Today’s Headlines

  • Alderman Arena Upset About Not Getting Veto Power on Speed Camera Locations (DNA)
  • City Passes Ordinance for Stiffer Penalties Near Transit Stops (DNA)
  • CTA Promises to Extend 111th Street Service to New Walmart (Tribune)
  • New Ventra Users Gripe About their Experiences (Tribune, NBC)
  • CTA Mailing Out 15,000 Ventra Cards a Day (RedEye)
  • Man Who Killed Two Women in Wrong-Way Crash Charged With Reckless Homicide (Tribune)
  • IDOT Driver Strikes Pregnant Woman Riding Divvy Bike (Kevenides)
  • Divvy Launches Contest to Create Safety Videos (DNA)
  • Osterman Gets Ordinance Passed to Raise Fines for Sheridan Sidewalk Riders (Sun-Times)
  • Brown Line to Run on Single Track Between Western and Kimball Through October (DNA)
  • Benny the Bull and Tommy Hawk Ride Divvy at Opening of United Center Station (CBS)
  • Mod Transportation: Hauling Mid-Century Chairs by Cargo Bike (Ding Ding)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • OK, here’s my daily comment on the stories:

    It seems a bit ridiculous to me that the fine for riding a bike on the sidewalk up there is now going to be more than a speeding ticket. The few times I have linked up to the LFT from the posted bike routes in that area, I found it confusing. Frankly, the signage sucks. If they’re not going to build good bike infrastructure to go all the way up into RP, they really can’t blame people for riding on the sidewalk. Sheridan is a speedway. You’ve got drivers that just came off a fast-moving road and they don’t want to slow down, and the lights are timed for a green wave. The whole place isn’t very friendly to non-drivers. I hardly think people on bikes is the biggest problem, but they’re just the easiest target.

  • Anonymous

    There is a bike route (including a contra-flow lane) on Ardmore, connecting the LFT to Winthrop and Kenmore.

    It appears that Osterman wants to placate the condo dwellers on Sheridan.They are organized in ASCO, which represents 6000+ condos and approx 15,000 residents, a lot of them seniors. That means that they can mobilize nearly 25% of the residents of the 48th Ward. Osterman is smart enough to listen to them.

    I agree with the fine being out of proportion. But it all comes down to enforcement. Without enforcement it doesn’t mean anything. Time will tell if this ordinance has any bite or not.

  • I definitely get the politics, didn’t understand the scope of the condo owners though.

    I’ve used those bike lanes to go north/south up there, but I found it a bit confusing. I’m sure if I used them more often, I’d get it, but I can see why many people who don’t would just use the sidewalk until they found a quieter area.

    Why do they have to have such a heavy fine though? I don’t really know what the answer is but something else would have to be done. A bike path on Sheridan or something. Of course, the condo owners would object to parking loss… but you can’t have it all.

  • CL

    I think it’s important to deter riding on the sidewalk on Sheridan. People have been injured — this isn’t drivers whining about cyclists, it’s a vulnerable group of pedestrians that feel unsafe when they walk to and from home.

    However, I agree that $200 is too harsh. I think actual frequent enforcement, threatening signs, and a $50 fine would be sufficient.

  • Anonymous

    There is no parking on Sheridan.

  • Well, that shows how much I ride up there!

  • CL

    I also heard that a taxi struck a cyclist at Monroe and LaSalle this morning. Maybe it will be in the news tomorrow.

  • Fred

    There are 2 ways to influence behavior; discouragement through fines and fees, and encouragement through making alternatives better.

    I’m not inherently opposed to fines for riding on the sidewalk, but what happens when someone on a bike dies while riding in the street and is clipped by a speeding car? It seems like better bike facilities would solve the problem, whether that be dedicated bike lanes on Sheridan, or better advertisement of the parallel lanes further west.

    I ride the parallel lanes when I travel between the LFT and the North Shore Channel Trail. They are perfectly fine to ride on, especially since my destination is to the west. I can see how bikers would be less inclined to take them for destinations north and east.

    Maybe it would be best to cede this stretch of road to cars and only allow local bicycle traffic. Force bikers to use the other routes. Cyclists are going to be left out of Ashland once BRT is installed. It is going to be interesting to see if bikers really do end up avoiding it, or someone dies trying anyway.

  • CL

    I think a road diet / bike lane approach would work best. The two center lanes could be for cars, and the right lane could be converted to a bike lane. There is no parking on Sheridan anyway, so drivers wouldn’t really sacrifice anything if we put a bike lane here. I would actually like if aggressive drivers couldn’t swerve around trying to pass everyone. If it slows things down a bit, drivers coming off Lake Shore could take Hollywood to Broadway to Sheridan at Devon.

  • Chicagio

    How about we put red light cameras on every light along that stretch of sheridan? Cars running lights is a far more hazardous action than bikes on sidewalks.

  • Anonymous

    I guess bus frequency could influence this, but I’ll be curious to see if the Ashland BRT bus lanes become “de facto bike lanes.” Depending on how the street is set up, it could be easy enough to pull off to the side when a bus approaches from behind to let it pass. I realize this is not the intended usage and would be illegal, but I can also imagine the temptation being too great to resist for many.

  • Anonymous

    Shifting traffic from Sheridan to Broadway would be a bad idea. Sheridan has very little ground-level residences and retail, whereas Osterman is trying to position Broadway as a retail street. Whatever new retail he has managed to attract to Broadway will surely disappear if you double the street traffic.

    CDOT seems to think likewise.They are putting Broadway from Montrose to Foster on a road diet later this year.

    Also your idea of shifting traffic from Sheridan to Broadway is not new. It was first floated in the late 80’s or early 90’s when Harry Osterman’s mom was alderman. According to local lore, it got shot down by residents west of Broadway who feared an increase in traffic and threatened to put up another candidate for alderman.

  • CL

    I don’t think Broadway is going to become a walkable retail street between Ardmore and Devon as long as it remains two lanes — it already has a lot of fast moving traffic that makes it unfriendly to pedestrians, including heavy traffic during rush hour. So I don’t think making Sheridan one lane would really make any difference on Broadway, but it could make Sheridan a lot safer for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.

    Of course Broadway residents don’t want it — nobody ever wants more traffic on their own street. But thanks for the info on the history — that’s interesting to know.

  • Peter

    People need to be educated on safely riding the streets of Chicago. I saw a Divvy rider (with no helmet) almost get run down by a CTA bus on Chcago Ave on Saturday morning. I see countless cyclists riding mindlessly with their Iphone/pods plugged into their ears, riding oblivious to whats going on around them, playing frogger to get through a red light, etc. Even more, I LOVE when I see someone riding with one (or no) hand on the handle bars and one hand holding a phone to their ear while they pedal down the street. Riding a bike is dangerous, regardless of your route/path. Cyclists of all skill levels need to keep their head on a swivel and be aware of pedestrians and vehicles around them. For everyones protection I wish the City could do more to fine negligent bike riders. I also wish Divvy did more to educate, as I see many novice riders being unsafe as they are unfamiliar with riding in the City.

  • Obviously, dangerous behavior by drivers is a much more widespread problem, with far more serious consequences. But if you’re concerned about the safety of Divvy riders, how about creating a safety video for their new contest? http://www.divvybikes.com/safety

  • Peter

    I agree. Drivers are just as big a concern… perhaps that CTA bus driver I saw on Saturday could use a training refresher. I was going to call him in to 311, but my bluetooth had disconnected and I didn’t want to be un-safe. I did see the notice about safety video contest. If I can pry some time away from the “the man” maybe I’ll submit an entry. Thanks and EVERYONE be safe !

  • Anonymous

    Yes, for this to work, the road diet as planned for south of Foster has to be extended to Devon.
    I have not heard Osterman specifically say that he wants this done, but he has repeatedly expressed the idea that he wants Broadway to be more retail oriented.

  • CL

    I’m not sure how I feel about a road diet on Broadway. One of the great things about that road is that you can easily pass the 36 bus, and traffic moves very quickly. Also, the 36 bus itself moves quickly because it’s two lanes — I’m afraid the road diet will slow down the 36 so that it’s just as bad as the 22. I’d rather leave Broadway as a fast street and road diet Sheridan, but I guess they’ve already decided to go the other way.

  • Anonymous

    I am not aware that anything has been decided. I was just referring to the conversations we had on the transportation committee as part of the development of the long term plan for the ward.
    So I would subscribe to his weekly newsletter and keep an eye out for any updates on this topic