Chicago Bike Lanes : A Calamity In Progress


I called it a minefield.© Steve Vance

I called it a minefield.
© Steve Vance

One of the reasons that scammers target senior citizens is because they know that in the brain functioning of many of our elderly reasoning skills are on the decline. I would suggest that the same issues lie in the reasoning skills of urban cyclists. How else do you explain “brand new” buffered and protected bike lanes that look this bad and are eagerly welcomed by the folks who are cycling activists?

How do you explain a group like Active Transportation Alliance showing up for the roll out of that travesty of a breakthrough lane design better known as Dearborn Street whose curbside surface from day one has collected water than turns to ice making it necessary for orange traffic cones to be placed out to alert riders?

Meanwhile we are all busy being indignant when a motorist unloads water bottles in the bike lane. My take on this is that given the conditions of some of these lanes he is doing us a favor. Nobody should have to ride a bicycle in lanes this poorly degraded. What on earth was Gabe Klein thinking when he signed off on this stuff?

Children on small bikes with 20-inch wheels would be quickly brought to ground in a crash or worse on these kinds of road surfaces. Are we really trying to pass this crap off as “safer“? Where the heck is John Kass when you need him?

Before you decide I am being a grouch take a gander at this thread from folks who are supposed to be pro-biking types:

After parking complaints from locals, a West Side protected lane is being changed to a buffered lane

Posted by John Greenfield on January 7, 2013

The Chicago Department of Transportation recently installed protected bike lanes on Independence Boulevard in Lawndale, an underserved community on the city’s West Side. 24th Ward Alderman Michael Chandler signed off on the design a year ago. But after locals complained that they felt unsafe exiting their cars in the new “floating” parking lanes, and that the new configuration makes church and residential parking more difficult, Chandler blasted the lanes at community meetings and demanded that they be changed to allow curbside parking.

CDOT will be repainting the lanes this winter to convert them to buffered lanes, which do not provide a physical barrier between cyclists and moving cars, at an estimated additional cost in the low $10,000s. I talked to CDOT deputy commissioner Scott Kubly to get his perspective on the issue, and learn about the department’s strategies to avoid this situation in the future:

State of Independence: The protected lane will change to a buffered lane

Keep moving forward,

John Greenfield

Some of the choicer comments to this thread are:

Reply by h’ 1.0 3 hours ago
Chandler is a waste of space— almost universally disliked among West Side residents; only ended up back in office because the alternatives were worse.

Any word on what’s happeneing further east/south?

I noticed last night cars are still parked in the bike lane along Marshall. The curbside lane along Sacramento coming south off of Independence is a moonscape– some of the worst pavement I’ve ever seen anyone try to pain bike lanes on top of.

This from a yokel who tries to defend his choice to ride as a ninja at night.

Or some others:

Reply by Juan 2 hours ago
Complaints from locos (as in auto driving dependents bent on mindlessly destroying the environment).

This is an example of the Spawn of Satan defense. You learn to demonize anyone who disagrees with you and that makes their arguments “null and void“. This is typical ChainLink fare for those unfamiliar with it.

More indications of the arrogance of the ChainLink crowd:

Reply by h’ 1.0 2 hours ago
Duh…. yeah, Sacramento coming south off Douglas Boulevard. Particularly north of Ogden. You pretty much need a full suspension ATB to ride in the lane there.

Why would the folks at the Hub have any special knowledge re: Marshall that you or I wouldn’t have?

Reply by John Greenfield 2 hours ago
Because they live on Marshall.

Ouch! That had to hurt! But having read h’s drivel for quite some time now I am not surprised when one of his own has to “take him down a notch” with the obvious. But h’ is not alone is his arrogance and dismissive behavior when it comes to people of color, it is rampant on this forum.

Now of course the “sissy hissy fit” comes into play:

Reply by h’ 1.0 2 hours ago

OK, I work on Marshall, have a building on Marshall, and ride it every day. Neener neener.

I’m curious about your statements that parking tickets on Independence were “thrown out.”

When I talked to the folks at the 12th ward office about the ticketing on Marshall, I was told that the residents had to go through the usual process of contesting them on an individual basis, and there was no other way.

Next comes the Steve Vance input that I referred to earlier:

Reply by Steven Vance 2 hours ago

I called it a minefield. © Steve Vance

I called it a minefield.
© Steve Vance

I called it a minefield.

Reply by h’ 1.0 1 hour ago
That’s the one. I can only imagine that whoever was charged with painting the markings on top of the rubble was thinking “stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid” the entire time.

I seriously doubt that the worker who painted these lines was surprised or dismayed. This sort of stupid stuff happens all the time in “low income” neighborhoods. What is surprising is that the Dearborn Street poster child of a lane was as poorly done as it turned out to have been.

You can always get away with this sort of stuff in poorer neighborhoods but to have done that in downtown Chicago is unforgivable.

I’ll give John the last word here since he was the OP:

Reply by John Greenfield 1 hour ago
I believe you had to contest your ticket to get it thrown out.


If you cannot be bothered to put lights on your bike because they somehow affect the clean lines and simplicity of cycling then please refrain from offering your notions on what other people think about these boondoggles being put up in their neighborhoods.

And for the umpteenth time putting bicyclists up against the curb is a bad idea. The places normally reserved for parking are often the worst maintained areas of all. Cyclists would be safer riding to the left of parked cars. They just need to start anticipating exiting drivers better. And that can be greatly enhanced by not trying to ride around the city on bikes with no brakes.