Chicago’s bike lane signals are bad and someone is going to get hurt

Here’s some extended kvetching about Chicago’s bike lanes.

A while ago, I posted a controversial review of the new separated bike lane in Evanston–controversial because everyone loves new bike lanes and I used up a lot of space complaining about its new traffic signal arrangement.

In retrospect, it was silly for me to complain about Evanston’s traffic signal arrangement, because the lights in the Loop are worse. Much worse!

Let’s get into some nitty-gritty detail.

Continue reading “Chicago’s bike lane signals are bad and someone is going to get hurt”

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Rescued by Rogers Park cyclists: A riveting personal account

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This is Justin. On Friday, he and his wife Melissa—and their bakfiets—rescued a strange, retching man splayed out on the sidewalk and transported him to safety. That strange retching man’s name? Sam. As in, uh, me. I am that strange retching man.

Continue reading “Rescued by Rogers Park cyclists: A riveting personal account”

Review: Evanston’s Chicago Avenue project, a bike lane built for drivers?

A new, separated bike lane opened along Chicago Avenue between Davis Street and Sheridan Road in Evanston this past weekend. It’s a big deal. It’s the first phase of a $13 million project to build a 2-mile protected bike lane from downtown Evanston to the northern end of Northwestern’s campus along Sheridan Road.

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The plan was first approved in 2014, but the Evanston city council delayed it for two years. Then in September 2016, Chuyuan “Chu” Qiu, a first-year Northwestern student from China, was killed by a cement truck while turning her bike at an intersection onto Sheridan Road. That awful event spurred residents to press the city to complete the project quickly. Officials complied, and work began in late March.

At first glance, everything about the new lane suggests progress for cyclists. Few would dispute the need for better bike infrastructure on Chicago Avenue and Sheridan Road, as it’s a busy route for cyclists and drivers alike. It’s a refreshingly ambitious project, and as far as bike lanes go, it’s expensive. You’d think this would be something of a jewel in the crown of Chicagoland bike infrastructure.

But the second glance tells a more complicated story. Yes, it’s a separated bike lane. But the result so far is marred by compromises that actually create new dangers for cyclists. In many ways it’s a bike lane for drivers: its main priority is getting cyclists out of the road. What they do once they’re in the bike lane hasn’t gotten as much thought.

I won’t overstate the case, because there’s lots of good to this project. It looks like a bike lane and sometime acts like a bike lane. It provides pretty good protection to riders between blocks. They’ve even extended the walk signal timing at the intersections! That’s wonderful. But especially at intersections, where crashes tend to happen, the plan leaves something to be desired.

Read on and see what I mean.

Continue reading “Review: Evanston’s Chicago Avenue project, a bike lane built for drivers?”

Bike Lane Review: The Glenwood Greenway

This past week saw the opening of the long-awaited Glenwood Greenway, a $65,000 bike lane on Glenwood Avenue between Ridge and Foster. The interesting thing about the Glenwood Greenway is that it’s a “contraflow” bike lane, meaning that the bike lane is oriented against car traffic. Car lane goes north, bike lane goes south.

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The project took two whole years to materialize, possibly because some residents complained it would impede cars and “blight the community with ugly signs.” But most people seemed to support the project. 48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman persevered, and here we are.

So how’d it turn out? CBS News is again predicting bike-pocalypse. But I happened to ride on this stretch four times Wednesday, and I, for one, think it’s pretty good.

Continue reading “Bike Lane Review: The Glenwood Greenway”

5 years ago these were named Chicago’s deadliest intersections. What’s been done since?

Back in 2012, the Department of Transportation published a report on bicycle crashes in Chicago. The point was to identify the causes of crashes so that the city could figure out how to make cycling safer.

The whole report is fascinating. Check it out.

Five years later, one part sticks out: a map of the most dangerous intersections for cyclists in Chicago. These places had between 15 and 20 bike crashes from 2005 to 2010, the years the report’s data are drawn from.

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Red circles: 15-20 bike crashes. Yellow circles: 10-14 crashes.

There were 7 of these extra-dangerous intersections in Chicago.

Now it’s 2017. Five years have passed since CDOT identified them. What better way to gauge the city’s progress in bike safety than to check up on its 7 worst intersections?

How many have been fixed, and how many are still unsafe? Where are they in the first place?

Click to find out. Continue reading “5 years ago these were named Chicago’s deadliest intersections. What’s been done since?”