The Chainlink

south side bike routes (current conditions on Vincennes)

This thread comes from the previous discussion about protected bike lanes on Kinzie.

 

If you could only "protect" 1 or 2 miles of Vincennes, what extents would you choose?

 

I'd love to see 83rd to the viaduct just before 87th (or Halsted, since traffic patterns are weird here), then resume just south of 87th down to the viaduct at 89th.  The Halsted/Vincennes/87th area is challenging - lane configurations and traffic flow are tricky.  If we could get a 2nd mile, I'd continue it as far as 99th.  The pair of viaducts just south of 83rd are a BIG problem for a lot of people - dark, with bad pavement, and southbound traffic flying off of westbound 83rd.  On the northbound side of Vincennes, there is a frequent problem with standing water in the right lane under the viaducts, which hides potholes and pushes most of the traffic to the left lane.  Some pavement repair would have to be part of the equation.

 

There are currently some cyclists who commute north from Beverly and Morgan Park using Vincennes.  I suspect there would be a lot more if conditions were improved.

 

I just took a ride up to 83rd & Vincennes to look at current conditions, which were worse than I expected (and my expectations were pretty low).  Let the pictures tell you most of the story.  These were taken between 1:00 and 2:00 p.m. under very bright sunny conditions to give a sense of how bad the contrast issue is under the longer viaduct.

Note the sand and gravel at the bottom of the picture and puddles up ahead.

 

This water has been so persistent for about 2 years that slime is growing in it.  Due to the location of the moisture and its persistence, it appears that there may be a leaking pipe somewhere in the viaduct structure.  There is ALWAYS standing water here, even when there's been no rain or snow for weeks.

 

Drivers avoid the right lane due to persistent moisture, which hides the deepest of the craters.

 

This gives a somewhat better view of pavement and standing water.  Note the reflection in the right lane, which has varying amounts of standing water for the entire length of the viaduct.  The sidewalk is covered with standing water under most of the viaduct.  Between water, slime and broken glass, it is unusable by pedestrians or cyclists.

 

Taking a few steps back to the south of the viaduct, note the erosion channel marked in orange, as well as the fresh stone.  The stone suggests to me that someone (CDOT?  railroad?) did some excavation to find the source of the moisture and either couldn't find it or found something they couldn't easily fix.

 

Step back a bit further south from the previous view and note a much bigger erosion line.  This satellite view (Vincennes & Parnell) shows the location rather well.

 

Here's the southbound view of the first viaduct after 83rd - bad pavement, but not nearly as bad as the northbound side.

 

Here's a view of the southbound side of the second viaduct (the one with all the standing water on the northbound side).  If you're going through more slowly (on a bike or walking), your eyes adjust so you can see a *little* more detail than this, but not much.  Yes, the lighting is really THAT bad.

 

Continuing south of the viaducts, there is a block-long area (Parnell to Kerfoot) of humpy-bumpy concrete patching spanning half the width of the street, a charming leftover from utility work done over a year ago.

 

Can the city and/or the railroad do something to restore decent conditions?  This wouldn't be acceptable on the north side.  Why should it be acceptable on the south side?

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C'mon south siders!  I know that some of you must have thoughts to offer on this.

As I mentioned at the MBAC meeting, Vincennes is important as a bike route because it connects so many neighborhoods and designated bike routes.  Where does it meet bike routes?  Marquette, 71st, 76th, 83rd, 91st, 99th (unofficial, but frequently used), 103rd, 107th, and 111th/Monterey.  It continues into downtown Blue Island.  It also connects with many CTA bus routes and Metra stations.  It provides convenient access to the Major Taylor Trail (south end) at 105th St.

When Vincennes is interrupted or unusable, as it is currently at 83rd St. (and temporarily at 89th St. due to viaduct repairs), it creates a major gap in our far south side bike route network.  The nearest good route to the east is King Dr. - 400E - on the other side of the Dan Ryan.  The nearest good route to the west is Damen - 2000W.  Each of these routes is over a mile away at 83rd St., and getting to Damen requires an additional detour because 83rd St. is interrupted at Vincennes by rail lines.

When the Dan Ryan was under construction, bike lanes were removed, as they were on other nearby bike routes.  Unfortunately, when those others were restored, Vincennes was forgotten.  A few of us have requested restoration of the Vincennes bike lanes in the years since, but those requests have never gotten a response.

I'd like to offer a big THANK YOU to Luann Hamilton (Deputy Commissioner of CDOT) for acknowledging this problem at yesterday's meeting and pledging to follow up and work on a resolution.  Her assistance is deeply appreciated.

I agree that upgrades to vincennes have been necessary for years. I used to ride my grade school bus through this area (I'm 35y/o now) and it was bad back then in the 80's. I know to slow down and watch my back in this area. Its not fair that I can fly down Milwaukee on the north side and have to be very careful to survive the vincennes route.

 

Riders, please watch this area it can be very bad and you can die becasue drivers can't see too well. However, it is a necessary route to take from Beverly heading North or vice versa

Vincennes is a logical access route for cyclists to get into and out of the city due to it's diagonal nature. It's plenty wide enough for most of the route to make having a bike lane a viable option.

I agree with Anne that the conditions around Simeon H.S. are deplorable. The lighting sucks, the road conditions are downright dangerous, and it's an area that could seriously use some upgrades.

Having a bike lane on Vincennes was nice while it was around. Most of my riding while it existed was from Blue Island north to 87th street, so I can't comment too much on what Vincennes was like north of there when the bike lane was actually in place. I ride up there now more frequently and can validate Anne's concerns.

Creating a *protected* bike lane on Vincennes would be good south of 99th street. That was where I saw incredibly illegal and dangerous behaviors while the bike lane existed. I was frequently scared by car drivers buzzing me within seeming inches. The worst was when car drivers would pass traffic on the right--in the bike lane! Cars move very fast on this stretch because the road is wide and there is very good visibility (train tracks on the east side open things up). Police enforcement would help, but realistically, a design solution would be better.

Positives:
Vincennes continues to be a bike route in Blue Island which provides consistentency and continuity even outside of the Chicago city limits.
V. is eminently rideable along most of the route.
V. is a diagonal which provides logical access to downtown Chicago.
V. has bus routes along it, as well as the Rock Island line (103rd St-Washington Heights), providing more transit options.
V. provides connections for commercial districts in Blue Island, at 119-115th Sts, 111th St., 99th St., 95th St, 87th St., and 83rd, as well as access to the Major Taylor Trail and soon, the Cal-Sag Trail.

Negatives:
High traffic speeds, particularly s. of 99th, make bike traffic less safe
Poor road conditions
Poor lighting at the underpasses
Higher crime rates in some areas along route

Had a bit of a wipeout at 120th and Vincennes this morning. The train tracks crossing the road there are too nearly parallel to the lanes (30 degrees maybe?) and the groove caught my front wheel, suddenly turning it to the left, dropping it and stopping it, causing me to spill forward and to the right. The fall bounced my head off the ground (I was wearing a helmet luckily) and gave me a bit of a road rash. I'm OK though and my bike is OK.

 

I've crossed it before without incident but with lighter traffic, when I'm able to swing out toward the center of the road and take a more perpendicular angle to the tracks; the traffic was too heavy for that this morning though. I recommend if you're riding this route to walk your bike across those tracks.

 

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocod...

Sorry to hear it.  I'm glad that you and your bike weren't seriously hurt.  I agree that these tracks are too close to parallel to the lanes.

This is a tricky crossing.  When I cross it, I normally stay as far as possible to the right to allow a little wheel wiggle (turn front wheel nearly perpendicular to tracks just long enough to cross the groove, then turn back for a few seconds, then repeat for the next groove).

 

If I was riding there at a time when traffic and other conditions did not allow me enough room for that wheel wiggle, I would walk it on the shoulder to avoid getting my wheel caught and wiping out.


Jim Behymer said:

Had a bit of a wipeout at 120th and Vincennes this morning. The train tracks crossing the road there are too nearly parallel to the lanes (30 degrees maybe?) and the groove caught my front wheel, suddenly turning it to the left, dropping it and stopping it, causing me to spill forward and to the right. The fall bounced my head off the ground (I was wearing a helmet luckily) and gave me a bit of a road rash. I'm OK though and my bike is OK.

 

I've crossed it before without incident but with lighter traffic, when I'm able to swing out toward the center of the road and take a more perpendicular angle to the tracks; the traffic was too heavy for that this morning though. I recommend if you're riding this route to walk your bike across those tracks.

 

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocod...

I just went back to take a look at current conditions.  The block-long patched area south of the viaducts is unchanged.  It appears that nothing has been done about the leakage problem, as you'll see in the picture below.  Slime and garbage - what a great combination!

I think the only reason that we have less standing water here than in the June pictures is that we haven't had significant rain in a week and a half.  Under one of the northbound viaducts, a steel plate has been put over one of the larger craters.  However, conditions for cyclists are just as unsafe as before.  Under the longer and darker of the two viaducts, there are two deep craters near the steel plate - deep enough to cause a crash that could seriously injure or kill a cyclist.  This is what was hiding under that murky water in June.


 

Conditions under the southbound viaducts are unchanged since June, except for the extra special addition of two tipped-over garbage cans blocking one of the lanes.  Isn't that a nice touch?  ;)

This area still needs major help.  Could we get some, please?

This unfortunate mess falls within the 21st ward.

 

Do we have any 21st ward Chainlinkers in the house who are willing to be activists for better bike conditions on Vincennes?  The ward boundaries zigzag a bit, but are approx.:

79th/81st St. on the north

State St. on the east

Wood/Beverly/Vincennes on the west

99th on the south (except a narrow strip along Vincennes that runs to 107th St.)

I've got an update with some good news after driving Vincennes yesterday to check out current conditions.  The portion of Vincennes from 8400S to 8600S is newly repaved, eliminating the wavy concrete surface that was left by 2 years worth of utility projects.

The bad news: conditions under the viaducts are the same.  The southbound side is rough, but not nearly as rough as the northbound side, where the swamp from the mysterious leak at the southern viaduct continues to slime the sidewalk and right lane.

There's other good news for the future.  Under Streets for Cycling 2020, the draft route network now available online and at public meetings includes a Bicycle Superhighway designation for Vincennes.  Bike lane configuration for the intersection of 83rd and Vincennes is a challenge for the planners, due to the wacky traffic patterns there, so I'm not expecting to see new lanes on that portion of Vincennes in the next few months.  Perhaps next year is a more realistic time frame, due to the design challenges of a few tricky intersections.

The section from 71st to 76th has a combination of bike lanes and sharrows, finally reintroduced after their erasure during the Dan Ryan reconstruction project.

I'm waiting for an update from CDOT about the status of any possible solution to the leakage problem and when the street under the viaducts will be repaved.  Hopefully we'll get some good news on those issues in the not-too-distant future.

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