Chicago Sun-Times

February 2009 Archives

The Ride Quiz Answer

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The question was: California motorists dread "Sig Alerts." Who or what is a "Sig?"

The first person with the correct answer was William. If William can send me his full name, shirt size and address by e-mail ( I can send him his T-shirt.

A Sig Alert is defined by the California Highway Patrol as "any traffic incident that will tie up two or more lanes of a freeway for two or more hours, as opposed to a planned event like road construction."

Sig Alerts are issued by the CHP and are posted on their Web site, broadcast on radio and television stations throughout California

According to Wikipedia, Sig Alerts got started in 1955 because Los Angeles was having an increasingly bad problem with traffic jams and accidents. The police didn't want to call radio stations with information about the jams, so each station would call the police, jamming up the phones.

In 1955, Loyd C. "Sig" Sigmon, a broadcaster, developed a specialized radio receiver that would pick up traffic problems from the police. The LAPD refused to cooperate unless the receivers were made available to all radio stations. The "Sig Alert" system is now used throughout California.

CTA Weekend Update

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Troubles continue for bus riders -- as the North American Bus Industries accordion-style 60-foot buses stay out of service while inspectors look for problems. It will be at least another week before they're back on the road

Also this weekend, Red Line subway trains will undergo late night rerouting to the L tracks this weekend and next week. Red Line service between the Fullerton and Cermak-Chinatown stations will be temporarily rerouted from the subway to the elevated tracks in order for crews to perform follow-up work associated with the slow zone elimination project. For this and other CTA weekend service news, see the CTA web site.

Bike Days are Back!

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I got on my bike today for the first time since November. I know, I know -- I could have biked when it was colder. I could have put on the vinyl pants, balaclava and ski goggles and braved the snow and ice when the temperature was lower than my shoe size. But I'm a physical coward, so I waited until it was warm.

And it was fun. Muddy, but fun. My saddlebags and boots were liberally polka-dotted with road grit by the time I got to the Sun-Times, and I spent some time in the washroom sponging it all off. But the exercise endorphins feel good.

On the way in, I calculated how much I could save if I biked every day. I usually take an L and a bus to and from work. That's $2.25 for each train ride, plus the transfers, which makes $5 for the round trip. Figure $5 per workday for nine non-winter months, and you've got a mortgage payment. Which is a nice thing to consider, though my enthusiasm was dampened by a crazy cabbie honking at me while he was in the bike lane.

Anyone else get on their bike this week?

Ride Trivia Quiz Answer

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Here's the question: CTA fare hikes are nothing new -- the agency began running the L trains in 1947, and raised fares 30 percent the next year. What was the 1947 fare, and how much did it go up?

Fares went up to 13 cents in 1948, from 10 cents in 1947. But some souces indicate the initial fare increase, when the CTA took over, was two cents. Since I could have worded the question better, I'm going to go ahead and give this to Susan Flynn, who identified the two cent increase. Susan, if you can send me your address and shirt size by e-mail at or through a comment on the blog (which I won't publish), I'll send you your t-shirt.

CTA to the Auto Show

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You really wouldn't want to take a car to the auto show. The CTA provides information on how to get there by public transit here.

CTA Top Salaries

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No "Ride" today -- instead we've got a look at CTA top management salaries over the past three years. See the story here.

In defense of executive salaries, Ron Huberman pointed out in an interview that the CTA president, whose salary sets the bar for salaries through the organization, makes less than the heads of 25 other major transit agencies. They include New York, Dallas, Denver, Miami, San Jose, San Mateo (CA) and Las Vegas.

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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