Today’s Headlines

  • Cook County Board May Cut a $41K Check to Pay Tickets for County Employees (Tribune)
  • Two Killed After Driver Crashes SUV Into Tree in Bucktown (CBS)
  • Strangers Have Been Reaching Out to Help Boy Who Lost Leg in Metra Crash (Tribune)
  • Chicago Needs More Miles of Protected Bike Lanes (Keating)
  • Active Trans Launches Petition for Separating Pedestrians & Cyclists on Lakefront Trail
  • After High Winds Delayed Installation, 606’s Milwaukee Bridge Arch Is Finally in Place (DNA)
  • Gazette’s Holiday Wish That Ashland BRT Will Be Kiboshed Is Naughty, Not Nice
  • IDOT Explains Why They Shut Down Lanes During Rush Hour for Graffiti Removal (Tribune)
  • Not Phair! Winnetkans Upset About Losing Ticket Agent at Local Metra Station (Tribune)
  • Parking Will Be Removed on Clark to Make Room for Peds on Massive Bar Crawl (DNA)
  • Video: A Mail Carrier Nearly Delivers a Right-Hook to Kevenides in Kinzie PBL
  • Yee-ha! Heritage Bicycles Is Opening Up an Outpost in Music City (Nashville Post)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Kevin M

    Please explain: I don’t understand the use of word “Phair” in the Metra Station headline. Thanks.

  • David Altenburg

    Liz Phair is originally from Winnetka.

  • Thanks David, you’re “Whip Smart.”

  • Fred

    Re: Cook County Traffic Tickets

    An article dated 18 days ago qualifies for “Today’s Headlines”?

  • BlueFairlane

    I often take the greatest pleasure from making labored jokes based on weak links that nobody gets but me. Sometimes, I think John and I are of like minds on this. But a Winnetka joke is Dern hard to make.

    (You know … because that’s where Bruce Dern grew up.)

  • skyrefuge

    Re: LFP separation: “The 18-mile path is the busiest trail in the country, with peak usage at more than 30,000 users per day during the summer, and it’s not currently designed to accommodate that volume of users”.

    LOL. Any active transportation advocate, when shown a proposal to increase the capacity of an automobile highway, will immediately point out that such expansion is pointless, because it will induce demand and congestion will soon return to its previous level. Imagine IDOT saying that exact quote above. But adding capacity to a multi-use path? Totally cool, because, I dunno, magic?

    And in general, since this “separate the paths” horse is apparently still quite alive, I will continue to beat it, and repost what I posted on ATA’s site:

    1. Crashes (on any type of road/path network) occur much more frequently at intersections than at non-intersection locations.

    2. Creating separate paths for pedestrians and bicyclists requires the creation of additional segments in the path network.

    3. The laws of geometry mean that an increase in path segments requires an increase in intersections between those segments.

    So, a Lakefront Trail with “separated” pedestrian / bicycle paths would in reality be “a path with an increased number of dangerous intersections”. Is this really what you want?

    Before continuing to advocate for separated paths, could you please show a proposal or plan for how the paths would be separated, and demonstrate how it would actually improve safety, rather than making things worse? “Separated paths” sounds like a fantastic idea, until you spend more than 10 seconds thinking about it, and start getting into the mechanics of actually creating separate paths. The current places where the path separates/merges are the most terrifying sections of the whole trail, and this petition seems to be calling for more of them.

    The worst possible outcome would be for Chicago and the Park District to spend a bunch of money separating paths, only to result in a trail that’s actually more dangerous for all users.

  • skyrefuge

    I love that in today’s headlines, we have one bicycle lawyer who nearly got right-hooked because he was segregated and out-of-sight in a “protected” bike lane, and another bicycle lawyer issuing a call for more such lanes. What a brilliant way to try to eliminate your competition!

  • R.A. Stewart

    Upvoted because that’s exactly the kind of joke I would have made, had I known where Bruce Dern grew up.

  • Watch the video: Sightlines were not a factor because this stretch of the PBL does not have parking, just posts.

  • Good catch, I missed the date on that one. However, it was news to me, so I assume it is of interest to many of our readers.

  • skyrefuge

    Yeah, I had watched the video; I know he wasn’t “physically” out-of-sight, but there’s a good chance he was “mentally” out-of-sight. Nothing about our transportation system conditions drivers to look for fast-moving traffic far to their right, regardless of what the law requires them to do. And I’d much rather rely on the way drivers’ brains *actually* work rather than the way the law would like them to.

    The right-hook danger increases as the “protection” zone widens. When traveling in the same lane, the only way to get right-hooked is if you’re actually side-by-side with the vehicle as it makes its turn. Otherwise, you’re behind it, and it immediately turns out of your path. But as you move the bike lane further to the right, the conflict point happens later in the vehicle’s turn, which means that, just like this case, the vehicle could be quite far ahead of the cyclist and still create a collision. Keeping a mental log of cyclists passed 8 seconds ago, along with your relative speeds, and factoring in the width of the separation, is quite a cognitive load to expect drivers to manage accurately.

  • Did you see this cartoon I drew recently? Seems like you might get a chuckle out of it.

  • Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away, nor will pretending as hard as we can that the US is exactly like Europe, nor will building even more PBLs throughout the city with the goal of conditioning the drivers to expect them, because that still won’t do anything for the out-of-town drivers who already find city driving unfamiliar and highly stressful.

  • skyrefuge

    All it’s missing is the 3rd and final battler:

    Forestman and tasty Danish, you’re both right,
    but you’re both a coupla fools
    Don’t you know you come from different planets
    with different sets of rules?

    It takes balls to change Mars into Venus
    And the final solution may work, I won’t lie
    But as we work through your transition
    Lotsa people gonna die.

  • It seems like the only method of bicycling you support is taking the lane and driving among the cars.

    This is not a method that is achievable or comfortable for all riders. Do you prefer that nobody ride who doesn’t have the guts, focus, and mental fortitude to be able to take the lane (and the calmness to deal with anger from the subset of drivers who think bikes never belong in the center of a travel lane)?

    Avoiding right-hooks doesn’t involve “a mental log of cyclists passed 8 seconds ago,” or in fact any memory at all. It requires looking in your mirror RIGHT NOW to see who’s in the lane, and maybe doing a shoulder-check. Both of which drivers do all the time to check for other cars.

    This is not rocket science. It is not difficult. It is not an unwarranted imposition on drivers (if we can convince them it’s worth learning to do it).

  • Increasing usage of the path is exactly what everyone wants, though.

  • Having now seen the photo of the Bloomingdale bridge over Milwaukee, WOW does that look radically different than all the visualizations I’ve seen posted. I mean, there are three steel arches — that’s the same. But the visualizations look rounded, organic, and floaty; they have cables running from them to the bridge floor, and are three parallel arches spread out across the width of the trail. The actual photo shows a three-on-one-side industrial-style installation with no cables, and the actual arching path the steel takes seems a lot higher/steeper.

    I don’t dislike it, I’m just surprised that what they’ve been advertising is so different than what they built.

  • Brendan Kevenides

    I was certainly happy to have been in the bike lane. My guess is that the driver would have behaved in exactly the same way absent the PBL. I would have been in about the same spot. What saved me here was that I saw him signal. Without the PBL I may have had a lot more to concentrate on, e.g. getting doored, and perhaps wouldn’t have noticed the turn signal.

  • Kevin M

    The visualization looked pretty nice. The DNAinfo pictures make the arches look cartoonish. I’m guessing that the engineering drawings were not prepared before the designer worked on the visualization; reality (physics) likely later dictated that the arches be taller, thicker, and cross-connected to each other.

    I hope it is just the angle of these DNAinfo picture, as these pictures are not aesthetically-pleasing to my eyes at all.

  • skyrefuge

    “It seems like the only method of bicycling you support is taking the lane and driving among the cars.”

    No, not at all. *I* never even bike in the center of a travel lane, unless I’m going at the speed of the automobile traffic. I’m fully behind bike lanes, and my favorite riding environment in Chicago is a bike lane with a buffer on the right (to protect you from the door zone) and none on the left (to provide maximum visibility to drivers).

    I also fully understand the “safety in numbers” argument where more cyclists are encouraged by less-scary (-looking) infrastructure to get out there and make us *all* more visible. But at this specific moment in time in Chicago, we have not yet reached the point where the negative consequences of these “protected” lanes have been outweighed by positive effects of the larger cycling population they’re intended to grow (and who knows if we’ll ever reach that point?)

    I’ll finally note that precisely zero of the many examples in the following video (illustrating how right-hooking doesn’t happen in the much-lauded Copenhagen) show a “protected” bike lane like the one Brendan was in; in all cases, there is no separation between the bike lane and the automobile lane.

  • skyrefuge

    And IDOT will tell you that “everyone” wants increased usage of the highways too.

    *I* sure don’t want increased usage of the path! It’s already too crowded for my liking, since I’m a selfish (but honest!) ass. And since there will be an eternal bottleneck at Navy Pier, even after (or especially after) the flyover is finished, adding capacity elsewhere along the trunk will just drive that bottleneck to further heights of insanity.

  • skyrefuge

    As an experienced Chicago cyclist, I bet you noticed him slowing down and took that as an important cue even before the turn signal? And yes, having enough space to not have to worry about the door zone is critical, I agree. But you can easily (even more easily) have that without adding the spacing on the left side.

    Without the left-side spacing, you would have been riding further to the left (closer to his line), and as he made his turn, his rear end would have passed out of your space earlier, meaning you wouldn’t have had to brake (as much) to avoid a collision.

    Obviously you know a lot more what it felt like than I can get from just watching the video, but my assumption is that the driver knew you were there, and was just intending/expecting to make it through the turn before you got there. He clearly erred, but it’s that separation between the travel lanes that makes the mental calculation much more complex and error-prone.

  • skyrefuge

    I’m pretty sure cables will be added. The article says that the arch serves a “functional” purpose, and will allow the center pier under the bridge to be removed. I’m not a bridge designer, but I don’t see how that’s possible unless they add cables to suspend the bridge deck from the arch (and it kinda looks like cable attachment-points are in place on the arch). And I’m pretty sure it’s “spread out across the width of the trail” too. It does have a crazy height though. It’s like the designer thought the street was much wider than it actually is, and when narrowing the bridge’s length, forgot to click “maintain aspect ratio”.

  • No, what “everyone” wants out of highways is reduced commute times. Adding lanes turns out to be counterproductive for that.

    Parks wants more people in the park, using the park. Adding lanes will make that happen. People using the path for commuting are definitely not, in the District’s view, the most “primary” users, but they are users the District is interested in encouraging and making their experience better, as long as all the other users are not put in a worse situation by the changes.

    A lot of people use just the north-of-downtown part, or just the south-of-downtown part. The Navy Pier bottleneck only affects right-downtown users, or long haul folks who use miles and miles and miles of path.

  • When I ride in the street (as opposed to on park paths), even in places with paint on the ground, relatively few drivers seem to care about not driving too close to me. They will enter my lane, less than five feet in front of my wheel, to whip-round a car driver on the right. They will enter my lane to park, either right in front of me with no signal, or half a block ahead and then not bother to get OUT of my lane again (because clearly no cars are discommoded, so they don’t think of themselves as obstructing traffic).

    Luckily, I ride a trike, so sudden stopping is not a fall-over risk for me, but it’s maddening. I don’t drive on high-capacity roads. I don’t drive at times of day when there’s much traffic. And drivers are STILL enormous dicks to me. It gives me panic attacks and racing heartbeats, to the point where I mostly talk myself out of biking at all unless there’s some strong reason I NEED to do it.

    Driver behavior has made me shift trips that I could do on the bike to car trips instead, because when I’m in a car THEY NOTICE ME.

    Paint on the ground is not bike infrastructure. It’s a very loose suggestion, often completely ignored.

    Copenhagen works the way it does because they have completed a major cultural change that we have not yet begun: the overwhelming majority of Copenhagen drivers are also cyclists on a weekly basis.

  • skyrefuge

    I completely agree that everything you described sucks and is annoying. Protected bike lanes attempt to eliminate that suckage outside of intersections, but in doing so, they increase the chance of injury/death *at* intersections (and at least in Chicago, they don’t even succeed at keeping cars or loitering pedestrians out of them). Me, I’d rather be annoyed/inconvenienced a lot than having a small chance of being killed, but I accept that other people may do that math and come up with a different result.

  • skyrefuge

    And to your added two paragraphs: drivers check their right side mirrors all the time when turning right? No they don’t, because, unless they’re a psychotic person turning from the center lane, they correctly assume that there are no cars further to the right than they already are.

    The reason drivers keep a mental log of passed cyclists is so that they don’t have to wait unnecessarily before turning. Using your “in the moment” method, there would be drivers waiting 20 seconds because their mirror revealed a cyclist somewhere behind them, but didn’t tell them they were going 5mph and there was plenty of time to turn ahead of them. If bike lanes were all consistent/standardized, drivers would probably get pretty good at the mental math. But throw in these differing separations, and the math that worked for an unbuffered lane puts them right in the path of a PBL cyclist.

    Furthermore, the mirrors on my car aren’t even particularly designed to reveal things two lanes to my right (especially when they aren’t far behind me), so a buffer-separated cyclist can be difficult to see even for a halfway-conscientious driver (but yes, a shoulder-check should reveal them).

    I agree that teaching drivers how to behave safely is not an unwarranted imposition on them, but we have to operate in a world in which that skill has not yet been imposed.

  • I have seen lots of cars nearly hit pedestrians and cycles because they DON’T automatically check their right mirror when turning right. They should.

    Check mirror before turn, always always, and you won’t need to do any 8-seconds-ago-I-passed-a-cyclist calculus. I really don’t believe there are 20sec-waiting cars all over Copehagen. It’s pretty clear from mirrors when a bike is close and when it isn’t.

    I’ve certainly never had any problems, when I am a driver, failing to right-hook cyclists of many speeds … because I look in my mirror. Because I know to look.

    Most drivers aren’t even bothering to check that the way is clear on right-hand turns (and sometimes, not even whether it’s legal to turn right at that intersection, despite a big obvious sign right under the traffic light). This is a problem that needs to be addressed, but protected bike lanes don’t make it worse.

  • I’d rather be able to take my kid to school on her bike (1mi), to ballet lessons on her bike (2mi), or go pick up a case of soda on my bike (.5mi) without having to pull over and sit on the curb and have hyperventilating panic attacks because yet again drivers decided someone on a bike was either invisible (unlikely, given my bright red trike with lots of flags) or completely unimportant.

    None of this bad behavior happens at intersections, by the way. It’s all midblock. And it’s constant.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    TBOX drink a thon. Would you really want to park a car on Clark Street with 20,000 peple buying all you can drink wrist bands for a redux of their college frat party days? Please, I hope the police are going to blanket the area with DUI stings.

  • Well, at least it’s a transit- and cab-friendly location.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    Yes it is. Will the CTA have the puke patrol out?

  • David Altenburg

    Regarding induced demand: Come on. I don’t know how induced demand will apply to a path like the Lakefront Path (which is truly unique in that no other shared-use path in the US has anywhere near its usage), but induced demand for highways means more people sitting on their asses in their cars, getting all the problems associated with car commuting, and spewing poison into the air. Induced demand for the Lakefront trail means more people outside and getting all the benefits associated with their activity. Not at all the same thing. And that doesn’t even get into the economics of the the thing.

    Regarding the intersection/danger stuff – do you have any data at all that relates to intersections involving cyclists and pedestrians without cars?

  • cjlane

    “all you can drink wrist bands”

    exactly zero booze is included with the wrist band. fully ‘cash bar’.