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Added Jul 27 2011

I drive in from Oak Park to my River North office and typically take Lake St to Halsted to Kinzie. There are not too many options coming from the West that are not congested in the morning, ie: Grand. After the City put the bike lanes and the outer-parking spots between Halsted and Kinzie, just west of East Bank Club it has increased the traffic exponentially. Really not a smart decision on the part of the City. I appreciate the gesture to those that ride, but it is making life much more difficult for those that don't for whatever reason. Brutal.

  • David J R+D Resident

    I'm mostly fine with the bike lanes, but the points about winter and the ambulance that couldn't get through concern me. There's also the added cost of either paving around the poles or taking them out and reinstalling them every time they pave the street.

  • Joel Irving & Pulaski Guy

    Those terrible bikers! It's so awful when they go barreling down the street at, what, 18 miles per hour? Such a danger! They're a hazard to everyone, unlike those cars who always come to full stops at stop signs, never run red lights, are always respectful of pedestrians, and never attach after-market gear so their cars will sound extra-loud and cool!

    Clearly those stupid bikers, with their exercise and non-polluting means of transportation, are the problems here!

  • John River North Resident

    Yeah, I don't get the big deal here. As a cyclist and a motorist, didn't they just paint the bike lane (that was already there) green? Oh, and put up some plastic posts? Anyway, who uses Kinzie to get into River North anyway, it's a slow street to begin with, with what like 50 stop signs.

    Besides, what is with the hating on cyclists? If the lane was used for any other purpose no one would complain, but for cyclists, ZOMG the humanity. Here is a thing about cycling in Chicago: You have to break the rules, if you waited for every green light you would be run over by a taxi or a motorists trying to make a turn or not paying attention.

    David, that's a funny comment about paving, when was the last time Chicago fixed a road? I think Chicago is actually a first nation word for "broken-axle".

  • The original poster Paul drives in from Oak Park. How about taking the train to avoid congestion ?
    And what the video clearly shows: Congestion was there before the bike lane. Now it is just easier for bikes to get through. The congestion has nothing to do with the bike lane. It's cars that cause congestion, not bikes.

  • Joel Irving & Pulaski Guy

    @Fabian: Excellent point. It's not like the number of lanes decreased. To criticize bikers for the increase in traffic is kind of, well, ludicrous.

  • I think we're losing sight of the main issue here -- it's not cyclists vs. motorists. It's about safety. Read earlier posts about traffic backed up to Lake, cars nearly caught on the tracks, ambulances that can't get through quickly, likely problems with snow plowing once winter comes. I've lived on Canal for nine years and this is the worst it's ever been.

  • My issue is with the urban planning not cyclists but the aggressive defensiveness is interesting and before you make suggestions about people's decisions to not take the train, not ride their bike 10 miles to work etc. you may want consider that not everyone has the ability (whether physical, financial or job-related) to undertake those options.

    Clearly the City is not going to retract their $140k decision to add white paint and pylons to the street, so our arguing is fruitless, I was putting it out there because I am not happy that my primary route to my office in River North and back out west has been ruined.

  • Joel Irving & Pulaski Guy

    @Paul T: Thanks for bringing it down a notch. My apologies. That said, I'm not sure how you can point to the bike lanes as the cause for the increase in traffic. If there hasn't been a decrease in the number of lanes, how has the number of cars that can go through this area changed?

  • I think the question is: Has the number of cars really increased ? Is there really more traffic ? Until there is an official count of traffic there is no point arguing I guess. Yes, first random observation is that traffic has increased. But again, I dont think that has anything to do with the bike lane.

  • I want to make everyone aware that the pylons will bend down if driven over in case of emergency and will bounce back. I used to have the same type in my old neighborhood to prevent through traffic. you can easily drive over them in an emergency to get out out of the way of paramedics and fire trucks. So if you hear the sirens you can still pull over and not damage your car.

  • Ah -- but there has been a decrease in the number of lanes. Kinzie was never well marked before but it did have three to four lanes of traffic, especially before and after the bridge.

  • I both ride and drive to work and usually go on Kinzie. The multiple lanes that were created by impatient motorists only created bottle necks. Yes, more cars could be on a single block, but the amount of time it takes to transit the road has not gone up much at all when I drive. I would guess that as more motorists adjust to the new lane configuration, traffic will more more quickly. As a cyclist, I love them. I hope they implement them in more areas of the city.

    As for the safety issues with the train tracks, don't enter an intersection until you can safely move through it. Motorists in Chicago are incredibly aggressive and often don't yield to each other, cyclists or pedestrians, in addition to make unsafe maneuvers. Safety would not be such an issue on the streets of this city if everyone would slow down a bit and give way instead of trying to save a bit of time.

  • Greg Belmont/Orchard Area. Dog owner - Deer filmer.

    As a motorcyclist/biker/car driver I like them. I wish we had more areas like that - it's nice to be able to relax for a few minutes of reduced fear you are going to get rear ended or side swiped by a car. In the normal bike lanes cars tend to use them as passing lanes, or they double park in them forcing us to jut into traffic, or they pinch them off when coming to turn lanes.. It's nice to be segmented off for at least a bit as riding a bike in the city can be nerve wracking.

    I gave up riding my motorcycle in the city after being hit by a # of cars and watching a friend get t-boned and die but to be honest riding a bike in the city is a lot scarier than a motorcycle. At least on a bike you can go as fast as the cars, accelerate and or decelerate as fast as the cars and you have better mirrors.

  • Joel Irving & Pulaski Guy

    Greg: Sorry to hear about your friend. Yes, riding a bike can be pretty scary, especially at the bigger intersections. I ride on Elston, and most of the way it's pretty clear. But at the bigger intersections (such as Diversey & Elston and Fullerton & Elston) it can get a little hectic. It just takes one jag who's not looking and you're in serious trouble. And it gets a little nerve-wracking to ride alongside a whole line of parked cars -- you never know who's going to open their door without looking.

    The intersection of Milwaukee & Kinzie isn't fun, either -- it's a big, wide turn, and it's difficult to get into the right line. But having this bike lane definitely helps.

  • The problem with emergency vehicles is really serious. They cannot get down Kinzie. Also, I too tried to email Ald, Reilly about the problems with the new bike lanes. No response at all.

  • Greg Belmont/Orchard Area. Dog owner - Deer filmer.

    I don't understand are you implying that emergency vehicles are incapable of pushing little bendy plastic posts over with their huge steel bumpers or that the drivers are not intelligent enough to travel the shortest/safest/fastest route?

    Seems to me you are trying to use a non-issue as an issue against something that you do not agree with.
    pictures linked to from city of chicago website which is here

  • Greg Belmont/Orchard Area. Dog owner - Deer filmer.

    Here is a better picture where you can see more up close the dividers.

  • All you have to do is stand at Kinzie & Canal at 5:00 p.m. to see that emergency vehicle access is a problem. Get real. They are not going to push over the white posts and even if they did, the bike lane isn't wide enough. And, frankly, the more difficult issue is bike riders completely ignoring stop signs. Also, making a right hand turn off westbound Kinzie means trying to look over your right shoulder to make sure there isn't a bike coming up on your right side.

  • Greg Belmont/Orchard Area. Dog owner - Deer filmer.

    Richard I imagine if it was a problem it would have been dealt with in the (knowing Chicago) $10,000,000 in feasibility studies done before they spent $200,000 in little bendy plastic barriers for a couple hundred yards. As far as looking right before you turn right whether or not that barrier was there along the way nothing would change in that situation. Personally I am a paranoid bike rider so I always watch cars. I realize they know it's not them that will die in the event of an accident and I don't like to lay my faith in their judgement or how much they are paying attention (as a motorcyclist I have been hit over half a dozen times - 3 or 4 of which I was actually just sitting stopped at a light or behind an idot vehicle when a car just slammed into me)

  • @Richard. Why not eliminate motor vehicle traffic or parking during rush hour? 48% of the traffic on Kinzie during rush hour is cyclists and yet the vast majority of road use is devoted to cars. The bike lanes are not the problem.

    Regarding cyclists ignoring stop signs, I agree. Everyone needs to stop, including motorists, who often only slow down for stop signs. As I stated before, everyone on the road needs to obey the rules and be more considerate.

  • No offense Richard in Kinzie Park, but shouldnt you always check over your right hand shoulder when making a right turn to check for bikes ? I believe I learned that in Drivers Ed....

  • No offense taken, Fabian, but the real problem is they don't stop for stop signs. I believe I learned that in Driver's Ed..

  • Joel Irving & Pulaski Guy

    Oh my gosh, you have to actually pause to look over your shoulder to make sure you won't hit a bicyclist? Wow, this bike lane really has damaged your life.

    And I don't think it's fair to say "they don't stop for stop signs." Many do. What about drivers? How many stop for stop signs? You can find many stories of people getting hit by cars because they simply blew through a stop sign.

  • Greg Belmont/Orchard Area. Dog owner - Deer filmer.

    Richard, to be 100% honest I don't always stop for stop signs. I ALWAYS look though and only go if no other cars are around or it's a 3 way stop.. That said I stop 95% of the time. You're right they do not always stop. How does that affect this bike lane? It seems that is an issue whether or not there is a bike lane or not?

  • C.S

    I say you people in cars just run over us....what is more brutal than that.....your 3 mins later into work or our brains on your finders and hands.....

  • David J R+D Resident

    I think his point was that he finds himself having to watch out for bikers who don't stop for stop signs when he is at a stop and about to make a turn. And even if a biker is going to stop, you can't necessarily be sure, so seeing a biker approaching (which I assume is frequent during rush hour) means you either have to stop traffic to be extra cautious, or risk causing an accident, which nobody wants to do. Of course, the bike lanes really have nothing to do with that problem.

    They didn't teach me to look behind my car before making a turn after stopping at a stop sign in driver's ed. There shouldn't be a need if people obey the rules of the road, and doing so distracts from where you should really be looking when doing that maneuver. There's no need to be so antagonistic.

  • C.S

    Actual i remember the movie in which they tell you to look in you MIRRORS BEFORE TURNING....specifically for cyclists.

  • David J R+D Resident

    C.S.: No.

    The pedestrians and bicyclists they tell you to look for are people/bikes crossing perpendicular to you. That's why they don't mention looking in your mirrors. "Look left, then right, then left again. If all is clear, make your turn."

    You should check your mirrors and over your shoulder when merging, though.

  • C.S

    Oh i forgot this is the ONLY video and I have gotten a ticket for driving that close to the curb

  • C.S

    AND i am not so sure that that is what the implied..but just go ahead and hit us....its fine....

  • David J R+D Resident

    C.S: If there is a stop sign and a driver follows the instructions here, there is no way s/he would hit a bicyclist who also obeys the stop sign. That's because the bicyclist would be at the stop sign with the car when the driver looks right. The problem only occurs when you have a bicyclist who disregards the stop sign as the car is making its turn and ends up hitting the side of the car. Nobody wants to hit bicyclists, but in that scenario, it is clearly the cyclist's fault. This is also a good reason for drivers to use their turn signals (other than staying legal). When I'm on my bike and I see a car with its turn signal on, I'm extra cautious.

  • David J: you got my point exactly. If you think about it, when I have that bike lane on my right, I am really making my turn from the left lane, not the curb lane as I should be. That is the danger.

  • C.S

    I am aware of the logistics but you cant count on everyone to do what they are supposed to...You would still feel bad if you hurt/ killed someone right....even if it was there own fault...but YOU could have prevented it if you were aware of their stupidity?

  • John River North Resident

    This really isn't a traffic issue, traffic is caused by more cars, on what amounts to a "side street" that wasn't originally intended to service that many vehicles at one time. Basically Kinzie is an access road for the Merchandise Mart loading docks.

    However, dense housing developments, bars, restaurants, etc. have popped up around the area congesting it further. I'm guessing the improved bike lanes will help speed traffic since it may amount to a few less cars.

    Biggest traffic contributor to Kinzie, is the two lights at the intersection of Wells & Kinzie and the goofy road configuration all along Kinzie, for example the Orleans access road.

    Best tip, try to avoid it, it's terribly slow during rush hours.

  • I think we are getting way off point here. Of course, I would feel badly. But I think the issue we were discussing is whether the new bike lanes are a good thing or not. As someone who lives on Kinzie, I hate them. (and, by the way, I am also a bike rider).

  • C.S

    Love em or Hate em...they at least start people talking...By the way i could take em or leave them....they are not the sames as the fact that we have every right to the lane as a car.......My point was watch out....people are stupid both on bikes and cars...I assume nothing from car drivers and they should assume nothing from me....I am watching out for my life......and I will do what i have to do to stay mom would be mad...

  • I wouldn't blame her.

  • C.S

    So everyone should slow down follow the law and not make her mad. also make your moms proud

  • John River North Resident

    Really, the simplest solution is hovercars, hovercycles, or both.

  • This is the worst thing that happened to the neighborhood. When turning onto kinzie in a car it is so dangerous. The parked cars block the whole view of the rode and you have to slowly pull out in hopes of not causing an accident between the cars and bikes flying down the hill. Also the city is constantly out of money so why are they spending $140,000 to do this on Kinzie. The traffic is absolutely terrible now with cars backed up from Desplaines all the way to Lasalle. Overall a complete waste of money and it only caused more problems. The worst part is they are planning on doing this throughout the rest of the city from a 3 million dollar federal grant. Overall a huge waste of money that caused more traffic, dangerous driving conditions and the bikers still ride in the streets.

  • Greg Belmont/Orchard Area. Dog owner - Deer filmer.

    I have a gopro mount on my bike. This is what kinzie looked like at 4:45pm or a few after on my way home (actually I left work at 4:45 so a bit later)

    Not that bad. Oh and yes.. I slowed and went thru some stop signs, people in cars kept waiving me by when I stopped they would sit there till I went and then look all frustrated because starting top stopped takes a few seconds especially when you hadn't downshifted. Just posting so people can get an idea of what it looks like during the beginning of rush hour

  • RDaughtridge 15-year resident of Fulton River District

    No matter your viewpoint, this is a good visual document. I noticed the woman in front of you in part of the video doesn't have the exact same regard for the rules of the road that you exhibit.

  • Matt K Wrightwood Neighbors homeowner


    That video is a nice example of how cars and bikes (and pedestrians) can co-exist with the new lanes. Thanks for posting.

    Funny as it sounds, I think some of those drivers, like the one waiting on Kingsbury/Kinzie, assumed you were going to blow through the stop sign like some of the other bikers in the video, but their frustration is their problem, not yours.

    The woman that blew through the stop sign at Kinzie and Franklin and not even looking at the car about to turn right is a good example of what Richard was talking about earlier.

  • Inactive user

    I love some of the video links posted here. I was just thinking about doing something like that this morning on my daily bike commute downtown. I think the Kinzie Experiment is a great one. I'm a car person, pub trans person and bike person and would love to have the city embark on more experiments that would make commuting by any of those forms more convenient and safe. Without these types of experiments, we'll never know what works and what doesn't.

    PS: We're all just sophisticated ants trying to get somewhere. I think it's really weird that forms of transportation are broken into "teams" (i.e., cyclists v. motorists). Arguing who breaks the rules of the road more often is a non-issue. As humans, we all do it at least once in our lives (wittingly or unwittingly) regardless of the transport chosen on any given day so the end goal is really just to make the roads safer in anticipation of human nature (i.e., ignoring the laws, momentary distraction, etc.).

  • Joel Irving & Pulaski Guy

    @Eric: Just so you know, bikes are supposed to ride in the streets, not on the sidewalk.

  • I've lived on Canal and Lake for years. The traffic is no worse because of the bike lanes and, as an added bonus, it seems that drivers and cyclists are less nasty to each other with a physical barrier separating them. And let's be honest, rush hour is nothing new.

    Plus, has anyone thought about the potential connection between construction along Wacker (both upper and lower) and any perceived up-tick in traffic in this corridor? If anything, that would be the cause of your traffic headaches, not bike lanes, as people try to navigate around that area, often times ending up in River North.

    And if you, frankly, end up 'caught' in your car (or otherwise) on the tracks while a train is coming, IT IS YOUR OWN FAULT. It is one of the most basic rules of driving that you ALWAYS stop or slow down before tracks to check for oncoming trains and that don't cross them until you have space on the other side to make a clear crossing. Same with the jerk pedestrians and cyclists who hop the barriers. The common theme here is that these people are JERKS, not their mode of transit.

    Having driven everywhere from India to LA, I have to say Chicago has some of the angriest, nastiest, reckless drivers I have ever come across in my life. And some of the most irresponsible, distracted cyclists and pedestrians.

    I have a car and a bike and I'm equally floored by the enraging behavior of drivers when I'm on a bike and cyclists when I'm behind the wheel. It's baffling that people could be so awful to each other or so focused on just their own little worlds without the understanding that we all impact each other. There's a total lack of respect and common civility all around.

    At the end of the day, cyclists and cars both have a right to the road and the sooner an entitled attitude towards commuting is dropped by all parties involved, the better the city will be. As it stands, Chicago is a horrific city in which to commute (rivaled only by DC. We've even got LA licked).

  • John River North Resident

    Couldn't have said it any better @Sofia

  • My pleasure. I'm sometimes floored by the knee-jerk vitriolic responses I see presented to issues raised online and this being one in my own backyard, I had to comment. If we'd all judiciously assess a situation and maybe gain a better grasp of critical analysis as well as the difference between causation and correlation, we'd all be MUCH better off and less frustrated. A smidgen of courtesy helps too.

  • fenn .

    Paul. I'm rather amazed that despite the construction on Lake for the previous three or four years, it is the addition of the bike lane that makes life more difficult for you. As a contractor and a sometimes cyclist I have the same issues regarding the lack of courtesy and patience. Especially around Grand and Milwaukee. Yet give me a vote and I'll say tow truck drivers trump all combined in dangerous disregard. Bemoaning an innovation such as the Kinzie lane bewilders me. Especially when coupled with others' implying emergency vehicles suffer because of them. Or that rail crossings are now more potent. The failures of motorists to anticipate what to do when they hear sirens from multiple blocks away has nothing to do with the width of the street. Neither is it the fault of cyclists that a motorists crosses a rail without the required clearance. This is a great city because of innovations such as this lane. I'm only sorry some suit decided that the far south side on Stoney Island was a more adept test. This could have been done years ago. With time I hope that the sort of asinine motorists and riders we all know are out there become less common.

  • Greg Belmont/Orchard Area. Dog owner - Deer filmer.

    Sofia your post one up from this is one of the brightest things I have read in a long time. Cheers girl, you actually brightened up a dreary day for at least one stranger out there.

    Thank you.

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