The Chainlink

Hey Chicago Bicycle friends!

Would you like to be a part of making Chicago a safer place to bike? I need your insights on what it's like biking in Chicago.  

Instead of simply being mad about the issue, I'm interested in doing something about it.  One way to work on this issue is through creating a way to identify where these issues are taking place, tracking these violations, identifying problem locations and hopefully create an automated/fast/easy way to file a report with the city.  
The first step to creating a solution (potentially an app) is to learn from other people in the community (this is where you come in) and gain insights into the issue and uncover areas of opportunity.  I reached out via the Chainlink to reach a large diverse sample of bikers (like you), so that everyone's voice is heard.
Here are some questions I have:

+ Do you bike? (i'm guessing you do if you're reading this on the Chainlink.)

+ How often do you ride?

What are challenges do you have riding?

What do you do when you see cars parked in bike lanes?

Do you report?

Are there challenges with reporting?

Have you noticed progress with reporting?

How could the process be made easier?

Happy cycling!



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There seems to be something really fishy about this post....

Ha!  how so?  

It's really more about getting fed up with chicago drivers and wanting to fix it.  I have a background in design and development and I figured i'd take a crack at making biking a bit safer.  

One of the biggest issues is educating drivers. Let's start with the fact that it's illegal to stop in a bike lane. How many drivers know that? It's a local ordinance, so it isn't covered on a driver's license test. Many of the nitwits that I've spoken to have no idea that it's illegal. How do we launch an education program to reach the hundreds of thousands of drivers in the city?

The same goes for other dangerous behaviors. Once again yesterday I had a total d*uchebag fly past me on the left, and then cut across my path as he attempted to dive bomb into a parking garage. Of course there were pedestrians on the sidewalk in front of the entrance, so he came to a dead stop right in front of me. Could he have seen me in my blazing safety yellow vest, helmet, and blue Divvy bike with flashing lights, and pulled up behind me? Of course.

Another major issue if drivers turning right, and queuing up in the bike lane. Approaching these accidents waiting to happen is difficult. Do you try to squeeze by on the right? Try to pass the line of cars on the left, which requires you to ride out into traffic? 'Seems the city needs to completely rethink the lanes and traffic lights at these intersections.

I agree.  Theres a huge educational element that was never employed.  It's great that the has created bike lanes, however, I agree that alot of drivers don't really seem to understand what bike lanes are, or the ramifications of parking/queing in them.  Plus there's the issue of faded paint and unsafe placement and some drivers that simply do not care no matter what.

Bike lane rules as a whole need to have a standardization not just in the united states but also internationally.  We get an incredible amount of international visitors who seem to be blissfully unaware of the dangers of Chicago biking or they opt to blast their way down sidewalks.

Could you imagine what it would be like if the city policed the bike lanes as aggressively as they do for the artery streets during the winter parking ban?  I wonder if it would be helpful to point out what the fines are.  Canada posts their fines everywhere.  I would assume that's helpful to some degree.  

It has baffled me that the city spends the money to create bike lanes, but has not posted any signs near them to indicate the penalties for parking/standing/driving in bike lanes. While a large percentage of drivers I encounter in bike lanes know and don't care that what they are doing is illegal (*ahem* taxi, Uber & Lyft drivers), there is a percentage that simply don't know. Seems like signs would at least get those folks out of the bike lanes.

We should probably lump pedestrian education in with driver education. Why do so many pedestrians stand in the dedicated bike lanes, oblivious to approaching cyclists? It seems that every morning I have to slow for jaywalking pedestrians at most intersections on Wells St. I understand the urge to race across the red light when there is no traffic approaching, but hey, don't us cyclists count as traffic?

Another major annoyance that will be difficult to tackle is the sewer covers in the bike lanes. Yes, I understand they were there long before the bike lanes come along, but that doesn't make them any less annoying or dangerous.

I still want to meet the genius who works for the city that decided that creating a shared car/bike lane on south Wells St. was a good idea. This is probably the most dangerous stretch of "bike lane" I've seen. Narrow lanes. Support posts for the 'L'. numerous alleys and parking garage entrances. Two 'L' stations. Horrible blacktop conditions between Adams and Jackson. They should have put a 2-way bike lane on Franklin.

+ Do you bike? Yes

+ How often do you ride? Nearly daily.

What are challenges do you have riding? Drivers unsafely stopping, standing, and parking in designated bike lanes. More TNCs (uber/lyft) than taxis, inappropriately dropping or picking up passengers.

As well as, distracted drivers, dirty (gravel/glass covered) bicycle lanes, not enough off road paths (606, LFT), not enough 100% separated/protected bike lanes, not enough raised bike lanes (think Roosevelt, but not two way), potholes, and finally bad connections between bikeways.

What do you do when you see cars parked in bike lanes?

Call 911, but I have to have spare time on my hands. Calling 911, requires an address of the parked car, license plate number, make and model of the car, color, and possibly more details.

Do you report?

Yes, but not always

Are there challenges with reporting?

Yes, the experience seems fruitless. It is very time consuming, and the online 311 form is user unfriendly.

Have you noticed progress with reporting?


How could the process be made easier?

If there was a mobile application or user friendly mobile website to create quick reports the process would be easier.

Have you guys seen the article that wbez wrote about bike lane violations?

Yes, there's a separate thread on it in the forum. I've contacted the author because there are serious errors in the map and data. Half my 2017 reports are missing, and only 4 of nearly 130 show up on the map. As a result, it is *seriously* underrepresenting the reports in the Loop.

I saw the other post right after I posted :-/

I'm glad you dug through the data.  I want to find out the source of the data's origins. 

+ Do you bike? (i'm guessing you do if you're reading this on the Chainlink.)


+ How often do you ride?

Just about every day April-October. Occasionally in the winter. 

What are challenges do you have riding?

Crazy, negligent drivers (and bikers and pedestrians too!). Traffic, terrible roads, confusing bike lanes.

What do you do when you see cars parked in bike lanes?

Politely taunt them if i have the energy or go around. There are some places where I definitely can see that a car has no choice though-- there are conflicts built into the system. But, If a car is just parked in the bike lane outright, or some amateur cab driver (lyft, uber, et al) is just chilling in the bike lane waiting for a fair I try to fuss at them.

Do you report?


Are there challenges with reporting?

Well, basically didn't know it was an option. Also, TBH, many times this is a cop car or service car parked in the bike lane. Cops are parked illegally everywhere in Chicago.

Have you noticed progress with reporting?


How could the process be made easier?

Awareness. Ease of reporting like a number to text with a photo or something. 

Bbbbbiiiiiggg BIG Shout out to Julia Gerasimenko, who is the Advocacy Manager at Active Trans.

Julia took time out of her day to meet with me today.  She's been incredibly welcoming through email and even more welcoming in person.  

I gave her a background on what I'm working on and she provided a great deal of insights into some great areas to seek out more information.  Julia provided some insights, some printed materials, she even hooked me up with a Active Trans t-shirt!

Julia mentioned the city holds quarterly meetings called "Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council."  Has anyone on here attended one of these meetings?  What was it like?


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