Infrastructure updates: 18th Street bike lane and inaccessible sidewalk ramp to be modified

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A person drives their car in the 18th Street separated bike lane. 

Grid Chicago gathered photos, videos, and reports from neighbors in April and May about parking and driving in the 18th Street separated bike lane (from Clark Street to Canal Street) and discussed the situation with 25th Ward Alderman Solis’s office in June. Lauren Pacheco tells us that the bike lane design will be modified and that police will pay more attention to the street:

A series of CDOT and Aldermanic driven initiatives will be launched in ensuring bicycle lane safety along this route inculding bike ambassadors educational outreach at the site for drivers, moving the bollards closer to the sidewalk thereby narrowing the bike lane preventing automobile use, and increased police district enforcement requests by Alderman Solis.

How much closer to the sidewalk the bollards will be moved is not known; we are waiting for a response. The bike lane is currently 7 or 8 feet wide and there is a 2 or 3-feet-wide buffer between the bike lane and 10-feet-wide travel lane. The bollards are currently closer to the travel lane, on the left side of the buffer (in the direction of travel).

Plates to cover the open grate bridge deck on 18th Street have arrived and will be installed within 1-2 weeks (as of June 12).

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The southwest corner of Kinzie and Clark will be made accessible by spring 2013. 

We’ve also an update about the inaccessible sidewalk ramp at Clark Street and Kinzie Street that we reported to 311 multiple times. CDOT spokesperson Peter Scales tells us that it will be fixed within a year:

It will be part of the State Street Corridor Priority Area ADA Curb Ramp project anticipated to be bid this summer/fall, with construction starting fall/winter and completed by spring of next year.

Citizens should continue to make requests about curb ramps to 311. “We are paying attention to those”, Scales said.

N.B. A new website has appeared to document the prevalence of parking in bike lanes around Chicago: Cars In The Bike Lane. Here’s my submission: a Carbón Mexican Grill delivery vehicle parked in the 18th Street bike lane.

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23 thoughts on “Infrastructure updates: 18th Street bike lane and inaccessible sidewalk ramp to be modified”

      1. I don’t know what PE means, but common sense tells me a bollard in the middle of the lane is a bad idea. Anyone who has ridden any trails knows how easy it is for a lead cyclist to obscure the presence of a bollard from a following cyclist until it is too late to avoid hitting if.

        Even if it were there, cars can still drive between the other bollards to get into the lane, and on top of it all, it would make plowing and sweeping of the lane more difficult.

        1. PE means Professional (licensed) Engineer.

          I wouldn’t want a single one in the middle, but two flexible posts placed 6 feet apart. A car is 6 feet, but is perceived to be wider, so a driver would not drive between the two.
          It would make plowing and sweeping more difficult.

          I’ve not actually seen how someone enters the 18th Street bike lane, only them already in it. I think they entered at the beginning or at the huge break in the bridge, and not by changing lanes through bollards.

  1. On a related note: The work on the Wells street bike lane has started. As of this morning, the old markings had been removed.

  2. With the repaving completed around Elston and Division, crews have been relocating utlility lines. Several days in a row i gave come across the crew van parked in the newly painted lanes just south of the rail crossing on the south bound lanes pushing bikes into traffic. I could not believe the ignorance of the driver with parking cleary avaliable within 15 feet of their car! I think commercial/ public cars and truck abuse these lanes more than private cars. I think they believe they can park anywhere.

          1. I feel they are a false sense of security for the biker. As a biker you have to be aware of your surroundings. Stay in the flow, travel in straight lines, be predictable and you will have many safe rides on the street. When you add bollards, you are out of the flow, often hidden to moving vehicles on your left by parked cars. You need to follow the lanes which often move slightly left and right. Pedestrians do not comprehend the bike lane and enter enter the lane between cars or walk into the lane from the sidewalk. You as a biker are pushed farther to the right, usually very close to traffic entering from the right. Exiting the lane can be troublesome as drivers and bikers merge. The merge just north of Morton Salt is a great example of this, I ride left so traffic sees me and will not attempt the turn into me. Add the bollards and parking spaces and the merge area is scary. This intersection has always been dicey but if traffic sees you, they will usually fall back and turn to the right just behind you.

            Sorry, I am not a fan. The new Elston layout is not as bad as Kinzie which is cramped with car and bike traffic, includes a downhill, with left and right entering traffic at the base of Blommers, When this area did not have the bollards, bikers travelled in the flow of the 2 lanes of traffic, which meant there were less cars backed up along Kinzie. Bikers used to travel to the left of right turning cars and to the right of cars traveling thru the intersection. Now many backed up cars cut thru the bike lane to detour the traffic. Some bollards have been added to prevent this but it still happens when there are few parked cars.

            When cycling, you need to be aware with or with out bollards, I feel that these lanes does keep you out of harms way in areas, but forces you into harms way at others. Sometimes these areas are no more than a half block apart.

          2. I think the main purpose of the flexible posts that CDOT has installed is to demarcate where a car can go, and where it cannot. They are not for protection. A car parked offset from the curb with a bike lane between the parked car and the curb is being provided protection from moving cars by the parked cars.
            I doubt that any person cycling is under the impression that a flexible post will prevent a moving automobile from passing over/through the post.
            At the Y-intersection with Magnolia Avenue and Elston Avenue (where there’s Blackhawk Street as well) north of Morton Salt, I believe there’s a need for a concrete solution. I will post a video later showing why, but if you’ve ridden here more than once you probably know why a curb or Jersey barrier is necessary.

          3. I think the bollards are fine at keeping most vehicles out of the bike lanes (except for those pesky mail carriers!) It’s the separation of bike and car and the jarring transitions that worry me. I may be the only one in the city who thinks this but I feel you either ride in traffic or you don’t. When you go from riding in traffic to riding out of traffic and then back in, makes me nervous.

          4. When you mention transitions, I feel I have a better understanding of what you’re saying. Closing gaps – within a bike lane segment (like on Elston), and between bike lane segments (like wherever a bike lane ends and restarts a block later) – will take a lot of time and until then we’ll all be nervous about going in and out of riding in traffic.

          5. That intersection is very poorly designed. I’ve seen many cars and motorcycles driving in the bike lane to pass cars so they can turn right. The bollards would fix this problem.

  3. There’s another high curb that’s been bothering me. After all the work they did on the Halsted bridge – new deck, bridge plates, new decorative fence – they left the 11″ curb on either side of the entrance to the bus parking lot. So imagine this – a wheelchair user enters the east sidewalk at Chicago Ave. and when they get to this 11″ curb about two blocks north, they have to turn around and go back to Chicago Ave. to cross Halsted to the other side to be able to get up to Division. So I reported this to Luann Hamilton of CDOT. She asked for photos. When I sent them, she promised to send them to the proper engineers to consider. I’m being the squeaky wheel and you can too.

    1. I’ll report this to 311 as well.

      This is going to be especially tricky because this is on an incline. I’m saying this because “hard stuff” gets tackled last in Chicago. http://gridchicago.com/2012/tackling-the-hard-stuff/

      This situation is evidence of that because, alas, it wasn’t dealt with even with a major project that shutdown the roadway and replaced the nearby sidewalks.
      Can you verify that this Street View shows the sidewalk curb in question? http://goo.gl/maps/A9dy

  4. I’m glad to hear they are moving the bollards over on 18th St. I drove across there once and it is pretty tight. There is more space to the right of the bollards than to the left, so I’m not surprised that drivers got confused and drove to the right of the bollards.

  5. I walk by that curb at Clark and Kinzie all the time and I can’t believe the city has left it in such a condition. To not be in violation of the ADA, that means the city has made no improvements to the area since the ADA was enacted, right? Crazy.

    1. I think that’s right.

      Yesterday I was cycling east on Webster Avenue. I arrived at Ashland Avenue and I considered riding on the sidewalk to cross the Chicago River. I looked for a curb ramp and didn’t see one and that dissuaded me from cycling on the sidewalk across the bridge. I then noticed that there was not a single accessible curb at this intersection, not at any of the four corners.

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