The Chainlink

CDOT Said Alderman Reilly's Riverwalk Bike Ban Was a Really Bad Idea

Gotta love the Freedom of Information Act. Internal emails show that Chicago Department of Transportation officials warned that Reilly's 24/7 riverwalk bike ban proposal is "too extreme" and runs contrary to the spirit of the riverwalk expansion project. Other city staffers warned that the ban could screw up the federal loan agreement that funded construction of the riverwalk.

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Love the freedom of information act. Thanks for your sleuthing.

On the other hand, Alderman Reilly is probably on the right side of the safety issue here.  Here's a quote and link to an article discussing a relevant study on the matter that helped lead to other safety improvements for cyclists and pedestrians in Chicago.  "The study’s findings on the safety of multi-use paths are more newsworthy. The authors found that crashes on sidewalks and multiuse paths, despite occurring off-street, were considerably more likely to result in ambulance transport and hospital admission, in comparison to crashes on major streets without bicycling infrastructure."

Sure, CDOT and Active Trans both think the riverwalk bike ban is a bad idea, but what do they know about pedestrian and bike safety?

It isn't a secret that various city departments don't see eye to eye on everything.  The study identifying risks of mixing cyclists together speaks for itself, as does experience. 

Cyclist & pedestrian separation in the name of safety was impetus for the millions of dollars for the lakefront trail separation project, and not incidentally but related, for efforts to keep scooters off sidewalks, etc.

A squabble with an alderman is leaving some folks to lose sight of all of this. 

The concerns about bike/ped conflicts on the lakefront led to an improved design to reduce those conflicts, not a ban on bikes. 

Shouldn't the same approach happen on the Riverwalk? 

Absolutely Phillip, and like the old LFT, the Riverwalk would need a re-design to be safe for bikes and pedestrians to both be there.  Unfortunately that has not come to pass and like with the LFT, it took a while and a few tragedies for (some) people to realize this.

Absent a redesign, mingling the pedestrians with cyclists is a clear and present danger. 

Likewise for somebody who shows up with a privately owned scooter, not put up with them adding to the dangers and saying they get to ride scooters where bikes are ridden will require some vigilance.

I don't think the Riverwalk is unsafe, but I do think the design could be improved.

I was on the Riverwalk for the first time in ages yesterday - my mom was visiting - and trying to ride a bike on it at remotely normal speeds during anything vaguely near peak hours would be nuts. There were a few people on bikes riding at walking/jogging speed and that's about all that's safe. 

The northern bank of the river has a nice trail that is much quieter than the southern counterpart. It can be connected to the loop via the lower Michigan Bridge (either through lower N. Water, or the that riverwalk) Now from the LFP to there would be the challenge.


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