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


A properly installed sharrow, 11 feet from the curb. 


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

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Fall bike lane construction update


A Marking Specialists work truck in the Marshall Boulevard bike lane it just helped create (they work on weekends, too!). 

Chicago Department of Transportation staff and its contractor Marking Specialists have been busy this summer and fall, striping miles of conventional, buffered, and separated bike lanes in Chicago. This post documents all of the new bike lanes we haven’t yet featured prominently, some of which are likely still under construction as the photos were taken between 1 and 4 weeks ago.

Sacramento Boulevard, 24th Boulevard, Marshall Boulevard

Still to come on this project through Little Village, Lawndale, North Lawndale: Douglas, Independence, and Hamlin Boulevards. It connects with a short, separated bike lane on Jackson Boulevard between Independence Boulevard and Central Park Avenue. The Central Park Avenue bike lane then connects north to separated bike lanes on Lake Street and Franklin Boulevard. Collectively these bike lanes are called “West Side Boulevards”. I like how this new separated bike lane “goes places”: through and to residential neighborhoods, past schools and parks.

People parked their cars in the bike lane, which we’ve found to be typical for under-construction separated bike lanes. The pavement quality issues that Franklin Boulevard suffers from are present on this project as well, in multiple locations (there’s a small bush growing in the bike lane a few feet before your reach a large pothole). I look forward to seeing the ultimate design created at the intersections and high-speed curves in Douglas Park and the pavement issues corrected. This project is likely still under construction.


A separated bike lane on Marshall Boulevard, looking south at a Pink Line viaduct. It’s parking-protected in some locations. In this photo, new parking spaces are created where none previously existed.  Continue reading Fall bike lane construction update

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Fatality Tracker: Cyclist avoids dooring and falls under wheels of semi truck

Photo of crash scene by Alex Garcia

2012 Chicago fatality stats*:

Pedestrian: 21 (9 have been hit-and-run crashes)
Pedalcyclist: 5 (1 is a hit-and-run crash)
Transit: 7

The Chicago Tribune reports:

A bicyclist was struck and killed by a semi truck on the Near North Side this morning, apparently when he swerved to avoid an open car door, authorities said. Police at the scene said the accident happened just before 9 a.m. on Wells Street in front of Walter Payton High School, just north of Oak Street.

The bicyclist was in the southbound lane and turned suddently to avoid an open car door and fell underneath the front wheels of the truck’s flat-bed trailer, police said.

As of 10:20 a.m., rescue crews were still working to remove the body. The bicycle lay near cars parked along the curb. The victim is male, but no other information was available.

Continue reading Fatality Tracker: Cyclist avoids dooring and falls under wheels of semi truck

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Take back the bike lane



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

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WGN TV’s bike lane map transforms Chicago into Copenhagen overnight


Don’t be fooled by the bike lane map that WGN TV displayed yesterday morning on television. There’s a stark difference between the lines on that map, which denotes the location of all bikeway types (a part of transportation infrastructure, with pavement markings) and recommended bike routes (not a part of transportation infrastructure, without pavement markings), and the lines you see on the ground (a large portion of which are faded). A superimposed “bike lane” sign and the single color representing the aggregated bike lanes, marked shared lanes, and recommended routes, make it seem as if there are more bike lanes than actually exist.

Chicago doesn’t provide an up-to-date online map, but occasionally updates the bikeways geodata on its open data portal (which I used to create the right side map of the above image). The City is short 20 miles of protected bike lanes for the first year of four (25 miles per year, 100 miles total), which ended May 16, 2012.

Watch the TV segment filmed at a spinning class at the Bean – as part of Bike to Work Week – or read the partial transcript below. Continue reading WGN TV’s bike lane map transforms Chicago into Copenhagen overnight

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Video captures “Milwaukee morning madness” as cyclists pedal towards Kinzie and Desplaines Streets

Brandon Gobel sent us this video showing dozens – I count 27 – of people bicycling southeast on Milwaukee Avenue towards the five-way intersection with Kinzie Street and Desplaines Street. There were 13 motorized vehicles in the same signal cycle.

You’ll notice about half are changing lanes from the conventional curbside bike lane to the single travel lane so they can merge to the bike left-turn lane ahead.


The view from the opposite direction, looking southeast at the intersection of Kinzie Street, Desplaines Street, and Milwaukee Avenue. 

Unfortunately, because of signal timings at the intersection they just left (Hubbard/Milwaukee) uncoordinated with their destination intersection, the first in the group won’t be rewarded with a green light for their tricky uphill lane change maneuver, and will need to stop at the red light, while those in the back of this group will likely get a slim chance at moving through a green light (the green light is only 12 seconds long).

I’ve heard from several people who cycle here, Gobel included, that changing lanes from the curbside bike lane in a dark viaduct to the travel lane in order to reach the bike left-turn lane ahead can be very stressful.

Another issue with the light, but not related to this video, is that the light cycle for people who want to cycle from Milwaukee to Kinzie (making a slight left to go eastbound) is designed such that if you enter the intersection at the end of the green phase, you will be in the intersection for the entire yellow phase, part of the red phase, and then the beginning of green phase for the cross direction. I explored this – long intersections – on my blog, Steven Can Plan.

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