The Chainlink

I wonder whether it would be worthwhile to identify stretches of bike lane that are unusually problematic.  To be clear, I don't mean entire routes, like the LFP or the Dearborn lanes in the Loop, which are routinely occupied by pedestrians and even vehicles.  I mean discrete stretches that present somewhat unique hazards due to their specific location.


Two examples of what I had in mind with suggested remedial measures:


1. Northbound Canal just north of Roosevelt:  This travels past a major commercial complex including a Whole Foods and a couple of restaurants.  The path proceeds to the right of parked cars, which is the primary issue.  Since it was re-striped in this manner, I don't know that I've even seen this path clear of cars, pedestrians, and shopping carts.  My most recent trip was a Sunday morning, when auto traffic was extremely light, yet the lane contained no fewer than 4 stationary pedestrians treating the bike lane as a parking lot instead of a lane of moving traffic, an abandoned shopping cart, a parked cab loading a passenger with several bags, and a perpendicular vehicle blocking the entire bike lane while exiting the underground parking garage and waiting to turn left on Canal.  This last item is the most dangerous, as I've witnessed several near misses involving cars turning into or pulling out of the garage without so much as glancing at the bike lane.  Cars turning into the garage would have to look especially closely, as their view of the lane is obstructed by the "barrier" of parked cars that sharply reduces visibility and ironically makes the lane much more dangerous.  It seems it would be worthwhile for the city or even the commercial entities themselves to address this issue though enforcement and education before somebody is killed or seriously injured.  Ideally, the barrier experiment would be ended and the lane would be relocated to its original position on the other side of the parked cars.


2. Southbound Halsted near Polk:  Cars use the bike lane as a parking lot as they wait for students to get out of class. You'll find 8-10 cars and vans staggered across the lane in peak hours, when it is most dangerous to pass them by taking the lane, but you'll also routinely see them in non-peak hours, as this is a large campus with residents.  The UIC shuttle busses (and misc. other busses) also often block the lane and park at odd angles, even though the area has large dedicated bus stops that do not obstruct anything.  There is no design issue with respect to cars either, as there are at least two large pull-off areas where auto passengers can be dropped off and picked on both sides.  It seems that enforcement and education would be very easy, since UIC has its own police department and vast other resources, in addition to the city's.  Cars easily could be directed to the pull-offs or even to the dead end across the street.  (God forbid young college students need to walk a few steps further than the absolute minimum.)  Yet it's been this way for years with no apparent effort to address the problem.


I emphasize education and enforcement, because that would be essentially free.  The city has gone to great lengths to generate revenue through cameras and other controversial mechanisms, yet it easily could send Dept. of Revenue employees out to a troublesome bike lane with a ticket book and make money though more conventional means.  The tickets are quite hefty but rarely written.


Thoughts?  This issue is important to the community, so hopefully we can have a civil discussion.

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See my comment about calling the company and telling them that they're about to be towed.  Wait when hanging up before laughing.

Harrison between Dearborn and Clark where the daycare center is.  There's ALWAYS some soccer mom van / SUV parked in the bike lane.  

Spit on it

Franklin, from Van Buren to Lake, is awful.  It is one way going north with a buffered lane on the right.  At Jackson, there is a bus stop with stopped buses and cars making right turns blocking the bike lanes.  Between Adams and Monroe, cars in the parking/standing lane don't pull up to the curb, so they are partially blocking the bike lane.  At Monroe, cars making right turns line up in the bike lane.  There are also an assortment of cars leaving parking garages and making lane changes without using signals that make the street treacherous.  Finally, at Lake, the bike lane funnels into the driving lane because there is a slight curb bump out caused by the el tracks.

Painting the bike lane green might help.  A few bollards at eastbound streets to keep turning cars out of the lane would definitely help.  There could also be signs showing what each lane is allowed to do.  The whole set-up seems poorly planned.  I don't know why a prtected lane wasn't installed.

Double +1!! Davis used to be a great street to ride, now it's a ruin.

Jackson eastbound at Halsted. 

The lane is on the left, same side as the expressway ramps. 

Stoopid stoopid stoopid. 

I end up riding in the right lane for good parts of Jackson (when not feasible to avoid it entirely) despite the lane being on the left, and so do others I see.

They goofed in making Jackson an ingress to loop, with no marked lane East of the expressway. I take Monroe; no buses, no entrance ramps, minimal parking lot complications. And you can time the lights quite well to stay ahead of traffic.

Grand Ave west of McClurg is pretty horrible since they widened the sidewalk earlier this year. They squished the loading zone together with the bike lane. This video is from yesterday evening's rush hour and it's pretty typical. 

It is also ridiculous that we can't get to the lakefront from Monroe all the way to Grand. WTF. I ride from the loop all the way up State to the underpass at North Ave/Oak Street Beach. WTF

Davo said:

The "protected lane" on Randolph just North of Millennial park seems pretty pointless to me. The whole bike lane was full of trucks unloading equipment for the Pavilion (i assume). With the amount of stuff that needs to go in and out of that place, its ridiculous to have the PBL there. It seems to me that those resources could have been used elsewhere.

It seems a bit crass to me to complain about bad bike lanes when a couple years ago there were no lanes at all.  I'd rather have a bad lane than no lane. There are a couple interests out there trying to get lanes removed and I don't like the idea that someone would say "...and the bikers don't even think its safe"

It seems that proper bike lane design is a proper topic on a cycling forum.  The city is experimenting with different types.  It's worthwhile to distinguish the winners and the losers.  No lane sometimes is safer than a dangerous design.


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