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Check Out The Design Of City's First Bike Counter, Coming To Wicker Park

By Alisa Hauser | May 11, 2016 3:27pm | Updated on May 12, 2016 9:36am
 A bike counter totem will be installed in front of a new apartment building at 1237-43 N. Milwaukee Ave.
A bike counter totem will be installed in front of a new apartment building at 1237-43 N. Milwaukee Ave.
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Streetsblog Chicago (Totem); Building (LG Construction)

WICKER PARK — The city's first bike counter — an 8.5-foot-tall totem set to track the number of cyclists passing through the Milwaukee and Ashland avenues intersection — will feature a comic book panel design with a Chicago blue backdrop.

Cyclist-focused Streetsblog Chicago hosted an online poll, which ended April 30, to determine bike commuters' favorite panel from three finalists selected by LG Construction + Development Group.

The winning design, capturing 62 percent of 531 votes cast, features cyclists drawn in a fun, whimsical comic book style by Jay Bynes, founder of design company Fourth is King.

Bynes titled his piece "Enjoy the Ride," though Streetsblog dubbed it "Comic Book" in its poll.

The bike counter will be installed in the fall, Katie Trudell, a spokeswoman for LG Construction + Development Group said Wednesday.

The totem has a diamond-shaped counter embedded 2 inches into the ground near the structure which records the number of cyclists, according to the manufacturer of the devices.

The totem will show the number of cyclists who have passed each day under the words "Cyclists Today," as well as the total number of bike trips on the stretch for the year.

As in other cities, the nearly real-time data will be posted on a website, and the city's Transportation Department will have direct access to the info, Streetsblog reported.

A video showing how the counter works on the Eco-Totem's YouTube page.

LG is a private developer that is mostly footing the bill for what will be a public service: displaying the number of cyclists passing in front of a seven-story, 58-unit apartment building at 1237-1253 N. Milwaukee Ave. that the Wicker Park firm started construction on last year.

The transit-friendly apartments, geared to car-free renters, are anchored by a Bank of America branch and other retailers. If everything goes as planned, the building will be completed this winter, or early next year, Trudell said.

According to the Indiegogo campaign, "1241 Milwaukee Bike Counter," the project has raised $3,185 from 17 backers as of Wednesday with 11 days left.

The 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 total cost for the project was around $35,000 before an unexpected but necessary sidewalk widening to accommodate the totem, so LG is paying for 75 percent of the installation.

"Seeing community involvement and support has been incredible," Trudell said. "All of the designs submitted were awesome. We love the idea of showcasing local art on the bike counter. We’re working with Eco-Totem to ensure it fits appropriately."

Jerry Mandujano, a staffer in Ald. Joe Moreno's (1st) office, said 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 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 slated to be used in Wicker Park is made by a Canadian company, Eco-Counter, which has installed its bike totems in several cities, including Portland, Boston  and San Francisco, according to a map on its website.

A worker in Eco-Counter's office said the Chicago installation would be the manufacturer's second entry into the Midwest, following a totem that was installed in Madison, Wis., in 2014.

Even if the crowdsourcing goal of $10,000 is not met by its May 22 deadline, the totem will still be installed.

"We feel it is an important addition to the city, as here at LG we are avid bike enthusiasts who strongly support biking as a healthy, beneficial, economical mode of transportation in the city," Trudell said.

"The fundraising campaign and design competition were ways to get the community involved and excited about the new technological advancement in Chicago," she said.

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