Monthly Archives: September 2013

Driver runs red light, putting bicyclist and pedestrians crossing Sheridan at risk

Type

Had to stop abruptly

What happened

I was traveling westbound on Ardmore where the Lakefront Trail ends. The light had just turned green, I was about to cross North Sheridan Road when a car entered the intersection traveling northbound. My light was already green when the motorist entered the intersection. Some pedestrians on the sidewalk also had to stop abruptly.

Suggested improvements for this location: While the city is trying to crack down on cyclists on the sidewalk on this section of North Sheridan Road (which I agree with), it should also crack down on motorists running the red light at this intersection; this is not the first time I’ve seen this happen by a long shot. As long as it is dangerous for cyclists to cross Sheridan to get to the recommended bike routes on Kenmore and Winthrop, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more cyclists use the sidewalk at Sheridan.

Bicyclist’s arm clipped by car on Broadway

Type

Passed closely

What happened

Southbound, approaching the stop sign at Melrose and Broadway, a driver of a silver Honda Civic with Texas plates passed me too close, only just clipping my arm. I moved my arm out of the way so this incident didn’t result in an injury. I yelled at them, even yelled about the 3 foot passing law, they called me a “dummy,” I replied with, “well why don’t we call the police, then?” The argument continued up to the light at Belmont and Broadway, at which point I proceeded southbound on Broadway and the car turned right on to Belmont.

Suggested improvements for this location: This section of Broadway really, really needs bicycle infrastructure of some kind. The road is very narrow, yes, but this street needs something to make it friendlier to cyclists.

Difficult to cross Wells’s 3 lanes of traffic to make left onto Illinois

Type

Passed closely

What happened

I just wanted to report a troublesome roadway design. Every morning riding in the Wells Street buffered bike lane, when it becomes one-way south after Erie. This is a far-right buffered bike lane with 3 travel lanes (far east turn lane). I try to turn left at Illinois to travel east and is ridiculous signaling across 3 lanes of fast moving traffic that has been getting anxious waiting for the long Ohio and Ontario lights.

Suggested improvements for this location: I think an actual bike light that gives cycles a few seconds to turn or continue south with possible green paint striping from Wells buffered lane to the East bound bike lane on Illinois. Once the Wells Street bridge is finished, definitely more bicycle traffic will be flowing through this intersection.

Divvy rider rear ended but driver takes them to train station

Type

Other

What happened

I had rented a Divvy bike for the first time and was riding westbound on Madison toward the Ogilvie Transportation Center. I was in the bike lane, sandwiched between the bus lane and the car lanes. Suddenly, the bike I was riding on was struck from behind by a car. Fortunately, the driver was braking and struck the bike at a low speed. I was not knocked off the bike, but the back fender was pushed into the tire. After the collision, the bike could not be ridden. I was lucky not to be injured in this collision. Although I was riding defensively, there was nothing I could have done to protect myself from this collision. The driver of the car was not paying attention. He was attempting to make a right turn when he hit the bike. I call the Divvy customer service number and Divvy sent a van to pick up the bike. The car driver was very apologetic and gave me a ride to Ogilvie.

Suggested improvements for this location: I wonder why the bike lane is sandwiched between the car lanes and bus lane. Shouldn’t it be on the far right along the curb on this one-way westbound street? Seems like it would be safer.

Editor’s note: I have been advocating to stop using the centered bike lane design the way the City of Chicago has been designing them.

Bicyclist dodges drivers illegally passing other drivers on Northwest Highway

Type

Right hook or left hook
Had to stop abruptly

What happened

Second time in less than a week. Before approaching intersection of Harlem Avenue and Northwest Highway heading northbound, two drivers have swerved into the bike lane in order to pass a vehicle (on the right). I was riding in the bike lane and always assume people will attempt to kill me and drive recklessly. Given that, riding in a marked bike lane and just before an intersection is not when you expect someone to pass a car (on the right) and drive into the bike lane. I notice drivers like to do this even if it’s a stop sign or red light if they are turning right. They seem to get off on passing someone, nearly killing a bicyclist and speeding towards the intersection.

Since I was doored by a drunk driver in the area last year, I always remain extremely cautious. The two vehicles were an SUV and a minivan, both red. I am saving money to purchase a camera to record this sort of behavior. I assume the drivers are drunk or not paying attention at all. I didn’t experience this until the recent opening of two bars that are open later in the evening, both of which are located along Northwest Highway close to this intersection. In addition the street lights have been completely blacked out from the 5600-6000 blocks of North Northwest Highway, though I have noticed blacked out street lights in significant portions of Chicago at night in many neighborhoods. I always am cautious but can’t account for a technical problem on my bike that might occur just as someone is swerving into me riding in order to pass another vehicle, which would then almost certainly cause a fatal accident.

Suggested improvements for this location: Improved lighting on bike lane, the installation of reflectors that I have seen on streets such as Division Street west of Western Avenue along marked bike lanes such as the one along Northwest Highway, possible monitoring of the intersection by police to ticket itinerant drivers (probably not possible in an area populated heavily by police as residents), and delayed traffic lights so that cars must stop before turning. Another improvement might be the plastic lane protectors such as those along Kinzie Street, that would eliminate the issue of cars passing and swerving into bicyclists.

Bicyclist and driver vie for same space at poorly marked intersection

Type

Right hook or left hook

What happened

Your story: I was heading southeast on Milwaukee Avenue and came to a stop where Milwaukee meets up with Belmont. There was a red truck (fairly large, probably an F250 with the cab covering the bed) that was in the right lane.

I biked between the car that was in the lane to go straight and in between the truck, as I presumed the truck was going to turn.

As soon as I got between the two the light changed to green and the truck sped up really quick and was merely inches away from me. It felt VERY aggressive. The car behind me then honked at me because I had to maneuver over a little bit to avoid getting seriously hurt from this large truck.

There was another biker just a little bit ahead of me, but I don’t think he saw anything because he didn’t react at all. The large truck continued to go really fast down Milwaukee.

Suggested improvements for this location:

I think there should at least be sharrows because drivers in this area do not seem to expect bikes. I’ve been passed very closely when I was doing absolutely nothing wrong more than once.

Editor’s note: This intersection, like most, could benefit from refreshed pavement markings. Secondly, the right lane could be marked as a right-turn lane (buses and bicycles excepted).

Nearly clipped as driver makes right onto Clarendon when bicyclist continues straight on Broadway

Type

Right hook

What happened

Your story: Just north of Sheridan and Halsted, Broadway splits off and becomes the main road heading slightly northeast. I generally look over my left shoulder in the event a car approaches and attempts to continue north on Halsted/Clarendon.

I was riding north on Halsted, crossed Sheridan and approached the split for Broadway. Looked over my shoulder to see a driver about 20 feet behind me and as I did that I suddenly heard the revving of an engine. He was gunning to pass me on the left to go right onto Clarendon while I was veering left to continue on Broadway.

At that point I would have at least collided with his right quarter panel had I continued, but I maintained my straight direction and waited for him to pass. He did so and continued onto Clarendon.

Suggested improvements for this location: IMPROVE LANE MARKINGS. Drivers often assume, for some reason, that a biker is riding north towards Clarendon in any situation.

Direct drivers to travel in a specific lane for Clarendon and Broadway, at this point the northbound “lane” is roughly two marked lanes wide. Extremely vague and close calls are frequent.

Ed. note: I would suggest aligning Clarendon to Sheridan to create a more right-angle intersection to eliminate the channelization effect. The default maneuver here is to follow the slight curve on Broadway, and bicyclists who do this are at risk being hooked by a car going straight from Broadway onto Clarendont.

Avoids dooring by a foot on Milwaukee Avenue

Type

Almost doored
Injury: No

What happened

Roadway description: Bike lane (left of parking lane)

Your story: I was travelling southbound on Milwaukee, hugging the left side of the bike lane. The driver of a late 2000s black luxury SUV (I think a Lexus) opened his door suddenly as I was a little under a foot behind the front door of the vehicle. I swerved to avoid and driver shut his door as he saw me go past. No words were exchanged. There were other cyclists riding behind me who probably saw it happen, but no one said anything to me.

Suggested improvements: This is the second time in the last couple of months that I’ve almost been doored on this stretch of Milwaukee. This stretch might be a good one for bike lane upgrades or signage reminding drivers to watch for cyclists.

Young driver on phone goes straight instead of left when bicyclist had crosswalk signal

Type

Passed really closely
Injury: No

What happened

Roadway description: Crosswalk

Your story: I was crossing Lake Shore Drive at the intersection with Jackson Boulevard. When I got halfway to through the intersection on my bike, a driver whom was supposed to turn left onto Jackson Boulevard decided to continue straight onto LSD through the red light and into my crosswalk. The early 20’s girl was on the phone too. I caught up to her and her excuse was… “I am new to the city” I told her if I didn’t have disc breaks then she would have killed me.

Suggested improvements: Submitter didn’t provide

Right-hooked on Clybourn at Ashland where bike lane drops before intersection

Type

Right hook (car turned right, across your path)
Injury: No

What happened

Roadway description: Sharrows (bicycle symbol with two chevrons)

Your story: I was travelling north in the [new] buffered bike lane on Clybourn approaching Ashland. The bike lane drops and all the cyclist is left with is a sharrow for a long stretch up to Ashland. It was a green light, I kept going north on Clybourn and a car flies over from the travel lane, around 45 mph, into the mixing zone to careen into a right turn north bound onto Ashland, missing me be mere feet.

Suggested improvements: Stripe the bike lane through the intersection. The new Clybourn buffered lanes are nice where there is an actual buffer. Otherwise sharrows and mixing zones are dangerous on a wide street like Clybourn. Best scenario is for actual protected bicycle lanes [currently banned on IDOT roads like Clybourn].