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Eyes on the Street: Delivery Drivers Are Blocking New Clybourn Bike Lane

4:30 PM CDT on October 8, 2015

Delivery trucks and vans, including one from Gordon Food Service, are parked in the buffered bike lane on Clybourn Ave., and are nearly blocking the curb-protected bike lane.
Illinois Bicycle Lawyers - Mike Keating logo

The new curb-protected bike lane on Clybourn Avenue and Division Street in Old Town aren't even finished yet, but they're already getting great use. Bike-specific traffic signals should be added later this fall, completing the project. However, there's already a fly in the ointment – delivery drivers are blocking the lanes on a regular basis.

The bike lanes are located on Clybourn from Hasted Street to Division, and Division from Clybourn to Orleans Street. The problem is taking place by New City, a new mixed-use development on the southeast corner of Clybourn and Halsted, which includes 199 apartments and a shopping center. A movie theater and Mariano's grocery store will be opening in the future.

There are loading zones on Clybourn near Halsted for truck and van drivers making deliveries to New City. However, the delivery drivers are also parking further south in the bike lane. On this stretch, the bikeway exists as a short, curbside buffered lane, and there are "No Parking" signs posted.

IMG_2401
The Clybourn lanes have become popular with cyclists. Photo: John Greenfield

Streetsblog reader Justin Haugens rides this stretch of Clybourn several days a week on his commute between Rogers Park and the South Loop. He reports that there are vehicles in the bike lane "one-third to one-half of the time."

What's particularly frustrating about this situation is that New City was built with seven underground loading spaces to accommodate all the deliveries for the 370,000 square foot mall, with the goal of keep trucks off the streets. "Burying the docks was also a popular move with the neighbors," Mike Drew, principal at the firm Structured Development, told Chicago Magazine last November.

Not only are the delivery drivers parking in the buffered lanes, but their trucks and vans are often parked very close to the start of the curb-protected section. That forces bicyclists to hit their brakes and make a tricky maneuver around a vehicle to enter the curb-protected portion.

Delivery trucks are blocking the start of the new Clybourn Avenue bike lane. Photo: Justin Haugens
A delivery truck blocks the bike lane. Photo: Justin Haugens
Delivery trucks are blocking the start of the new Clybourn Avenue bike lane. Photo: Justin Haugens

Perhaps the illegal parking issue could have been avoided if the bike lane had built with curb-protection all the way up to the loading zone section, instead of having the curbs start about 440 feet southeast of Halsted/Clybourn. Or, if there was an expectation that drivers would be parking curbside here, the loading zone area should have been extended further south, and the buffered lane should have been striped to the left of the loading zones.

No use crying over spilled milk, though. We're notifying the developer and local alderman Walter Burnett's office in the hope that the drivers can be encouraged to use the underground loading dock instead of blocking the bike lane. Otherwise, it would make sense for the Chicago Police Department to start doing ticketing stings here.

Lyfe Kitchen encouraging bike lane blocking
Friday: Lyfe Kitchen placed a sign on the sidewalk encouraging its customers to park in the bike lane while they pick up their orders. If you're in a hurry, it's okay to force bicyclists to detour around parked cars and merge into faster moving traffic! Photo: Justin Haugens

These are the first protected bike lanes to be built by the Illinois Department of Transportation. Previously, IDOT blocked the city of Chicago from installing PBLs on state roads within the city. It would be a shame if this important bikeway continues to be less functional because of illegal parking.

This post is made possible by a grant from the Illinois Bicycle Lawyers at Keating Law Offices, P.C., a Chicago, Illinois law firm committed to representing pedestrians and cyclists. The content is Streetsblog Chicago's own, and Keating Law Offices neither endorses the content nor exercises any editorial control.

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