The Chainlink

Hey Chicago Bicycle friends!

Would you like to be a part of making Chicago a safer place to bike? I need your insights on what it's like biking in Chicago.  

Instead of simply being mad about the issue, I'm interested in doing something about it.  One way to work on this issue is through creating a way to identify where these issues are taking place, tracking these violations, identifying problem locations and hopefully create an automated/fast/easy way to file a report with the city.  
The first step to creating a solution (potentially an app) is to learn from other people in the community (this is where you come in) and gain insights into the issue and uncover areas of opportunity.  I reached out via the Chainlink to reach a large diverse sample of bikers (like you), so that everyone's voice is heard.
Here are some questions I have:

+ Do you bike? (i'm guessing you do if you're reading this on the Chainlink.)

+ How often do you ride?

What are challenges do you have riding?

What do you do when you see cars parked in bike lanes?

Do you report?

Are there challenges with reporting?

Have you noticed progress with reporting?

How could the process be made easier?

Happy cycling!

-Christina

 

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Thanks Burrito!   I'm sure most of us feel less-safe these days, despite the increase in bike lanes and PBLs.   But unfortunately much of John Forester's philosophy is dismissed, as Filka Bean does below.   And more and more, cyclists are shuttled off to the side of the road or on separate paths where drivers don't have to deal with them.

I'm not opposing cw's well-meaning effort here; I just want to mention another way to see our role as cyclists, as equals, rather than always feeling inferior to cars.  For instance, from John Forester:

....Most Americans have been taught from childhood to ride in a simplified manner that does not require judgement about traffic, because exercising judgement about traffic was thought to be too difficult for children to learn. The prime instruction of this system was to always stay close to the edge of the road, out of the way of the cars. This instruction developed fear of cars rather than a sense of cooperating with traffic, and developed a belief that bicycles don't belong on the road, that they were trespassers on roads that belong to cars, rather than the knowledge that cyclists are drivers of vehicles, just as much as motorists are. The name for this method of bicycle riding is the cyclist-inferiority method....

I'm sorry to see this old argument rear it's head here.  John Forester and his philosophy have been kicking around since 1976 but funny how I can't remember bicycling really starting to become a popular way to get around town until recently, when... bike lanes started to be added!  To me, whether the lanes themselves are safer or not is a distraction from the bottom line, which is that they attract more people to ride, and more riders makes streets safer.

But the real bottom line here on this thread is that a community member is stepping up to put a lot of work into a practical solution, and instead of constructive criticism we get to rehash Effective Cycling TM.  Good luck with the project OP, and if I ever get a smartphone (hope not soon) I'll join in.

Thank you Filka Bean!  Much appreciated.

+ Do you bike?

  • Yes!

+ How often do you ride?

  • Daily, including weekends.

What are challenges do you have riding?

  • Potholes, unaware drivers, speeding cyclists in congested areas, etc.

What do you do when you see cars parked in bike lanes?

  • Not as much as I used to. Occasionally take a photo.

Do you report?

  • No. I haven't found a simple and effective way of reporting.

Are there challenges with reporting?

  • Yes. It seems like there is a lack of care when reporting.

Have you noticed progress with reporting?

  • The only few times I was successful at reporting was when a cab driver had cut me and a few other cyclists off on Kinzie to swerve and park in the bike lane to pick up a passenger. I had my gopro on the front of the bike and had the whole thing on video. The city had a court case against him and he was let off with a $50 fine and a drivers safety course.

How could the process be made easier?

  • If there was an app or website that was easy to use, accepted both pictures and videos as evidence and actually pursued the drivers that were in violation of the law I think it would be a very effective tool that people would use. 

Thank you for your response Jaik S.,

Would you be interested in testing out a prototype to document obstructions in bike lanes?

If so, send me a message and we can get you set up.

-Christina

Update:

I've collected data from the city of Chicago and plotted it on an interactive map (shown in screen shot below).   

I still need of additional prototype testers.  A sign up sheet to become a tester and the interactive map can be found: HERE

Could you provide an icon key/legend for the map?

I updated the page to include a key of the icons as well as a call out on how to interact with the layers.  

Let me know if this helps or not.

Good Morning!

I created a Twitter account for the Bike Lane Uprising project.  Feel free to follow for updates.  

@bikelaneuprise

https://twitter.com/bikelaneuprise/status/913434273348284417

Bike Lane Uprising - Update

For the past month, our prototype for reporting cars parked in bike lanes has been live.  We have been lucky to have some incredible prototype testers who jumped on board early on (Gopher, Argonne69, Tony, Cheryl to name a few)

As of today, our prototype testers have submitted over 120 bike lane obstructions through the prototype.  Were learning a great deal from submitters and are developing as we go.  We are working to continuously improve the experience for cyclists. 

We are also learning ways to share that data with the biking community as an effort to make cycling safer. Below is a heat map of the submitted bike lane violations.

Visit BikeLaneUprising.com for more information and to sign up to become a prototype tester.  

You can also follow us on twitter @bikelaneuprise

+ Do you bike? (i'm guessing you do if you're reading this on the Chainlink.)

Yes, I still do. But, I am down from 5 days per week commuting on my personal bike to 3 days, using Divvy and running (to avoid certain intersections, poor roads, etc.) I went 7 or so years commuting year round (and boy did I love it.) Now, I try to get in three days of bike/run commute and two days of driving. Yes, I wrote that...I am a driver now...and yes, I can chalk it up to my concern for my safety. I really do miss riding in all weather and staying fitter than most. 

What are challenges do you have riding?

Dangerous intersections and drivers with poor driving skills. For instance, at the corner of Damen and Diversey, southbound on Damen coming from the northside of the intersection, too many drivers use both lanes to head south and nearly mow down bikers. If CDOT would simply put up a concrete barrier at the entrance to every roadway where dual lanes reduce to a single and a bike lane, then we might be able to teach drivers that that right lane on the north side of the intersection (complete with signage and painted markings) really is a turn only lane. It might cause a few head-on collisions with the barricades, but they will learn quick. 

What do you do when you see cars parked in bike lanes? Shake my head in disbelief. I see others tempt fate/death by slapping car panels. That is a quick way to find yourself at the losing end of a road rage incident. Still, our super-bikers do it thinking they are in the right. (Darwinism on display.)

Do you report? No. I can see why they do it. No place to stop that is convenient for them. My sense is that they will figure it out over time. 

Are there challenges with reporting? No idea. 

Have you noticed progress with reporting? No idea.

How could the process be made easier? This is sounding like an article on getting results from reporting issues. Report away, but until we have barricaded bike lanes (think concrete barriers) you are not going to keep cars out of lanes. I see trucks drive in bike lanes (going around traffic) on Elston on my commute. 

BTW, in your photo above, it appears the bike lane is newly marked and the bollards are still upright. Go take a ride down Elston sometime and do the ratio of upright to missing bollards. I bet it doesn't eclipse 20%.

If you want to effect change, then propose the cost of the barriers and tax bikes to pay for the route barriers. Simple as that. 

Thank you for taking the time to share your insights SixtyTwoPercent.

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