Navy Pier Flyover Wouldn’t Have Prevented Yesterday’s Bike Crash at Grand/LSD

Yesterday's crash took place at the intersection between Grand and the southbound exit ramp of LSD, 100 feet or so west of the flyover. Image: Google Street View
Yesterday's crash took place at the intersection between Grand and the southbound exit ramp of LSD, 100 feet or so west of the flyover. Image: Google Street View

Some folks may have been tempted to blame the slow-moving Navy Pier Flyover project for a bike crash with injuries that took place Tuesday at Grand and Lower Lake Shore Drive. However, details released by police today indicate that the bike bridge wouldn’t have made a difference in this case.

DNAinfo reported yesterday that a Subaru driver struck a bike rider around noon near the construction site for the flyover, with the crash resulting in injuries requiring hospitalization for the cyclist. The vehicle’s windshield was shattered by the impact, and a photo published with the DNA piece shows the bike’s front wheel was badly bent. Police and the driver, who was still present when reporter David Matthews arrived on the scene, declined to be interviewed.

The flyover, slated for completion in late 2018, according to Chicago Department of Transportation spokesman Mike Claffey, will carry Lakefront Trail users up to the level of Upper Lake Shore Drive between the south bank of the Chicago River and Ohio Street Beach. Thus it will eliminate conflicts between bicyclists and pedestrians on the path and motorists on Grand, Illinois, and Lower Lake Shore Drive.

The Navy Pier Flyover will prevent crashes between Lakefront Trail users and drivers on surface streets. Image: CDOT

However, it appears that the flyover wouldn’t helped in this case. Police News Affairs told me via email today that the cyclist is a 40-year-old male who was pedaling westbound on Grand he was struck in a crosswalk by the Suburban driver, who was coming from the southbound Lake Shore Drive exit ramp. Therefore the crash occurred on the west side of Lake Shore Drive, 100 feet or so from where the flyover will run.

The good news is that the cyclist, who was taken to Northwestern Hospital, is in good conditions with “non-life-threatening/minor injuries,” according to News Affairs. Here’s wishing him a speedy recovery.

It’s not clear who had the right of way when the crash occurred. There’s a “No Turn on Red” sign for drivers coming off the ramp. No citations have been issued.

While the Navy Pier Flyover wasn’t relevant to this crash, it will greatly improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians on the Lakefront Trail, as well as provide beautiful views of Lake Michigan, so I look forward to its opening next year.

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  • planetshwoop

    As drivers approach / exit highways, there is a certain freneticism/urgency to their driving that is extra dangerous. The acceleration and jockeying for spaces to get onto the on-ramp, the excessive speed when exiting, even the fact that most on/off ramps have really really wide turn radiuses to encourage “gunning it” to get onto the highway and get up to speed.

    In my head anything within a few hundred feet of an on-ramp is an extra danger zone and avoided. (One of the reasons I avoid Milwaukee and Elston, really)

    I’m glad the cyclist isn’t injured. I can’t wait til we get first class infrastructure for the Lakefront Path.

  • Carter O’Brien

    This. I have to bike under the expressway at Belmont & Kedzie to get to the LFT, and I can tell you that traffic within a few blocks of the expressway is exponentially more insane for all of the reasons you mention. Most frustrating is that IDOT actually encourages this behavior. See the ridiculous set up at the NE corner of Belmont & Kimball that encourages drivers to get to the highway at the expense of pedestrians and what could be a stop for the westbound #77, which would in turn ease congestion & chaos caused by the westbound #77 making several tight left turns and blocking traffic to get to the L station. CTA, CDOT and IDOT all need to be locked in a room together until they can reach a consensus on what “systems planning” actually means regarding how their plans impact each other, and all of us who live within a half-mile of that intersection.

  • rduke

    I think it’s more IDOT needs to get with the times and stop “designing” streets with their outdated “manuals”.

    Either that or they can just GTFO of Chicago. Every project they touch gets ruined with suburban style car-first features. They don’t build or plan for dense, walkable “urban”, they have a one-size-fits-all approach that has to work in Chicago, Peoria, and Machesney Park and all the <1000 pop towns in IL.

    You can always tell you're on an IDOT road in Chicago when you're on foot or on a bike, because the road design loudly states F-U!

  • Another reason why the flyover wouldn’t have prevented this crash is because as far as I know, there are no improvements planned for pedestrians nor bicyclists who are walking or biking east/west on Illinois or Grand to get to and from Navy Pier. All those locals and visitors who walk or ride Divvy bikes from Michigan Avenue or River North will have the same narrow sidewalks or narrow, non-protected, poorly striped bike lanes on those two streets to contend with, just as they do now.

    On a very related note, I’m always puzzled as to why people are under the misimpression that the flyover will improve access to Navy Pier. The flyover is way to BYPASS Navy Pier. Anyone on wheels will enter and exit the flyover before and then beyond Navy Pier. There will be two high stairways from the elevated flyover to ground level that able-bodied people can use to descend to Illinois and Grand to make their way to Navy Pier, but that’s not improving access; just giving them something to do (go onto the flyover) while they’re in the area.

  • Carter O’Brien

    No argument here. But we can’t seem to take back the existing routes, which is a total hindrance to progress.

  • what_eva

    I’m failing to find the map of IDOT roads, but I was pretty sure Belmont wasn’t on it.

  • Carter O’Brien

    It will improve access to Navy Pier because cars trying to access it by turning east on Illinois coming from lower LSD get routinely backed up due to heavy ped/bike traffic. In the summer it is not uncommon to see more than a few cars successfully turn on to Illinois per light cycle. And a lot of pedestrians and cyclists also ignore that red light as it is not timed for us, but for traffic, and that also slows traffic flow.

    What the Flyover does is get rid of that horrific blind spot with Lake Point Tower for southbound cyclists, and relieve bike commuters having to deal with those two squirrelly intersections, where we are often at odds not only with fast moving traffic but also crowds of tourists who are either walking or biking at a snail’s pace on route to Navy Pier. The fact that the upper drive casts shadows everywhere is just the icing on the cake, as there is poor visibility for everyone.

  • Carter O’Brien

    It’s not the whole street, it’s the areas close to where the expressway intersects.

  • Carter, I agree that the flyover will help bicycle commuters on the LFT avoid the terrible conditions at the Grand and Illinois intersections with lower LSD. The number of pedestrians and bicyclists who use those grade-level intersections will now be greatly reduced, but certainly not eliminated, since that remains the only way to get to Navy Pier from points directly west.

  • Carter O’Brien

    True, but we don’t want to eliminate access to Navy Pier for cyclists and pedestrians. The accessibility connection to the Flyover is that those pedestrians and cyclists will be moving with traffic along Grand and Illinois, and not competing with the masses who are simply trying to cross the river and stay on the Lakefront.

    This is a very big deal. Cycling north from downtown in the afternoon rush hour has gotten increasingly more frustrating for years with the residential growth of the Loop and the new “River East” area, combined with the growth in popularity of Millennium/Maggie Daley Park, the latter of which has led to large groups of people just kind of meandering between there and the Lakefront and Navy Pier. The SE and SW corners of lower LSD and Grand and Illinois are often jam packed, I routinely jump off of the “path” after crossing the river heading north and just bike with traffic heading southbound on lower LSD because it’s insane trying to deal with the logjam at the corners.

    IMO this is going to be the biggest improvement for lakefront cyclists/commuters since we got a real path that allowed us to travel to the west of the North Avenue boathouse. It’s aggravating at the moment (although nothing like having to bike along inner LSD during that North Ave project), but the overall stress/chaos reduction of the greater system should in fact reduce accidents in the larger area.

  • Carter O’Brien

    btw, can you tell I’m more than a bit excited? I just wish this had been in place when I started commuting to the Museum Campus 20 years ago!!!

  • planetshwoop

    The IDOT link seems to be gone for Chicago. I get an error message.

    But there are plenty of arterials in Chicago that are not controlled by CDOT. Foster Ave is not, which was a major issue when we were trying to add traffic calming measures to the street.