Today’s Headlines

  • Railroad Administration Report Orders Metra to “Improve Its Safety Culture” (Crain’s)
  • CTA Prepares to Demolish Century-Old Buildings for Wilson Rehab (Uptown Update)
  • 57-Year-Old Man Fatally Struck on 1100 Block of West Roosevelt (DNA)
  • DNA Evidence Linked Oak Lawn Man to 2012 Red Line Sex Abuse Case (Tribune)
  • NW Side Man Arrested for Allegedly Sexually Abusing Woman on Brown Line (DNA)
  • CTA Riders & Merchants Discuss How the Damen Construction Will Impact Them (RedEye)
  • Neighbors Fear Mosque Would Create Traffic, But Many Members Would Walk to Services (DNA)
  • Woman Who Was Paralyzed After Biking Off Breakwater Wall Is Suing Park District (CBS)
  • Wegerson: Until We Get Mode Separation on the LFT, People Should Walk & Run on the Left

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  • BlueFairlane

    So Wegerson’s argument is that until we have what will surely be a poorly-signed bike-only Lake Front Trail pedestrians will use because they don’t know (or don’t care) it’s supposed to be bike-only, we should encourage pedestrians to do the exact opposite of what most of culture says slower traffic should do on a pathway. The inevitable result of this will be that the half of the public who’s heard about this will walk on the left, the other half will walk on the right, and bicyclists will walk their bikes down the middle.

    If the city’s really that concerned about this, they should just quit tiptoeing around it and ban bikes on the Lake Front Trail altogether.

  • Kevin M

    Regarding Jennifer Kraft, the cyclist who was paralyzed after biking off breakwater wall:

    First, here’s her documentation on how this happened, as well as her petition to get the PD to put up some warning signs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRpPU-6FWwQ

    After reviewing her documentation, I have to say that this is a terrible and completely preventable tragedy. What the hell is the Park District thinking by leading cyclists to this trap with absolutely no warning.

    Kraft’s tragic accident aside, just looking at this financially: A $100 sign or a $million-dollar lawsuit? Someone should lose their job.

  • skyrefuge

    “leading cyclists to this trap”, and especially her statement “An asphalt trail directs bikers…” may be a bit strong. As far as I know, there is no sign saying “bikers go here!” The asphalt path crosses the LFP at a 90 degree angle, is narrower, and is not marked with any lines. And of course the revetment (it’s not a “breakwater”) is not marked with any lines either, and looks nothing like the LFP.

    I do think that Google Maps should *not* show the revetment as a bike route, but that “direction” came from Google (or a random person using Google Map Maker), not from the Park District. There’s a section of the revetment further south that Google Maps specifically has as “pedestrian only”/”no bicycles”, so someone just needs to make that consistent for the whole revetment.

    A sign of some sort warning of the dropoff certainly seems like a good idea, but if it’s dark enough for someone to not see the 9-foot dropoff, how are they going to see a sign? And if the sign is right in the middle of the path, does it become a crash hazard itself?

    Finally, in the context of the recent discussion of separating bikes/peds on the LFP, this is pretty strong evidence that simply adding additional parallel strips of asphalt/concrete is not a solution, and may even make the safety situation worse.

  • BlueFairlane

    While I can agree that the language she uses may be a bit strong (and the music choice is just weird), I think overall she has a strong point. Everybody on the Lake Front makes an assumption that all patches of concrete are for them unless told specifically otherwise. In this specific case, I can see very easily how the drop-off would be hidden visually, especially if you’re moving at any speed above a walk. There’s no visual contrast between the path she was on and the concrete of the revetment beyond, creating the optical illusion of a continuous line, and the curb seems very slight. I’m not one to give people who file these kinds of accident lawsuits money (I think that pothole lawsuit a month or two ago was dumb), but in this situation I think she’s right. This spot is unsafe.

    Now, I don’t think a sign alone will solve the problem, as there are so many signs in the world that people have developed immunity. I think there needs to be a visual cue at the curve that the curve is there. Paint might do it. Some sort of bollard might help, though you’d want it to be something more durable than plastic.

  • skyrefuge

    Yeah, I mostly just wanted to make sure people didn’t take her “directs bikers…” phrase at face-value. Otherwise I agree that she has a reasonable complaint, a fairly balanced argument, and, to her credit, seems to be more interested in safety/awareness than money.

    I wonder though, in court of law, if you can argue “unsafe conditions” due to a dropoff in a place where you’ve been riding alongside a 2-3′ dropoff the whole time. In other words, it’s already not what anyone would call “safe conditions for cycling” even if there is no gap in the revetment. A squirrel (or oncoming rider) makes you swerve, and, unlike the LFP where you just go into the gravel/grass for a bit, here you go crashing down onto your skull.

    In terms of prevention, any solution is something that the Army Corps of Engineers would likely have to sign off on, since the real purpose of that concrete is not to provide paths, but to protect the earth behind them. I assume the gap is there to allow water to flow back out in a case where the lake tops the revetment or other flooding occurs, so any solution would have to still allow the revetments/gap to operate as intended. I imagine signs or even bollards of some sort would be fine, but completely changing the shape might not be possible.

  • Guest

    There are no lights in that area. Would an average person clearly see paint markings unless they were using a headlight or flashlight?

  • BlueFairlane

    I’m no lawyer, but I would think her argument would be something along the line that by creating a linear path in the first place, the city had created a reasonable expectation that this path would continue undisturbed, and had failed to notify users of the disturbance. There is always expectation that anybody riding a path running next to a drop-off could fall, but the reasonable expectation formed is that the drop-off will not cross the path. The city might try an argument similar to the one you stated if it wanted to fight this, but my armchair-quarterback analysis is that it won’t get them anything, and I figure they’ll just settle anyway.

    As for the Corps issue, I think you’re absolutely right, anything the city does here will need to be cleared. I think the city can work out something cosmetic fairly easily, but I think you’re correct in that they can’t easily change the overall design.

  • BlueFairlane

    I think an average person would be just as likely or more so to see paint markings in their path as they would be to see a sign outside their path. I think there does come a point at which riders need to take some responsibility for their own safety and use a light.

  • Fred

    What’s the reason for not putting up railing here? It seems like the obvious answer so I’m wondering what I’m missing…

  • BlueFairlane

    I can think of no reason not to put a railing here, myself.

  • jeff wegerson

    Straw man much? Yes, of course, build poorly signed stuff.

    Look, I have no more confidence than you that it will be built right. All I am meaning to suggest is that for now and maybe for a long time, shifting foot traffic to the other edge makes a whole lot of sense. Enough signs and enough people, in my humble opinion, will create a self_reinforcing culture.

    For fast bikers and Rollerblades the solution is to take a lane of LSD. Now there’s a windmill worth tilting at.

  • anon

    It isn’t a path. It’s essentially a sea wall. She should have been more careful.