Greater Greater Washington

Posts about Illinois


How Chicago provides warmth to waiting transit riders

It's been a cold winter in DC this year. Transit riders, stuck waiting for buses and trains, are particularly susceptible to extreme cold. Chicago, where these sorts of temperatures are more regular, has a nice way of keeping their riders warm.

A heat lamp at a Chicago station. Photo by the author.

Most of the outdoor CTA stations have these heat lamps placed strategically in L stations. In many cases, these are placed inside the plexiglass shelters on the platform.

To save energy, these don't run all the time. Riders can turn them on by pressing a button. They turn off after a minute or so, but riders who are still waiting can push the button again.

"Push for heat." Photo by the author.

Given the warmer winters we experience here, it may not be worth installing these on WMATA, but they would certainly be nice to have on days like today.


GGW on the road: Chicago's "Unicorn bike"

How can you generate publicity for a new bikesharing system? Chicago's newly launched fleet of pale blue bikeshares includes one "unicorn bike": a bright red bike, dubbed #Divvyred, that Chicagoans are chasing all around the Windy City.

Photo by the Chicago Department of Transportation.

Chicago's bikesharing system, Divvy, launched this summer with a fleet of pale blue bikes. Except one. As a clever marketing tool, one of the Divvy's 3,000 bikes is painted bright red. Chicagoans who spot the bike can post photos of it on Twitter using the hashtag #DivvyRed to be eligible for daily prize drawings. In addition, the 25th, 50th, 75th, 100th, 200th, and 300th riders get free memberships.

Installing what Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein calls a "unicorn bike" is an inexpensive and fun way to generate publicity for this new city service. Photos of the elusive #Divvyred are slowly appearing on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. The random node-to-node transfer path of bikesharing ensures the bike will eventually make its way all around the city, appearing at Wrigley Field one day and in Bronzeville the next.

If Capital Bikeshare added its own unicorn, what might it look like? As we've learned, bright red is a striking color. Few colors, except maybe gold, can outshine red in conspicuousness and mystique. Popular stories prize elusive golden items, from the golden ticket to the golden fleece, so why not add #theGoldenCaBi to the list?

Image by the author.
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