The Chainlink

Aldermanic panel: Bike riders on Sheridan sidewalks pay $200 fine

BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter September 9, 2013 3:16PM

Updated: September 9, 2013 3:17PM

Bicycle riders who turn the crowded sidewalks of Sheridan Road into an illegal continuation of the lakefront bike path would pay through the nose — with a $200 fine — under a crackdown advanced Monday to prevent sidewalk collisions, often involving seniors.

Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) said he’s picking up where his predecessor left off to protect elderly residents of the high-rises and nursing homes that line Sheridan Road.

At Osterman’s behest, the City Council’s Committee on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety agreed Monday to quadruple the fines for sidewalk intrusions on Sheridan between Ardmore and Devon.

Cyclists 12 or older are prohibited from riding their bikes on Chicago sidewalks.

The north lakefront bicycle path ends at Ardmore, which is at 5800 north. The one-block stretch between Thorndale and Ardmore is a key chokepoint because it’s the place where the lakefront bike path ends and the Sheridan sidewalks begin.

“People get off the bike path and go north. A lot of them are…taking the appropriate bike routes on Kenmore and Winthrop. But there are still some that take that turn and ride on the sidewalks. That’s where you have seniors walking down the street. It’s a significant problem. Very dense buildings with an elderly population,” Osterman said.

“It’s a small sidewalk. We’ve had accidents where seniors have been very significantly injured. And not just seniors, but people just walking down the street. We’re going to increase the signage telling people where to ride their bikes. But having this measure in place will deter people as well.”

In 2001, then-Ald. Mary Ann Smith (48th) and Ald. Joe Moore (49th) proposed turning Sheridan between Ardmore and Devon into a “bicycle forfeiture zone.”

They wanted to seize the wheels of offending bike riders and give the bikes back, only if the offending cyclist could prove to an administrative hearing officer that they weren’t riding on the Sheridan sidewalk.

Then-Mayor Richard M. Daley, an early-morning user of the lakefront bike path, acknowledged that “something had to be done” to ease tension between cyclists, joggers and pedestrians.

“You have a lot of people up there. You have Loyola. You have a lot of seniors. You have a lot nursing homes in that area and they use the sidewalks quite heavily along Sheridan Road. If you hit somebody, people are going to get injured,” Daley said then.

But the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation denounced the crackdown as “draconian” and the bike forfeiture ordinance went nowhere.

Two years later, Smith proposed a watered down replacement imposing $50 fines against cyclists who ride illegally on Sheridan sidewalks.

Smith traded her legislative “sledgehammer” for a felt hammer after a year-long crackdown that featured hundreds of tickets and more than 100 booted bikes. It reduced the number of bikes riding illegally on Sheridan sidewalks from 40-an-hour to one or two.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s decision to create a ground-breaking network of protected bike lanes — and launch the nation’s largest bike-sharing program — has increased tension among cyclists, motorists and pedestrians.

Earlier this year, the City Council approved the mayor’s plan to throw the book at reckless motorists and cowboy cyclists in hopes that the higher fines would ease roadway conflicts between the two.

The Emanuel-championed ordinance raised fines for cyclists who disobey the city’s traffic laws — from $25 for all offenses to $50-to-$200 depending on the severity of the violation.

The mayor’s plan also doubled — to $1,000 — the fine imposed against motorists who open their doors without looking into the path of cyclists. The fines for leaving a car door open in traffic also doubled — to $300.

http://www.suntimes.com/22462161-761/aldermanic-panel-bike-riders-o...

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They should enforce it for anyone on Sheridan Road, too, since there are dedicated bike routes on Winthrop and Kenmore and that stretch of Sheridan is too narrow.

The thing is that you can't enforce it on Sheridan.  People LIVE on Sheridan and on those small streets that run from Sheridan to the lake.  Are you going to tell THOSE people that they can't have a Bicycle because the City is too lazy to figure out a workable solution? 

Well, force traffic from Lake Shore to go over to Broadway by allowing Loyola put in a culdesac on Sheridan at the intersection with Broadway and Devon, and traffic will lighten up enough to only need two lanes with big wide bike lanes.  What to do about all the extra Broadway traffic or the buses that use Sheridan would be an issue, though.

You're saying ban bike traffic from a road? Nice try Kass...

Tricolor said:

They should enforce it for anyone on Sheridan Road, too, since there are dedicated bike routes on Winthrop and Kenmore and that stretch of Sheridan is too narrow.

Many of these Chicago ordinance type laws never get collected on. In this economy many no longer care about their credit reports. Thats the worst that can happen. Other good ordinance tickets like this include; drinking on public way, urinating, sleeping in the park after dark, panhandling, vagrancy, ect...I wish the city luck collecting on this.

There are already dire warnings about riding on the sidewalk at every intersection between Ardmore and Devon.  Signs on poles, paint on the ground, threats of fines and disabling of bikes.  A year or so ago there were a few cops hanging out at Ardmore reminding people not to ride on the sidewalk and I think some advocacy group was doing something similar last year, but I haven't seen anything this summer.

There may be a few days where there's a 'show of force' to satisfy the gripers, but they'll switch to complaining about Loyola students until the charade ends and the sidewalk bikers return.

Yeah, THAT'LL happen... Howze about just closing Sheridan from Hollywood to Broadway altogether? Better yet, why not close all the streets east of the elevated tracks between Hollywood and Devon/Broadway? Maybe plant gardens and put in a sculpture park  with fountains and maybe a skatepark too when the tarmac gets pulled up. And while we're at it, ban all cars from all of Edgewater...

 


Tricolor said:

Well, force traffic from Lake Shore to go over to Broadway by allowing Loyola put in a culdesac on Sheridan at the intersection with Broadway and Devon, and traffic will lighten up enough to only need two lanes with big wide bike lanes.  What to do about all the extra Broadway traffic or the buses that use Sheridan would be an issue, though.

It's illegal to fly a kite in Chicago.

El Dorado said:

Many of these Chicago ordinance type laws never get collected on.

It doesn't matter how high the fine is if there is never any enforcement. If the current $50 fine were enforced, the current law would work. The problem with enforcement is that it takes resources. Passing a new law is a way to placate those who are aggrieved without having to spend any additional money. Passing new laws which will also not be enforced, except perhaps selectively when the cops don't like the "look" of the bike rider, is not going to solve the perceived problem.

Good luck riding in the bike lanes on Kenmore and Winthrop....they are half faded, obstructed by pot holes and frequently blocked by double parked cars. I usually just ride on Broadway and I feel safer.

I'd be inclined to say that this is cheap political theater except that it isn't cheap.

If the Aldermoron really cared, he'd lean on the CPD to enforce the current law - unless we're supposed to believe that he doesn't have enough juice with the cops to get them to spend a few man-hours each week writing tickets on the sidewalks of Sheridan.

Here's a chance to be constructive and do something other than gripe.

  • Visit the ward website at http://48thward.org/ and leave a comment or
  • Call the ward office at 773.784.5277 and leave a message or
  • Email the Alderman at harry@48thward.org and speak your mind or
  • Visit the office at 5533 N. Broadway and leave a mess on the floor.

But however you get the message to him, remember to stay off the sidewalks.

Cops used to camp out at the corner of Sheridan and Pratt during the summer ticketing sidewalk riders (good for them).  I never see them there anymore. My wife was just complaining about cyclists on the sidewalk on Sheridan yesterday; it's dangerous when she's out walking the baby. 

Well, riding on the sidewalk is illegal, so you can't blame the city on this one. That being said, many people riding on the sidewalk is indicative that they don't feel safe mixing with car traffic on that stretch of road. The city should look at this and consider some sort of on-street bike facilities.

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