The Chainlink

Are they any other regular users of the newish Elston protected bike lanes...north of Milwaukee ave? I've been a bit deflated (pun intended) by the amount of debris and glass, and general total absence of maintenance to the Elston bike lanes. Before the bike lanes, that roadway benefitted from very regular street sweeping. Now, the bike lanes have been sectioned off, and are a bit of a glassy mess. Does anyone who reads this blog have a relationship with city officials responsible for maintenance? Is there any hope even minimal sweeping can be done? I haven't had any luck through 311. And plan on investing in some more puncture proof tires soon out of necessity. 

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I take Elston here and there on commutes when I find myself feeling especially annoyed by fellow riders shoaling or whatever. I love Elston because there is hardly anyone on it and you can really fly if the lights time out right. I also generally have positive feelings about PBLs.

I have noticed debris but I guess I found it manageable (I'm sure I would likely have a different opinion if I get a flat because of it though). Last week there was one case where it looked like a street sweeper may have entered the lane but instead of clearing all the crap it just left a nice neat pile of dirt right in the lane.

How annoying are you being with 311? Do you report it everyday? 

For some types of requests, doing a 311 request via the web site or the new app (which includes bike program requests now) can be much more effective than making a phone call.

The protected bike lane infrastructure expense really didn't come with much of an adequate user budget to help fund the maintenance.  Differently for automobile use, the license plates, city stickers and gas taxes all help with road maintenance, and property taxes help fund things like sidewalks. Of course much of it flows through general funds, but this is sort of the idea anyhow.  But for us, we aren't paying much other than sales tax on our bikes and accessories, and so without a city bike sticker or mandatory serial number registration fee (which would cut down on bike theft too) the funding for cleaning of PBL and other lane configurations isn't enough.  San Fran has mini-street sweepers that go right down the PBLs, so the equipment is out there and commercially available.  Nobody wants to pay more taxes, and our bike riding in Chicago is already subsidized, but it all only goes so far in a city with high taxes and broader funding/deficit challenges.  

I would’ve rode elston tonight but I knew it was going to be icy. So I rode down the sidewalk on north slowly and still about ate shit. I would’ve taken the elston bike lane but it’s an ice trap. The protected bike lanes are more for the image of “hey look at us we are a sustainable progressive city” then they don’t do anything to back that image up!

There are roughly 50,000 miles of streets in Chicago. There are just over 200 miles of bike lanes, and a whole lot less protected bike lanes. Surely the city can find a few pennies to keep them clean. I imagine the majority of us own cars that sit in parking lots while be bike. I pay a good chunk in property taxes, city stickers, etc. I wasn't aware than "street cleaning" only entailed cleaning the parts where cars and trucks traveled. Pfffft.

Well, the broader street sweeping plan in Chicago is an April-November affair so we went outside of that.
Adding to our problem, while we enjoy unprotected bike lane cleaning when the standard street sweeper came through, our controversial protected bike lanes require the different piece of equipment (the mini-sweeper) and someone to drive it. Any additional equipment for our city requires additional borrowing (with junk bond rated debt on dozens of billons of borrowed dollars already) or, re-allocation from another constituency in a town that already can't keep the roads free of ruts that gobble 28mm tires, not to mention pot hole after pot hole.

This has nothing to do with the financial picture of the city. Zero. Zilch.  CDOT has the equipment and can deploy it.  See this:

It requires cyclists logging requests so that politicians and departments know they need to fix the problems we complain about. 

Yes, street sweeping is a Apr-Nov, but Streets and San and CDOT work year-round. They can fix this if there are enough complaints.

Well, that link suggests SOME of it is indeed about the finances and equipment and staffing.  To cut and paste from the link's article:  “This is about resources,” he said via email. “City agencies need the money for staff and equipment to identify where snow is piling up and remove it quickly from bike lanes. There’s little dedicated funding for building and maintaining biking and walking facilities citywide, which is why we’re pushing for a Chicago Bike Walk Fund.”   

As I'd suggested above (and as does the article re. the Chicago Bike Walk Fund) a more specific or discrete funding source can make some sense.   

I would drive a 2 person cart like those park district vehicles and clean the bike lanes.
If they enforced the blocking of bike lanes it would fund itself from ticket revenue.
Or maybe like the adopt a highway program or we could have a party afterwards sponsored by someone?

Do you want 'Chicago's Finest' spending time handing out parking tickets?   Or conforming to the Consent Decree?  How many tickets could the typical Chicago cop write in an 8-hr shift? Eight?  And you think that would pay for his salary, benefits, retirement plan, court costs, City attorneys....and bike lane sweeping, etc?

Rahm is out there now, polling the aldermen about sources of revenue to reduce the killer deficit for 2019.  And I guarantee you no one's suggesting to write more parking tickets.   I wrote my alderman, suggesting more carbon taxes.  But Chicago's gas tax is already higher than the surrounding counties and Indiana.  But taxing carbon will eventually's a no-brainer!


There are people whose job it is to monitor meters. If they also enforced bike lanes and ticketed offenders, yes, it would bring A LOT of much-needed revenue into Chicago.

I think they could write more than 8 parking tickets in a shift. I've seen an officer walk down my old block, which was permit parking, and write more than 8 in less than an hour. 


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