CDOT fast to build new bikeways, but needs to rectify existing ones

Array

A properly installed sharrow, 11 feet from the curb. 

Array

An improperly installed sharrow, 9 feet from the curb, that hasn’t been rectified in over a year. 

A year ago I notified the Chicago Department of Transportation about some mistakes that were made in the installation of new bikeways. They replied October 25, 2011, with a description on how but not when they would be fixed. A year has passed and the fixes aren’t in. The first issue is “shared lane markings” (better known as “sharrows”) that were installed too close to parked cars after a construction project. The second issue is the case of bike lane signs far from any bike lane. Additionally, there are new (but longstanding) issues that are in need of resolution.

Sharrows too close

In the 2011 Chicago Bike Map, printed by CDOT, “marked shared lanes” are “usually established on streets with lots of traffic that are too narrow for bike lanes”. They consist of “special pavement markings [to] direct bicyclists to ride outside the ‘Door Zone'”. (The 2012 Chicago Bike Map omits these statements but they remain on the city’s bike map website and are printed in the federal manual of traffic control, MUTCD.) Continue reading CDOT fast to build new bikeways, but needs to rectify existing ones

flattr this!

Take back the bike lane

Array

Array

Take it back. The bike lane that is. Take it back from those who park in it, put their valet signs in it, park valet cars in it, pickup and drop off passengers in it, or generally illegally block the bike lane, forcing cyclists to merge into faster moving traffic to avoid it.

Two weeks ago, feeling sick and tired of the disrespect people have for facilities the City of Chicago and its funding partners (mainly the federal government) have built for the exclusive use of people riding bicycles, I confronted three people about their parking in the bike lane.

Continue reading Take back the bike lane

flattr this!

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

Array

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). Continue reading Infrastructure updates: 18th Street bike lane and inaccessible sidewalk ramp to be modified

flattr this!

Bridges update: Halsted now fully open, Chicago Avenue to be reconstructed, one lawsuit settled so far

Array

Photo of the reconstructed Halsted Street bridge at Chicago Avenue (looking north) by Ian Freimuth. 

John’s interview with Lorena Cupcake on Monday generated some new chatter about open grate bridges on Twitter. We’ve written about the dangerous bridges several times before and called for them to be fixed, even offering to trade 25 miles of Mayor Emanuel’s 100 miles of protected bike lanes for 25 safe bridges. Since then I’ve heard nothing but support for the idea from people who want truly safe connections across the Chicago River even if it meant fewer cycle tracks and buffered bike lane – the sentiment is based largely on the desire to maintain and fix what exists, rather than build anew.

Halsted Street

You can now continuously ride (in the street, no sidewalk jumping necessary) on Halsted Street from Chicago Avenue to Division Street, over Goose Island. The bridge at Division Street was replaced and opened in December 2011, while the bridge at Chicago Avenue had its deck replaced (among other changes). On the edges, a concrete surface was made in a new bike lane to make the bridge more comfortable for cycling.

The pavement marking design on Halsted Street going northbound approaching Division Street uses the centered bike lane design we panned in the article, How Danes make right turns. The bike lane is in between a 10 feet and 11 feet wide travel lane, for about 500 feet, so cyclists will be passed by buses and trucks on both sides. For over 300 feet of the 500 feet section, the bike lane has only dashed lines, possibly reducing its overall visibility. This situation is found on several other streets around Chicago. Dan Ciskey told us, “I hate getting passed by people going 40 MPH on both sides of me on Roosevelt Road”. Roosevelt Road between State Street and Canal Street has a collection of different bike lane designs: There’s a centered bike lane in each direction for hundreds of feet, then the bike lane is shared (again in each direction) with an ambiguously marked bus lane for hundreds more feet.  Continue reading Bridges update: Halsted now fully open, Chicago Avenue to be reconstructed, one lawsuit settled so far

flattr this!

Can we get some police to enforce traffic laws? A letter

Array

This photo of a police SUV parked in the Kinzie Street protected bike lane was included in the letter. Photo taken by Tumblr user 122782.

I just received another report from a reader about people driving in the 18th Street protected bike lane, so it’s obvious to me that dangerous driving behavior is still happening.

A month ago, Anne Alt, president of the Chicago Cycling Club and author of our excellent, two-part series about cycling on the south side, wrote to me that she had drafted a letter written to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, transportation commissioner Gabe Klein, and police superintendent Garry McCarthy to advocate for increased police enforcement of the City’s (pretty solid) traffic laws. I helped edit parts of the letter, gathered some signatures in support of the letter at the Chicago Bike Swap, and even paid for postage. The letter has been sent, and pursuant to the Grid Chicago mission statement (“taking a stand on issues”), I’m publishing it here. Continue reading Can we get some police to enforce traffic laws? A letter

flattr this!

Bike count projects in Chicago: two short video interviews

Array

Bike counts are getting more attention this year than in previous years. Watch these two short interviews to get a little insight on how. A full story will be published later.

Alyson Fletcher is a graduate student from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York; she’s also volunteered for Active Transportation Alliance. She was here last week to count cyclists on 18th Street and Kinzie Street. Watch the video to learn more about her masters project.

Alessandro Panella volunteered for the Chicago Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) quarterly downtown bike count on Tuesday. Watch the video to learn about the responsibilities he had at Randolph and Canal Streets, and his idea to make a robust bike count program.

Watch all of our other videos on the blog, or on Vimeo.

P.S. It was after my interview with Fletcher that I photographed two people driving in the bike lane.

Photo of Fletcher filling out her counting chart (tally sheet).

flattr this!