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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I'm less concerned about people blocking my path (which can be safely avoided) and more concerned about people driving into me while I travel in a straight line inside a marked bike lane.  I almost got hit by moving vehicles twice this morning and had nowhere to go due to parked cars.  FWIW (not much), the passenger in one of the cars was horrified and apologized profusely.

Its only temporary, but the bike lane on NB Clark next to Wrigley is a mess on game days. The sidewalk is gone, so the bike lane has become the sidewalk. And its not just fans. The Wrigley workers use it throughout the game to get to and from their offices at Waveland

It will be interesting to see how the new lane on Washington in the loop will work. You can see that a driver wanting to make a right turn to go southbound will have to turn past a bus lane, a bus station and a protected bike lane to the right. Drivers are starting to get conditioned to look in their passenger mirror to see if anybody is on a bike to their right whether or not there is a lane. However, in this lane, the bikes will not be directly to the driver's right but across the bus lane. The drivers might really not see a bicycle as they try to make a right turn to go south off of Washington in the loop. I had to drive today as I had to be way South early in  the morning. I make a right turn off of Washington into the garage. I realized that it may be hard to see bicycles if there is a bus in the way. If I stop to look I am then temporarily blocking one of the two remaining driving lanes. That will have to happen until I know both the bus and bike lanes to my right are clear. Will other drivers be so conscious???  Cyclists, too, will have to adapt. You simply cannot blast in the new PBL. You have to be on the lookout for a surprise right hook as well as passengers crossing the PBL both ways to get to and from the bus and bus station areas.  When it  is done... heads up folks.

Station platforms would have level boarding, a feature that helps to decrease dwell time. Image: CDOT

This is potentially a very dangerous bike lane unless they have signals that stop eastbound auto traffic while allowing eastbound buses and bikes to proceed, and unless there is a barrier between the bike lane and the bus stop platform that will force pedestrians to get to the bus stop at crosswalks.  I have not seen anything final about either of those things.

I wonder the same thing as you Lisa. Even more than bikes you can have cars doing a right hook to a bus! As I look at the drawing the bus stations are mid block and at the corners there is just a bike lane and a bus lane. The drawing above also seems to indicate some type of barrier between the bus station and the bike lane thereby directing pedestrians to access bus station from near the corner.

It looks like the same setup will be westbound on Madison.

Not sure if it's been mentioned but the Des Plaines Ave bike lane is a really terrible design. I stopped taking it because I was constantly avoiding right hooks the times I rode it. There are 3 highway entrance ramps just west of Des Plaines so there are always cars turning right and they don't see you until the last minute because of the parked cars. 

Sad that poor design has made unsafe what used to be one of the nicer streets in that area to bike down. 

Good call.  Also, Old St. Pats can be a clusterfuck at certain hours.


I usually take Clinton.

The streets in general could use a lot of lane marker repainting, and not just bike lane lines. The bridges on Damen and on Roosevelt are particularly bad

I griped to another rider at a red light on the Roosevelt bridge that the traffic was crazy all winter with the lines gone, cars swinging all over it, and he sniffed: "I don't notice because I keep up with traffic."  I was snickering about it all the rest of my commute...

Northbound Canal just north of Roosevelt

^ I was about to point this out, but I see it's the first on this list. This path was just too scary/dangerous for me to ride. I ended up hopping on the sidewalk for the next 2 blocks after a car almost side swiped me. 

Damn Google Maps sending me down the worst street! 

More than a year since I started this thread, and the "protected" lane on Canal has only gotten worse.  All of the previous issues remain in full force, but now the Northern Trust shuttle bus driver has taken to parking in the bike lane, directly next to the designated shuttle bus stop.  This is clearly intentional, as the last two times it happened, we rode along side each other for several blocks before he finally passed me and pulled all the way to the curb, immediately blocking my progress.


The city obviously doesn't care about keeping the lane clear and safe.  Does anybody think I should complain directly to Northern Trust?


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