The Chainlink

Alderman Reilly introduces measure to remove Kinzie protected bike lane

EDIT: The current proposal by Alderman Reilly (with link to PDF) is here: https://chicago.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2262355&...

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:

https://gisapps.cityofchicago.org/gisimages/zoning_pds/PD98.pdf

From the Sun-Times:

http://chicago.suntimes.com/chicago-politics/7/71/522067/brendan-re...

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: https://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20150417/river-north/what-is-great-...

EDIT 4: Steven Vance at StreetsBlog provides thorough explanation: http://chi.streetsblog.org/2015/04/17/whats-going-on-with-alderman-...

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This is one of the most heavily used sections of bike paths in the whole city.  I'm really surprised this one was even considered for the chopping block.

Does this warrant a Picard level face palm? I feel like it does.

This would be horrible! I use this everyday, along with many other cyclists. 

The thread title is a little misleading. Reilly wants to force the CDOT Commish to follow through on the previously agreed upon removal of the Kinzie bike lane

Agreed upon by whom? It looks like it was agreed upon by the developer and the alderman? We really really really need to take the placement of bike infrastructure completely out of the hands of the aldermen.  

The planned development process clearly failed here if it really is supposed to do this:

The Planned Development (PD) zoning designation is required for certain projects to ensure adequate public review, encourage unified planning and development, promote economically beneficial development patterns that are compatible with the character of existing neighborhoods, allow design flexibility, and encourage the protection and conservation of the city's natural resources.

Per http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dcd/provdrs/planning_and...

I use it every day, but I don't like it.  I have come closer to being hit in that lane than anywhere else.  Also, the city did a terrible job of clearing it and it is poorly maintained.  If they could find a better alternative, I would be all for it.

The problem is that whole sections of the north side use that route hundreds (possibly thousands) of people every day.  If they take out the bike path the only difference is that there won't be a path, there will still be hundreds (possibly thousands) of people going down that road and it'll be even worse, far worse.  I think someone has the idea that if they take away the bike path there won't be any bikers.

Good point. I will continue to use Kinzie regardless, and will take the lane whenever necessary.

Exactly. It will just become more dangerous.

I would be all for replacing the current PBL with a better design on either Kinzie or Grand, however I don't think improving the design is really the alderman's goal here.

Not buying her "too dense for bike lanes" argument.  That's kind of the opposite of how it works.

 

Also, this is laughably ridiculous:

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.

 

Oh, the company that would be paid to change the bike lanes thinks it would be a good idea to change the bike lanes?  Yeah, that's WAY more credible than a CDOT study.  smh

 

How much did the developers contribute to the alderman's recent reelection campaign?

LOL.  Are there unprofessional consultants that have weighed in as well?  Now that's who I want to hear from.

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