Monday, May 27, 2013

Join us for Bike Lane Potholepalooza on Saturday!

by Michelle Stenzel
"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."  Dr. Seuss in The Lorax
Pothole in the bike lane. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
Are you tired of swerving to avoid potholes in the bike lanes in Lincoln Park? Yes, so are we, and we're ready to take action to get them fixed! We're hosting the first "43rd Ward Bike Lane Potholepalooza" on Saturday, June 1, starting at 9:00 am, and we hope you'll join us.

In April, the Chicago Department of Transportation held a citywide "Potholepalooza" in which they encouraged citizens to report as many potholes as possible via 311 and various means, so that city crews could get out in force to repair them. I never read whether it resulted in an increase in reports, but Michael Reynolds and I thought the basic idea was great, so we're going to do the same thing for bike lane potholes.

We plan to ride up and down every marked bike lane in the ward, and document each pothole via photo and address, then report them in bulk to Alderman Smith's office and CDOT. So this means we'll be scoping for craters on Wells, Lincoln, Armitage, Halsted and Clark. I'm predicting Lincoln will be the most work. Although Lincoln is a state route and therefore not under the direct control of CDOT for resurfacing and other major work, we've been advised by Ald. Smith's infrastructure specialist that CDOT is nevertheless permitted to do patchwork like potholes in the bike lanes. 

We hope you can join us! This is a big job, and it would be great to have at least 5 or 6 people to help with the tasks and just provide fun companionship as we spend some time helping to make bicycling in our area a little safe and more enjoyable for all users.

WHAT:    43rd Ward Bike Lane Potholepalooza
WHEN:    Saturday, June 1, 2013 - 9:00 am
WHERE:  Meet near the corner of Wells and Lincoln (at 1820 N. Lincoln)

Please RSVP so we can expect you and communicate in case of inclement weather: or to @BikeWalkLP

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Are you ready for bike share, Chicago?

by Michelle Stenzel

After a few delays, bike share is finally coming to Chicago in the next month!

As you know, bike share systems are transportation systems that give ordinary citizens one more way to get around their neighborhoods in their city. You can read some basics about what a bike share system is and is not on this prior post. The most important thing to know is that this is not for tourists, but for people who live, work and study in the area serviced by the bike share stations. These bikes are meant to be taken to reach destinations that are perhaps one, two or three miles away. 

So we've finally begun to hear details about what bike share will look like in Chicago. First, the system will be called "Divvy"and the bikes will be light blue, with black and white details.
Screen shot from the Divvy Bikes website.
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Monday, May 20, 2013

Why are signs needed forbidding bikes on the Fullerton sidewalk?

by Michelle Stenzel

Street signs help us remember what is and isn’t allowed on the streets and sidewalks of Lincoln Park. However, I’ve noticed lately that they sometimes reflect unmet needs of people wishing to undertake legitimate actions. I wonder whether it wouldn’t be better to solve the problem of the unmet demand rather than simply forbidding the behavior. 

This is the first of a two-part post on this subject. Today I'll discuss signs forbidding riding bikes on the sidewalk, and in the next installment I'll provide examples of other signs and behaviors.
Signs threaten arrest of people riding bikes on the sidewalk along Fullerton. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
I noticed an entire series of signs forbidding bicycles on the sidewalk along Fullerton from Lincoln Avenue to Stockton Drive.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Proposed changes to city laws mostly favor bicyclists

by Michelle Stenzel

You may have read that last week, Mayor Emanuel proposed some changes to the laws pertaining to bicycling and driving in the city. Most of the coverage in the large media outlets of the changes was focused only on the increased fines for both bicyclists and drivers, and those are indeed part of the proposal. But after reading the full amendment (it’s only a four-page PDF, which you can download yourself from the city clerk’s website), I found there are many more changes that are interesting and important to people who ride bikes in the city, so here’s my round up:

If a person opens the door of a motor vehicle into the path of a bicyclist, there is a fine imposed of $300. If a person opens the door of a motor vehicle into the path of a bicyclist and thereby causes a collision, there is a fine of $1,000.

These fines are double from what they were before. In order to help raise awareness of how important it is to look to check for oncoming vehicles before opening a door, the city will also be requiring taxicab operators to place anti-dooring stickers on windows for passengers. 
Large-scale markings and signs reinforce the message that bicyclists are allowed to use the full lane, here on Wells Street in the Loop. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
People of any age are allowed to ride on a sidewalk if it is marked as a bicycle route, or if they are riding on it to get to a bike share station, or if they are using the sidewalk to enter the nearest roadway.

This is obviously in preparation for the bike share stations that we’re going to see installed in the city in the next few weeks. Due to our unfortunate parking meter lease deal, I expect that many (maybe most?) stations will be on the sidewalk, instead of on the street, and people should be able to ride conveniently to and from the stations on the sidewalk to the nearest curb cut, to get onto the street.