Monthly Archives: August 2012

Critical Mass + Labor Day Traffic = Driving Chaos, Mayhem, Pain


It’s the last Friday of the month.

That means it’s the monthly Critical Mass Chicago bike ride.

It’s also the start of the three day Labor Day holiday weekend.

That means tons of drivers will be on the road trying to flee the city for Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and beyond.

We predict traffic mayhem wherever the hundreds, if not thousands of participants in the monthly parade of bikes called Critical Mass.

Drivers Should Expect More Traffic, More Delays This Labor Day Weekend

If your family is planning to hit the road this Labor Day weekend, the AAA Motor Club says to expect a bit more traffic than last year.

AAA is projecting a third straight year of increases in Labor Day automobile travel nationally and in Illinois. The group estimates 1.8 million people will be driving more than 50 miles over the next few days, a 2.6% increase from 2011.

And that’s despite higher gas prices, where statewide the average cost of unleaded gasoline is going for $4.13 per gallon, a full 30 cents per gallon higher than last year according to AAA’s daily Fuel Gauge Report.

More Traffic = Longer Delays

With more cars on the road, expect slightly longer travel times this holiday according to INRIX, a company that provides traffic data and information.

BP Posts List Of Chicago Stations Which Received Defective Gas

BP confirmed Tuesday that many of their Chicago gas stations had indeed received some of 2.1 million gallons of defective gasoline the company’s Whiting, IN refinery had produced nearly two weeks ago.

The company posted an interactive list of all the stations that had been impacted by what they call “off-specification gasoline” at the website BP hastily erected to address the many issues which resulted from the defective fuel and subsequent product recall.

When the problem first arose, the company initially thought the problem was somewhat confined to northwestern Indiana. But, using the search tool on the company’s response site, this website has found many BP stations across the city and suburbs were affected.

The improperly produced fuel was causing engine fuel lines to clog as the gas coagulated and thickened.

BP reports that all subsequent gasoline shipping from their Whiting, IN refinery is up to normal standards.

Lake Shore Drive Resurfacing Begins Next Week

CDOT: Drivers Should Expect Delays

Drivers who routinely use North Lake Shore Drive should expect delays starting next week.

Beginning Wednesday, September 5th the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) will begin a two month long resurfacing project on LSD.

A total of 2.75 miles of the drive will be repaved in two sections between North and Belmont Avenues as well as between Sheridan and Foster Avenues,  CDOT announced on Tuesday.

California Woman Files $1.7 Billion Parking Meter Lawsuit

The City of Santa Monica, California began installing  the next generation of  “smart” parking meters in April of this year.

These meters are “smart” because sensors in the pavement can tell if there’s a vehicle parked there and then zeros out the meter when the car leaves thus depriving the next driver of piggybacking off the time left on the meter at that space. In addition, using cellular networks and mobile phone technology, drivers can locate open spaces to park.

But now, according to the Santa Monica Daily Press, a local resident has filed a $1.7 billion lawsuit claiming the cell network the parking meters use to operate, are making her ill. Specifically, she got an ear infection back in May, just after the “smart” meters went in.

SpotHero Mobile App Makes Finding Parking Easy, Convenient, Fun

Finding inexpensive parking just got a lot easier in Chicago–and somewhat enjoyable.

Just a few weeks ago, local internet start-up SpotHero, with very little fanfare released their mobile parking app almost exactly a year after the company’s website first went live in July 2011.

The company, between winning awards, prizes and accolades for its concept has been growing its list of parking properties in their roster and now represents nearly 100 parking lots and garages in Chicago. In just over a year, the company has grown from its three founders to 10 full time employees and is entertaining the idea of expanding the SpotHero concept to other cities.

“If you’re driving in Chicago and not using SpotHero you’re missing out,” says SpotHero co-founder Mark Lawrence. “When we started SpotHero we wanted to make parking easier for ourselves and others. We want to make the parking experience much easier.”

The app, which is free to download, was two months in development according to Lawrence and is currently only available for iPhone users.

“It’s pretty simple,” laughed Lawrence, when asked why there’s no Android version so far. “Everyone at SpotHero had an iPhone–no one had an Android phone.”

How It Works

Noted Internal Combusion Engine Critic Test Drives Smart Car

Writer and bike transportation evangelist John Greenfield admits his “dislike” of automobiles in his recent column in this week’s New City.

To be clear, Greenfield who bikes literally everywhere, is actually opposed to Chicago’s over dependence on the automobile and obviously prefers alternative, more eco-friendly modes of transportation.

Greenfield recently rode his bike from Chicago to north suburban Lincolnwood and shockingly, jumped into a gas powered internal combustion engine vehicle and took it for a test drive.

The automobile in question is the relatively new Smart Car, a car that lines up closely with his views on personal transportation.

Geek Joins Nick D On WGN Radio Saturday Night At 7

Hopefully, you’ll be on a hot date with your spouse or significant other Saturday night.

Or perhaps at a BBQ or a party or doing something fun and interesting to enjoy what remains of the summer gets near it’s inevitable end.

But if you’re not and/or you’re driving around in your car Saturday evening, tune in to Nick Digilio’s show on WGN Radio 720.

The Parking Ticket Geek joins Nick D. in studio to talk about all things driving and parking in Chicago starting at 7 PM.

Feel free to call in to harass or ask questions.

By The Numbers: Crain’s Explains Parking Meter Bill Dispute

50 million bucks.

That’s how much Chicago Parking Meters, LLC has billed the City of Chicago for lost parking meter revenue.

This is mainly due to an excessive number of drivers utilizing handicap plates and disabled placards to park for free as well as for when metered spots get closed down for street repairs, street festivals, utility work, etc.

Crain’s Chicago Business has put together a very illustrative and informative graphic explaining the who, what, where, when and how.

Trib Columnist Taunts Bicycle Riders With New Bike Fees, Taxes, Tolls

Tribune columnist John Kass must enjoy receiving hate mail.

Because with his most recent column, he’s probably going to get plenty.

In his column, Kass believes it’s finally time for bike riders to carry their share of the load humorously proposing a series of fees, taxes and tolls for two-wheeled human powered vehicles.

Lord knows the city needs the revenue.

His ideas include city bicycle stickers, bike parking meters, stop sign camera enforcement (to catch all the bikers blowing through the intersection without even slowing down) and bike tolls enforced using what Kass calls the Rahm-PASS.