The Chainlink

The City of Chicago has implemented a new 311 code so that people riding bikes can easily report a “Vehicle Parked in a Bike Lane.” This information will be used by the City to identify hotspots and prioritize enforcement. However, the City does not have the resources to respond to each individual report. People can call 311 or use the 311 web system to file a report. We’re asking cyclists to report the day(s), time(s) and locations(s) that they observe vehicles parking in bike lanes. 

See the attached screenshot for the web-based reporting, or click this link:

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If 311 EVER failed to connect me to 911 every time I call with a bike lane related, or even non-bike lane related parking infraction, I would be more than happy to share and endorse this advice. But the simple fact is that in Chicago, 311 routinely connects callers to 911 for any police matter regardless of whether or not it is life-threatening. So what you are suggesting is that we call 311, which will then connect us to 911 where we will then "tie up 911 with non-life threatening situations" after waiting on hold for anywhere up to 30 minutes for a 311 operator to answer. As much as I would prefer to live in this fantasy land where 911 is reserved for actual emergencies, I live in Chicago, where 911 is most clearly NOT reserved for emergencies. If it was, then the 311 operators would not connect us to 911 every time we call with a minor parking violation.

Calling people who are trying to help by reporting violations "selfish" is not helpful. 

You're the only one insisting that "your will is all that matters."  You're referring to your own personal opinion and your vague appeal to your own supposed authority as a "medic" in whatever jurisdiction (if any). We're referring to the relevant Chicago authorities.


We know what Chicago 311 operators say, because we initially call 311, and we only call 911 reluctantly after they insist that we do so. We know what Chicago 911 operators say, because we tell them that we tried to report it to 311 first. We know what Chicago police officers say, because we talk to them about these issues at CAPS meetings and in other real life settings.


911 in Chicago clearly is not the same as other cities, especially smaller cities. Earlier this week, my wife wanted to report some non-emergency fire-related information.  Both 311 and our neighbor, a CFD Captain, insisted that she call 911.  The responding fire fighters and EMTs confirmed that the only way to report it was by calling 911. We're not going to ignore these unanimous actual authorities because you say so.

I too am told to call 911 when I speak to 311. Also when I stop officers on the street they tell me to call 911. It doesn't make a difference as they never show up anyway.

It DOES make a difference, Josh.

Unless you sit around and wait a long time you may not be aware of the response.  Parking violations get assigned a low priority, and fire or ambulance needs or any crimes (misdemeanor or felony) are given higher priority. 

Often they come around much later.  If the car is still parked illegally it will get a ticket.  A car may be ticketed, then the owner takes the ticket and moves the car.  Or the car has been moved by the time the police arrive. You may not see any of this.  

If you're traveling and want to report the car in the bike lane, call 911.  If you want to wait until you get to work or home, make a note of the car, description, license plate, location and then call 311 when you get home or to work.


Seriously, the only real way to resolve the car-in-the-bike-lane problem is to pressure the alderman of whatever ward by bombarding them with emails, snail mails, and 'phone calls. Calling the 311 or 911 folks seems to do little or no good. Their attitude is apparently, "so what? there are real problems out there."

Face it, the city or at least the CPD doesn't give a rat's ass about the bike lanes (or about riders and pedestrians in general.) The only thing that gets things done is if the alderman gets heat and maybe gets a message that elections are coming. Believe me the only motivation for the aldermen is the need to keep their seats in the city council and handing out patronage to their cronies.

In the meantime, you need to get over and quit whining about having to dodge illegally parked cars until you take the move to pester the administrative higher ups as going through the "proper channels" (ie: 311, 911) does no apparent good.

+10 Mike.

I mean, some of this sentiment appeals to me, but collecting data is pretty important and people shouldn't STOP doing this. Maybe we couldn't take such an either-or approach? It isn't just "the only thing", so let's try and do it all and going forward, ensuring that there's good information to target good policies and deterrents to create better behavioral modification? 

Fair enough Bob. I guess I don't know if they showed up later but what makes you think they do?

I got hit on Carroll Street last year - not injured but wanted the driver ticketed and wouldn't let him leave - and the cops never showed up for 1.25 hours despite many conversations with 911. One anecdote I know - but I am skeptical that they do show up.  I just never see cops ticketing cars in the bike lane and the numbers back me up.

Even when I talk to officers parked on the street they always have some excuse..too busy, not my district, yadda yadda.  And 85% of the time they are texting (personal not work) as they tell me this.

Where is the evidence they ticket cars in the bike lane? Don't have the number handy but as I recall it was extremely low.

The answer at least in the loop and downtown is to have one - yes one - cop on a bike ticketing and towing cars in the bike lane.  Could easily generate $5k a day in revenue. The ordinance calls for a tow for cars parked in the bike lane.

The reason they don't do it is clearly the CPD - and here they are reflecting public opinion - don't take the offense seriously.  They think we're trying to destroy the American way of life as they know it.

Even the bus/bike only lane on Clark south of diversey is a joke because the drivers know the law is not enforced. I can count 10-15 cars within two blocks many morning that are illegally parked.  Again I've called CPD and nada.

Good discussion!



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