Dearborn Street’s celebrity status skyrockets

Active Transportation Alliance posted a 1:50 video showing before and after conditions

The Dearborn Street two-way protected bike lane looks to be the biggest deal, nationally, in bicycle infrastructure since the City of Chicago built the Kinzie Street cycle track three weeks after Mayor Rahm Emanuel took office. If it had an account on Twitter, it’d be competing with Justin Bieber.

Here’s a collection of “chatter” about the project from within the short 90 hours it’s been open.

“More than just bike benefits”

The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) produced their own 1:50 video interviewing Chicago transportation commissioner Gabe Klein about the economic benefits of building bicycle infrastructure and showing scenes from the press conference and of people bicycling in the Dearborn Street bike lane.

“Back to the Future moment”

Architecture “observer” Lynn Becker reviewed how this new piece of infrastructure fits into the history and culture of Chicago, then and now. The following are unconnected excerpts.

On Friday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein dedicated the city’s most ambitious commitment yet to the ideal of taking biking beyond the recreational to make it an integral part of Chicago’s transportation system.

It was a Back to the Future moment, as Chicago rose the crest of the first major bike boom back in the 1890’s, when the introduction of the affordable safety bicycle set sales soaring.  It also created a new industry, with Chicago at its center.

The Trib’s John Kass, as part of his ongoing battle against the 21st Century, rails against “elitist politically coddled bicyclists” by indulging his usual habit of seeing everything in Chicago he doesn’t like as a Rahm Emanuel plot, raising spectres of traffic tickets and tolls for bikers.

It’s like having to learn a new language, relearning how we “read” the city as we move through it.  No doubt about it, it’s a bold initiative, and a real gamble.  It not only serves a constituency, but aims to shape behaviour.

Read on for Becker’s full commentary and a video of Klein and Emanuel’s speeches. Continue reading Dearborn Street’s celebrity status skyrockets

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Get Lit: If I ride at night without a light, what are potential consequences?

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A Pilsen resident receives a bike light from volunteer Nathan. This Get Lit distribution event in September was sponsored by Chicago Cycling Club. Photo by Brandon Souba.

Ed. note: This post was originally written by Brendan Kevenides and published on his blog, My Bike Advocate. Brendan is a lawyer who tip represents people who bike and are involved in collisions and crashes. I selected this post to bring attention to the education and fundraising campaign I started, Get Lit, at a time when it gets dark early and people are still bicycling in the dark or in inclement weather without lights. You can donate to Get Lit, via the Active Transportation Alliance, to provide lights for people without them at future distribution events.

You are riding your bicycle at night and get hit by a negligent driver suffering injuries. Your bicycle had no lights and no reflectors in violation of the Illinois vehicle code. Will you you be barred from receiving compensation from the offending driver?

Not necessarily. (Read this post at its original site.)

The key to determining whether your lack of a light and reflector will bar legal recourse is whether your absence of illumination was a cause of the crash. In many instances lack of lighting will indeed cause or at least contribute to cause a crash. Bicyclists should ride with a bright white light on the front of their bikes and with a bright red light and reflector on the back. Doing so will substantially reduce the chances of being involved in many types of crashes. For example, front lighting will undoubtedly reduce a bicyclist’s chances of getting doored while riding at night. A driver exiting her vehicle will be much better able to see a cyclist in her side view mirror if the bike is properly illuminated. Furthermore, Illinois law requires a bicyclist to outfit their bike with at least a front light and a rear reflector. The relevant statute states:

Continue reading Get Lit: If I ride at night without a light, what are potential consequences?

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