Monday, July 23, 2012

The scoop from Streets for Cycling 2020 Plan guru Mike Amsden

by Michelle Stenzel

If you’ve been to any of the citywide Streets for Cycling 2020 Plan meetings, you’ll probably recognize Mike Amsden, who is a Bike Program Project Manager at CDOT. He and others are working hard to create the final eight-year S4C2020 plan, and also concurrently drawing up new and upgraded Chicago bikeways to be installed this season. 

For bicyclists who are dying to know what’s next on the horizon for Chicago’s bike network, he’s THE man to talk to.
Mike Amsden presents at the north side Streets for Cycling 2020 Plan meeting in February 2012.
(Photo by Flickr user saumacus, used with permission)
He also happens to be a resident of Lincoln Park! I worked with Mike in my role as a volunteer community advisory group leader for the S4C2020 public input gathering, and he graciously agreed to answer questions recently about the ongoing bikeways being installed right now and in the coming year.

Bike Walk Lincoln Park: There are seven miles of protected bike lanes installed in Chicago so far, almost all on the west and south sides. It seems like to date, they’re being put in where it’s easy to put them in, meaning extremely wide street width and no parking meter issues. Would you say that’s true?

Mike Amsden: Well, we began with areas in which aldermen actively expressed an interest in having them, and in which there were fewer design problems to overcome. It also gave us a chance to get experience designing them, and they give us examples within the city to show that they can be implemented successfully.

BWLP: Will the north side ever get protected bike lanes?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Lakefront Trail gets new signage and striping

by Michelle Stenzel

It's summer in Chicago, and that means peak season for traffic on the Lakefront Trail. The Lincoln Park neighborhood's section of the LFT from North Avenue to Diversey is among the heaviest used portions, usually filled with beachgoers, runners, bicyclists, and strollers.
Chicago's popular Lakefront Trail on a Friday afternoon in July, at Fullerton Avenue. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
Lots more after the jump!

Friday, July 20, 2012

City bike riders and Tour de France competitors have little in common

by Michelle Stenzel

The Chicago Tribune printed an opinion piece recently by John D. Thomas (you can read it here on Chainlink), who expresses anger about seeing what he perceives to be "egregious driving infractions by cyclists". These include failing to stop at red lights, and appearing alongside his car when he's trying to turn right. 
I don't think Tour de France competitors face potholes
like those on Lincoln Avenue.
(Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
What he doesn't seem to understand is that one's perception depends on one's viewpoint. To Mr. Thomas driving a car, he may see a bicyclist going through an intersection on a red light and perceive her to be breaking the law. The bicyclist, however, may have entered the intersection just as the light turned yellow, and due to the enormous size of the intersection, was in the middle of it on red. To the bicyclist, the signals are unfortunately timed only for the benefit of cars, and she's not given enough chance to cross safely.

To Mr. Thomas driving in his car, a bicyclist may seem to appear "out of nowhere" just as he turns on his signal and begins to turn right. The bicyclist, however, perhaps rolled up to the intersection on red, and was just trying to stay close to the curb while intending to go straight. To the bicyclist, the bike lane disappeared 10 yards ago, and Mr. Thomas was "suddenly turning right" and nearly T-boning him.

What really struck me in Mr. Thomas' essay was that in order to make the argument that he is sympathetic to people riding bicycles and presumably understands the issues they face, he cites his personal history of road bike tours and mountain bike racing in his youth. His more recent experience with bicycling seems to be limited to watching the Tour de France for hours at a time. He never mentions riding a bike in Chicago.

I don't believe that riding on rural highways for leisure or watching Tour de France provides the same experiences as riding a bike on our city's streets to get to work, or to bring a child to an activity. An entirely different problem set faces each rider, and causes them to behave differently. I worked up a Venn diagram, to illustrate.

(Much more after the jump!)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

It's the Bike Walk Lincoln Park mission statement!

by Michelle Stenzel

Now that Bike Walk Lincoln Park is one year old, we decided it's time to formulate a mission statement. 

During our recent BWLP meeting (minutes coming soon!), we reviewed and adopted these principles, to help guide us as we go forward. 
Nice stamped brick crosswalk at Clark and Dickens for pedestrians. Not much for bicyclists here, yet.
(Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)

Bike Walk Lincoln Park’s mission is to work to ensure that riding a bicycle and walking for transportation and recreation in the 43rd ward is pleasant and safe.

More specifics after the jump! --->

Saturday, July 7, 2012

More crosswalk signs installed!

by Michelle Stenzel

Why yes, we are excited about these signs. This month marks the two-year anniversary that it's been state law that drivers must STOP for pedestrians in crosswalks, not just swerve around them. These signs are helping to finally educate drivers, and make life easier for people walking!
In-street "Stop for Pedestrians" signs are appearing all over Lincoln Park. (Photo: BikeWalkLincolnPark)
In addition to the first in-street stop for pedestrian sign that we reported about in this post, we've now spotted five more locations.

More after the jump -->

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A fun inaugural 43rd ward bike ride!

by Michelle Stenzel

On the last Saturday in June, on the final day of the 43rd Ward Green Week, Alderman Michele Smith and her staff led an inaugural 43rd ward bike ride! It was a beautiful warm, sunny morning. 

The route was easy and chosen to showcase how many streets we have that are safe and beautiful for riding bikes.

More after the jump -->