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!

-Christina

 

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Project update:

- I've been busy meeting with cyclists and community organizations to learn more about reporting cars and other obstacles in the bike lanes.

- I've built a low fidelity prototype that can be accessed via any web browser.  The form is able to collect images and information regarding specific incidents of obstructions in the bike lanes. (thank you @Cheryl and @Argonne69 for participating)

What I need:

- I need additional prototype testers.  

- Please let me know if you are interested in testing out what I have so far.  

- Below is a screenshot of the top of the form.  

Plug for the form: it's super easy to use! Join us prototype testers! :-)

Thanks Cheryl,

Once it's out of prototyping phase it will be even easier.

-Christina

I would like to be a tester. PM sent.

Hi Moose,

Thank you for volunteering!  I PM'd you with next steps.

-Christina

Let's see. There are less than 100 miles of dedicated bike lanes in the city, but over 1000 miles of streets. I'd say that we're already sharing the road for the most part. The majority of my commute each day is on shared streets, or shared bike paths.

Where do I want them to park/stop? How about where it's not illegal? Why don't they stop in the right traffic lane? Oh, wait, that will inconvenience the cars behind them. That's not OK, but stopping in the bike lane and forcing me to go around into traffic is fine? Nuh, uh.

I see many violators in the bike lane next to vacant spots on the curb. I guess it's too much to ask that they pull up to the curb to discharge passengers? Several other places have drop-off spots along the curb. If they're occupied, too bad, go around the block or find a legal spot a few yards behind or ahead. Yeah, it's asking too much to have the passengers walk 50 ft, so let's put the cyclists life in danger. 'Nice trade off.

At 225 N Franklin there is legal parking on the west side of the street. Oh, wait, it's too much to ask the passengers to cross the street.

Whether there should be dedicated lanes to begin with is a separate argument. The fact that they exist means the laws should be enforced.

 

*Applause* Very well said.

Yes!

Hi Anne,

Thank you for volunteering to participate!  I send you an email with information to get you started.  Let me know if you have any questions. 

-Christina

Another point worth mentioning is that a good percentage of bike lanes in the city are on strips of pavement that isn't wide enough to support a full vehicle lane. The bike lane isn't stealing anything.

Franklin, Harrison, Milwaukee, Clybourn, and Wells are good examples. Significant stretches of the streets have a single traffic lane, a bike lane, and parallel parking. Getting rid of the dedicated bike lane would increase traffic throughput zero percent.

@clp there is really something to be said for this argument. it's odd to me that with the increase in Chicago bike lanes over the last 6-7 years, i do NOT feel safer biking to work. i've even been harassed for using roads that do not have a bike lane-- like people literally yelling at me to "use a effing bike lane" as though i am not allowed to be there (which is absurd). Again, maybe education for drivers would fix this. 

I'm sorry to see this old argument rear it's head here.  John Forester and his philosophy have been kicking around since 1976 but funny how I can't remember bicycling really starting to become a popular way to get around town until recently, when... bike lanes started to be added!  To me, whether the lanes themselves are safer or not is a distraction from the bottom line, which is that they attract more people to ride, and more riders makes streets safer.

But the real bottom line here on this thread is that a community member is stepping up to put a lot of work into a practical solution, and instead of constructive criticism we get to rehash Effective Cycling TM.  Good luck with the project OP, and if I ever get a smartphone (hope not soon) I'll join in.

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