Road

Here's some unadulterated good news.

Eric is famous again

From the Chicago Tribune:
Bicycle federation changes its name
"Eric Rogers, 23, of the Kenwood neighborhood a member of the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation since 2005, said he fears that a wider focus for the organization could dilute its original principles while making it vulnerable to the sometimes-conflicting interests of cyclists, pedestrians and transit riders.

"'Expansion removes a lot of the specificity from what the organization was about,' Rogers said. 'Sometimes, there is not complete agreement between people who fall staunchly into those three groups.'"

And once again, as usual, Dan Korn sets my blood boiling:
"There's always been a bit of disagreement within the broader cycling community between (generally) recreational suburban riders and transportational urban riders as to whether bike advocacy should focus narrowly on just 'bike issues' or look at the bigger picture of how cycling fits into our overall transportation system. If some of the members in that former group are uncomfortable with the larger mission, then I think that will be offset by the potential for many new members under this bigger tent."
Oh, bite my fat transportational urban riding ass. Now I'm going to go do something like set my membership card on fire and blog about it just to spite that whole crowd, and then the Trib will never leave me alone.

Anyway, this is exactly why I'm most concerned about the name change: There's a real chance that with our major nonprofit advocacy organization now having a wussy, ambiguous name like "Active Transportation Alliance" instead of a bold, succinct one like "Chicagoland Bicycle Federation," the most visible face of the Chicago bicycling community is overwhelmingly going to be Chicago Critical Mass, and they do NOT represent me. They don't even like me.

I don't doubt Active Trans's* sincerity in their commitment to being a voice for cyclists. But it's a sad truth that appearance is everything, and I'm afraid that I've just lost my face.

*Oh great, now we have a short form that's going to look awkward when the possessive is written grammatically correctly. Why doesn't anyone ever think of these things? Stupid fixie-riding graphic-design major marketing experts, they don't represent me, either.

Michigan City redux

For CRT monitors; the constellation Orion should now be more visible (top left).

Edit: Damn it, back on my laptop and I can't tell the difference. Little help maybe?

19 November 2008

Michigan City

18 November 2008


As long as I'm awake and bored, I should give some actual thought to the name change.

Yes, the name change. That's part I don't like hesitate to embrace. I realize that there's more to this than just the new name and the new logo with the new colors. (There's also a new Web site with new fonts. What else is new?) The (sort of) new Active Transportation Alliance has officially expanded it's Mission & Vision statement, but I saw that coming. They (we?) are no longer a strictly bicycle advocacy organization, and in practice haven't been a strictly bicycle advocacy organization for quite some time, which I understand. A catchy new name better reflects this, and I agree.

So now the word "bicycle" is gone from the name of the organization---and honestly, that's fine with me. Weird, but fine. Heck, I changed Teh Blog's name too some time ago in order to reflect the fact that it was no longer really a bicycle blog, so I'm really the last person who should complain about that sort of thing.

No, what bothers me is the removal of the word "Chicagoland."

When the announcement was made at the member meeting, it was explained to us that the board, staff, and marketing gurus decided it was important to "get away from geography." That might not be a direct quote. In fact, the whole discussion on geography might not even supposed to be a direct reason for the absence of any sort of geographical label in the new official name, since it's nowhere to be found on the new Web site. [Dear self: Please edit that ridiculous run-on sentence when you wake up again. What were you thinking?] (See "About our new name.")

So maybe that was really meant to be something like an open secret for people who were already members of the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation and bothered to go to the annual member meeting, and maybe that means that I'm not really supposed to be discussing geography. But I'm going to do that now anyway, because geography is important to me and I like it.

It was said that the word "Chicagoland" was too confusing---people in the suburbs mistakenly thought that the CBF worked primarily in the city (well, they... kinda do, you know), people in the city mistakenly thought that they worked primarily out in the suburban metro area, and people in northwestern Indiana just felt left out of the whole thing.

Regarding Indiana, I suppose the ubiquitous phrase "Chicagoland and northwestern Indiana" implies that any name or title without "northwestern Indiana" tacked on implies an organization or entity that isn't concerned with anything on the other side of the state line. But you know what, that's bunk. Northwestern Indiana has been bound quite strongly to the physioenvironeconomisociopolitical geography of Chicago for as long as Chicago has existed, and everyone around here knows that. There's usually no need to spell it out in a long, cumbersome title.

(For example, the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation didn't need a fancy new geographically nonspecific name to help the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission design the Northwest Indiana Bike Map, did they?)

So, then, where is "Chicagoland?" And why has the answer become so unimportant? But then why do I still care?

[To be continued because I'm about to conk out on the couch again. Terribly sorry.]

In other car news, that sound you just heard might have been Hyde Park Urbanist's head exploding

From the Chicago Sun-Times:
Cost of downtown parking 'skyrocketing'
"'Parking is one of the purest forms of supply-and-demand business that there is,' said Martin Stein, president of the National Parking Association, a trade association for parking professionals. 'It can literally change from block to block.'"
That's funny, I thought pure supply-demand took place without government subsidies.

(Okay, so garage/lot parking is different from street parking, but that's still a whopper of a quote.)

Meanwhile, in the midst of these troubled economic times City Council is caught up in a vicious battle over free inflatable bouncy things. Why do I live here again?

No! Keep them ugly!

From the Chicago Tribune:
Tollway, arboretum turning new leaf on drab interchanges

"Off into the shadows of the concrete jungle, a new partnership is blooming between the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority and the Morton Arboretum in Lisle.

"It offers a model for a host of opportunities to make drab highway interchanges across the Chicago region more visually appealing."

Great, now everyone is going to want to drive on I-88. [/snark]

I'm torn on this. On the one hand, I feel that interchanges should be as horribly, unbearably, soul-crushingly drab as possible in order to dissuade people from using them every day. On the other hand, that would be pretty unfair for the people living nearby, especially people who have been living nearby since long before the interchange or even the interstate.

17 November 2008


I was starving for greenery, and there's nothing greener than the Fern Room at the Garfield Park Conservatory.

For some reason Digi the Elder captured the ferns better (see here and here). I hesitate to blame the quality of the light because the weather yesterday was partly to mostly sunny while I was in the Fern Room, yet I distinctly recall that when I went to the conservatory with the Cycling Sisters last summer the sky was solidly overcast all day. Would the angle of the sunlight in November as opposed to July make enough of a difference to account for the gloomy blurriness in most of this set? Or does Digi the Younger just have a crummy light meter? And if that's the case, is there a possible way to get around it? I could trick the old camera by focusing in one direction but then shooting in another; the newish one is not so easily fooled.