Ceci N’est Pas Une Piste Cyclable: The Upper Randolph Bikeway Is Often Non-Functional
Q: When is a bike lane not a bike lane?
A: When it’s got cars, vans, and trucks parked in it.
Unfortunately, that often seems to be the case with the bikeway on Upper Randolph by Millennium Park, which is the primary cycling route to the Millennium Park bike station.
Photos recently taken by Streetsblog Chicago readers suggest that it’s common for security guards, delivery personnel, tour bus drivers, and others to block the bikeway on the south side of Upper Randolph, especially near the Harris Theater.
A new record folks! Nine (!!!) vehicles parked illegally in a single shot! We did it! I’d like to congratulate all the entitled motorists and @ChicagoDOT who made this possible #bikechi pic.twitter.com/6VMtYNokab
— jimsey (@jimsey) September 28, 2018
The fact that traffic cones are sometimes left in the bike lane to save parking spots suggests that the park’s management and police unofficially condone this technically illegal practice.
While the buffered bike lane is delineated with flexible plastic posts, they’re so far apart from each other that it’s easy for drivers to pass between them to enter the bikeway.
The Chicago Department of Transportation tried to address the issue in recent years by moving the curbside bike lane to the left just south of the theater to create a legitimate loading zone.
But larger trucks and buses near the theater still extend into this non-curbside portion of the bikeway, and further west the curbside bike lane often totally blocked.
Obviously, the city needs to accommodate the many deliveries and drop-offs to the park, but there’s got to be a better way to do this without creating unsafe conditions in a key bike route for much of the day.
One possible solution would be to install concrete curbs to the left of the curbside portion of the bike lane, an approach that’s becoming increasingly common in Chicago. Then all deliveries and drop-offs would have to be made further east, in the portion of Upper Randolph that has a legal loading zone.
Yes, some deliveries would require rolling items further on dollies, and tourists might have to walk a little more. But if the change prevents even one person on a bike from getting seriously injured or killed while merging into traffic to avoid an illegally parked vehicle, isn’t that worth a few extra steps?