Tagintersection

Drivers get to choose which light they want

Normally when light signals fail (I have no idea how or why they fail – wouldn’t they just restart their original programming?) they flash red in all directions. This one started flashing with all three colors at Wabash Avenue and Harrison Street.

Photo by Calvin Brown.

Dummy

What was going through this driver’s head (do they have a brain?) when, as soon as the light turned green, they peeled away from the stop bar, turning the wrong way down a one-way street?

Were there not enough indicators that this is a one-way street against their direction? There were arrows, a “no left turn” sign, a stop bar the full width of the street, a DO NOT ENTER sign, and a “one way” sign.

Or is the driver entitled to do whatever they want?

Stony Island cycle track still on, but conflicting reports

Update June 9, 2011: At Wednesday’s Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council (MBAC), Deputy Commissioner Luann Hamilton reiterated that the Stony Island project was still on and that the long timeline to complete (2014) will be largely because of design reviews and other considerations required when using state and federal funding. She also mentioned that the Chicago Tribune printed a correction in its Wednesday morning paper

The Chicago Tribune wrote about the Kinzie Street protected bike lane on Monday and may have implied at the end of the article that the Stony Island cycle track project, which has earmarked federal funding through the Illinois Transportation Enhancements Program, was canceled (“dropped from consideration”).

On second read, this probably means it was no longer being considered the location for the city’s first protected bike lane. News reports and interviews with city officials put the completion and opening of this protected bike lane in 2014, at the end of Rahm’s first term.

Conflicting reports

In February, Chicago Tribune transportation reporter John Hilkevitch quoted CDOT spokesperson, Brian Steele, saying, “There is already a lot of bicycling on the route, and we envision the cycle track as being a good connection to Jackson Park, the lakefront and the larger bike network in the city.”

Then yesterday, in June, the same reporter wrote, “But the location, chosen mainly because Stony Island has abundant lane capacity, was dropped from consideration because too few bicyclists use the corridor, officials said.” [NBC Chicago reported the same today alongside their video of today’s press conference.]

How many people ride their bikes on Stony Island? What is CDOT’s criteria for choosing protected bike lane locations?

Still on the drawing board

A person rides their bicycle on what will soon be the buffer between the bike lane and parking lane. Flexible delineators, also known as soft-hit bollards, will demarcate the zones.

Bike box, another first on Kinzie Street

Update June 7, 2011: CDOT and Mayor Emanuel acknowledge the project with a Tuesday morning press conference. Here’s the press release (that doesn’t reveal anything we don’t already know) and photos from the event. NBC Chicago has video from the press conference (2:27).

A bike box is a well-marked area where bicyclists can queue at signalized intersections ahead of cars, a way to get ahead and make bicyclists more visible to drivers. The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) installed one Tuesday morning, on Day 2 of the Kinzie Street protected bike lane project (read about Day 1). I asked a CDOT worker if it will be painted green or another color and they replied it would probably would. It appears that the design for the project is still being done while construction proceeds. I expect a section of the next block will be worked on tomorrow.

See a bike box in Portland.

More new information about this project

CDOT was also grinding out pavement markings on Kinzie Street in front of Jewel-Osco, where the CDOT worker explained a left-turn lane would be created for westbound travelers (matching the left-turn lane in the eastbound direction next to the bike box).

The uphill bike lane will not be protected. Chicagoist commenter BlueFairline pointed out a conflict with trucks delivering goods via hose to the Blommer chocolate factory. The truck needs to be curbside. Today confirmed how this would work out.

Lastly, the CDOT worker could not confirm if there will be a bike-only left-turn lane on southbound Milwaukee at Kinzie Street, as I suggested earlier.

Friday is final day for comments about Damen-Elston-Fullerton

Tomorrow, Friday, May 13, 2011, is the final day to email comments to Bridget Stalla, project manager for the Damen-Elston-Fullerton reconfiguration.

What should you do?

  1. Read an overview of the project and my analysis
  2. View photos of the posters at April’s open house to understand what will and won’t change
  3. Think of what you like or don’t like about the project
  4. Email your comments to Bridget: [email protected]
  5. Think about posting your comments here.

My draft comments

Here’s what I plan to email Bridget tomorrow:

  1. Bike lane on Damen – There should be a bike lane on Damen connecting the two ends north and south of Fullerton. Additionally, the bike lane should go THROUGH both intersections. See an example of a “through bike lane” in this photo. Too often bicyclists in Chicago are “dropped off” at intersections, left to fend for themselves and get caught in the same problems as automobiles. But automobiles and bicycles are different kinds of vehicles and need different treatments and direction.
  2. Roundabout – Was a roundabout considered for any of the three intersections? What were the results of this analysis? A modern, turbo roundabout should be given serious consideration for at least one of the three intersections.
  3. Curve and wide road on New Elston Avenue – On “New Elston Avenue” between Fullerton and Damen, there are two regular lanes and one bike lane in each direction. The widening of Elston was not justified. The high radius curve on New Elston Avenue on the east side of the project, and two regular lanes in each direction, will likely cause higher-speed traffic than bicyclists are used to on many roads on which they travel in great numbers. Automobile drivers speeding around the curve may enter the bike lanes. This is a good case for protected bike lanes at least on this part of the roadway.
  4. Removing the center island – Was removing the center island an alternative the project team considered?
  5. Queue backups caused by Fullerton-highway ramp intersection – The project area should be expanded to include the intersection to the west of the project area, at Fullerton/Kennedy ramp. Westbound drivers constantly and consistently block the Fullerton intersections with Damen and Elston while waiting to go through the signal at the highway ramp.

A bird’s eye view of the new configuration.

Bike lane news around the country

In other bike lane news around the country:

  • Kansas City, Missouri, now has two bridges with separated and protected bike lanes. A concrete barrier separates a combined walking and biking path from traffic.
  • Chicago’s door lane network grows a little more with new door lanes on Grand Avenue and Illinois Street. Downtown is in the most need of bike lanes so these should be useful (although I advocate for ones going through the Loop).
  • Separated bike lanes again under attack in New York City, this time on Columbus Avenue. It was only installed in August.
  • Washington, D.C., installed bike boxes and contraflow bike lanes (in August 2010) on a diagonal street at a six-way intersection (we have tons of six-way intersections in Chicago). John Allen, notable for his stance on bikeways and how they conflict with traffic engineering principles, approves of the design. In theory, contraflow bike lanes next to parallel parking lanes are good (and better than door lanes) because (1) the door to open is the passenger’s door, which opens less often than the driver’s door; (2) the person opening the door and the person riding the bike are staring at each other; and (3) if a person riding a bike collides with the door from the oncoming direction, the collision should be less damaging  to the person riding the bike. (You can thank former Mayor Adrian Fenty and former transportation commissioner Gabe Klein, and their staff, for these improvements to the bikeway network.)

The new door lanes in Chicago on Grand Avenue (as well as Illinois Street) involved a road diet, the narrowing or removal of main traffic lanes. You can see how a lane was removed – the stripes demarcating the two lanes have been ground out. This may reduce traffic speed and reduce confusion and collisions, a welcomed change. Watch a video of the bike lane striping being applied.

In Washington, D.C., a unique and adapted bike lane design for a diagonal street where it crosses two other streets at a six-way intersection. Another way to demonstrate what a bicycle lane could do.

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