The Chainlink

hi all,

i saw a brief mention of this stretch of damen in an earlier post, but i'm looking for more feedback on what to do here--to be legal and/or safe.

i've been taking damen from irving park to polk and back for work for a while, and it's very clear where i belong the whole way except between lake and the expressway, where the marked bike lane disappears for a few blocks and the street widens to four lanes.

if i ride too far to the right, i get passed by cars in the right-hand lane, and they're way too close and fast for comfort. so this morning i decided to ride right down the middle of the right-hand lane--do i have a right to do this? if the traffic were slower, i wouldn't mind squeezing closer to the curb, but these drivers can very easily get around me in the left lane.

so of course i'm getting honked at by people who are too impatient to wait a block or two to get past me. yeah, i'm slow. but i'd rather get honked at than sideswiped or pushed into the sidewalk. but then i get worried about the possibility of pissing off someone who will purposely try to scare/hurt me.

thoughts? the other obvious option is to hop on the sidewalk and walk as necessary, but i also want to stand up for my right to share the road.

if you ride here, what do you do? what's the law for this situation?

thanks,

km

Tags: bike, damen, distance, lanes, passing, safety

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I would continue to take the lane.  I do that when I ride Dearborn from Polk to Madison.  If some cars aren't willing to share the lane safely, you have to do what you need to keep safe.  Just keep your cool and don't react to those who honk or yell.

I ride the middle if traffic isn't too bad, riding on the right only gets cars passing the turning in front to get on the freeway

Section 11-1505 of the Illinois Vehicle code allows a cyclist to take the lane when "substandard width lanes that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge" which would likely cover your situation, but is left to some interpretation. In your situation I personally would take the lane. The short sections around highway interchanges where normally two lane roads become four lane lanes are some of the most intimidating areas to cycle through. You might also want to consider detouring to Leavitt for that stretch.

 

Link to relevent laws:

http://www.activetrans.org/bicyclists-and-law/illinois-statutes

I remember when that section was "improved"-- would have been 1994 or 1995, when I was riding mostly Damen from Rogers Park to UIC; and I'm still completely pissed off about it (it was the perfect width before.)

In my opinion theres nothing you can do but avoid it.

I personally take the sidewalk through there more often than not, when I have no other choice but to go that way, and am not riding in a group, but the sidewalk is pinched in a bunch of places by posts.

Sorry if you're all tired of me writing this, but "take the lane" works great most of the time, except for the times it gets you killed.

I have a similar commute to you and have started taking Paulina to Wood out of the medical district- sometimes just up to Hubbard but increasingly up to Division. More relaxing over there and I don't have to deal with the four lane area you describe. Not sure how okay this route would be at night but it seems fine during the day. Also, depending on my mood, sometimes cut over to Wolcott between Irving and Diversey, just to get off of Damen for a bit. These two route modifications have helped a lot but I definitely hate the Elston/Fullerton situation and can't find any way out of that. End up getting off my bike to walk through that intersection with the pedestrian light most days.

+1

I did that trip four times today (UIC to Diversy and Back).

Anne B. said:

I have a similar commute to you and have started taking Paulina to Wood out of the medical district- sometimes just up to Hubbard but increasingly up to Division. More relaxing over there and I don't have to deal with the four lane area you describe. Not sure how okay this route would be at night but it seems fine during the day. Also, depending on my mood, sometimes cut over to Wolcott between Irving and Diversey, just to get off of Damen for a bit. These two route modifications have helped a lot but I definitely hate the Elston/Fullerton situation and can't find any way out of that. End up getting off my bike to walk through that intersection with the pedestrian light most days.

+1 on detouring to Leavitt or something like that. Where to you need to end up approximately? 

Cameron Puetz said:

Section 11-1505 of the Illinois Vehicle code allows a cyclist to take the lane when "substandard width lanes that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge" which would likely cover your situation, but is left to some interpretation. In your situation I personally would take the lane. The short sections around highway interchanges where normally two lane roads become four lane lanes are some of the most intimidating areas to cycle through. You might also want to consider detouring to Leavitt for that stretch.

 

Link to relevent laws:

http://www.activetrans.org/bicyclists-and-law/illinois-statutes

thanks for the feedback.

i'm up for taking the lane, but @jeffb, that's a good reminder to not react. and @anne, i'll give your route a shot--i work on polk between damen and the pink line, so damen is really the most direct way to go... but leavitt is a good idea, too!

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