Two of the major topics of the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council meeting on Wednesday were bike-share and the Dearborn Street bike lane.
Divvy bike-share was supposed to launch with 40 stations today during the Bike To Work Day Rally, but on Tuesday, the company announced that the system would launch on June 28 with 75 stations. Sean Wiedel, assistant commissioner for the Chicago Department of Transportation, said that a proprietary bolt used in the stations had just arrived this week. Meanwhile, New York’s recently-launched bike-share system, Citi Bike, which uses the same components and software as Divvy, has experienced some bugs in the beginning, including occasional power failures at the stations. Still, in the 19 days since launch, over 212,000 trips have been made.
Metropolitan Planning Council Vice President Peter Skosey, an MBAC member, asked that since the Tribune reported “no one is going to use bike sharing, how many members are there?” Wiedel replied that more than 1,300 people have purchased an annual membership. This is lower than the sign-up rate for Citi Bike, which sold 10,000 annual memberships in 30 days, but since New York launched with more than 300 stations, it’s more or less proportional, given the smaller size of Chicago’s initial bike-share network.
Some companies are also signing up for corporate memberships, which give their employees a discount on bike-share subscriptions. Skosey mentioned that MPC has added a free membership for Divvy to their employee benefits package.
The first Divvy station was installed Thursday night at the southeast corner of Daley Plaza (at Washington and Dearborn Streets) with 23 docks. Wiedel said that four more would be installed on Friday, as part of training the crew, who will then work in two teams of four to install eight stations a day until June 28. Each station has two neighborhood maps — one showing the area within a 5-minute walk and the other showing a 5-minute biking radius. “It will show cultural institutions, libraries, and ‘business districts,’ so as not to show favoritism,” Wiedel explained.
Also revealed at the meeting: Dearborn Street will be receiving some much-needed upgrades soon, including fresh green paint and longer-lasting, more visible thermoplastic pavement markings. Additionally, to mitigate conflicts between cyclists and other street users at alleys and driveways, CDOT will add “rumble strips” for cyclists in the form of thicker thermoplastic. Rumble strips tell bicyclists to slow down and green paint should make it more obvious that this is a lane for a biking.
MBAC community representative Michelle Stenzel also wanted to know how CDOT will deal with the delivery, valet, and taxi drivers who park daily in the bike lane. “For valets, [the parking is] temporary for them, but it’s permanent for bicyclists,” she said. “[The same with] government vehicles. This impedes visibility and makes it dangerous. Truck drivers don’t know it’s a bike lane because their visibility is blocked. Having a raised curb there would stop this.”
CDOT complete streets manager Janet Attarian said “that is the long-term plan.” After Stenzel asked when the long-term plan would be implemented, Klein noted that, in the meantime, “we’re going to add [flexible posts] at the conflict zones.”
The other issue with Dearborn is poor drainage between Adams and Jackson (a.k.a. “Lake Kluczynski”) and at Randolph (“Lake Petterino’s”). Deep, wide puddles can remain even days after it rains. Klein said that the problem by Randolph was caused by a clogged drain while the other “lake,” adjacent to Federal Plaza, has no drain. Smith said that CDOT would look at these when they go out to install the thermoplastic. CDOT Deputy Commissioner Scott Kubly also advised calling 311, saying “motorists never hesitate” to call.
It wasn’t mentioned at the meeting, but Streetsblog reader Justin Haugens, who rides to and from Rogers Park several times a week, told us that the left-side, one-way bike lane on Dearborn that starts at Kinzie Street has been extended past Chicago Avenue to Walton Street, at the Newberry Library, where Dearborn becomes two-way. The purpose of this extension is to connect with the northbound bike lane on Clark Street.
The next MBAC meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, September 11, 2013, from 3-4:30 PM in Room 1103 at City Hall, 121 N LaSalle Street.