Chicago Sun-Times

March 2010 Archives

Active Transportation Alliance executive director Rob Sadowsky announced last week that he would become head of the Oregon Bicycle Transportation Alliance.

Sadowsky, who has been outspoken on road safety and the importance of making the city more bike and pedestrian-friendly, will leave Active Trans in June. Melody Geraci, Active Trans' program director, will serve as interim director until a permanent director is hired.

During Sadowsky's nine-year tenure at the Alliance, its budget has grown from just over $1 million to over $3 million and from a staff of 10 to 30. The organization advocates for pedestrians, bicyclists and public transit.

Sadowsky said he loves Chicago, where he has lived for 20 years, but "it has been a dream of mine to return to the West Coast with its diverse ecology of mountains and the wild Pacific Ocean."

Do you have a bad road construction story? Did two hours on the Dan Ryan make you miss your sister's wedding three years ago? Are you expecting worse from upcoming construction on the Eisenhower? We're eager to hear your tales, especially as work starts on the Ike April 1 at the same time as work starts on the Congress Bridge.

My worst ordeals in traffic always involve babies -- i.e., a baby who needs a change, or a bottle, and can't get one because I can't get off the stupid expressway.

CTA Cards Expiring

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The CTA wants to remind riders who bought their Chicago Card Plus or Chicago Card four years ago that these cards will expire this year and free replacements are available.

About 59,800 cards are set to expire beginning in April through the end of the year. Customers can check the expiration date on their Chicago Cards online at, at most rail stations, by calling 1-888-YOUR-CTA or visiting CTA headquarters at 567 W. Lake St. Monday through Friday.

The cranky commuter has been a little less cranky lately. Maybe because it's nice out. But yesterday an old problem caused me to lose my commuting sangfroid. I had to climb over a stair-sitter on my way down from the second floor of the Metra train to get to the doors.

"You know, there's plenty of room upstairs," I told the stair-sitter.

She ignored me. And kept sitting.

I don't get this. I often have to crawl around these people getting into the train or out of it. There's almost always a seat somewhere if you're willing to find it. So what's with the stair-sitting? This lady I had to squeeze around yesterday was wearing a rather nice silk dress with flowers on a white background -- why on earth would she want to sit where people's feet had been?

Are these people trying to avoid the fare? Do they just hate people so much they'd rather sit in the dirt than sit next to someone? Do they like the enclosure of the stairway? Do they like to get in everyone's way? Or are they just doing it because they're getting off soon and would rather sit in the dust than stand in the area between the doors?

If you're a stair-sitter and can tell us why, please tell.

A Sloppy Bus Story

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Today, I did a story about possible changes to the way the CTA cleans its buses. See the

In response, I got a letter from Lisa Layher, about an incident that happened just yesterday on the Clark bus. Her letter is below.

"Last night (before the, "Bus Slop" story broke), I complained to two bus drivers on the Clark 22 route about a man that had wet his pants (#1 & #2 to be exact) that was stinking up the bus to the point that people were coughing, gagging and spraying perfume to cover it up. It's not like it only smelled near him, it was the entire bus. The first driver pulled the bus over after I asked him to, then he called for help, but no one answered (not sure who called/if he really called). Then, he said, he'd look for a police officer as he continued to drive the bus. I refused to get back on the bus citing it a health hazard and quite frankly, all around disgusting. His response to me was, "He paid his fare and there is nothing I can do!"

I looked at bus tracker and knew that I'd only need to wait 12 minutes for another bus. In fresh air, no problem. In frigid temps, no problem.

But...I do not have the luck of the Irish...low and behold after boarding another 22 bus on Clark, just a few stops later the same man boarded the bus! Which means, the first driver did somehow manage to get this man off the bus, but only to leave him free to board another. Imagine my reaction. I went to the driver of the second bus and made the same complaint. She was actually very rude and told me that she will do nothing as "he paid his fare." I went to tell the rest of the bus what she'd said and everyone was shocked. So, they rode in stink to their destinations and I snapped a shot of him slumped over in his own feces and was hoping to file a complaint somewhere! I walked the rest of the way home, in complete disgust. But, I feel I can't do anything about the fact that today, people will ride at least two buses that have seats contaminated with a grown man's feces, urine and overall bad smell from a lack of bathing. There is more...a woman riding inthe back of the bus told me as I was exiting that he'd been riding that same bus route for over a week in the same clothes/condition. So, that opens up another can of worms, clearly, he is not stable and really needs help. But, who is going to help this man? It's depressing, disgusting, disheartening and now it'll get even worse as there are going to be even less folks to clean the CTA buses!

Needless to day, I drove to work today. It'll cost me $26 vs. $4.50, but honestly, it's worth it!"

Lisa Layher

The "crazy lady driver" is a myth, according to a range of research on driving habits of men and women. The research suggests that you're better off riding with a woman than with a man, because while women are slightly more likely to get into accidents, men are more likely to get into fatal traffic accidents, according to Eric Morris' "Freakonomics" blog from the New York Times site.

The article cites research that men are more likely to disobey traffic laws, and are four times more likely than women to drive drunk. Men also are more likely to honk their horns, drive fast, and in general show more aggression on the road, according to the article.

Wolcott and Kinzie are two Chicago streets. The names are also connected to an important Chicago event. What was it?

The answer is Chicago's first marriage. Alexander Wolcott and Ellen Marion Kinzie were the first couple married in Chicago. Ellen Kinzie was the daughter of John Kinzie, an early Chicago settler.

Robert Kempa had the right answer. And if he gets me his address, I can get him his prize.

Check out this New York Times article about emergency workers getting distracted by all the fancy equipment in their cars. This is part of the Times' ongoing series called "Driven to Distraction."

The story raises some interesting issues. Emergency workers, like police officers and ambulance drivers, say gadgets on their dashboards save valuable time -- by allowing them to send medical information ahead to the hospital, or find information about a suspect. But what happens when that equipment is taking the driver's eyes off the road?

For the whole series, which has been fascinating, go here.

In honor of Pulaski Day, the Ride asked readers to name the 19th century Polish inventor who, by studying bird flight, is believed to have created an early version of an airplane -- a glider he could steer with his feet.

Reader Carl Rollberg was the first to answer Jan Wnek, a sculptor for churches and cemeteries. He is said to have made flights between 1866 and 1869 at religious festivals and carnivals. He died after a fall in 1869.

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This page is an archive of entries from March 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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