CHICAGO (WLS) — A construction project on Milwaukee Avenue, one of the busiest bike lanes in the city, is putting riders at risk by forcing them into traffic.
While warm weather often means construction season, it also means more cyclists are on the road. Due to the construction, cyclists on Milwaukee Avenue either have to ride into traffic or into the construction itself.
Drivers and cyclists are taught to share the road, which is pretty easy when both have their own dedicated lanes. But what about when there’s not enough road to go around?
“It’s counter-productive, and its actually more dangerous because then bikes have to use the road. They’re forced into the road. It just seems to make things worse when it’s blocked like this, ” said Ryan Curry, a cyclist.
City crews have closed this busy section of sidewalk and bike lane while they work on repaving the sidewalk along Milwaukee. The work is expected to take up to two months. In the meantime, drivers are warned to yield to bikes. But, of course, drivers in cars are a little better protected than bike riders.
“You just gotta ride cautiously,” said Travers Gauntt, a cyclist. “Construction is always there. You just gotta deal with it as it comes.”
Chicago Department of Transpiration officials say they have marked the area well. In a statement, CDOT says: “This is critical work that is necessary to safely maintain the public way. CDOT explored all options for staging equipment. However, due to the narrow geography of the roadway, it will be necessary to temporarily close a short section of the bike lane for the duration of the project.”
Cycling advocates say 6,000 cyclists use this section of Milwaukee every day.
“This is another sign of the overwhelming biking boom that Chicago is experiencing right now, and another reason why people need to stay engaged and call 311 if they see something,” said Jim Merrell, of the Active Transportation Alliance.
Not only does the construction project put riders at risk, so does running red lights!
But judging from the usual blather cyclists in Chicago do not see things that way. They believe that ‘filtering‘ is perfectly acceptable as it gets them to the front of the line quicker than waiting behind other vehicles. Yet it clearly ‘puts them in traffic‘.
What is most disappointing about this entire business is that the construction along Milwaukee could have been used as an excuse to relocate portions of the Milwaukee-Kinzie stretch over to Grand. But the ‘Chicken Littles‘ of the Urban Cycling Community saw this as a devious attempt to usurp their birthright. So they mounted a campaign to keep things as they are.
But now the full impact of that rather small-minded decision is coming into play and they have their friends in the media trying to stir up some ‘hate-and-discontent‘. That is unfortunate. I say ‘stick by your guns‘ practice all those long forgotten Vehicular Cycling strategies you once knew and STFU.
The constant whining is even more than usual from this group. They really cannot make up their minds.