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Posts tagged "Rebekah Scheinfeld"

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Bicycling Gives Chicago the Award for Best Biking City – Do We Deserve It?

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The Bloomingdale Trail this morning. Photo: John Greenfield

This morning’s announcement that Bicycling magazine has ranked Chicago as the best cycling city in the U.S. in its biennial ratings, up from second place to New York in 2014, was surely a head-scratcher for many people who ride bikes in our city on a regular basis.

As of 2015, our bike mode share was a mere 1.7 percent of all trips to work, less than a quarter of Portland’s 7.2 percent mode share. While Chicago has built plenty of buffered and protected bike lanes, we don’t have a cohesive, intuitive network of low-stress bikeways, in contrast with Minneapolis, where it’s possible to bike from many neighborhoods to the central business district via off-street paths. Our conventional bike lanes are often clogged with illegally parked vehicles, torn up for utility work, or dangerously obstructed by construction projects. And then there’s the fact that four people were fatally struck by allegedly reckless drivers while biking in Chicago over a roughly two-month period this summer.

Still, I think one can make a case that, with all of the strides our city has made over the last five years to improve cycling, we do deserve an award as the large U.S. city that is doing the most things correctly to get more people on bikes and make cycling safer. Let’s look at some of the arguments for this point of view. Here’s the magazine’s top ten ranking for 2016:

  1. Chicago
  2. San Francisco
  3. Portland, OR
  4. New York
  5. Seattle
  6. Minneapolis
  7. Austin
  8. Cambridge, MA
  9. Washington, D.C.
  10. Boulder, CO

The Bicycling write-up of Chicago’s cycling strengths notes that the city built 100 miles of next-generation bike lanes within Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s first term in office. Thankfully, they didn’t say that 100 miles of protected lanes were built, as the city has often claimed, but rather, “Emanuel made good on a promise to build 100 miles of buffered and protected bike lanes.” Even that’s not technically accurate, since Emanuel originally pledged to build 100 miles of physically protected lanes, and only wound up putting in 19.5 miles of PBLs, plus 83.5 miles of buffered lanes. Still, that was a major achievement.

The magazine also cites the Divvy bike-share system and the Divvy for Everyone equity program, the use of concrete curb protection for bike lanes (many new curb-protected lanes are currently planned), the upcoming 35th Street bike-ped bridge, and the in-progress construction of Big Marsh bike park as reasons for the ranking. The article doesn’t even mention the Bloomingdale Trail (aka The 606) elevated greenway, which many residents consider to be the shiniest new jewel in Chicago’s cycling crown.

Bicycling editor-in-chief Bill Strickland presented the award to Mayor Emanuel this morning during a ceremony in Humboldt Park’s Julia de Burgos Park, a Bloomingdale trailhead. During the presentation, Strickland called bicycle riders an “indicator species,” a sign that things are going right for a city in terms of the economy, traffic safety, congestion, and pollution. He also noted that bike lanes can help residents of underserved communities access jobs, and bikeways have an integrating effect, connecting people in diverse neighborhoods. “So for 2016, the city that most embodies this is Chicago,” he said.

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Strickland, right, presents the award to Emanuel. Active Trans’ Ron Burke is in green shirt. Photo: John Greenfield

Emanuel, who has often been accused of indifference towards the needs of underserved neighborhoods, especially in the wake of the LaQuan McDonald police shooting scandal, riffed on the theme of bike lanes as opportunity corridors. He noted that the city has contracted the bike equity group Slow Roll Chicago to promote the Divvy for Everyone program, which offers $5 first-year memberships to low-income residents.

“If we’re going to be the city we want to be… having Divvy in every part of the city, where everybody has a chance to participate, allows people to go through communities and feel like they’re a part, rather than apart, from Chicago,” Emanuel said.

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CDOT: Citizen Support is Necessary For Us to Redesign City Streets

MBAC September 2016 meeting

Yesterday’s Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council meeting may have had the biggest turnout ever. Photo: Steven Vance

Illinois Bicycle Lawyers - Mike Keating logo

About 45 “civilians” – people who weren’t obligated to attend – showed up for yesterday’s Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council meeting yesterday, making it one of the most democratic MBAC meetings ever. The council, which meets quarterly at City Hall during the workday, usually draws only about 10-15 attendees who aren’t there in an official capacity, many of whom are regulars who show up for almost every meeting.

At the MBAC meetings staff from the Chicago Department of Transportation, the Chicago Park District, Divvy, and the Active Transportation Alliance report on their recent and upcoming projects to make the city more bike-friendly. One reason for the big turnout from yesterday was this summer’s epidemic of fatal crashes. Since the previous MBAC meeting in June, four people biking were struck and killed in Chicago by reckless drivers of commercial vehicles within the space of about two months.

After art student Lisa Kuivenen was killed by a truck driver in a Milwaukee bike lane on August 16, and North Lawndale resident Francisco Cruz was fatally struck by a hit-and-run cargo van driver the next evening, I decided to encourage people to show up for the next MBAC meeting. That way more residents would hear for themselves what city officials say they’re doing to prevent more of these tragedies.

I’m a member of the 33rd Ward transportation advisory committee, so I invited alder Deb Mell to the meeting, and she attended. Mell’s district includes the intersection where Divvy rider Virginia Murray was run over on July 1 by a truck driver who turned right without looking.

I also created a Facebook event and posted about the upcoming meeting on Streetsblog last week, which likely encouraged many new attendees to come. Show up they did, and the meeting was better for it. With more citizens in attendance, transportation commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld, assistant commissioner Sean Wiedel, who oversees the Divvy program, and assistant director of transportation planning Mike Amsden, who manages CDOT’s bikeway program, seemed to answer questions a little more directly than in the past.

There were no bike fatalities in Chicago prior to the June 15 death of courier Blaine Klingenberg, who was fatally struck by a tour bus driver. Scheinfeld noted that the four bike fatalities that have occurred so far this year are in line with the year-to-date average for the last five years. However, she said, “just because we’re on average doesn’t mean that’s okay.”

Multiple CDOT staffers noted during the course of meeting that while it’s important that residents show up to MBAC meetings, it’s also important for them to lobby for better conditions for biking within their own communities. For example, by talking with aldermen and local business owners about the benefits of good bike infrastructure, residents can help drum up political support for robust bike facilities.

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What to Expect at Next Week’s Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council Meeting

Annie calls the Navy Pier Flyover construction detour "a disaster" and "embarrassing for the city" because of the 30,000 daily Lakefront Trail users

Annie Feldmeier Adams came to MBAC in 2014 to describe all the different ways that the Lakefront Trail closures and detours were difficult for cyclists.

Soon after I heard that Lisa Kuivenen had tragically died while riding their bike after a truck driver tried to merge across the Milwaukee Avenue bike lane I got a little furious. I was upset that her fatal crash was continuing a pattern of cyclist deaths – Blaine Klingenberg and Virginia Murray died after commercial vehicle drivers made turns at intersections and ran them over. I was also upset that there aren’t enough protections on the streets to protect cyclists from drivers who aren’t paying attention.

Though my Twitter account, I invited everyone who dislikes the status quo to come to the next Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council meeting on September 7 at City Hall so that they could learn first hand what city officials are doing to achieve Vision Zero, or no deaths in traffic, by 2022, and contribute their own thoughts.

I created a Facebook event for the meeting, and so far 50 people have indicated they’re coming. It would be a record breaking meeting if more than 15 or so unaffiliated “members of the public” came to MBAC.

Let’s talk

The council, composed of representatives of city agencies and heads of non-profit organizations, devotes very little time of the scheduled 90 minute meeting to hearing from the public, often 10-15 minutes depending on if previous agenda items take longer than allotted. Department of Transportation commissioner, Rebekah Scheinfeld, also the MBAC chair, discusses statistics of the number of people who’ve died in the previous quarter for about three minutes.

Typically someone from the DOT’s Bike Program gives a rundown on recent work to restripe and build new bike lanes. He describes what CDOT intends to finish before winter makes installation schedules difficult.

Charlie Short, who heads the Bike Program’s safety programs, shares how many events the department’s safety ambassadors attended to teach Chicagoans about rules of the road. A representative from Divvy may probably talk about new stations installed, and how many people have signed up for the Divvy For Everyone program since the last announcement.

Sometimes there’s new information. In February Eric Hanns relayed the preliminary results of a data analysis that showed the number of serious and fatal injuries to cyclists is on a downward trend in Chicago.

What you won’t hear much of is a discussion of how council members are planning to address areas where there are major problems for cyclists, like six-way intersections or streets with a lot of trucks and bike lane-blocking. You won’t hear what’s being done to deal with the growing number of people cycling through Wicker Park and dodging beer delivery trucks, or that there’s still no bike lane where the Streets for Cycling Plan says they should have gone.

CDOT is good at showing their success installing what they’ve installed but they don’t tell much, likely given the risk they may have disclosing details of negotiations with aldermen and groups whose approvals for proposals they seek. Such a policy doesn’t help vulnerable road users, though. Read more…

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Union Station Transit Center Will Open Sunday, Easing Train/Bus Transfers

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For starters, the new transit center has a sign with a very cool font. Photo: John Greenfield

This afternoon officials cut the ribbon on the Union Station Transit Center, a new facility across the street from the Amtrak and Metra hub that will make it easier to make transfers and will better organize West Loop traffic. The transit center opens to the public this Sunday. It’s the latest step in the development of the Loop Link bus rapid transit route, which debuted on Washington and Madison Streets last December.

The USTC is located just south of the train station, at Jackson Boulevard and Canal Street, on land formerly occupied by a surface parking lot, which the city acquired by eminent domain. The following bus routes will use the transit center:

The transit center itself consists of bus boarding areas with weather protection, seats, Ventra machines, and bus tracker displays. Like much of the transit infrastructure the city builds nowadays (see the Loop Link stations and the upcoming Washington-Wabash ‘L’ station), the skeletal forms of the USTC shelters seem inspired by the work of Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.

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There’s a large gap between the backglass of the shelters and the canopies, which will be aggravating during heavy rain or snow. Photo: John Greenfield

And, annoyingly, like the Loop Link shelters, the backs of the USTC shelters stop several feet before the canopies. That means, as with the Loop Link facilities, they will provide less weather protection than a standard CTA bus shelter and the seats will get wet in heavy rain. It would be great if the city could figure out way to deter long-term loitering in facilities like these while still allowing the shelters to serve their intended purpose – keeping commuters dry while they wait for buses.

On the plus side, the USTC will allow for relatively seamless transitions between CTA buses and Amtrak and Metra trains. Instead of having to cross a street to get to Union Station, riders can takes a new staircase or elevator to and from the bus station. Unfortunately, unlike many CTA stations, there’s no escalator option.

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Chicago Needs More Street Redesigns to Reduce Pedestrian and Bike Deaths

This is one of my favorite things people in Chicago do

Because of the size and design of the Milwaukee/North/Damen intersection, people tend to cross – on foot and on bike – in all directions.

Illinois Bicycle Lawyers - Mike Keating logo

Last week the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a report showing that all traffic fatalities increased significantly on U.S. roads from 2014 to 2015, by 7.7 percent to reach 35,200, the worst death toll since the 2008 economic crash. Streetsblog USA’s Angie Schmitt pointed out that, while Americans drove 3.5 percent more during this period, that’s “not enough to explain the rising death toll.” U.S. pedestrian and bike fatalities rose even more during that period, by 10 and 15 percent, respectively.

Illinois saw a similar 7.5 percent increase in traffic deaths last year, with 923 fatalities in 2014 and 998 deaths in 2015, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

In 2015 there were 46 Chicago pedestrian fatalities and 7 biking deaths, according to preliminary numbers from the Chicago Police Department, which may differ from IDOT’s final numbers for our city, which won’t be released until this fall. That represented a 43.8 percent increase in pedestrian deaths over 32 in 2014, and a 16.7 percent rise in bike fatalities from six in 2014, according to IDOT figures.

At a Mayor’s Pedestrian Advisory Council meeting last February, Chicago transportation commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld acknowledged the spike in pedestrian deaths between 2014 and 2015. However, she said the city’s pedestrian fatality numbers for recent years was “still a decrease if you look at a 10-year trend.” Despite that long-term decline, I’d argue that the nearly 44 percent year-to-year rise isn’t an acceptable number for a city with a stated goal of eliminating all traffic deaths by 2022.

The Chicago Department of Transportation is behind in many of its stated goals to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety by changing infrastructure, as outlined in the its Chicago Pedestrian Plan and Complete Streets Design Guidelines. For example, in the Pedestrian Plan, published in 2012, CDOT set a target of eliminating all channelized right-turn lanes, aka slip lanes, by 2015 because these enable drivers to make fast turns around corners, endangering pedestrians.

So far I’ve only heard about slip lanes being eliminated at two Lakeview intersections, Lincoln/Wellington/Southport and Halsted/Grace/Broadway. In both cases the changes resulted in a backlash from motorists, because the improvements to pedestrian safety made it a bit less convenient to drive.

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Chicago Joins Vision Zero Network While Pedestrian Fatality Rate is in Flux

AARP Illinois state director Bob Gallo questioned the efficacy of doing motorist outreach when red light running is "epidemic" in Chicago.

AARP Illinois state director Bob Gallo questioned the efficacy of doing motorist outreach (“High Visibility Crosswalk Enforcement”) when red light running is “epidemic” in Chicago.

At yesterday’s quarterly meeting of the Mayor’s Pedestrian Advisory Council, Chicago Department of Transportation commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld mentioned the “somber” statistics that there was a significant increase in Chicago pedestrian fatalities in 2015 compared to previous years.

There were 35 pedestrian deaths in the city in 2014, according to official Illinois Department of Transportation figures, and 46 fatalities in 2015, according to unofficial figures from the Chicago Police Department – a 24-percent increase. IDOT data for 2015 won’t be available until the fall.

“This is still a decrease if you look at the 10-year trend,” Scheinfeld said. “We are headed in the right direction for the long-term trend, but we still have our work cut out for us.”

As part of Chicago’s effort to eliminate traffic deaths, last month it was announced that the city would be joining the Vision Zero Network as one of ten focus cities this year. “Each focus city will have a multi-departmental effort,” Scheinfeld said at the MPAC meeting. “We will have reps from the Chicago Police Department, CDOT, Department of Public Health, and the Mayor’s Office.”

“Vision Zero is an international traffic safety movement guided by the principle that no loss of life on our streets is acceptable,” explained Active Transportation Alliance campaign director Kyle Whitehead in a blog post last week.

Nearly a year ago, the group noted that Chicago had already created several resources for analyzing what’s causing crashes throughout the city and determining how they can be prevented, including the Chicago Pedestrian Plan, the Streets for Cycling Plan 2020 and Chicago Forward Action Agenda. However, they noted that there was no Vision Zero action plan at the time – which is still true today.

Scheinfeld noted two trends that CDOT has seen among last year’s pedestrian fatalities. Despite the growing number of speed cameras in the city, she said “we still saw a significant amount” of pedestrian fatalities “hit by motor vehicles that were moving at excessively high speeds.” And more than half – 56 percent – of the deadly crashes occurred in or very near intersections.

The commissioner credited speed cameras for reducing crashes and injuries near parks and schools. She said that in locations where cameras were installed in 2013, there were 18 percent fewer injury crashes in 2014, compared to only a four percent reduction citywide. The total number of crashes in 2014 at locations with speed cameras fell two percent, while crashes were up by six percent citywide.

Deputy commissioner Luann Hamilton said that speeding violations dropped an average of 53 percent in the first 90 days after camera installation, and that most vehicles issued a citation aren’t cited again. “So [drivers are] learning from having this violation imposed on them,” Hamilton said. “That’s the intention in the first place, to teach people it’s not acceptable to speed.”

CDOT pedestrian program manager Eric Hanss shared his analysis of pedestrian crash and injury data for the ten-year period of 2005-2014. “When we look at the ten year [interval, pedestrian crashes are] down, but when we look at five years, it’s flatter.”

Hanss said that nowadays in Chicago, fewer than 3,000 pedestrians are struck annually, and the decline in pedestrian crashes is occurring at a faster rate than the city’s overall decline in crashes.

Because people on foot are more likely to die if a crash occurs than any other type of road user, CDOT is focusing its efforts on reducing pedestrian crashes, Hanss said. Fourteen percent of pedestrians involved in collisions are seriously injured or killed, compared to only 1.2 percent of all people involved in crashes.

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Cold Comfort: Fines for Shoveling Scofflaws Went Up, But Not Enforcement

John Slivka2

A pedestrian walks in the street to avoid a snowy sidewalk near Harrison and Franklin. Photo: reader submission

[The Chicago Reader recently launched a new weekly transportation column written by Streetsblog Chicago editor John Greenfield. This partnership will allow Streetsblog to extend the reach of our livable streets advocacy. We’ll be syndicating a portion of the column on the day it comes out online; you can read the remainder on the Reader’s website or in print. The paper hits the streets on Thursdays.]

Despite the current deep-freeze, we’ve had a remarkably mild—some would say anemic—winter so far. (Thanks, climate change.) Still, there have already been a couple of nasty snow and sleet storms, and for days afterward, you didn’t have to look hard to find unshoveled sidewalks and impassible bike lanes.

Last week, for example, a stretch of the narrow sidewalk along North Avenue near Leavitt Street in Wicker Park was coated with crunchy snow and ice. That made it tough going for a father pushing his baby in a stroller.

While snowy and icy walkways are aggravating, they can also be a major barrier and hazard, especially for people with disabilities, seniors, and families with small children. Nearly 27 percent of patients admitted to three Buffalo, New York hospitals one winter were injured on icy surfaces, according to one study.

The city of Chicago is usually aggressive about fining people who don’t comply with local laws. So it’s a mystery why the Chicago Department of Transportation, which is responsible for enforcing the snow removal ordinance, doesn’t write more tickets to shoveling scofflaws.

Last winter, a challenging season that included our city’s fifth-heaviest recorded snowfall, CDOT wrote only 226 citations for failure to shovel. Meanwhile, Evanston, with about 1/36th the population of Chicago, issued 53 tickets for noncompliance, according to Evanston city staffer Carl Caneva. That’s more than eight times CDOT’s ticketing rate.

Moreover, Evanston has a very sensible approach to maintaining the public way. After issuing warnings to those who don’t shovel, the city hires a contractor to do the work. The offender is invoiced an average of $190 for the service, which becomes a $230 property lien if the bill isn’t paid. Other suburbs like Forest Park, Wilmette, Winnetka, and Glencoe clear all public sidewalks for residents.

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CDOT Didn’t Hit 100-Mile PBL Goal, But They Did Transform the Bike Network

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Scheinfeld, 27th Ward alderman Walter Burnett, and Emanuel at this morning’s press conference. Photo: CDOT

First, let’s get one thing straight. Despite what was stated today in the Chicago Department of Transportation’s press release, and local news reports based on it, the city has not achieved Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s goal of installing 100 miles of protected bike lanes in four years.

Emanuel’s Chicago 2011 Transition Plan set that ambitious goal for PBLs, which it defined as “separated from traveling cars and sit[ting] between the sidewalk and a row of parked cars that shield cyclists from street traffic.” However, after it became clear that it wasn’t going to be feasible to install that many miles of physically protected lanes within the mayor’s first term, CDOT adjusted its goal.

It certainly would have been reasonable for the department to announce that it would instead be putting in a mix of PBLs and buffered bike lanes. The latter are painted lanes with additional space striped on one or both sides to distance cyclists from moving traffic and/or opening car doors.

Instead, CDOT changed their terminology. By late 2012, they had begun referring to physically protected lanes as “barrier-protected” and buffered lanes as “buffer-protected,” and counting the latter towards the 100-mile goal. Since no other U.S. city refers to buffered lanes – merely paint on the road – as protected, that has caused plenty of confusion in the local and national media.

At a press event today by the Milwaukee Avenue bike lanes in River West, Emanuel announced that the city has surpassed the protected lane goal, with 103 miles installed to-date. “Investing in bike lanes is essential to growing Chicago’s economy and improving our quality of life,” he said. “We have made tremendous progress toward expanding our bicycle network for all Chicagoans, and we will continue to work towards making Chicago the most bike-friendly city in America.”

However, rather than 103 miles of protected lanes, CDOT has actually installed 19.5 miles, plus 83.5 miles of buffered lanes, since Emanuel took office. They’ve also put in 1.5 miles of neighborhood greenways (referred to as bike boulevards in other cities), and there are now 94 miles of conventional bike lanes, 46 miles of off-street trails, and 48.75 miles of sharrows (bike symbols with chevrons), for a grand total of 292 miles of bikeways.

While it’s a little disappointing that we’ve gotten less than a fifth of the protected lanes that were originally planned, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that 103 miles of BBLs and PBLs in a little over four years is still a major accomplishment. According to CDOT, Chicago has installed more physically protected lanes during the last four years than any other U.S. city did during the same time period.

Transportation commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld dismissed the terminology issue as “a red herring.” “The point is, we’ve been providing better protected facilities, whether it’s a buffered, striped area or a physical, vertical barrier, through [flexible plastic posts] or concrete separation,” she said. “These are all great improvements over the simple striped design.”

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Scheinfeld Lauds City’s Bike Wins at Rally, Burke Urges Crowd to Ask for More

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Scheinfeld, Reed, Slow Roll Chicago cofounder Jamal Julien, Moore, Burke. Photo: John Greenfield

The gorgeous weather – and the promise of a free breakfast – drew hundreds of cyclists to Daley Plaza this morning for the annual Bike to Work Rally. There, Chicago Department of Transportation chief Rebekah Scheinfeld delivered the traditional state of the union address on the city’s efforts to improve cycling.

“We share the common goal of making bicycling a safe, fun, and practical option to travel throughout Chicago, for commuting, running errands, or just to enjoy the ride,” Scheinfeld said. She noted that Mayor Rahm Emanuel has essentially accomplished all three of the ambitious goals for biking he set before taking office. CDOT has built 90 miles of buffered and protected bike lanes, the Divvy bike-share system has been a huge success, and the Bloomingdale Trail elevated greenway opened two weeks ago.

In keeping with Chicago’s “Windy City” nickname, Scheinfeld’s speech contained a couple of blustery half-truths about the city’s bicycle gains. She stated that all 90 miles of bike lanes are protected, when only 18.5 miles of them offer physical protection – CDOT refers to buffered lanes, which are merely paint on the road, as “buffer-protected.”

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Cyclists packed Daley Plaza for the rally. Photo: John Greenfield

She also called Divvy “the largest bike-share system in North America,” which is only true if you’re going by the number of docking stations. Chicago does hold that title, with 476 stations. However, while Divvy has 4,760 cycles, Montreal’s Bixi system has 5,200, and New York’s Citi bike has 6,000. That said, Emanuel and CDOT certainly deserve major kudos for completing these three huge cycling projects in only four years.

Scheinfeld also gave out the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council awards to several key players in the local bike scene. She recognized Oboi Reed, cofounder of Slow Roll Chicago, noting that he has created “a diverse coalition of people, organizations, and businesses, all working together to increase bicycle usage across the city regardless of race, income, or geography.” She added that Reed has been a valuable partner to CDOT.

The Trust for Public Land got a shout-out for doing yeoman’s work in managing the Bloomingdale project. Marcus Moore, owner of Yojimbo’s Garage bike shop, was recognized for his successful campaign to save the South Chicago Velodrome through crowdfunding. And police lieutenants Joe Giambrone and Joe Andruzi Jr. won awards for partnering with CDOT to do bike safety outreach, and working to get more officers on bicycles.

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What’s Going on With Alderman Reilly and the Kinzie Protected Bike Lanes

Kinzie from the Orleans overpass - 2011

This part of the Kinzie Street protected bike lane, from the River east to Dearborn, is supposed to be removed during Wolf Point construction. Photo: masMiguel.

Alderman Brendan Reilly submitted an order to city council on Wednesday that would compel Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld to remove the Kinzie Street protected bike lane between Dearborn and the Chicago River because he says it conflicts with Wolf Point construction truck traffic.

In 2013, under former commissioner Gabe Klein, CDOT agreed to a development plan [PDF], which was approved by the Chicago Plan Commission and codified into law. The plan called for Hines, the Wolf Point developer, to pay for installing temporary protected bike lanes on Grand Avenue, Illinois Street, and Wells Street, before the temporary removal of the Kinzie Street bike lanes to facilitate the construction project.

In the long term, it makes sense for there to be bike lanes on both Grand Avenue – already identified as a “Crosstown Bike Route” in the Streets for Cycling Plan 2020 – and Kinzie Street. The Active Transportation Alliance recently launched a petition asking other aldermen to oppose Reilly’s order. “Ald. Reilly has proposed installing new bike lanes on Grand Avenue as an alternative,” the petition stated. “But the reality is, people will continue to bike on Kinzie because it is less stressful than Grand Avenue with fewer cars and no buses, not to mention it provides the most logical and direct connection to the central business district.”

CDOT appears to have changed its position about the development plan. Spokesman Mike Claffey underscored the importance of the Kinzie bike lanes in a statement to Streetsblog:

“CDOT has safety concerns about removing the protected bike lanes on Kinzie, which is the second most popular street for bicycling in Chicago. The protected bike lane is in place to reduce conflicts and the risk of accidents between bicyclists, motor vehicles, and pedestrians. We have been in discussions with the Alderman about these concerns and will continue to work with him on this issue.”

Specifically, the development plan, identified as Planned Development 98, calls for:

  • Temporary removal of the protected bike lanes on Kinzie from Dearborn to Milwaukee
  • Eastbound and westbound PBLs on Grand from Milwaukee to Wells
  • Westbound PBL on Grand from Dearborn to Wells
  • Eastbound PBL on Illinois from Wells to Dearborn
  • “An improved bicycle accommodation on Wells Street for cyclists traveling, between Grand Avenue and Illinois Street”

The Kinzie bike lanes are indeed important, but it’s unclear why Scheinfeld is now pushing back against the plan. Reilly told City Council that Scheinfeld cited an internal study that supported keeping the bike lanes on Kinzie. We asked for a copy of this report but Claffey said he didn’t have one. The development plan also says that all of the developer’s designs for these temporary bicycle accommodations are subject to Scheinfeld’s departmental review.

CDOT could propose retaining the Kinzie Street protected bike lanes throughout the construction project, which started over a year ago. If that’s not feasible, and the bike lanes must come out, the agency should bring back their support for the original plan that temporarily relocates the bike lanes to Grand. However, it’s important the the Kinzie lanes be reinstalled, because Kinzie is the direct and route between the popular protected bike lanes on Milwaukee and bike lanes on Desplaines, Canal, Wells, and Dearborn.