WICKER PARK — A private developer has launched a crowdsourcing campaign to pay for what will be a public service: a bike counter displaying the number of cyclists passing through the Ashland/Milwaukee intersection.
Launched Tuesday by LG Construction + Development Group, the "1241 Milwaukee Bike Counter" Indiegogo campaign is seeking $10,000 to foot the cost of installing the aluminum and metal totem, which will offer a digital display showing a "real time" bike count.
The totem-style counter would be located in front of a 60-unit Transit-Oriented residential and retail building currently under construction by LG.
"LG Construction + Development aims to set the bar for being bike friendly for residents. By encouraging alternative transportation options, LG's goal is to provide residents access to all parts of Chicago without the expense and headaches of car ownership," the campaign states.
A $50 donation gets backers a "Bike Count-thusiast" T-shirt; there were no other perks offered besides the $50 level at the campaign's start, but a $25 "secret perk" available through an extra link offering admission to a grand opening party and a chance to get a photo in front of the bike counter is available too.
Katie Trudell, an LG spokeswoman, said that the $10,000 will be used to widen the sidewalk to accommodate the totem.
The total cost for the project was around $35,000 before the unexpected sidewalk widening, so LG is paying for 75 percent of the installation. Trudell said that the campaign was started so that people can take ownership of the bike counter.
"An additional way we are looking to engage everyone is by hosting a design contest to determine the overall design of the bike counter itself," Trudell said, adding that the contest would run in collaboration with Alderman Moreno’s 1st Ward office and the Wicker Park/Bucktown Chamber of Commerce.
Trudell said that details of the contest are expected to be announced soon. The totem's dimensions can be viewed here.
LG started construction on the new apartment building at 1237-1253 N. Milwaukee Ave. last year and expects the dwellings, anchored by a Bank of America branch, to be completed by this fall, Trudell said.
Jerry Mandujano, a staffer in Ald. Joe Moreno's (1st) office, said Tuesday that Moreno's office is not planning to offer any financial support to the campaign, though Moreno fully supports the project.
"We are excited about this; we want people to help support it and to help get the word out," Mandujano said.
Mandujano said that Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and bike and pedestrian advocacy group, Active Transportation Alliance, have worked on calculating the amount of bike traffic along Milwaukee Avenue, but the statistics are only available every few years and are not "real time."
"LG said they would share the information with CDOT and ATA and the numbers can help those groups to know if further bike infrastructure improvements might be needed," Mandujano said.
The Eco-TOTEM bike counter slated to be used in Wicker Park — presumably if LG meets its crowdsourcing goal through backers or other means — is made by a Canadian company, Eco-Totem, which has installed its bike totem counters in several cities, including Portland and San Francisco, according to its website.
A worker in Eco-Counter's office said that the potential Chicago installation would be the manufacturer's second entry into the Midwest, following a totem that was installed in Madison, Wis. in 2014.
What the counter will look like. [Provided by LG Construction + Development Group]