Street Smart Chicago

Checkerboard City: Is There Really a Blue Menace?

Bicycling, Checkerboard City, Green, Loop 1 Comment »
Detroit native Junior Bashi rides a Divvy on a A Michigan Avenue sidewalk. Photo: John Greenfield

Detroit native Junior Bashi rides on a Michigan Avenue sidewalk/Photo: John Greenfield

By John Greenfield

Chicago’s master bike-baiter, Tribune columnist John Kass, was one of the first local pundits to warn the public about the dangers of Divvy. “I can’t stand those Divvy bike people,” he griped in an online video in August 2013, a couple months after the system launched. “Go outside on Michigan Avenue… Reporters going in and out of this building almost get killed. ‘Cause you’ve got some little old lady from Denmark… and she’s on the sidewalk, and she’s almost smashing into the Polish pedi-bike guys.”

However, more than one year and 2.6 million trips later, the bike-share system has a solid safety record. To date, there have been zero reports of Divvy riders being involved in crashes resulting in serious injuries. What’s more, last August Reuters reported that there have been no bike-share-related deaths in the U.S. since modern bike-share debuted in this country seven years ago. Read the rest of this entry »

Checkerboard City: Urine—A Lot of Trouble

Checkerboard City, City Life, Green, Transit No Comments »
The elevator at the Red Line's Grand Avenue stop. Photo: John Greenfield

The elevator at the Red Line’s Grand stop/Photo: John Greenfield

By John Greenfield

I don’t mean to sound pissy, but the Chicago Transit Authority is having difficulty keeping its elevators urine-free. Some say it’s the agency’s Number One challenge.

Like most Chicagoans who get around by rapid transit, I’ve noticed that people often use the lifts as restrooms. However, the issue really hit home when my seventy-eight-year-old father visited last month. Due to knee troubles, it’s tough for him to walk more than a couple blocks at a time, but he gets around great on a bicycle, and enjoys seeing the Windy City on two wheels.

My dad and I did much of our sightseeing by cycling to my local El station, riding the train downtown with our bikes, and then pedaling to destinations like the Shedd Aquarium and an architectural boat tour. That made for nearly door-to-door trips, requiring less walking than if we’d taken a car there. Read the rest of this entry »

Checkerboard City: If It Ain’t Fixed…

Checkerboard City, Green, Pilsen No Comments »

Anderson, Mendez, and Lopez/Photo: John Greenfield

By John Greenfield

The amount of biking in the U.S. more than doubled during the aughts, from 1.7 billion trips in 2001 to four billion in 2009, according to the League of American Bicyclists, a national advocacy group. One of the great things about this boom is that it has created a broader demographic of people who ride.

In a report published last year, the League found that cycling saw the fastest growth over the last decade among Latinos, African Americans and Asian Americans, from sixteen percent of all bike trips in 2001 to twenty-three percent in 2009. The study also found that eighty-nine percent of people aged eighteen to twenty-nine have a positive view of cyclists, and seventy-five percent of them feel that improved conditions for biking would make their community a better place to live.

The recent trend toward fixed-gear bicycles and single-speed bikes with freewheels has helped fuel the growing popularity of biking among urban youth in Chicago and other big cities. These sleek, minimalist rides are affordable, fast and easy to customize, which makes them an appealing gateway to cycling for young people who, a decade ago, might have been more interested in buying four wheels than two. Read the rest of this entry »

Checkerboard City: You’re A Good Man, Dan Brown

Bicycling, Checkerboard City 3 Comments »
Dan Brown with Chainlink founder Leah Neaderthal. Photo: Steven E. Grossman

Brown with Chainlink founder Leah Neaderthal at the site’s 10,000th member party last March/Photo: Steven E. Gross

By John Greenfield

In the second week of August, two funny men who loved bicycles passed away. One was comedian Robin Williams, who once said cycling saved his life by helping him quit drugs in the wake of his friend John Belushi’s overdose. The other was Dan Brown, a mainstay of the Chicago bike advocacy community, who died after falling off a sailboat near Diversey Harbor.

“I am taking the position that a higher power looking at our world decided that she needed music, smiling faces, and laughter so she took Dan and Robin Williams this week,” said Lisa Curcio, a friend of Brown’s from the bike scene. “It is such a loss to we mere mortals.” Read the rest of this entry »

Checkerboard City: No Longer Marooned

Checkerboard City, Green, Hyde Park No Comments »

The new promenade on 58th, across the street from Robie House/Photo: John Greenfield

By John Greenfield

I’ve long thought that the gray, Gothic confines of the University of Chicago were designed as a fortress against the outside world. However, in recent years, the school has made an effort to physically open up its grounds to the rest of the Hyde Park community, as well as to connect various parts of the campus that had previously seemed remote, by creating better spaces for pedestrians.

Several construction projects have improved connectivity and made it safer and more pleasant to walk across the 211-acre campus. Meanwhile, sections of roadway have been converted into attractive walkways and plazas, which encourage spontaneous interactions between students, employees and neighborhood folks. Read the rest of this entry »

Lollapalooza’s Green Street: The Official Guide to the Festival’s Face of Social Responsibility 2014

Events, Green No Comments »

For Newcity’s coverage of the music of Lollapalooza, click here.


Landing in Chicago’s beautiful Grant Park on August 1, 2 and 3, Lollapalooza hosts 137 bands, eight stages, and 100,000 fans for a weekend to remember. Situated in the heart of the festivities, Green Street keeps the Festival’s values of social responsibility and environmental stewardship at its core. Home of a curated art market, non-profit organizations, farm-to-festival fare, and environmental efforts, Green Street provides an experience unique to Lollapalooza.

In between sets, shop the Greet Street Art Market where you’ll find treasures ranging from music inspired paintings to upcycled accessories to ethically traded international artwork. Swing by the Lolla Farmers Market to enjoy small-batch, homegrown Chicago flavors. Visit Syd Rocks to see how a lady in high school is clearing the path for others suffering from a rare blood disease. Join the sixteen potentially life saving matches from Lollapalooza attendees who registered with Love Hope Strength’s bone marrow database. Discover environmental practices around the globe from The Lexicon of Sustainability’s pop-up art show.

Minimizing Lollapalooza’s environmental impact has been a mission since its inaugural year in 1991. Over the past seven years, Lollapalooza’s producers and fans offset 16.6 million pounds of carbon dioxide (the work of 1.7 million young trees in a year). More than one million water bottles have been avoided through free water filling stations since 2010.  Returning for its tenth year, The Rock & Recycle Program invites thousands of fans each year to be rewarded for joining waste diversion efforts. Now expanded to Chile, Brazil and Argentina, the flags of Lollapalooza’s hosting countries fly high over Green Street as we celebrate international efforts to maintain environmental programs around the globe.

Take a few moments to get inspired by some of the excellent causes in Green Street, and make a contribution to the world straight from Lollapalooza this weekend.

Enjoy the show!

—Emily Stengel, Green Street Producer

Newcity has partnered with Lollapalooza to produce this official guide to Green Street

What Makes Lollapalooza Green

Aldeas Verdes: How Lollapalooza Exports its Green Spirit to its South American Sister Festivals

Lollapalooza Green Street: Art Market

Lollapalooza Green Street: Lolla Cares

Lollapalooza Green Street: Farmers Market

What Makes Lollapalooza Green

Events, Green No Comments »

Part of the Official Guide to Lollapalooza’s Green Street


Waste Diversion
Waste diversion is aggressively practiced both backstage and front-of-house with an incentive program for fans, hundreds of recycling bins, composting stations in the picnic areas, and a team of hired professionals and volunteers. Please help divert waste from the landfill by selecting the correct bin before tossing your waste away. You can reduce your waste by refilling your water container at one of the six CamelBak Filling Stations. Over the past four years, Lollapalooza fans poured enough water to fill over a million water bottles! Read the rest of this entry »

Lollapalooza Green Street: Art Market

Events, Green No Comments »

Part of the Official Guide to Lollapalooza’s Green Street

The Art Market vendors, located in Green Street North and South, sell repurposed or ethically sourced goods.

1:Face Watch


Green Street North
Completed by Amina Ahmed

Is this your first Lolla? If not, how many years have you been here?
No, this is our second year at Lollapalooza!

What will we find at your Lollapalooza booth?
You will find a movement to help change the world. 1:Face watch is in affiliation with eight different charities, each representing a different color watch, and with each purchase of a watch different metrics are carried out to help the different causes and charities.
Read the rest of this entry »

Lollapalooza Green Street: Lolla Cares

Events, Green, Politics No Comments »

Part of the Official Guide to Lollapalooza’s Green Street

Lolla Cares organizations, located in Green Street North and South, support surrounding and international communities with causes ranging from health advocacy to sustainable living to fighting poverty at home and abroad.

Food Policy Action
Green Street North
Completed by Cory Sullivan, assistant to Tom Colicchio & Food Policy Coordinator

Is this your first Lolla? If not, how many years have you been here?
This is the first Lollapalooza for both myself and our organization, Food Policy Action. We’re very excited to be here.

What will we find at your Lollapalooza booth?
An interactive copy of our National Food Policy Scorecard, appearances by famous Chicago chefs, a photobooth chock-full of food props, and a raffle to win dinner at a legendary Chicago restaurant… Read the rest of this entry »

Lollapalooza Green Street: Farmers Market

Events, Green No Comments »

Part of the Official Guide to Lollapalooza’s Green Street

Lolla Farmers Market, located in Green Street North, features small-batch food businesses from the Chicago area.

fayettecreamerylogo[1]Brunkow Cheese
Completed by Joe Burns, cheesemaker

Is this your first Lolla? If not, how many years have you been here?
This is our fifth year at Lollapalooza. We are one of the original members of the Lolla Farmers Market and are thrilled to be returning.

What will we find at your Lollapalooza booth?
At our booth, you will find Queijo de Coalho, a Brazilian-style Grilled Cheese on a Stick. We make the cheese at our creamery in Wisconsin, but get the recipe from Brazil. You will also find a great staff, happy cows, a cool breeze and some nice shade. Come on by… Read the rest of this entry »