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Is there anything that can be done to quash a valet parking service operating in the bike lane? There's one at 150 N. Canal (156?) that almost gets me killed on a regular basis during my work commute. Anything I can do about it, short of changing my route? Thanks.

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Thanks burden for all the footwork.

At this point I called 311 and went to work. Sorry to the government-o-phobes, but don't worry: I'm sure no tickets were written.

Just curious-- could you describe how that call went?
Arrak, it's a matter of proper lane usage here. That small lane all the way to the right is a bike lane, not a spot for double parking. Ya, sure, riders could just take the traffic lane as they're are lawfully allowed to do, but then, you might as well pat the valet drivers on the back for using the bike lane as a parking lot.

Arrak Thumrs said:
Looking at these pictures, I am reminded how "sensitive" Chicagoans sometimes are. Look at all those traffic lanes. Why not take one? As in, right down the exact middle of a lane... for that block only, if you like. You do have that right.

You're more likely to get hit by swerving into a lane to avoid an obstruction (read: valet) than by asserting your right to the roadway itself.
They should ticket those cars. If people are rich enough to have their cars valet parked then they are rich enough to pay the fine. or rich enough to complain to the valet company.
I LOVE your detective work! Thank you so much!

burden said:
It's not a restaurant. It looks like it's garage-parking for people who are too important to park their own cars.

This company appears to be the culprit.

As it happens, I was on Canal with a camera this morning, so I sat down across the street and watched the fun. Here's the scene in a quiet moment:


The gap ahead of that SUV is the valet service's signed, legally-mandated loading zone. Cars are (eventually) parked in a private garage just to the north of this, on the east side of the street. The little black lectern in the doorway is the attendant's post.

The bike lane, you'll note, actually ends about half-way through the loading zone. Not that this matters one way or another, as we'll see.

All of the following shots were taken between 9 AM, when I arrived, and 9:15, when I left.

One car:


(That would be a better shot without Mister Salmon. C'mon, folks.)

Two cars:


I suppose, to be fair, these two cars are only partially in the bike lane, though the transaction itself always happens such that the lane is entirely blocked by a door, an attendant and a driver.

Of course, if you let cars sit in your loading zone for a while without bothering to move them into the garage, this starts to happen:



Sorry, did you want a bike lane, young man?

And two more cars, all at once:



And hey, while we're at it, we might as well take up almost all of this block's bike lane:


That's six cars, some of which have been standing, partially or completely blocking the bike lane, for 15 minutes.

At this point I called 311 and went to work. Sorry to the government-o-phobes, but don't worry: I'm sure no tickets were written.

Anyway, this stretch of Canal is crazy enough without some valet madness happening here. I hope you get a useful response from the parking company!
Arrak Thumrs said:
Looking at these pictures, I am reminded how "sensitive" Chicagoans sometimes are. Look at all those traffic lanes. Why not take one? As in, right down the exact middle of a lane... for that block only, if you like. You do have that right.

You're more likely to get hit by swerving into a lane to avoid an obstruction (read: valet) than by asserting your right to the roadway itself.

Okay, I'll bite.

I'm "sensitive" about this stuff because what's practical for a skilled, experienced cyclist is not universally practical; because getting to work in a public right-of-way should be neither a test of skill nor a moment-to-moment process of mitigating needless endangerment; because there's something symbolically appalling about building bike-specific infrastructure and then letting people casually disregard the design and fill the space up for their own selfish purposes; and because I'm not sure why we think we ought to be able to leave our cars wherever the heck we want -- if your car is taking up too much space, it's not space's fault: human cities are built on a scale of finite dimensions, sorry; try something smaller if it doesn't fit.

I have no trouble "asserting my right to the roadway," but I've been playing in traffic for a very long time. There are lots of folks who aren't comfortable riding the way I ride, or who lack the same experience or mental traffic-calluses. I want them to be happy, too!

My apologies to everyone for engaging in the Bike Lane Debate, yeesh.
H3N3 said:
Thanks burden for all the footwork.

At this point I called 311 and went to work. Sorry to the government-o-phobes, but don't worry: I'm sure no tickets were written.

Just curious-- could you describe how that call went?

There was no footwork. I just stopped to sit on a windowsill on a lovely morning and point a camera across the street. Asswork, I guess.

The call went the way those calls always go: an "I'll transfer you to dispatch," and a mostly-noncommittal "We'll send somebody out." I wasn't specific about the valet-ness of the situation, if that's what you're asking -- I just reported the parked cars, since I wasn't quite sure what else to do at the moment.

(Now that I've had a chance to look into things, it appears that the Department of Consumer Services administrates the valet operator licensing. They were relatively responsive when I filed a cab driver complaint a couple of years ago; maybe some ears can be turned with a complaint there, if it comes to that.)
If talking to the valet folks and the restaurant gets no results, you might have some luck with Consumer Affairs. They've been helpful in the past about taxi complaints.

This section of Canal IS worse than it should be due to this valet mess. I've had problems with it myself, and usually take over the next lane out of necessity. It shouldn't have to be like that.

burden said:
H3N3 said:
Thanks burden for all the footwork.

At this point I called 311 and went to work. Sorry to the government-o-phobes, but don't worry: I'm sure no tickets were written.

Just curious-- could you describe how that call went?

There was no footwork. I just stopped to sit on a windowsill on a lovely morning and point a camera across the street. Asswork, I guess.

The call went the way those calls always go: an "I'll transfer you to dispatch," and a mostly-noncommittal "We'll send somebody out." I wasn't specific about the valet-ness of the situation, if that's what you're asking -- I just reported the parked cars, since I wasn't quite sure what else to do at the moment.

(Now that I've had a chance to look into things, it appears that the Department of Consumer Services administrates the valet operator licensing. They were relatively responsive when I filed a cab driver complaint a couple of years ago; maybe some ears can be turned with a complaint there, if it comes to that.)
Thanks for that photo essay! We should all call the mayor's office and complain.
Here is a post on I put on my blog, IllinoisBicycleLaw.com about this back in 2008.

You need to:

1. Call 311;
2. Call the local police department non-emergency line; and
3. Call your alderman.

Feel free to shoot me an email at mkeating@keatinglegal.com. I'd be happy to help you with this if none of the above work.
What about contacting the Dept of Consumer Affairs, as several suggested?

Mike Keating said:
Here is a post on I put on my blog, IllinoisBicycleLaw.com about this back in 2008.

You need to:

1. Call 311;
2. Call the local police department non-emergency line; and
3. Call your alderman.

Feel free to shoot me an email at mkeating@keatinglegal.com. I'd be happy to help you with this if none of the above work.

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