One Little Victory: CDOT Installs Posts to Deter Parking in Washington Bike Lane

Photo: Michelle Stenzel
Photo: Michelle Stenzel

It just goes to show, if you want to keep your local bikeway in good shape, it can’t hurt to set up a Twitter account for it. In recent years folks have been tweeting on behalf of the Dearborn, Clinton, and Halsted bike lanes, drawing attention to issues such as illegal parking and poor snow clearance.

Last July someone launched a Twitter account to highlight a very specific bikeway problem: chronic issues with drivers parking illegally in the short stretch of the Washington Street bike lane between Wabash and Michigan avenues. To be exact, the problem is on the very short segment east of the alley between Washington and Michigan, one of the few stretches of Washington in the Loop where the bike lane lacked physical protection.

Even though the bike lane is painted bright green, motorists have been ignoring that visual cue and have frequently parked or stood there while making deliveries or quick stops. While this might seem like a minor annoyance, the illegal parking makes it more challenging for cyclists to navigate the intimidating Washington/Michigan intersection, where the city installed a dedicated bike signal last year.

The 84EWashington account has tirelessly chronicled the issue, tweeting to the Chicago Department of Transportation to draw attention to the problem and requesting that flexible plastic posts be installed to keep cars out of the bike lane. This week the tweeter finally got their wish.

According to CDOT spokesman Mike Claffey, the posts were installed on Tuesday. Other recent bikeway improvements in the area include a curbside bike lane on Michigan and a protected bike lane on mid-level Randolph, providing a connection between the Loop and Lakefront Trail.

In addition to 84EWashington, Bike Lane Uprising, a website run by Christina Whitehouse that documents bikeway obstructions, as well as the many other cyclists who reported vehicles in the Washington lane via the site, deserves credit for pushing the city to fix the the problem.

The new posts on Washington haven’t completely solved the illegal parking issue — some drivers are going around the bollards, choosing to ignore the obvious cues that they’re not supposed to park there. More posts or, better yet, concrete curbs would largely stop that.

Photo: Michelle Stenzel
Photo: Michelle Stenzel

But it’s great to see that some online activism spurred CDOT to address the issue. It might be worth trying this approach to draw attention to bike lane problem spots in other parts of the city.

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