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One of the strategies in the Bike 2015 Plan is to “establish 2 north-south bikeways and 4 east-west bikeways to and within the Loop by 2010″ (see strategy details). No bikeways were built until the Madison Street westbound bikeway in 2011. Photo by Joseph Dennis. 

I was frustrated after a short bicycle ride on Lincoln Avenue Saturday night to the Heritage Bicycles party. A long stretch of the bike lane in the 43rd Ward received brand new striping and bicycle symbols last year but there were many “features” on the ride I didn’t appreciate: taxi drivers blocking the bike lane and making sudden u-turns, valets putting traffic cones in the bike lane, a pinch point under the ‘L’ viaduct at Lincoln and Wrightwood (created by the too-long parking lane), a long crack in the pavement where I wanted to ride to avoid the door zone, odd bike lane designs*, and lots of potholes. Dottie wrote about this sorry bike route in August.

I thought, “Doesn’t the Bike 2015 Plan address a lot of the issues present in our street network, and aren’t many of the strategies in there about making cycling a more comfortable experience? What progress is being made on the Bike 2015 Plan’s 153 strategies?”

Determined to know, I created the Bike 2015 Plan Tracker.

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A screenshot of Bike 2015 Plan Tracker.

It’s a database that will attempt to document the progress of all of the strategies of the Bike 2015 Plan. These are strategies that a variety of people and agencies are responsible for; no single entity is in charge of implementation. Many of the strategies explicitly name who should do them, but others don’t. Some of the strategies call on the Chicago Bicycle Program, Metra, Chicago Transit Authority, Pace, and the Chicago Police Department, to take part in reaching the goals of the Bike 2015 Plan – reduce injuries, increase the number of trips people make  by bike.

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Another strategy in the Bike 2015 Plan is to ensure that all buses have bike racks, and that they’re replaced immediately if they break (see strategy details). Photo by David Wilson.

The site has many aims:

  1. Hold accountable those who are responsible for implementing its strategies and applaud the completion of strategies.
  2. Make the Bike 2015 Plan easier to browse and search.
  3. Call the public’s attention to the existence of the plan and its goals, which I believe are well-written and full of good ideas.

The site is a work in progress and it needs your help. Not every strategy may have the right status applied, and the Tracker’s notes may not be accurate. I am asking that those who know email us or leave a comment on the strategy’s details page to ensure that the best information is present. Currently over 50% of the strategies have a status of “unknown“. I will be working on the site and the information in the next few weeks and months to update information and add new features.

One of the longest parts of making the Tracker was copying the objectives and strategies into a database. Because of doing this, I read the entire plan. I was reminded of all the breadth and diversity of the Plan’s strategies, but I also saw the many gaps: strategies that no one had begun working on (to the best of my knowledge), or that were in progress but several years behind (like bike boulevards).

*These include an errant bike lane stripe in the northbound lane at the Children’s Memorial Hospital; a jut in the southbound lane in front of Halligan; and pavement markings that were installed in 2011 with the chevron before the bicycle symbol, when the national traffic manual (MUTCD page 815) shows that the chevron goes after the bicycle symbol.

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  • Charlie Short

    Steve-

    I’m happy to send you updates. There’s no way to comment on the website. Should I just email you?

  • Anonymous

    This is a great way to track accountability, document progress, and direct key players to action. Nice work!  I also learned a new word…unbegun!

    • http://www.stevevance.net/ Steven Vance

      Thanks. The alternative was to say “not yet started”. I didn’t think “unbegun” was a real word when I found it in a reverse dictionary search. 

  • Erik Swedlund

    This is a great tool!

    When you say that, “many of the strategies explicitly name who should do them,” is that in the text of the strategy? Could the responsible entity be made a separate field, for searching and sorting?

    • http://www.stevevance.net/ Steven Vance

      You can already search through the table now, but I realize that another key field (“strategy additional text”) is not showing so therefore is not searchable. 

      I will do something about this so that agencies are called out and searchable/sortable. Thanks for the tip!

  • Michelle Stenzel

    Re: bike parking sheds.3.5.2 —  I saw a number of them yesterday at Northwestern Hospital. Does it count if a private institution provides them?

    • http://www.stevevance.net/ Steven Vance

      This strategy is under an objective to provide bike parking at residences so I don’t include any shed unless it’s at a residence and constructed in cooperation with this strategy.

  • http://twitter.com/aka60643 AKA60643

    I can add a bit of information.  To my knowledge, the Chicago Trails Plan does not exist online.  If anyone else has a link, I hope they’ll add it in comments.  It exists in CD form, and I assume that some folks at CDOT have it in hard copy.

    Many of the trail ideas studied in the plan overlap the Millennium Reserve area around Lake Calumet and Wolf Lake.  One area that I know is currently being worked on is Van Vlissingen Prairie, one of several prairie restoration projects on the far south side and south suburbs.  It’s the diagonal stripe of green space between the rail yard (running from NW to SE) and the neighborhood to the east.

    Because the site required a lot of remediation, it has not been open to the public since it was acquired by the city several years ago, but it may be opened up soon.  You can see a photo at ground level here.

    This piece on the Southeast Environmental Task Force’s web site mentions several sites acquired by the city.  There have been spur railroads on most of these sites, which were studied in the trails plan.  Some of these sites may get paved paths as habitat restoration progresses and the sites become more suitable for visitors. Other areas may get soft paths (mulch surface) or boardwalks, depending on the nature of the site, as the area is a mixture of marshland, wet prairie, mesic prairie and other habitats.  As restoration progresses and more sites are opened up, trail development is likely to progress. 

    Some of us on the south side are pursuing development of the Rock Island Trail, studied in the plan as a “rails with trails” concept, similar to portions of the Green Bay Trail on the north shore.  It would run along the Rock Island Metra right of way. 

    Regarding grade-separated crossings, some have been added along the North Shore Channel Trail: Lincoln, Peterson, Bryn Mawr, and Foster.  I believe these were constructed in 2006 or 2007.

    • Eric Rogers

      The Van Vlissingen Prairie is sort of open, in the sense that the fence has an entrance that looks like it was left open intentionally. It lead down a short path directly into a huge puddle, and the mosquitos were very bad, so I definitely didn’t stay long!
      http://www.flickr.com/photos/reallyboring/5953347434/in/photostream/