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May 16, 2014

3 Reasons @uber is Safer than Traditional Cabs

Filed under: Business,Economics,Politics,Technology & Internet — Chris Chaten @ 3:50 PM

Legislation designed to mandate old school taxi regulations on ridesharing services like Uber, Lyft, and Hailo passed the Illinois Senate. The bill, backed by the taxi lobby, is problematic in that it doesn’t acknowledge the notable safety improvements inherent in ridesharing.

3 Key Distinctions

1. Recorded Events
Taxi: Users hail a cab from the street. They get in a car with an anonymous driver and no record of the trip.

Ridesharing: User records the ride on a phone. The name of the driver is tracked, and there’s a digital record of a user entering the vehicle.

Outcome: There’s a much lower risk of a bad agent acting as a driver in ridesharing. If an event occurs, ridesharing companies know the driver, and the consumer can reference the trip history. In a cab, the user can be subjected to crime/abuse and have no record of who was driving the cab, or even that the trip occurred.

2. Stored Payments
Taxi: Payment method is variable. Drivers risk ‘walk outs’. Consumers risk broken/inoperable card machines / forgotten wallets, etc. Both parties have to wait to settle the transaction.

Ridesharing: Payment is guaranteed in advanced via stored credentials. Ride ends immediately at drop off with no delay.

Outcome: There’s no walk out risk, and a greatly reduced risk of payment related confrontations.

3. Call Ahead
Taxi: Calling a taxi service in urban environments is the execption. Typical use case is a street flag.

Ridesharing: Users ‘call ahead’ in 100% of instances.

Outcome: Users avoid standing next to traffic. Also, users don’t have to wait outside where risk of robbery and other crimes is real, esp. in underserved areas where ridesharing is overrepresented.


April 23, 2014

Predictable: Illinois 39 out of 51 in Taxpayer ROI

Filed under: Business,Politics — Chris Chaten @ 1:45 PM

Illinois government has struggled with basic math for at least a generation, so the study from ranking the state 39th out of 51 in taxpayer ROI isn’t much of a shock.  I’d hazard a guess that a similar study done for large cities would have Chicago near the bottom as well.  Moody’s certainly isn’t impressed…

Full Study


February 21, 2014

Pro Tip: Laundry Service when Moving

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chris Chaten @ 11:07 AM

Moving can be stressful, all of the packing and such. One small way I’ve found to help limit the burden is to get a laundry service for local moves.
Amass a bunch of dirty clothes. Schedule the laundry service a day or two before the move. Have them pick it up at your old place, and drop it off at your new place.
You’ll eliminate the hassel of packing dirty clothes, and you’ll have freshly cleaned and folded laundry when you move in.

February 13, 2014

Why We’re Broke: #Chicago Underestimates Snow Removal Budget by $23 Million

Filed under: Economics,Politics — Chris Chaten @ 1:42 PM

Another winter day in the Chicago brings about snowstorm. Two weeks into February, the Chicago Sun Times reports that we are already over budget for snow removal.  While the mayor can claim this is due to inordinately high snowfall, it’s really due to inordinately poor planning.

Here’s how we came to a budget this year: we took last year’s number, $20.5 million, and stuck that in for this year.

Why is that ridiculous? 2013 was the lowest in recent memory for snowfall at 19.6 inches.

Take a look at annual snowfall in Chicago:

The red line is the budget. The black line is the expected.

The budget is set for a level of snowfall that’s all but unprecedented. It’s so low, it undercuts the estimate of 41.6 inch by more than 50%. Taking the current rate per inch, the budget should have been $43.5 million – or $23 million more than budgeted.1

1 There’s a bit of a ‘volume discount’ that would likely drive the number closer to $40 million.

January 23, 2014

Robberies in Lakeview/Uptown Consolidate at Belmont #chicago #crimeisdown

Filed under: Economics,Politics — Chris Chaten @ 9:55 AM

As a follow up to last year’s analysis of crime in our neighborhood, I’ve put together a time-lapse heat map of robberies from 2008 through full year 2013.

As noted before, the number of robberies in the 19th district is relatively static. However, the trend is a consolidation in a small block that contains the Boystown and Wrigleyville neighborhoods.

Robbery Heat Map in Chicago's 19th District (2008 - 2013)

This trend continues in 2013; the Belmont red line stop is the singular remaining ‘hot spot’.

2013 robberies (n=525) centralize at the stop and radiate out. In 2012, the ‘heat’ was more evenly distributed throughout the Halsted / Wrigley / Belmont triangle.1 In 2008 (n=532)2, the robberies were spread more evenly, including the Wilson and Lawrence stops (near the ‘Uptown’ label on the map).

The CWB blog documents some of the potential causes. It’s worth following if you live in or around the area.


1. Of note, the 2013 green area does push east of Halsted (into residential streets) to a greater extent than in 2012.
2. Source: City of Chicago. N value may differ from published crime stats if exact location was not provided or miscategorized.