Thursday, July 19, 2018

Obstructed Bike Lanes Plague Chicago Bicyclists

Every bicyclist in the City of Chicago knows the plague that is obstructed bike lanes. NBC 5 Investigates has produced a recent investigative report on all of the issues with obstructed bike lanes in Chicago. Stopping on a bike lanes is a minor convenience for the driver who uses the space of the bike lane to pull to the side of the road. But for the bicyclist this is massively dangerous as having to go around the stopped vehicle takes the bicyclist out of the marked bicycle lane and directly into the lane for motor vehicle traffic. 

It Is Illegal To Drive On The Bike Lane In Chicago

The Chicago Municipal Code is clear: A driver can't park or stand in a bike lane. Here's what the law says:
9-40-060- Driving, standing or parking on bicycle paths or lanes prohibited - 
The driver of a vehicle shall not drive, unless entering or exiting a legal parking space, or stand, or park the vehicle upon any on street path or lane designated by official signs or markings for the use of bicycles, or otherwise drive or place the vehicle in such a manner as to impede bicycle traffic on such path or lane. The driver of a vehicle shall not stand or park the vehicle upon any lane designated by pavement markings for the shared use of motor vehicles and bicycles, or place the vehicle in such a manner as to impede bicycle traffic on such lane. In addition to the fine provided in Section 9-4-025 of this Code, any vehicle parked in violation of this section shall be subject to an immediate tow and removal to a city vehicle pound or authorized garage.
Ubers and Lyfts Are Forbidden From Parking In The Bike Lane 

Part of the issue with vehicles in the bike lane is ride share operators such as Lyft and Uber use the bike lanes as easy spaces to drop off and pick up their passengers. However, these drivers are specifically trained NOT to do this. Section 9-115-150 of the Municipal Code of Chicago requires that all "transportation network drivers" (such as Uber, Lyft, etc.) to successfully complete an online or in-person transportation network driver training program. The program includes guidelines on safely picking-up and dropping-off passengers. Dangerous Driving Behavior No. 6: Safe Pick-Up and Drop-Off gives the following clear rules:
  • Passengers and driver cannot open car doors into traffic.
  • Drivers can NEVER stop, stand, or park in a bike lane. Passengers cannot be dropped off in a bike lane.
  • DOORING is opening a car door into the path of an oncoming cyclist. It is punishable by fines up to $1,000.
  • Pull all the way over to the curb when picking up or dropping off a passenger. DO NOT BLOCK travel lane.
Bike Lanes Help Promote Cycling

Chicago needs its bicycle lanes to be free and clear so that they are most effective and safe. The number of bicycle riders across America soared in the past 10 to 15 years. From just 2000 to 2014, bicycle commuting grew 62 percent. The number of bicyclists exploded from 488,000 people in 2000 to 904,463 people in 2014. While the overall percentage of bike commuters remains relatively low – approximately 1.0% of all commuters –this drastic increase is the single largest percentage increase of any transportation mode. 

The increase in bicycle commuting is largely the result of many of the country’s most prominent cities investing heavily in non-motorized travel-based projects like bike lanes. For bicycling to continue to grow, these very bike lanes need to be useful and effective. And that means stepping up enforcement of parking in the bike lane. Community groups like Bike Lane Uprising have done excellent work in putting a spotlight on this serious issue. 

Chicago Bicycle Attorneys

The attorneys at Keating Law Offices have fought for the rights of cyclists and advocated on behalf of bicycle infrastructure for over a decade. The law firm filed the very first lawsuit in Cook County over a driver striking a bicyclists on the Kinzie bike lane, which was one of the first protected bike lanes in the city. The attorneys have handled many cases involving issues with drivers riding on the bike lane or dooring bicyclists in the bike lane. The firm's West Town location is immediately on the Milwaukee Avenue bike lane where these issues are apparent on a daily basis.