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Bike Lane Enforcement

Sorry, the Smart Streets Pilots Ordinance to ticket bike lane blockers hasn’t kicked in yet

Smart Streets Pilots aren't a thing at this point. But they're something to look forward to.

The illegally parked car being towed on the 100 block of South Wells. Image: stablemobility via Reddit

This post is sponsored by Ride Illinois.

On Saturday, an article by Melissa Weber brought my attention to a three-month-old video posted on Reddit by a user called "stablemobility." The videographer, apparently riding a bicycle, heads north in a paint-and-post bike lane on the 1100 block of south Wells Street in the South Loop, near River City. The bike rider approaches a black car that's being towed out of the lane by a Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation vehicle driver, and possibly getting ticketed.

"Justice on a beautiful day in Chicago!" the poster exclaimed. "If the tow truck driver's comments were any indication, hopefully, we see it a lot more often!"

Weber thought the Streets and San worker may have been referring to an ordinance the Chicago City Council passed last December raising the fine for parking in a bike lane from $150 to $250, starting ten days after it was approved. The legislation also expanded who can ticket a vehicle in a bike lane to include police officers, the Chicago Department of Transportation, and Street and San, and it lets the Chicago Department of Finance advise Streets and Sans to tow vehicles.

Weber also noted that last March the Council passed the Smarts Streets Pilots ordinance, which allows the city to ticket registered vehicle owners by mail for illegally parking in bike lanes and other locations. The ordinance allows for enforcement cameras to be fixed on city poles or on the front of city or CTA vehicles. The legislation would establish two two-year pilots in the area bounded by Lake Michigan, Ashland Avenue, North Avenue, and Roosevelt Road, a zone somewhere under nine square miles.

A rare example of police enforcing a downtown bike lane, at Washington and State streets. Photo: John Greenfield

That got me thinking, and a few Streetsblog readers have asked me lately, what's going on with that pilot? Has this type of bike lane enforcement actually gone into effect by now? Sadly the answer is no.

"The Smart Streets Pilots ordinance... authorizes the city to ticket drivers by mail for various infractions, including parking in bike lanes, bus-only lanes, crosswalks, and bus stops in the pilot area," CDOT spokesperson Erica Schroeder told me. "The city is in the process of building out cross-departmental operating procedures and has not begun issuing tickets or towing vehicles in connection to the program."

So Smart Streets Pilots aren't a thing yet. But they're something to look forward to.

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