Monthly Archives: December 2013

Bicyclist almost clipped when trying to avoid a dooring on Halsted Street

Type

Almost doored
Had to stop abruptly

Location

2601 N Halsted St (at Wrightwood)
43rd Ward, Alderman Smith

What happened

Was going north on Halsted, which just received buffered bike lanes north of Fullerton. I had just cleared the Wrightwood intersection, where there are still no bike lanes (just sharrows) after the light turned green when a man entering his car flung the door open as he looked at me coming in his path. I started to go to the left when I was cut off by a driver who turned right to swing into a parking spot. I stopped abruptly.

Improvements 

It doesn’t matter if you looked at me first, people getting into cars need to wait to open their doors.

Chicago needs to stop cutting bike lanes off at intersections and there need to be more good ways to get further north without having to go all the way over to a street like Damen.

We also need to stop pretending Halsted is a good bike route.

Driver backing out of parking space almost hits bicyclist on Ravenswood

Type

Abrupt stop

Location

4649 N Ravenswood (between Wilson and Leland)
47th Ward, Alderman Pawar

What happened

I’m headed northbound on Ravenswood and there’s pull-in diagonal parking on the street. Large SUV is backing out of spot into my path, doesn’t see me. If I continued my path and I didn’t stop, it would have hit me.

I begin screaming when they don’t stop moving. About 10 feet from our path’s intersection, driver notices or hears me and stops, I ride on.

Improvements

Ravenswood at rush hour is bad, lots of people leaving work and the Metra stop, hard sight lines of cars backing out of parking spaces. There should be back-in diagonal parking and better lighting to improve visibility.

CTA bus driver passes cyclist, traps them, forces them to abandon bike at curb

Type

Passed closely

Location

2600 W Armitage, at Rockwell
1st Ward, Alderman Moreno

What happened

I was traveling eastbound on Armitage just east of Rockwell street. The Chicago Transit Authority bus in question began to pass me on my left, and then began to turn right while it was alongside me, trapping me between the curb and the bus. I yelled, “hey! hey! hey!”, but the bus continued moving rightward, and I had to jump off of my bike and pull it up onto the curb to avoid being run over by the bus. This was especially dangerous because there was snow and slush packed up against the curb and on the curb, and if I had slipped, I may have gone under the bus’s wheels. It was daylight, I was riding with my lights on, and I was wearing reflective clothing, so if the bus driver did not see me, it is because she was not looking. 

Suggested improvements for this location: I agree with other comments on this site that CTA drivers need to be better trained that bikes are not the same as stationary obstacles – that they need to be passed with more distance.

Bicyclist clipped by frustrated driver on Milwaukee at Grand and Halsted

Type

Passed closely
Harassing driver

Location

495 N Milwaukee Ave, at Grand and Halsted
27th Ward, Alderman Burnett

What happened

I was headed northbound on Milwaukee. The light was red at Grand, which has a green bike box in the front of the intersection. A driver was blocking the bike lane, but not the bike box, and there was another cyclist in the box in front of her. I rode around the driver and stopped in the box, next to the other cyclist and was shortly joined by a third cyclist. The driver rolled down her window and yelled “why must you stop directly in front of me!?”. Before we could point out the bike box, the light turned, and she screamed “Move!” and honked her horn. As we started to move, she accelerated quickly and passed us closely, clipping one of the cyclists.

The clipped cyclist later caught up to her (since traffic was heavy, she quickly got stuck in a line of cars), and she drive into the other lane (into oncomming traffic) to get away from him, eventually turning right on Elston.

Improvements

Real separation between cyclists and impatient, reckless drivers.

Bicyclist almost slammed by errant and impatient driver

Type

Left hook (also a kind of “passed closely”)

Location

Winnemac and Ashland Chicago, IL  United States
Contact: 46th Ward (Cappleman) if northbound, 47th Ward (Pawar) if southbound

What happened

Your story: Black SUV driver was stopped behind car turning northbound on Ashland, I’m riding into the intersection, light is green, driver (2nd in line behind car turning) decides to pull around driver making turn into my path. I hit their back window with my gloved hand. 

Suggested improvements for this location: Bike path markings through intersections.

Driver tries to run Washington Street bicyclist off the road

Type and location

Harassing driver
200 W Washington Street, Chicago, IL

What happened

Your story: This enraged driver tried to run into me.

The pattern that has become more apparent to me now is, even on a triple wide street like Washington, drivers that buzz by in order to pass me up to get to the red light in front of me become more enraged as I pass them up again at the red when I take the lane once more.

As I passed he yelled “oh yeah! your’e on your bike”. When the light turned green he revved up and aimed his car towards my direction. I managed to veer off to the side. Mad that he was not able to get close enough to me, he yelled “pussy!” and sped off to the next red light.

It’s kind of flattering being called pussy. Those things can take a good beating and they come back for more.

Suggested improvements for this location: Actually extending the Washington bike lane into downtown might make it a little less of a harrowing ride. Putting in a protected lane would be tops.

Ed. note: The Chicago Department of Transportation will begin construction in Spring 2014 on the Central Loop BRT which will add a protected bike lane on Washington Street from Clinton (maybe Canal) to Michigan Avenue. This makes a gap of two or three blocks from where the bike lane ends at Desplaines now to Canal or Clinton, respectively. 

State trooper tailgates bicyclist and yells at them

Type

Had to stop abruptly
Passed closely

What happened

State police officer in a marked car followed me too closely, then swerved around me, cutting me off. He then yelled at me to “pick a lane”.

Suggested improvements for this location: Disallow private buses to park in the travel lane. The police officer was likely trying to get around the many buses in the area, causing him to swerve in and out of the travel lanes.

CTA bus drivers graze and nearly right-hook Clark Street cyclist

Type

Passed closely

What happened

I was passed very closely by three different CTA bus drivers this morning on Clark Street heading south from Addison to the Loop. One bus actually grazed my elbow and the other two passed me within a foot. I was cycling slightly slower than usual in the extreme left of the Clark Street bike/bus lane due to all the slush on the side of the road [see a video of what this lane looks like]. There appeared to be a bus bunching problem because I have never seen so many buses in a row on Clark before.

One bus driver also nearly right-hooked me as they started veering to the right towards the bus stop before they had even halfway passed me but I swerved into the slush to get out of the way.

Bus drivers passing with minimal clearance is a recurring problem on Clark Street for me and is not road condition-dependent. Normally I would take the lane if I felt like there wasn’t enough space for a driver to pass, but Clark is definitely wide enough to give the necessary clearance.

Suggested improvements for this location: Please remind CTA bus drivers of the 3-feet rule when passing and remind them to make sure they have completely passed any cyclists before veering right into the bus stop.

CTA bus driver honks at bicyclist and passes too close

Type

Passed closely
Harrassed

What happened

The driver of CTA bus #1417, southbound route 36, ran me off the road at 7:45 this morning. I was riding southbound on Broadway, passing Briar, as far right as safe and practical because of slush and ice near the parked cars and the curb.

The driver of CTA bus #1417 came behind me, blaring the horn. I was well aware the bus was there before the driver began blaring the horn, but it was not safe to ride further to the right because of slush and ice at the curb.

The driver of CTA bus #1417 passed within two feet of me on the left, cutting back in toward me to avoid running over the pedestrian crossing sign at Barry. I was forced into the slush as the bus came within 12-18 inches of me.

I skidded, which was what I was trying to avoid with my original lane position. Fortunately, I remained mostly upright and unharmed.

Suggested improvements for this location: There are lots of cyclists on Broadway but there is insufficient road space because of curbside parking. Barry and Briar are common routes to and from the Lakefront Trail, but where those roads meet with Broadway, there are dangerous conflicts points, made worse when road conditions are snowy.

The bus driver should know better than to honk at cyclists who have taken the lane. The bus driver should know better than to pass within three feet of a cyclist. That driver acted with absolute disregard for the most vulnerable road user

Bicyclist grazed, but not injured, at California/Addison

Type

Passed closely

What happened

I was stopped at the red light on California at Addison, heading south. As I was waiting for the light to change, a car pulled up next to me – too close and grazed my left side – the car hit my handlebar hard enough I had to catch myself and bike on my right leg. The driver did not get out of the car or roll down his window to say anything to me, just waved.

I pulled up a little ahead of the car to see its license plate, which, I believe said “R59 8280” (though when the police did a license place search it didn’t seem to match the car). It was a light-colored Toyota Corolla. As I wasn’t hurt, just annoyed, and my bike was ok, I pulled ahead once the light changed and continued on my way. As I was biking, though, the guy passed me and blew a kiss at me. Because apparently, sexism solves traffic accidents.

Ed. note: This is a collision, but since the bicyclist wasn’t injured I’m unsure if this would merit showing up in the Illinois crash reports dataset. Since the goal of Close Calls is to report the unreported, I am including it here. The submitter didn’t provide suggested improvements.