The Chainlink

I ride daily southbound on Halsted past the University of Illinois at Chicago during the evening rush. Between Harrison and Taylor there is always a row of parked cars waiting to pickup passengers. These cars are parked in the dedicated bike lane. This forces cyclists into traffic, jockeying with the cars trying to pass (or join the row of parked cars) as well as the buses which are trying to get to the bus stops at the curb.

Lately I have taken to banging on the roof of each car and loudly informing the drivers that what they're doing is illegal.

I have seen CPD bike patrols and squad cars pass without writing tickets. I have seen UIC PD cars pass without enforcement.

A question for everybody:

What do you think would be the most effective way to provoke enforcement of the bike lanes in Halsted at UIC?

I'll try to get some photos today.

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Geez Brian, you're a daring guy!   I'd never be banging on people's cars just because I disapproved of their parking're likely to get shot!  After all, this is Murder Capital of the US!  And someone whose roof you bang might be packin'.

However I DO collapse onto hoods of cars when I'm out running, and a car stops completely across the striped pedestrian crossing area.   I make it look like I stumbled and accidentally FELL onto his hood with my full body weight, because of where he'd parked while waiting for the green light.  If the driver emerges, and begins yelling, I apologize saying I tripped on his front bumper, trying to get around his inconsiderately stopped car, while pointing to the STOP line several feet back. 

Perhaps you could use a variation of this 'tripped and fell' technique.  Trigger the guy's air bag perhaps?

Someone in a recent thread mentioned the idea of going to the CAPS meeting for the appropriate police beat. There were then a couple comments denigrating these meetings, but I have found my neighborhood CAPS meetings very informative, and the officers who attend tend to be receptive to people's comments and concerns (even the loonier comments, which unfortunately are not that uncommon).

I believe the area you are describing is in Beat 1232. The next CAPS meeting for Beat 1232 is October 24 at 6:00pm, at 1412 S. Blue Island.

If you feel passionately about this issue (and it sounds like you do), I think it would be worth going to the meeting and raising your concerns in a respectful and calm manner. It should be easy to explain why this practice is so dangerous. I would keep your expectations low for any response, but you never know.

The obvious reason why they might not take you seriously is that you are (I assume) not a resident of Beat 1232. But it would be ridiculous to bring up this issue at your own neighborhood beat meeting.

Another option is to contact the alderman for this ward and request an enforcement action. I don't know how likely that is to succeed.

Good suggestion. I just emailed the CAPS address. I'll see if anything comes of that. (I'm doubtful)

UIC has its own police force that tend to patrol the area more than the local CPD. They are official state patrol officer. I just spent a lot of time on their website but it appears that email isn't something they like to publish. The non-emergency number is 312-996-2830, so you could try calling them?

If I'm in the area (I sometimes work near UIC), I'll go to the police station in person and complain too.

Alumnus Brian

I thought about this while riding in this morning, wondering whether it might be possible to get UIC itself to do anything.

Also, didn't someone on this very forum say they work at UIC, with a window facing onto Halsted, and they routinely call in from their office, to report bike lane violators, and often the police arrive and ticket the perp???

Two things that make this even more infuriating:


1. Halsted was built with dedicated pull off areas so it's easy to pick up and drop off at UIC without blocking any part of the lane, yet cars routinely park in the lane only feet away from the pull offs.


2. The recent WBEZ analysis identified the UIC/Taylor area as one of the neighborhoods with the biggest disparity between 311 reports and tickets written. In other words, the city is ignoring our reports and emboldening illegal parking through lax enforcement.

UIC is extraordinarily lucrative for tickets. There are serious numbers of illegal parking in the nearby neigborhood.  They write plenty of tickets -- don't think it's too lax.

Except when it comes to writing tickets for illegally blocking the bike lane.

OP, have you filed 311 reports?

Writing tickets for parking without a permit or without paying the meter doesn't help cyclists.


The WBEZ study compared bike lane violation reports to bike lane violation tickets.  We keep reporting violations but the city refuses to write them.

One thing to consider is that the bike lane paint on much of that stretch, especially where the problem is the worst, in front of the Student Center and the Hull House Museum is almost totally missing. Sadly, is it probably worn off by all the car traffic on the lanes...

Feel free to join me in asking CDOT to let us know when they plan to re-stripe this problem area. 

Department Main Office


  • Phone: 312.744.3600
    Toll Free:  
    Fax: 312.744.1200

EDIT (added):

School  pickup/dropoff zones are  especially ripe for difficult situations with a bike lane.  Neill Townsend was  killed in 2012 in  front  of the Payton  School  after  swerving  out of the  bike lane to  avoid a car  door. There is a ghost bike at  that site.  Parents and students feel entitled to the space in front  of the school. Cyclists feel entitled to the bike lane which runs right by the school.  Everybody has to be on  their best game because of the possibility that  somebody else  is not on their best game.  Cops are  put in  a tough  situation  caught  between the  competing claims.   Of course, simply camping in  the lane is...well...merde and should  not be  tolerated. If not tickets, the police should at  least  be shooing drivers out of the lane. From  our perspective we have to  know that the area is  a  problem and proceed like boaters  in  a No Wake zone.

I ride this route both ways daily during morning and evening rush. Here is my take on it and my take on parking in bike lanes. It's going to happen. Rather than raging by hitting a car, you're better off paying attention to your surroundings, taking the car lane, passing, then coming back into the bike lane. Also, I'll point out that a car parking in the bike lane gives a clear route around them for door avoidance. A car parked in a bike lane is generally sticking out into the "car" lane on the driver side. A driver or passenger usually will not open the door into a car lane or if so, will do so cautiously because the risk of losing a door to an oncoming vehicle. If a car put the blinkers on and parked in the roadway leaving the bike lane open, I have a feeling that dooring possibilities increase significantly due to passengers opening right into the bike lane...this is especially relevant with Uber. Is it annoying? yes. Can we manage to go into the roadway around a car in a bike lane? I'd hope so or maybe biking in urban environments isn't suited to us.  Either way, I can assure using aggression is not going to make any change in bike lane observance and will likely make us many more enemies than friends.



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