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Another Milwaukee Avenue bikeway issue: Missing “No Parking” signs endanger cyclists

Still from Kyle Davison’s video showing drivers improperly parked in the curb lane, where cyclists are supposed to be riding, due to the lack of “No Parking” signs.

There's a lot of sturm and drang happening on Milwaukee Avenue between California and Western avenues in Logan Square right now, with Alan Gillman, co-owner of Gillman's Ace Hardware leading a campaign to get the new plastic curb-protected bike lanes on that stretch removed.

The bikeway project involved relocating most of the metered parking spots from the west side of Milwaukee, and Gillman claims the city never reached out to him to discuss the change. Jacob Peters, a Mayor's Bicycle Advisory Council community rep and longtime Gillman's customer, is disputing that. (Note that Peters isn't claiming that Block Club Chicago article, written by Ariel Parrella-Aureli, who also freelances for Streetsblog, inaccurately reported Gillman's statements, but rather that Gillman's statements were false.)

They had prepared presentations showing that the alternative w/ parking on his side of the street resulted in fewer parking spaces than the design that was installed.

As well as that parking demand during his business hrs is far less than the amount of parking that remains.2/2

— Jacob Peters (@ArchiJake) October 5, 2020

Gillman told Block Club and other news outlets that he blames the parking reconfiguration for a recent slump in sales. However, it's not a major ordeal for most customers to cross the street from parking spots to the store, and others can access the shop from the alley.

Among other factors that might help explain Gillman's falling revenue during election season is the fact that he is reportedly an outspoken Trump supporter who blasts anti-Mexican immigration talk radio shows in the store, in a community that's about 42 percent Latino, and includes many immigrants and allies. Therefore, some neighbors may be choosing to take their business elsewhere.

Gillman's Ace Hardware and the new bikeway. Photo: John Greenfield
Gillman's Ace Hardware and the new bikeway. Photo: John Greenfield
Gillman's Ace Hardware and the new bikeway. Photo: John Greenfield

But there's another, much lower-key bikeway issue happening a few blocks north on the 2500 block of Milwaukee, northwest of Sacramento Avenue, by the recently opened Logan's Crossing development, formerly the site of the Logan Square Megamall. Earlier this year the Chicago Department of Transportation reconfigured the street layout on the block to make way for a new stoplight and turn lanes for drivers accessing retail and residences at the complex.

Streetsblog Reader Kyle Davison pointed out that CDOT installed shared-lane markings, aka "sharrows" (bike-and-chevron symbols), on this block to advise people on bikes to ride in the curb lane, on a stretch where there's supposed to be no curbside car parking. However, the department apparently neglected to install the "No Parking" signs. Predictably, motorists are parking in the curb lanes, where people on bikes are supposed to be riding.

"This leads to a dangerous collision point where [people driving and biking] have to suddenly swerve into the same space to avoid parked vehicles on their right and vehicles in the left turn lane on their left," Davison explained. "This situation occurs in both the northbound and southbound lanes. This is definitely a mistake when you consider how the street was painted." Davison shot this helmet cam video to illustrate the issue.

Davison said he emailed local alderman Scott Waguespack about the problem but hasn't gotten a response. He added that he had no luck asking for the "No Parking" signs via the 311 non-emergency city request system. Contacting the transportation department at cdotinfo[at]cityofchicago.org is another option for such requests.

Hopefully this post will help make it clear why the improper parking is a serious safety issue, and Waguespack and CDOT will take immediate action to fix the problem before someone biking or driving gets hurt.

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