I cam across this very helpful article in StreetsBlog today:
As if bicycling downtown, where there is little space to safely pedal, wasn’t hard enough, private limo bus company Windy City Limousine frequently blocks bike lanes on Franklin Street outside Walgreens and Orleans next to the Merchandise Mart.
Brian Elmore bicycle commutes from Madison Street and Wacker Drive to Ukrainian Village by taking the bike lanes on Franklin and Orleans, to Hubbard, Kingsbury, and Kinzie. He says that Windy City Limousine chauffeurs are parking their wide charter buses in bike lanes on both streets “constantly” during rush hour. Elmore sent in these photos and explained the issue.
It’s problematic because it’s a very congested area around rush hour, and motorists are traveling at a high rate of speed down Franklin & Orleans. More so than anything, it’s inconsiderate to the vast number of cyclists that commute to and from The Loop daily.
The law is on Elmore’s side, and the city’s website succinctly explains why: ”motorists parking in bike lanes endanger bicyclists by forcing them to merge unexpectedly with faster moving motor vehicle traffic.”
If you encounter this situation you can call police dispatchers at 911 (calling 311 will transfer you to 911) to report a bus blocking the bike lane, or go straight to the source. Windy City Limousine’s phone number is right on the back of the bus.
Here Is Another Bottleneck Lane Area
It got me to thinking. We really do need to keep an eye open for places where inconsiderate vehicle operators park their transports without regard for the lane and those who use it.
As if walking on Taylor Street, where there is little space to walk safely, wasn’t hard enough, private bicycles frequently block pedestrian lanes, sometimes known as sidewalks, outside the Starbucks and Drum and Monkey establishments newer the Italian-American Sports Museum.
It’s problematic because it’s a very congested area around rush hour, and pedestrians are sometimes tipsy and traveling at an unsteady rate of speed down Taylor Street. It’s inconsiderate to the vast number of pedestrians that walk to and from the nearby hospitals or to their homes.
The illegal use of the Pedestrian Lane for bicycle parking is bad enough (it is attached to a private property fence which is not only a total disregard of the area used by pedestrians but in violation of city ordinances regarding such parking on private property). But the situation just across the street (next-door to the Starbucks) is actually dangerous. These bikes should be upright when locked but have been allowed to lie horizontal (taking up even more room). But this has been going on at this location since last fall. All winter long these bikes have been lying on the pavement in the pedestrian lane and their owners have seemingly abandoned them. Horrid!
I suspect that this makes the limousine abuse of the bike lane seem tame by comparison because of the shear length of time that these bikes have been blocking the sidewalk. And where does a bicyclist assume his right to lock up to someone’s property without permission!
OK. Enough parody of the horrified tone of the StreetsBlog entry. Just needed to point out that motorists are not the only abusive users of lanes in this city.