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!

Kinzie Street crash story: Report them all

Array

Last Tuesday a friend of mine called me around 6 PM to describe that he had just witnessed a cyclist get involved in a collision with an automobile at Canal Street and Kinzie Street. From my friend’s point of view (which was a couple hundred feet west of the intersection), the cyclist was turning left from westbound Kinzie Street (after exiting the bridge) onto southbound Canal Street. The driver was traveling east on Kinzie Street.

My friend approached the scene and asked the driver to pull over and exchange information with the cyclist. The driver moved her car to Canal Street. My friend then met with the fallen cyclist and talked him through all of the steps of things to do after a crash:

  1. Call police and file a crash report
  2. Keep calm (this is probably the hardest part and I have no doubt that my friend’s presence here served to reassure the cyclist that they were not alone in this crash). This includes not talking about who might be at fault.
  3. Get witness information
  4. Preserve evidence; get information from the other parties; take pictures (my friend photographed the driver involved)
  5. Take care of yourself, get medical attention (this cyclist didn’t want it when asked by the 911 operator)

Continue reading Kinzie Street crash story: Report them all

flattr this!

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.

Array

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.

flattr this!

Going postal again: CDOT replaces bollards along the Kinzie bike lanes

Array

Spring 2011: original post configuration as seen from the top of “Fudge Hill” – photo by Josh Koonce.

Array

Early May 2012: CDOT has taken out most of the bollards.

Array

June 1, 2012: Some of the bollards have been reinstalled.

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) recently removed more that half of the flexible posts along the Kinzie Street protected bike lanes. Last month CDOT Project Manager Mike Amsden explained to me that this was done partly because of complaints from nearby residents about the appearance of the bollards.

Continue reading Going postal again: CDOT replaces bollards along the Kinzie bike lanes

flattr this!

A post about posts: why CDOT took out bollards along the Kinzie lanes

Array

Messenger John “Blunt” Robbins rides in a section of Kinzie without parking, where every-other post has been removed.

It was a little mysterious when the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) recently removed more than half of the flexible posts (AKA bollards) that separate the Kinzie protected bike lanes from parked cars and moving traffic. So I called CDOT bikeways planner Mike Amsden, to get the skinny. He explained the motivations for taking out the posts, and also pointed out a few recent upgrades to the street I hadn’t noticed before.

Continue reading A post about posts: why CDOT took out bollards along the Kinzie lanes

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!