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Alderman Reilly introduces measure to remove Kinzie protected bike lane

EDIT: The current proposal by Alderman Reilly (with link to PDF) is here:

EDIT 2: The original ordinance passed to approve the planned Wolf Point development.  Language about temporarily moving the PBL from Kinze to Grand, subject to review by the Chicago DOT, is at paragraph 22:

From the Sun-Times:

A week after helping Mayor Rahm Emanuel get re-elected, downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) is doing battle with the mayor’s handpicked transportation commissioner over protected bike lanes on Kinzie Street.

Reilly introduced an ordinance Wednesday that seeks to compel Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld to remove the protected bike lane on Kinzie “as required” by the planned development governing Wolf Point.

It clearly states that the protected bike lane “must be removed” from Kinzie before a certificate of occupancy is awarded for the first building of that massive development, he said.

But, Reilly said Scheinfeld is considering using her “commissioner’s authority to ignore that directive” agreed to by her predecessor, hammered out with area residents and approved by the Chicago Plan Commission.

“The intent of this ordinance is to require her to remove it so that there’s no question it must be done,” the alderman said.

Reilly said “traffic congestion concerns” demand that the protected bike lane be removed. Reilly’s ordinance would require the city to remove the protected bike lane — along with “all associated signage, markings or barriers” — from the portion of West Kinzie Street between Dearborn and the west bank of the Chicago River.

“Kinzie is a very busy street. With the added density of some, close to 2 million square feet of occupied space on Wolf Point, there’ll be a lot more traffic. Traffic studies suggested that a bike lane should be removed to allow for proper traffic flow and safety, and the commissioner is now second-guessing that,” he said.

“Each point in this planned development was negotiated with the neighbors and other stakeholders. And when this was approved as a project, people were relying on this obligation. In effect, the commissioner’s refusal to honor the planned development and its obligation is . . . an act in bad faith when neighbors and others in the area were promised this would happen.”

Scheinfeld could not be reached for comment about Reilly’s charge or the ordinance he introduced that seeks to tie her hands. CDOT spokesman Mike Claffey had no immediate comment.

Behind the scenes, Scheinfeld has argued that CDOT did an internal study that suggests “it would not be safe to move these lanes from Kinzie to Grand Avenue,” the alderman said.

Reilly doesn’t buy that argument on grounds it was “not a professional study.”

“I have a professional consultant that was engaged by the Wolf Point developer to install bike lanes on Grand saying this would actually be safer than the Kinzie Street bike lanes that exist today,” Reilly said.

Reilly noted that “hundreds” of cyclists use Grand Avenue every day without incident. That’s why he doesn’t believe Scheinfeld’s safety argument.

The alderman said he’s a fan of protected bike lanes and they’re “prolific” throughout the 42nd Ward because he is a “strong supporter.” But, he argued that protected lanes “make sense in certain areas and in others they don’t”

“I’m telling you, we’re adding a tremendous amount of density to Wolf Point and there’s only two ways to get there: Orleans and Kinzie. So, I don’t believe the commissioner should be able to arbitrarily decide where she wants to honor planned development obligations,” he said.

Reilly’s political pull with Emanuel has never been higher.

He served as a key campaign surrogate who blasted Jesus “Chuy” Garcia’s decision to punt the question of revenues needed to solve the combined $30 billion pension crisis at the city and public schools to a post-election commission.

Has the alderman taken his case directly to the mayor?

“Not yet,” Reilly said.

“I was happy to support the mayor. I hope he can appreciate that these are obligations that were negotiated with the community when the Wolf Point project was approved,” he added. “They should be honored. My constituents deserve that.”

EDIT 3: Mark Konkol at DNAinfo weighs in:

EDIT 4: Steven Vance at StreetsBlog provides thorough explanation:

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Also funny that the Sun-Times reporter didn't bother to check the original Wolf Point approval ordinance to vet Reilly's claims.

Just posted on the Active Trans blog: 

Why removing the Kinzie bike lane is a bad idea

A bike network is only as strong as its weakest link, but a new proposal by 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly threatens to remove one of the most critical connections in Chicago’s growing network of protected bike lanes.

In an ordinance introduced in the Chicago City Council, Ald. Reilly is seeking to force the Chicago Department of Transportation to remove the Kinzie Street protected bike lane, located between Des Plaines and Wells Streets in the River North neighborhood.

If successful, the removal of the Kinzie protected bike lane would be a setback for Chicago, putting more people at risk of injury while doing nothing to alleviate congestion or move people more efficiently around downtown.

Tell your alderman to oppose the removal of the Kinzie protected bi...

In recent news coverage, the alderman argues that the bike lane needs to be removed due to concerns about safety and increased congestion during and after construction of the development at Wolf Point.

But the fact is that with or without a protected bike lane, people will continue to bike on Kinzie because this route provides one of the only lower-traffic connections to downtown over the river. That’s why the protected bike lane was put there in the first place.

Protected bike lanes are proven to reduce the risk of injury to people riding bikes by a whopping 89 percent. Removing the Kinzie protected bike lane would immediately put people at risk of preventable harm.

Concerns about the impact new development may have on local traffic and congestion similarly miss the mark. A study conducted on Kinzie after it was installed showed that despite a 55 percent increase in bike traffic, the project had little to no impact on car travel times. But more importantly, the notion that new development necessitates more car space in crowded downtown Chicago, rather than alternatives like protected bike lanes, is the kind of backwards thinking Active Trans and our supporters are working to change.

Employers and residents locate downtown because of the alternative transportation options the city center provides, not in spite of them.

Beyond the fact that stated concerns about safety and congestion just don’t hold much water, Chicago’s reputation as a forward thinking city of the future is also on the line.

In recent years, Chicago has enjoyed a lot of positive media attention due to the impressive progress the city has made encouraging cycling by building out its network of protected bike lanes and launching the Divvy bike share program.

In recognition of these strides, Bicycling Magazine just last year named our city the second best city for biking in the country. Mayor Emanuel has often cited the Kinzie protected bike lane as the kind of infrastructure improvement he sees as critical to luring new businesses to Chicago, particularly the well-paying tech and creative jobs we need to attract to strengthen our local economy and right our fiscal ship.

Removing the first protected bike lane in the city just four short years after it was installed will be a national embarrassment and set us back in our efforts to make our city more livable and economically vibrant. The only way to make our streets safer and less congested is to build more protected bike lanes like the one on Kinzie, while pushing for complementary transit and pedestrian improvements.  

That’s why Active Trans is mobilizing our members and supporters to push back against Ald. Reilly’s proposal. We hope you will join us.

I've already signed and sent it along to a bunch of folks in my ward. I've shared it with lots of other folks. I agree that losing Kinzie would be an embarrassment.

Agreed. I signed and shared as well. 

I'm just going to leave this right here. Alderman Reilly doesn't seem like much of an advocate of healthy living.

'nuff said. That speaks volumes.

Reilly is now suggesting on Twitter that the removal would not be permanent.  That's at odds with the language he proposed.

His language in the "order" is to stress that this is important and CDOT should own up to their disagreement on whether Kinzie should be removed anymore. 

My story:


I looked up a presentation that's linked to the developer's web site for the project. It's worth reading. Look carefully at the traffic access portion of the plan. Page 55 (Site Access Update) is of particular interest for the long-term traffic picture.  The primary access point is a loop off of upper Orleans opposite the Merchandise Mart driveway. This is illustrated on several pages, starting with page 13.

Developer's web site here. The traffic study link brings up nothing, at least when I tried it. Hmmm...


CMass route theme for Friday?



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