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Video killed the bicycle lane: Advocates, officials intervene after TV crew blocks PBL

The TV crew’s catering tents in the Dearborn bike lane. Photo: Pete Snyder

People biking to or from Loop Thursday morning on the Dearborn Avenue two-way protected bike lane, downtown's busiest bikeway, had a nasty surprise. Their path was blocked by a TV crew's catering tents occupying the entire facility, from the front door of the Goodman Theater, just north of Randolph Street, to Couch Place, the alley between Randolph and Lake Streets, as you can see in the above photo.

Since Dearborn is one-way northbound for drivers, one Twitter commentator noted that there was "no option other than to ride on the sidewalk if you're biking south," with an angry face emoticon.

The bikeway advocacy organization Bike Lane Uprising pulled the Chicago Department of Transportation permit for the street closure and found that it was issued to Beverly Hills, CA-based Open 4 Business Productions LLC, which films the locally-set first responder drama "Chicago Fire." While they had permission to use the "west side of Dearborn," the permit explicitly prohibited blocking the bike lane, and the closure also went past the permit's 10 a.m. deadline.

A couple of folks on Twitter said they notified downtown alder personBrendan Reilly's (42nd) office about the obstruction. "Props to  Ald. Reilly’s office staff," one tweeted. "I called them at 10:15 a.m. to let them know about this obstruction. They just told me that someone went out there, ticketed these people, and ensured that the bike lanes are now clear."

Reilly confirmed to Streetsblog that's what happened. I've got to hand it to the alder, in recent years he's become downright obsessed with keeping bike lanes in his district clear, and that's a very good thing.

CDOT spokesperson Erica Schroeder also corroborated the story. "A film production obtained a permit, but were not approved to block the bike lane. As the permit states, 'Permittees shall not impede bike lanes in any manner during site visits or as part of activities. If impediments are permitted, either bike lane closure [traffic control] protocols must be followed or detours that comply with CDOT rules and regulations must be in place.' Upon learning of the situation yesterday, CDOT sent inspectors to the location, where the obstruction had already been removed."

Nice job, Chicago bike advocacy community and city officials. Teamwork makes the dream work.

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