TagLake Shore Drive

Transportation infrastructure is for more than transportation’s sake

Transportation infrastructure should be designed for more than carrying people through places. It also needs to be about carrying people to places, because transportation is for moving people as much for commerce as it is for being social.

The Dutch consider “social safety” when designing and redesigning streets (they’re constantly upgrading streets, roads, and entire neighborhoods to standards that seem to be frequently updated).

Mark Waagenbuur posted a new video this week showing a new tunnel under Amsterdam Centraal, the main train station in Amsterdam, and he highlighted several of its social safety features.

The screen grab I embedded above – and posted on Twitter where it got a lot of shares and likes – shows an aspect that’s common across all cycling facilities in built-up areas: it’s wide enough to ride side by side with your friend, mother, or lover, with still enough room on your left for people to pass you in the same lane.

Another aspect of this tunnel is that it has sound-absorbing panels. Often tunnels have a disturbing echo that inhibit comfortable communication – my new home office has an echo and it makes it hard to have conversations on the phone here because I hear an annoying feedback. The communication is important to be able to hear people cycling with you, but also to hear what other people are doing.

The tunnel has a final feature that supports social safety: clear, wide, and open sight lines. Not just from end to end, but also to the sides. It’s hard to hide around the corner because the breadth of vision is so wide that you would see someone lurking in the corner.

For Chicagoans who use one of the many old tunnels under Lake Shore Drive connecting the “mainland” to the nation’s most popular trail along Lake Michigan, the feeling of claustrophobia and invisibility of what’s around the bend is too common. New tunnels, which I prefer to bridges because you go downhill first, should be a priority when the State of Illinois rebuilds Lake Shore Drive north of Grand Avenue in the next decade. This is what those tunnels look like; sometimes they have mirrors.

We can sell ads on the Lakefront Trail underpasses, but they're still shitty to walk through

That wasn’t a joyride on Lake Shore Drive

Video starts at Ohio Street (you can see the W Hotel after the curve at Ontario Street); the camera holder and driver speak with expletives.

Craig Newman at the Sun Times is wrong about the person in this video, who was filmed riding a Divvy bike-share bike along the jersey barrier on northbound Lake Shore Drive. He blogged today:

All excellent questions. But let’s maybe simplify and throw a warning sticker on the bikes: NO RIDING ON EXPRESSWAYS

And yes, I am a consistent bike commuter who enjoys the benefits and routinely laments stupidity, four-wheeled, two-wheeled and on foot we all have to fight through daily. But come on. Lake Shore Drive?

This person didn’t want to be cycling there. There are several ways one could make the mistake of riding a bike on this roadway. And once you’re on, you’re on for good until the next exit (which in this Divvy rider’s case is 1/4 mile north from where the video was shot).

She might have known there was something called the Lake Shore Path (as some people call it) or the Lakefront Trail – she couldn’t remember which. She didn’t see any “Route X” signs, or “Interstate Y” signs.

She saw a road that looks like so many others. It’s called a drive, not an expressway (it doesn’t meet those technical standards). She most likely entered from Lower Wacker (which connects to Michigan Avenue, where many people ride Divvy against Alderman Reilly’s desire) and went up the center, northbound ramp to Lake Shore Drive.

Stony Island Avenue in Chicago. The only difference between this and Lake Shore Drive is the more frequent stopping (unless there’s congestion on LSD) and the shopping. Photo by Jeff Zoline.

It can be easily mistaken for a typical road, looking similar to the stroads near wherever she lives. Like Stony Island, Cicero, Columbus, Archer, in Chicago, or any countless “major street” in the suburbs. Maybe she comes from Roscoe Village, where Western Avenue goes over Belmont, or Bridgeport/Brighton Park, where Ashland Avenue goes over Pershing Avenue. Or some other city where regular roads cross other regular roads at different grades.

View Larger Map

Local photographer Brent Knepper tweeted that he made the mistake before.

We have a problem with our design such that the highway didn’t sufficient communicate, “No really, you shouldn’t bike here”. On the contrary, we have roads that should be shouting, “Hey, you really should be biking here!”

Maybe that’s why Netherlands makes it perfectly clear with red pavement.

Believe me, not even Casey Neistat would ride up here intentionally.

Updated with a better guess of where she entered Lake Shore Drive.

I’ve biked on Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive three times

I don’t recommend it.




I guess I have some sort of two-year anniversary for doing it.

Closed for a good cause

At least two times per year, parts of Lake Shore Drive, an ugly but seemingly necessary highway on the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago, close down to auto traffic for athletic and recreational events.

Last Sunday, 20,000 people pounded their feet on the south part of LSD in the Chicago Half Marathon.

Any event where you can see the greatest skyline in the world is bound to be a good one 😉

The last time I know the Drive was closed this year (and since 2002) for Bike The Drive. The whole road is closed for the fundraising event that benefits the Active Transportation Alliance (formerly Chicagoland Bicycle Federation).

Screenshot from a video I took from my bike’s handlebars when I entered the ride from 31st Street and rode to Grant Park for my volunteer shift at the Active Transportation Alliance booth.

© 2016 Steven Can Plan

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