After lobbying by defenders, CDOT pledges to better protect Clark bike lanes – Streetsblog Chicago

As Streetsblog readers know, the protected bike lanes that the Chicago Department of Transportation installed last summer on Clark Street between Hollywood Avenue (5700 North) and Devon Street (6400 North) in Edgewater were only semi- functional, because drivers park there constantly. Streetsblog had previously called for redesigning lanes to make them more difficult to park illegally.

Image from the Better Streets campaign.
Image from the Better Streets campaign.

Sustainable transportation advocacy group Better Streets Chicago, which I co-founded, launched an email campaign that resulted in over 200 letters being sent to CDOT and local aldermen Andre Vazquez (40th) and Harry Osterman (48th), asking them to repair the tracks. The group also requested updates on any design changes that would be made.

These lobbying efforts seem to have paid off. Today Vasquez shared this update on the bike path situation on Twitter.

Vasquez’s statement began by acknowledging that since the Clark lanes were installed, his office has been contacted by residents stressing that the constant obstructions to cycle lanes pose a danger to people on bicycles. He said that two weeks after the end of the lanes, leaflets were issued to inform neighbors of the new configuration and parking restrictions, and to let them know that illegally parked vehicles would be fined.

After two weeks, Vasquez asked the finance ministry to start writing notes. He also asked the ministry to tow vehicles when necessary in order to keep the lanes clear.

The alderman added that he had met Commissioner Biagi and the CDOT cycling team to ask for more protection for the cycle paths, “notably specifying that we must see concrete or Qwick Kurb, a temporary barricade which is usually bolted to the street I also requested that they look at Clark’s blocks 5800, 5900 and 6100 north to see what adjustments could be made there.

The west side of the 5900 block of North Clark.  Photo: John Greenfield
The west side of the 5900 block of North Clark. Photo: John Greenfield

Vasquez said the CDOT is committed to (his words):

  • “Additional installation [flexible plastic posts] every 20 feet instead of every 40 feet by the end of the month, so that it is more difficult for [drivers] pass between them to park in the cycle path. I also asked if it is possible to add [posts] at intersections to narrow the cycle path, which also makes it difficult for cars to pass in this way. “
  • “Install a concrete curb to protect the cycle path in 2022 when the weather permits (This would be funded by the federal infrastructure bill that was passed, as well as the 2021 municipal budget.) ”
  • “Make the necessary and feasible adjustments to the 5800, 5900 and 6100 blocks of North Clark Street. “
  • “In addition, it is a question of installing bus stop bulbs at certain intersections with the cycle lane with associated changes in cycling infrastructure to further protect cyclists.

Vasquez ends with: “Here in the 40th district, we take road safety seriously, and I am grateful for the partnership of Alderman Osterman (48th), CDOT, and especially neighbors and cycling advocates such as Better Streets Chicago, Active Transportation Alliance, and many others who have spoken and organized by joining us to make it a priority! “

It is encouraging to see that the grassroots efforts of the defenders helped start a fire under city officials to make the necessary changes. However, one adjustment to the plan we suggest is that you don’t have to wait until spring to add concrete protection. As local cycling advocate Justin Haugens pointed out on Twitter, above, CDOT could start improving cyclist safety immediately by installing precast concrete curbs.

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