I am a somewhat frequent user of the new Randolph bike lane in the loop. Ride it maybe once a week. While on the whole, I find it a nicer experience than the old layout, the other day, I was given serious second thoughts when in the space of five minutes, TWO cars attempted to enter garages/parking lots directly in front of me, collisions narrowly averted. The drivers can't or don't see the cyclists through the row of parked cars and think nothing of making a quick right turn. This is probably LESS safe than the old arrangement. IMHO the city should remove one parking space before the garage entries and make the thing safer or at least put up a big caution sign to remind drivers that bikes may be in the lane.
Good point, and I suppose I will have fallen into that habit next time I try.
The rub is what's a slow enough speed that a cyclist has time to react??? I mean, it's one thing if people are doing 20 down the loop PBLs, but most are riding between 10 to 15 mph, and that's a pretty reasonable pace. I just don't think its my duty to ride at a severally reduced pace just to avoid cars violating my clear right-of-way in a lane.
I was right-hooked in the loop once (not in a PBL, though), and was riding at about 10 mph when it happened. I had just started out from a light, and a guy just straight turned into me while trying to get into a parking ramp. He apparently just didn't see me/check his blind spot. I could have been going 5 mph and it potentially still could have happened.
This is a general problem with "protected" bike lanes located between the curb and parking lane. I find them far more dangerous than "unprotected" lanes.
I ride Randolph every morning from Columbus to Dearborn. I almost always ride in the traffic lanes as I feel safer by avoiding those cars turning into the garages and the clueless peds. This also leads to a longer green at State Street and avoid the construction mess at Dearborn. This morning traffic was backed up solid for two blocks and I was able to zip by in the PBL, but this is the exception.
I agree that it's important for the city to leave a gap between the last parking space and the "turn zone" so that a turning driver will see a cyclist.
I understand the downtown protected lanes have design flaws, but I don't understand the people who call them "far more dangerous" than unprotected lanes (as someone has done in this very thread).
Far more dangerous is subjective, but given that right hook accidents are more common than cyclists getting hit from behind, it's fair to questions whether a pretty serious design flaw in some of the PBLs being built (i.e., creating a blind spot/making it harder to see cyclists for cars turning right across the lane by having a row of cars block the view) makes them actually better/safer for cyclists than a regular bike lane.
I mean, no question, barrier-protected PBLs likely get people on bikes that maybe wouldn't ride otherwise, but that doesn't mean they're always actually safer the way Chicago is building them (at least at conflict points where cars and cyclists cross paths).
The bike lane on Randolph seems almost more like an idea than a bike lane. If you're coming from the lakefront, it ends at Michigan and becomes a sharrow in one of the worst intersections in the Loop (Mich/Randolph). Until a week ago, the construction had blocked a big chunk of it sort of randomly shooting people into traffic.
Worse than the garages lately appears to be the new turn signals that are ignored. It says "right on red only", but no cars observe this. I got in front of a car who tried to pull out to turn to point out the signal -- it took her awhile to look up from her phone to notice. I also hate "Lago Wabash", the nasty puddle that never goes away at Wabash and Randolph.
I feel the bike lanes are an improvement over nothing; having them be "crowded" will likely help cars better recognize they need to watch out.
The bigger question than the bike lane implementation -- why do we have 1-way streets with 3-5 lanes of traffic in the Loop? There is absolutely NO NEED for everyone to be able to blast through the Loop at 50mph. Having some road diets -- two way streets, perhaps fewer lanes -- would go a long way towards making things safer for everyone. Imagine if LaSalle St were closed to cars and the buses were re-routed?
LaSalle is already surprisingly ridable in the Loop, at least during the PM rush. The outside lanes are pretty much full of parked cars waiting to pick to pick up passengers. The lanes are wide enough that a cyclist can ride to the left of these parked cars and stay out of the door zone.
Garage access is also a trouble spot on the protected lane on Washington - and at those points there is no parking lane and the bike traffic is only one way.
On Dearborn I find the alley entrances to be worse than the garage entrances. Often there will be large delivery trucks parked in such a way that drivers can't see bikes and vice versa, until it is too late.
Washington is a pain. I've had quite a few close calls between Franklin and Wells because of the parking garage.