What abysmal pavement quality on a brand new bike lane means


Approaching the intersection and bike lane minefield. 

I find it very embarrassing that Chicagoans are supposed to ride their bicycles in this. I feel embarrassed riding my bike in this. I rode my bike on this pavement of abysmal quality and then felt ashamed and uncomfortable that I exited the bike lane and rode elsewhere.


The bike symbol succumbs to flooding which occupies half the bike lane’s width. 

I felt like a person in a wheelchair given an “accessible” theater seat behind a column that blocks a majority of my view of the stage. I felt like I was a reporter at a newspaper given a new computer where the keyboard was missing 42 keys. The bike lane was unusable, I was the butt of a cruel joke. This felt like a pittance, throwing crumbs to the masses.


2013 April Fool’s Day came early, in fall 2012. 

The photos in this post show a bike lane in Douglas Park against the curb, with a painted buffer, running in a minefield of patches and potholes on asphalt pavement. The bike lane was installed in the fall of 2012, as part of Mayor Emanuel’s efforts to construct 100 miles of protected bike lanes. The goal has since been reduced after the definition of a protected bike lane was surreptitiously changed. The change was revealed by Grid Chicago.

You can find this at the intersection of Sacramento Boulevard and Douglas Boulevard in Lawndale on the Near Southwest Side of Chicago. View more photos of this and the other West Side Boulevards bike lanes on my Flickr. They’ve probably been the most controversial: there were complaints because of ticketing cars parked in the under construction bike lane on Marshall Boulevard; then there were complaints about the “decreased safety” of the protected bike lane on Independence Boulevard which has prompted CDOT to agree to remove it and replace it with a buffered bike lane. The Independence Boulevard debacle started because of ticketing cars parked in the under construction bike lane – I doubt it would have become an issue if cars weren’t ticketed.


Franklin Boulevard at Kedzie Avenue, taken on the same day. Thankfully it’s wide enough that you can bike around it while still being in the bike lane. 

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About Steven Vance

Enthusiast for urbanism, bicycling as transportation, and open data. Building a bicycle culture in Chicago.
  • dramamajor

    Ashamed? Embarrassed? A bit dramatic I think.

    • http://www.stevevance.net/ Steven Vance

      The Mayor’s promise to build 100 miles of protected bike lanes was dramatic, as are the results, as seen in the local and nationwide news media, including my other blog, Grid Chicago.

  • Adam Herstein

    It also seems like over half of the buffered bike lanes are built on shoddy pavement, as well. I don’t think being ashamed or embarrassed is an exaggeration.

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  • http://twitter.com/data_meining Michael Hoerz

    Your last photo more resembles a bike lake than a bike lane! Even strange for someone like me used to the bad road quality in Germany’s capital Berlin.

    • http://www.stevevance.net/ Steven Vance

      I was in Berlin in August 2012. I saw no bad roads compared to what we put up with in Chicago. It wouldn’t be a problem, I believe, if the Chicago vehicle owners were charged a cost proportional to the impact their vehicle placed on the road.