State of Independence: The protected lane will change to a buffered lane


The city has placed barricades in the protected bike lanes on Independence Boulevard to discourage cycling in them until they are converted to buffered lanes. 

View more photos of the Independence Boulevard bike lanes here.

In December Red Bike and Green’s Eboni Senai Hawkins notified me that residents of Lawndale, an underserved community on Chicago’s West Side, were “up in arms” about the new protected bike lanes on Independence Boulevard. This roughly mile-long stretch connects the Garfield Park green space with Douglas Boulevard and is part of a new 4.5-mile network of protected and buffered lanes leading from the park to Little Village. I interviewed Hawkins for her perspective on the situation.

Hawkins, a Lawndale resident, told me the locals had a number of complaints. After the new lanes, which move the parking lane from the curb to the left of the bike lane, were striped but not yet signed, dozens of motorists who parked curbside were ticketed. Those tickets, and all subsequent tickets were eventually dismissed. Independence is home to several churches and the pastors felt that the new lanes made it difficult for members of their congregations to park.

Although the lanes are designed to reduce speeding and shorten pedestrian crossing distances on the wide boulevard by narrowing the travel lanes, drivers said they felt uncomfortable parking in the new “floating” parking lanes. They said the new configuration made them feel more exposed to the still-speeding traffic as they exited their cars. They found the new street configuration, which incorporates sections of protected as well buffered lanes, to be confusing. And they objected to the removal of some parking spaces as part of the design.

Residents complained to 24th Ward Alderman Michael Chandler. Although Chandler had signed off on the Chicago Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) plans for the lanes a year earlier, at a couple of recent community meetings the alderman blasted the new design and asked CDOT to bring back curbside parking. The department has agreed to use paint to convert the protected lanes to buffered lanes later this winter at an estimated cost in the low $10,000s, according to deputy commissioner Scott Kubly.

Continue reading State of Independence: The protected lane will change to a buffered lane

Renovated Morse and Thorndale ‘L’ stations have new bike parking


Morse’s new bike parking area. Photo by Justin Haugens. 

The Chicago Transit Authority’s Morse Red Line station in Rogers Park, recently renovated, now has 45-108 new bike parking spaces (on what looks like 9 racks); the capacity depends on how people lock up their bikes. The bike rack type is called the “campus rack” and “hangers” are what you lean a bike against and lock to. The bike parking area is partially sheltered, has some lighting, is visible from multiple streets, and very close to a station entrance. The area is in the site of what used to be a retail space at approximately 1400 W Lunt Ave, at Greenwood Ave on the west side of the ‘L’ viaduct.


Morse’s new bike parking area. Photo by Justin Haugens. 


Thorndale’s new bike parking area. Photo by Rudy Luciani. 

The Thorndale Red Line station received the same racks with an identical capacity. According to an email conversation I had with a CTA staffer and a staffer in 49th ward Alderman Joe Moore’s office, the area will be fenced with “two (2) 10′ openings exiting the bike lot to the north (sidewalk) and east (alley)”; these will not be gated entrances. A DIY bike repair stand, the seventh in Chicago (all installed in 2012), was also installed. The bike parking area is on the south side of Thorndale, across the street from the station entrance, in what used to be a car parking lot.


Thorndale’s DIY bike repair stand. Photo by Rudy Luciani. 

I am awaiting funding cost and source information from the CTA.

Top 5 lists: essential parks, walking, biking and transit stories of 2012


The Dearborn Street two-way protected bike lane.

In 2012 the Emanuel administration kept the momentum going for walking, biking, transit and public space improvements, with a number of big projects announced and/or completed. For Newcity magazine’s annual “Top 5 of Everything” issue, I submitted the following lists of the most important or interesting sustainable transportation and parks stories of the year. Did I miss anything?

Top 5 Wheelie Exciting Chicago Bicycling Stories

Hundreds of cyclists provide input for 645-mile Streets for Cycling Plan 2020 network

Comrade Cycles, Chicago’s first worker-owned bike shop, opens in Ukrainian Village

Couriers from around the globe gather here for Cycle Messenger World Championships

Final plans for Bloomingdale trail and “linear park” released; construction slated for 2013

CDOT builds Chicago’s first two-way protected bike lane downtown on Dearborn Street


Bollywood dancing at Open Streets on Milwaukee Avenue.

Top 5 Not-So-Pedestrian Local Walking Stories

Chicago’s speed camera ordinance passes, paving the way for safer walking conditions

Make Way for People plan to turn alleys, cul-de-sacs and parking spots into mini parks

City releases first-ever comprehensive Pedestrian Plan

Open Streets ciclovia expands to include Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park / Bucktown

Mayor Emanuel announces $100 million plan to complete the Chicago Riverwalk


The CTA Yellow Line’s new Oakton-Skokie station. Photo by Jeff Zoline.

Top 5 Rapidly Developing Transit Stories

CTA announces 5-month closure of south Red Line, $240 million 95th St. station rehab

Both CTA and Metra hike farecard prices

Sparkling new CTA stations open at Green/Pink Morgan and Yellow Oakton-Skokie

Amtrak train hits 111 MPH downstate, paving the way for high-speed service to St. Louis

Jeffery Jump debuts; plans for bus rapid transit downtown, and on Western, Ashland


Park district rendering of Northerly Island redesign.

Top 5 Blossoming Chicago Park District Stories

Rahm announces $290 million plan for 800 parks & rec projects citywide in next 5 years

Construction starts on four new boathouses along the Chicago River

$5 million Northerly Island rehab will add topography, native habitats and campsites

Take the Field plan earmarks $12 million for sports fields in underserved communities

North Grant Park, now Maggie Daley Park, will get climbing sculptures & skating ribbon

Fatality Tracker: Man killed in Jeffery Manor after truck driver fails to yield

View Jeffery Boulevard and 95th Street in a Larger Map; seen from the driver’s perspective.

2012 Chicago fatality stats*:

Pedestrian: 29 (13 have been hit-and-run crashes)
Pedalcyclist: 7 (1 is a hit-and-run crash)
Transit: 10
Skateboard: 1 (1 is a hit-and-run crash)

The Tribune reported that tow truck driver Robert Parks, 63, struck pedestrian Morris Giles, 59, at 8 AM on Saturday, December 22, in the Jeffery Manor neighborhood. Giles died at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn the following morning. The driver was making a left turn from southbound Jeffery Boulevard onto the eastbound lanes of 95th Street when he failed to yield to the pedestrian, who was crossing 95th. Parks was cited with failure to yield to a pedestrian and failure to exercise due care. Both men lived near the crash site.

* The information is only accurate as of this post’s publishing time. View previous Fatality Tracker posts; see a data table listing all who’ve died.

End of year donation appeal for West Town Bikes


West Town Bikes hosts women and trans night each Wednesday. Photo by Kim Werst. 

At the end of every year, non-profit organizations make an appeal to be the source of your charitable donations. Giving to these organizations is needed at all times, though, and not just for December holidays. John and I have always highly regarded West Town Bikes on our blog. Briefly, West Town Bikes is a direct-service and community-learning bike shop in Humboldt Park. Lengthily, West Town Bikes and its executive director and founder Alex Wilson played a large part in my advocacy-tinged personal development, and in my transition to live car-free. West Town Bikes has also served me more selfishly: it hosted both Cargo Bike Roll Call block parties; and their tools and volunteers’ expertise helped me repair a bike I stupidly broke*.


Alex Wilson leads a BickerBikes youth group on an excursion.

I asked John to chime in:

West Town Bikes represents the very best aspects of the Chicago bike scene. As a bike education center that’s a terrific resource for people of from all walks of life, it’s one of the most democratic cycling organizations in town. It’s a powerful example of how bicycles can be a tool for positive change, especially in the way its youth programs have helped literally hundreds of underserved young people get on the right track towards leading healthy, productive lives.

Alex Wilson is a true teacher of teachers who has helped get dozens of other people started in the bike education field. He’s also had a major influence on my own life in bicycling. Heck, the last time I broke a frame he gave me a replacement for free and helped me switch over the parts. It’s not an exaggeration to say bicycling in Chicago would not be nearly as far along as it is today without Alex and West Town.

Make a donation online. It’s also tax deductible.

* While still learning how bikes work, I once wiped off the grease from a seat tube. Later on, when I tried to adjust the seat height, I realized the seat post was permanently stuck. A several months long process, during which I manually removed the stuck seatpost, ended with using a reamer to make the seat tube new again.

Concerns from locals about protected lanes on the West Side boulevards


Cyclist on Douglas Boulevard in the 24th Ward before protected lanes were installed.

Eboni Senai Hawkins, founder of the local chapter of the African-American cycling group Red Bike and Green, recently emailed me that some local residents are “up in arms” about the protected bike lanes being built along the West Side boulevards. This 4.5-mile route leads from Garfield Park to 24th Street in Little Village. 24th Ward Alderman Michael Chandler has asked the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) to suspend construction of the lanes on Independence Boulevard, which runs south from Garfield Park, until these issues are resolved. I called Eboni last night for more info and her perspective on the situation.

So what are people’s concerns?

Basically they’re creating a protected bike lane on one side [of Independence] by moving the parked cars to the middle on [the southbound] side, and on the other side going north they’re just doing it as a buffered bike lane, with the bike lane to the left of the parked cars. So essentially they started implementing this particular design for these bike lanes and then there was ticketing that wasn’t supposed to happen that all of the sudden happened because people didn’t know where to park. The lanes are half constructed. So all these tickets were issued and everyone’s up in arms in this particular community, which is mostly Lawndale. [The tickets have since been dismissed.]

A special concern is the number of churches that are along this corridor. They’re concerned about their congregation and their ability to park. And there’s also this concern about safety. Basically people kept saying at the meeting, you have to get out of your car in the middle of the street.

Continue reading Concerns from locals about protected lanes on the West Side boulevards