Eyes on the Street: Twitter User Calls Attention to Drivers Blocking Bike Lane

Twitter user @CJettR has started a campaign to focus the attention of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Police Department on clearing illegally parked and standing vehicles from bike lanes. Using the hashtag #enforce940060, Clement Robinson is calling attention to ordinance 9-40-060, which bans motorists from parking or standing in bike lanes.

The city evidently agrees that drivers should pay attention to this ordinance: They recently mailed a flyer about it to all 1.5 million motorists whose cars have city stickers. According to the city’s flyer, blocking a bike lane forces bicyclists to merge into faster moving traffic, “endangering them and other motorists.” The fine for offending motorists is $150 — or $500, if a blocked bike lane sends a bicyclist into a collision.

A 26-year-old analytics professional, Robinson biked recreationally when he first moved here — but it “soon became my main form of transportation,” he said. He bikes between Old Town and the Loop for work every day, and to run errands. He started the hashtag five days ago, disappointed at how he saw the city’s growing bikeway infrastructure “slipping away…due to lax enforcement.”

I was very excited about the city’s plan to install 100 miles of protected bike lanes — but when cars are allowed to park and drive in them, we are put in danger. If a car is in the bike lane on Dearborn, a biker going southbound must either ride into oncoming traffic, or onto the sidewalk to get around it.

He contacted the Chicago Department of Transportation, who asked him for a list of problematic locations. Robinson sent them one, “but it didn’t seem to accomplish anything, and the problem is pervasive across the city.” One of the worst spots, he says, is along Old Town’s historic shopping street. “Wells between Oak (where there is a ghost bike) and North Ave is pretty terrible,” Robinson said, adding, “It is full of cabs, delivery trucks, and people in nearby buildings unloading their cars.” He kept listing them:

The Dearborn bike lane is also particularly bad. Kinzie can be tough too, especially with more than half the original barriers missing. Really though, I’ve seen it all over the city.

Spending “just five minutes” double-parked in a bike lane might not seem like a long time, but it can matter to plenty of other people. Along a popular cycling route like Milwaukee Avenue, a car blocking the bike lane for just five minutes in the afternoon could put 42 people in danger.

Robinson said he hasn’t gotten a response from Emanuel, the police department, or CDOT, despite inundating their Twitter feeds with evidence of dangerous motorist behavior. “I hope to see more people tweeting these photos at the mayor and CPD, so we can get the momentum going.”

  • Kevin M

    Kudos to Robinson.

    I biked around a CTA van that was parked in a PBL on Milwaukee two days ago. Both crew members were sitting in the van at the time.

  • Jin Nam

    Solo efforts of private messaging with lots of pictures for two years hasn’t made a dent so I am optimistic that public social media driven, hopefully group effort, can.

  • JKM13

    Sounds like future Divvy van drivers.

  • Jack

    Everyone who can should be trying this!

  • cjett

    Update: Alderman Michelle Smith responds to one of our tweets saying she will send the Ward superintendent out to the spot. Yet to hear a peep from the leader of the “progressive” caucus, Fioretti.

  • John

    Probably the same CTA van I’ve seen parked in the northbound Milwaukee PBL at Erie several times over the past week or so. Creates a huge blind spot for the intersection to the north (Sangamon).

  • oog

    Widen the sidewalks to the edge of the current bike lanes, and mark them as bike lanes on the edge of the sidewalk. raised by a curb. Munich does this and it works great. If Chicago has the space for bike lanes on the roads, then Chicago has the space for them to be part of widened sidewalks.

  • We are slowly, very slowly going to try something similar.
    http://chi.streetsblog.org/2013/09/27/cdot-reveals-plans-for-chicagos-first-raised-bike-lane-on-roosevelt-road/

    It’s different, though, in that the sidewalk and the bikeway are on the same grade instead of separated by an inch or different path texture & material.

  • cjett

    Take a pic and tag @cta

  • Alex Vickers

    Does Streetsblog know about Social Cyclist? It allows users to report hazards in bike lanes among a ton of other great features.

    http://socialcyclist.com/

  • High_n_Dry

    I saw a CTA van there as well on Friday around 2:00pm last week but I lazed out and kept riding. Next time I will get a pic.

  • birdonawire

    Bikers are being a little picky here. Be careful or the cops will start ticketing you for every moving violation by the book.

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