If you want something changed, chances are you’re going to have to write to someone about it.

I wanted a few things changed last year. I first wanted Dominick’s (Safeway) to install a bike rack at their store after they removed the shopping cart gates (which was doing a decent job of serving as bike parking). If you follow the blog, you saw the positive results from my letter to the CEO. When you want something done and you need someone else to do it, the first step is to tell someone (like calling 311 to report a pothole). But even that has its own prerequisites: You have to know what to say and who to say it to.

A friend and I wanted a bike lane “pinch point” removed from Halsted just north of the 16th Street BNSF viaduct that separates University Village and Pilsen. It wasn’t just us who wanted it out, though. We talked to our friends and I talked to some bike shop employees – they were aware of the issue and supported its removal.

It’s in the 25th Ward – my friend lives in the 25th Ward but at the time I lived in the 11th Ward). So he sent a letter explicitly and calmly describing the problem and a proposed solution to Alderman Danny Solis (now in a runoff against Cuahutemoc Morfin), cc’ing Mayor Richard M. Daley, and Ben Gomberg, coordinator of the Bicycle Program.

Demonstrating the pinch point. Not as dramatic as it is when there’s a bus or semi-truck or when the driver doesn’t drive as far to the left.

A before and after photo showing where cars could legally park and now where they cannot. The City added a tow zone sign next to the “no left turn” sign to mostly eliminate the pinch point at the start of the bike lane.

“Fast” service

The letters were mailed on October 13, 2010. The sign was installed on or before December 13, 2010. The change was felt immediately. Drivers simply stopped parking their cars in the newly created tow zone and the bike lane and this part of Halsted Street became just a little bit more pleasant to use – so thank you, Alderman Solis!

I’m finally writing this blog to tell you about the experience on March 4, 2011. Sorry – I got delayed!