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.
Take a photo/video of the offending shuttle bus including tag and bus # and send a message to management at Northern Trust stating your case. I'd copy the same to the alderman's office as well. Follow up as necessary.
This worked a while back when a car dealership's vehicles were parking in lanes on Elston, if I recall correctly.
+1 I've done this for other organizations' shuttle buses and found it an effective approach.
That is good to know thanks!
There were some casino busses making a habit of blocking the bike lanes on Archer in Chinatown near the Red Line stop. I have not ridden that stretch lately so I don't know if they are still doing it or not.
I've seen that in recent months. It's probably worth pursuing those through their companies AND the alderman AND the CAPS program for that district.
That one is a good example.
Now that you mention it, the casino busses do still park on an angle obstructing the lane on Archer. Also, UIC busses park 5 feet from the curb obstructing the lane on Halsted.
I only mentioned the Northern Trust thing because it's a recent development.
We lost significant sections of bike lane on Archer when it was in the 12th Ward before the 2010 remap.
1. 2307 S Archer Ave for free on street parking
2. 2505 S Archer Ave for metered parking (an excruciating block now for biking)
3. 2556 S Archer Ave for a handful of 15 min parking spots (also painful as it happens immediately after an Orange Line CTA station)
I mention these disasters to point out that historically, space problems on Archer have been "solved" by destroying sections of the bike lane. We need to insist that this approach not be considered as a possibility for solving the problem of the freeloading casino buses in Chinatown.