Adapt Or Die? Smells Like Vehicular Cycling!

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The forum member whose handle is h’ posted an interesting thread:

Picked up by my Google alert…
Good reporting.

Now the first thing that should be noted here is h’s commendation on the reporting quality. However as you will note there was a fairly major hiccup in the original article which was left and corrected as shown here:

Bicyclist Ivan Villegas was struck by a northbound southbound car crossing Lawrence Avenue at Washtenaw at approximately 5 p.m. today.

A Chicago Fire Department spokesman said Villegas was taken by ambulance to Illinois Masonic Medical Center in serious condition. Fire, police and emergency vehicles all responded.

Billy Morco, a friend of Villegas, witnessed the incident. According to Morco, Villegas was riding in the bike lane on Lawrence heading toward the lake when a car shot through the intersection at Washtenaw. “I guess he didn’t see him,” Morco said of the driver, who was being questioned at the scene.

“His left shin was broke,” said Morco, and Villegas also appeared to have suffered a cut lip, leaving a trail of blood on the sidewalk. “He was conscious and talking; he’s just really scared.”

Villegas’ girlfriend was also on the scene; visibly shaken, she accompanied him to the hospital.

Ironically, the intersection of Lawrence and Washtenaw was recently targeted by CDOT with new pedestrian crossing signs aimed at slowing cars on Lawrence.

Additional reporting from the scene by Patty Wetli.

At least they were honest enough not to correct the error without acknowledging it. But what gets very interesting are the replies to this thread:

Reply by David crZven 1 hour ago

A bicycle hit in the bike lane on Lawrence. That’s a little like snow falling in January in Chicago or days being hot in July. Those have to be the most dangerous bike lanes in the city. The bad drivers use them as passing or travel lanes and the cops do nothing. I have finally given up and use parallel side streets.

Reply by NYC 1 hour ago

Took a ride with my wife last night and ended getting off the LFP at Lawrence.  Just brutal.  Horrible idea to put shared lanes on what amounts to a highway.  We left turned it on Damen and happily coasted to Lincoln Square down Leland.

Reply by James BlackHeron 1 hour ago

Lawrence, IMHO, is pretty much only for the “Strong and Fearless” class of cyclist.

The 4 types of Transportation Cyclist: (see graphic in original link to thread)

Even the “Enthused & Confident” folks will have a little trouble with many spots on the Lawrence bicycle “facilities.”    Most folks, once they start riding on it will soon become “No Way No How and GTFO to find another more-sane route.

If you are flying along and keeping up with traffic it isn’t so bad -just like any other busy road without any specific marked bike-friendly accommodations.

Reply by Jim S 13 minutes ago

They’re starting the ‘road diet’ on that stretch of Western to Ravenswood soon, right?

I’m generally OK on Lawrence west of Western, but even a ‘strong and fearless’ rider like me is terrified of that stretch from western to ravenswood where it’s two lanes. I pretty much avoid Lawrence if I have to and will stair-step or bob Winnemac/Winona/Ainslie if I’m just trying to get to the Square.

Reply by envane x 9 minutes ago

Now that part of my commute is 4 miles down Lawrence I can guess what happened here.  At 5 pm you’ll have backed up traffic, so the guy was riding through the car tunnel.  Cars open up space at intersections to allow cars to pass through the cross street, but its impossible for someone in the bike lane to see a car going through the intersection (or the car to see the biker) until its too late because you’re in the tunnel.   Had a few close calls like that myself.  Obviously CDOT needs to put a a protected bike lane on Lawr…HAHA joking, the real solution is to adapt or die.

Take Aways From This Thread

If you listen to the horror stories about city riding you get the feeling that only downtown Saigon or perhaps Baghdad could be worse that what your average urban cyclist has to encounter on a daily basis. I’ve ridden Lawrence on several occasions and like all of the busier streets in the city you have to keep your head on a swivel. But it is nothing and I repeat nothing like trying to ride North Avenue in the suburbs west of the city.

Between Route 83 and Route 59 is a fairly pressurized bit of riding that is along a stretch that at points grows to 8 lanes (at intersections) and has traffic speeds in the 55 MPH range. I guess there is a bit of the fishing story presence in much of what passes are lore about urban roadways.

But here is a good thread because not only does it show us the underbelly of the urban rider, more importantly it exposes the Big Lie regarding protected bike lanes in high traffic areas. A cyclist armed with strategies taught by Effective Cycling would be as well or perhaps better equipped to navigate Lawrence as anyone hipster who is stomping their feet impatient at the pace of protected bike lane installation.

To hear the Executive Director of Active Transportation Alliance tell it, these protected lanes will provide cycling nirvana which will suddenly provide safety from autos, improve rider morale to the point that they will instantly follow the Rules of the Road where stop signs and red lights are concerned and grandmas and grandpas will take to the streets in the evening to ride for ice cream. (Sarcasm level turned way, way up!)

Glad to have seen evidence that some of the urban warriors are playing with a full deck.