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Transportation Nation

Chicago Wants to Pay Diesel Truckers to Swap for Electric Vehicles

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

(photo by Steve Rhode via flickr)

(Lauren Chooljian - Chicago, WBEZ) Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to make a deal with diesel truck owners in the Chicagoland area: give up your truck, and the city will give you a voucher that covers around 60 percent of the cost of a new electric one.

Officials say the project could help with air quality and even quieter streets across the city. By next spring, fleets in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties will be able to apply for the program.

“The city is encouraging companies to invest in electric vehicles in order to incrementally improve Chicago’s air quality while helping to advance these emerging transportation technologies,” Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein said in a statement. “By offering a voucher at the point of sale, rather than as a post-sale rebate, we hope that more companies will be encouraged to participate in the program.”

But not all drivers are jumping at the chance to trade in their truck. Phil LaPalermo, co-owner of All Ways Paving and Plowing, says he's not sure there's an electrical vehicle out there that can compare to the power of a diesel truck. LaPalermo said he likes the idea of using alternative energy sources, but the diesel engine is what keeps his fleet plowing and paving streets all over the city and suburbs.

"We’re hauling a lot of weight, and we’re making a lot of runs throughout the day. They’re very dependable and you get high mileage. I mean a diesel engine, you could get three to 400 thousand miles on a diesel engine," he said.

Samantha Bingham, CDOT Environmental Policy Analyst, said while the plan might not work for plows or pavement trucks, it would be great for a bakery delivery truck.

"There is no silver bullet when it comes to alternative fuels or traditional fuels," Bingham said.

Chicago Department of Transportation officials said they have enough federal funding to support about 250 vouchers to start. According to Joe Schwieterman, transportation professor from DePaul University, the city would need a couple thousand or so to really make a statistical change on emissions.

"At the same time, I think the city's going to show that we're this Midwest Rust Belt town, and we're gonna adopt technologies that you know other cities in the region aren't doing," Schwieterman said.

City Hall has used federal funding for other green initiatives in the past, including the installment of 202 electric vehicle charging stations.

Listen to the radio story below.

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Transportation Nation

Washington Hits Top-Ten Bicycling Ranking -- Big Cities Climb on List

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bikeshare users in Washington, DC (Photo: Tara Bahrampour)

A report in Bicycling Magazine ranking the top 50 most bike-friendly cities places Washington fourth. In the magazine's last ranking, in 2010, Washington didn't break the top ten.

See the entire list 2012 here.

Then, as now, the list was dominated with more predictable cities like Portland, Minneapolis, Boulder, Madison, and Eugene. Seattle and San Francisco also made both lists.

But the big story of  this year's  list is the prominence of big cities --like Chicago and New York, which, like Washington,  both climbed in ranking.

Most of the changes that the magazine credits in Washington, DC -- including bike share and more bike lanes -- began under DC's former transportation commissioner, Gabe Klein, who now has that job in Chicago (up to #5 from #10 on the last Bicycling Magazine list.)

The magazine examined cities with populations of at least 95,000 for "a robust cycling infrastructure and a vibrant bike culture."

The magazine reports that bicycle ridership increased in Washington "80 percent from 2007 to 2010."  The capital city's bike share program is growing in popularity and recently clocked its two millionth ride.

 

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Transportation Nation

Chicago Wants to Zero Out Traffic Fatalities By 2022

Friday, May 11, 2012

New York's transportation department has had safety bragging rights -- reducing traffic fatalities to their lowest level ever.

But Chicago wants to go one better.  In a sweeping action agenda (.pdf), Chicago's DOT Chief, Gabe Klein, is promising to eliminate all traffic fatalities within a decade, and to reduce bike and pedestrian injuries by 50%.

Klein says this can be done through improved design, more vigorous enforcement, and safety education.  Among the proposals are a 20 mph speed limit in residential neighborhoods and more clearly marked crosswalks.

The document also promised to increase the number of under 5-mile trips taken by bike to 5% of all trips, and to "make Chicago the best big city in America for cycling and walking."

That's a distinction NYC DOT Chief Janette Sadik-Khan and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have tried to claim for New York, which has added hundreds of miles of bikeways in the last five years, and tripled the number of cyclists.

The Chicago document also promises more transit options including BRT, better on-time performance by the CTA, and more real time transit information.

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: LaHood Wants Federal Ban on Texting While Driving, Cuomo Threatens to Veto Street Hail Legislation, and the 10 Best Transit Poems

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Top stories on TN:
Transpo advocates are livid over deeper cut to NY MTA revenue stream. (Link)
A lawsuit challenging Port Authority's toll increases is in court today. (Link)
Cities have their moment -- and the 2012 TED Prize. (Link)
LOOK: NYC unveils haute scaffolding. (Link)

One of the approximately 200 wheelchair accessible cabs in the city. (photo by Kate Hinds/WNYC)

Ray LaHood wants a federal ban on texting while driving -- and he'll announce today that traffic fatalities in 2010 have hit the lowest level since 1949.(USA Today)

Governor Cuomo says lack of resolution over accessibility issues means he'll probably veto Mayor Bloomberg's plan to allow livery cabs to pick street hails and start over next year. (New York Daily News)

More people are walking in New York City, according to the increasing "pedestrian volume index." (New York Times)

Public transit ridership is up. (USA Today)

Why Gabe Klein (Chicago's transportation commissioner) is the way he is. (New City)

And: Chicago further proves its bike lane street cred, gets snowplow especially for protected lanes. (The Northwest Passage; h/t Gabe Klein)

Atlantic Cities has a list of what it says are the world's 10 best transit poems. Like this one, by Carl Sandburg: Night from a railroad car window/is a great, dark, soft thing/broken across with slashes of light

Peer-to-peer bike sharing gets rolling. (Fast Company)

A new app turns riding the London Underground into a game. (Good)

How a bike recreated the light ribbons from Tron. (Guardian)

Recreating the light ribbons from Tron (photo: Laura Aldred)

 

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Transportation Nation

Chicago To Roll Out Bike Share In Summer 2012

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A bike lane being built in Chicago, June 2011 (photo courtesy of Chicago Bicycle Program)

 

UPDATED 4:37PM:   In an ambitious move, the Chicago Department of Transportation announced today it would have bike share up and running by next summer, with 3,000 bikes and 300 stations.  Another 2,000 bikes would be added in summer 2014.

In its  RFP, the city said initial funding for the program will come from federal grants, and the "program will be self-sustaining through member and user fees, as well as advertising and sponsorship." Responses to the RFP are due on October 25.

That's a furious pace compared to New York, which issued an RFP last November and announced the vendor last week. New York's program, with 10,000 bikes and 600 stations, will also be up and running next summer.

The Chicago story was first broken by the Chicago Sun-Times, which said,

“Chicago would have 3,000 bicycles to rent from 300 stations by next summer — with no charge for the first 30 minutes — under an ambitious plan, announced Wednesday, aimed at making cycling a “new transit option….Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein are looking for an operator to offer 3,000 bikes at 300 stations by next summer and 5,000 bikes at 500 stations by 2014.”

Shortly afterwards, Klein tweeted out the response "Yes!!" to the tweets: "some big bike sharing news coming out of Chicago today," and then RT: Is that true?

These are heady days for urban bike share programs.  Boston's bike share, Hubway, launched in July.  On Tuesday, DC's Capital Bikeshare turned one year old -- and hit its one millionth ride.

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel -- himself a bike rider and a transit-user -- has consistently said he wanted a bike share program.

 

 

 

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Transportation Nation

TN's "Back of the Bus" Documentary: Live Event at WNYC's Greene Space

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

From L to R: Andrea Bernstein, Majora Carter, Adolfo Carrion, Gabe Klein, and Robert Bullard at WNYC's Greene Space (photo by Aaron Epstein)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation)   We know what the problem is --but what are they going to do?  That was the question posed to the Chicago DOT Commissioner, Gabe Klein, the NY-NJ HUD Administrator, Adolfo Carrion, and Judith Enck, the NY-NJ EPA Administrator who came to speak (or in Enck's case, to be a member of the audience) at Transportation Nation's forum at WNYC's Greene Space to discuss our documentary "Back of the Bus: Mass Transit, Race, and Inequality."

(You can listen to the highlights here). Or: for the whole wide-ranging discussion, go here. It's well worth it.)

There, were, as you can imagine, caveats about the current, frugal fiscal environment, and cut backs in transit, generally.  But the panelists all seem motivated to take the issues discussed in the form back to their offices, circulate them among their staff, and make some real change.

TN  Andrea Bernstein moderated the discussion. Panelists were:

  • Robert Bullard -- professor of sociology and director of the Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University
  • Adolfo Carrion -- HUD's NY and NJ Regional Administrator and former president of National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials
  • Majora Carter -- president of MCG Consulting and founder of Sustainable South Bronx; host of Peabody Award-winning radio series "The Promised Land"
  • Gabe Klein -- commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation, former head of the District Department of Transportation, and former VP at Zipcar.
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Transportation Nation

New Director for DDOT?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

(Washington, DC -- David Schultz, WAMU) DC's Department of Transportation has not had a permanent director since Gabe Klein resigned five months ago.  (Klein is now Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Director of Transportation.) And as we reported last week, other top officials have also recently left the agency. But a change may be on the horizon: the mayor's spokesperson, Doxie McCoy,  says in an email that Mayor Vincent Gray will announce a new director for the DDOT tomorrow. Stay tuned!

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Transportation Nation

Top D.C. Transportation Officials Resign As New Mayor Struggles to Fill Leadership Vacuum

Friday, May 13, 2011

(Washington D.C. - David Schultz, WAMU) It's five months into his first term, and D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray still hasn't selected a permanent head to his Department of Transportation. Now, two of the Department's top deputies are resigning and one says this leadership vacuum was a factor in her departure.

Deputy Director for Resource Management Leah Treat and Associate Director for Policy Karina Ricks are leaving DDOT, the organization for which they've worked for a combined 22 years. Ricks says she will be leaving later this summer. According to sources within DDOT, Treat is already gone.

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Transportation Nation

Online Coupon Offer Nearly Doubles D.C. Bikeshare Membership Overnight

Friday, April 22, 2011

(Washington D.C. - David Schultz, WAMU) My colleague at WAMU, the esteemed J. Patrick Madden, reports that membership in Capital Bikeshare, D.C.'s nascent bikesharing program, "practically doubled overnight to 10,000" after the city partnered with the online coupon company Living Social.

Thousands of Living Social members took advantage of discounted membership rates and can now ride on one of the seemingly ubiquitous red and yellow Capital Bikeshare bikes.

The District is looking to build 25 new bike rental stations, Madden reports, in addition to the 100 that already exist. Currently, the stations are only in D.C. and neighboring Arlington County, Va. But other local jurisdictions, such as Alexandria, Va. and Montgomery County, Md., have expressed interest in joining Capital Bikeshare.

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Transportation Nation

BREAKING: Rahm Emanuel Names DC's Gabe Klein as Chicago Transpo Chief

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

File Photo: Gabe Klein in Washington, D.C.  (Photo: DDOT)

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Transportation Nation has learned that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has picked his transportation chief. Gabe Klein, former head of Washington D.C.'s Department of Transportation, will become the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation in mid-May. An announcement is expected later this morning.

Klein tells Transportation Nation that he hopes to build on the innovative programs that were put in place in Washington, D.C. and transform Chicago into a world class transportation city. During his tenure, D.C. launched a bikeshare program, expanded bike lanes and installed several electric car charging stations.

As we've reported here before, Rahm Emanuel, the former White House chief of staff, is largely supportive of public transit, is a cyclist himself, and has said he wants to build 100 miles of new bike lanes during his first term.

His transportation plan when running for mayor was, in essence, a transit plan. Emanuel also impressed local transit and transportation activists with his interest in the topic and detailed knowledge of the issues including having a specific favorite bike-lane design.

Now Chicago has a pro-bike, pro-transit pair in charge of transportation policy.

UPDATE: Several other Emanuel appointments were also announced today, including the head of the Chicago Transit Authority.

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter for more breaking news.

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Transportation Nation

DC Mayor Slams Predecessor On Transportation, Could Politics Be Involved?

Friday, February 18, 2011

(Washington D.C. - David Schultz, WAMU) A scathing report has just been released by the transition team of incoming D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray. The report is something of an indictment against the city's Department of Transportation, as led by Gray's mayoral predecessor, Adrian Fenty, and his young, charismatic transportation director, Gabe Klein.

Among its grievances:

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Transportation Nation

Bike Sharing - Not Just For The Tourists Anymore

Friday, January 28, 2011

Courtesy Capital Bikeshare

(Washington D.C. - David Schultz, WAMU) Last year, D.C. unveiled its nifty new bike sharing service, Capital Bikeshare, which allows riders to swipe a credit card and rent a bike for a few hours from dozens of street corner bike-sharing stations across the city.

It was billed as one of the crowning achievements of former D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty and his prolific transportation guru Gabe Klein. (Ironically, the launch ceremony for Capital Bikeshare was held just days after Fenty's devastating primary election loss to the city's current mayor, Vincent Gray.)

At the time, one of the big questions that many people a few people I had was: who is Capital Bikeshare for? Is it really going to significantly improve transportation in Washington? Or is it going to be used only by committed cyclists and/or tourists looking for a quick way to museum hop?

Well, some early data is in and it looks like my skepticism may have been unfounded. As the map to the left shows, most of the trips taken by Capital Bikeshare have been within D.C.'s residential areas - not around the touristic mecca of the National Mall.

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Transportation Nation

BREAKING: D.C. Transportation Director Resigns

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

(Washington, D.C. - David Schultz, WAMU) Just a few moments ago, Gabe Klein, the director of Washington D.C.'s Transportation Department and a strong advocate of transit and pedestrian-oriented policies, announced his resignation.

Klein was appointed to the post two years ago by Mayor Adrian Fenty, who, earlier this year, was resoundingly defeated in his reelection bid by City Council Chairman Vincent Gray. Klein and Gray had clashed earlier this year over funding for the city's urban streetcar program, so Klein's departure just a few months before the new mayor takes office is not a huge surprise.

Still, Klein enjoyed a fair amount of support for his agenda, which, along with the streetcar project, included the installation of more bike lanes on roads, beefing up the city's local short-trip bus service and, perhaps most successfully, launching a city-wide bike sharing service.

Vehicle sharing seems to be Klein's M.O. Before joining the local government in D.C., Klein was a regional vice president of Zipcar, the pioneering car-sharing company that has taken off in many urban areas.

For more on Klein's resignation, check back in with WAMU throughout the day.

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Transportation Nation

City Council Vote On Streetcar Could Signal New Era In D.C. Transportation

Friday, December 03, 2010

A prototype of D.C.'s new streetcar

(Washington, D.C. -- David Schultz, WAMU) The D.C. City Council, convening in a lame duck session next week, will cast a crucial vote on funding for an urban street car project.

The project was the darling of outgoing Mayor Adrian Fenty and his Director of Transportation Gabe Klein. Building a streetcar as a supplement to the city's already-existing bus and subway service was a huge part of their overall goal to make D.C. more walkable and to spur economic development in blighted neighborhoods.

D.C.'s Mayor-elect, Vincent Gray

But the project's costs have been climbing steadily upward, and there are still questions about how the streetcars will be powered (i.e. whether there will be overhead wires blocking D.C.'s monumental views).

Then, after a campaign that focused heavily on D.C.'s longstanding race and class inequalities, Fenty lost his reelection campaign. Badly.

His soon-to-be successor, current Council Chairman Vincent Gray, has been much more cool to the streetcar. In a late night budget session earlier this year, Gray eliminated funding for the streetcar project — only to reinstate it later that day after an outcry from the local transit backers.

Gray later blamed the elimination of streetcar funding on a "staff error," and said he is a full supporter of the project. But the upcoming vote, which could be one of his last on the City Council, will be a true test of that support.

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