Monthly Archives: March 2014

Bicyclist almost doored on Damen and driver yells afterwards, “look out”

Location

Damen and Concord Chicago, IL 60613
32nd, Scott Waguespack, soon to be 2nd, Bob Fioretti

Type

Almost doored

What happened

I was heading south on Damen towards Milwaukee and luckily traffic was stopped. A woman threw her car door open. I swerved out of the way and stopped in front of her car to look back at her. She started screaming at me to look out so I left without saying anything.

Suggested improvements

Switch the bike lane and the parked cars so that the cyclists are protected from moving vehicles should a dooring occur. At the very least, wider lanes and better striping on bike lanes so car parkers know that there might be cyclists to look out for.

Ed. note: This part of Damen has extremely faded bike lane striping. 

The Fascist Automobile vs. Bicycle Rebellion

I won’t editorialize much on this website. As you know, it documents all the crashes that almost happened. It’s a tool to keep tabs on some of the reasons why people don’t take up bicycling in Chicago at a good rate.

Hart Noecker writes “Rebel Metropolis” from Portland, Oregon, and they’re not kidding around when they discuss all the ways that automobiles are terrible for cities. It’s a voice that’s not heard much. In Chicago, for all the ways that bicycling is being encouraged, there are not equivalent, or even a fraction of, ways to discourage running people over with cars, polluting, and causing the city to spend millions on road maintenance without full reimbursement.

Here’re the first two paragraphs of their latest blog post:

For months I haven’t had a hostile altercation with a motorist while riding my 12-speed 1987 Peugeot Corbier. It’s uncanny. In the war between bikes and cars, this cycling soldier hasn’t seen much action. Nor have I heard many tales of defying death from my bicycling comrades of late.

Granted, winter has just ended. Warm weather means more bikes in the street thereby making riders more visible, but a rising heat index can also elevate stress levels and increase incidents of road rage.

Keep reading.

Construction makes Halsted confusing and gets bicyclist almost hit

Location

501 S. Halsted St Chicago, IL 60607
25th Ward, Alderman Danny Solis

Type

Had to stop abruptly

What happened

There is a ton of construction in this area due to the Circle Interchange work. Halsted is down to 2 lanes, one in each direction, with a continuous concrete barrier abutting the NB lane. I was turning left off of EB Harrison onto NB Halsted. With a green light in my favor, I made my left turn and narrowly averted a head-on collision with a car driving SB in the NB lane of Halsted.

After slamming on the brakes and swerving to dodge the first car, I saw there were multiple cars driving on the left side of a double yellow line heading my way. I fortunately was able to make a u-turn into the SB lane (where there stopped cars) and get to the sidewalk. I assumed I had made a mistake, and Halsted might have been one way b/c of construction, but as I crossed the bridge on the sidewalk, NB vehicle traffic continued across the bridge.

Suggested improvements

Suggested improvements for this location: This whole area is really dangerous currently. I’m not sure what you can do to stop people from driving on the wrong side, but if the construction on Halsted could move the barriers even five feet over they could add a cycle track.

Ed. note: Use Peoria Street while that bridge is still open. 

Bicyclist nearly hit as drivers use bike lane on the right to pass stopped car

Location

2000 W. Roscoe St, Chicago, IL
32nd Ward, Alderman Waguespack

Type

Had to stop abruptly

What happened

A driver was waiting to turn left from westbound Roscoe into the Speedway gas station (at the southwest corner of the intersection with Damen).

Other drivers were swerving around the turning car to pass it in the bike lane. I was riding in the westbound bike lane, and was nearly hit.

Suggested improvements

Protected bike lane on Roscoe.

Driver buzzes bicyclist on Clark Street “with just a few inches between us”

Location

1925 N Clark St Chicago, IL
43rd Ward, Alderman Michele Smith

Type

Passed closely

What happened

A maroon Nissan Sentra passed me with just a few inches between us. This occurred in the right lane, just north of the Lincoln/Clark intersection, going south. The driver didn’t honk, just pulled up right beside me and started to pass me. I yelled, “HEY! MOVE! OVER!” and the driver did nothing.

At the light, there was enough time for me to knock (gently, I swear) on the window and tell the driver they have to give cyclists at least two feet of room when they pass. The driver and his passenger ignored me completely while I said that, stared straight ahead. After I turned right on to Lincoln, then left onto Wells, the driver caught up with me and stayed just off to my left and behind me until I hit the intersection of Wells and Chicago, at which point the car traffic was such that they lost me.

I’m not sure what their motivation was for following me, perhaps they were just taking the same route and were now afraid to pass me after our initial interaction.

Suggested improvements

That stretch of Clark after the bike lanes disappear has always resulted in bad car/bike interactions for me, especially once Clark expands south of Dickens. Add that to the potholes there and it results in some very close passing. My only suggestion would be an actual lane, or least better marked sharrows.

Taxi driver buzzes two cyclists, doesn’t understand rules of the road

Location

1600 N Clark St
43rd Ward, Alderman Michele Smith

Type

Passed closely
Harassing driver

What happened

The same taxi driver passed myself and another cyclist with about eight inches to spare two times in a row where both of us had to swerve into parked cars to get out of his way. Clark Street at this location is quite wide and there was plenty of space to pass safely.

When I pulled up next to him at Clark and North I asked him to roll down his window and requested that he not pass cyclists so close. His response was “This is not a bicycle path. It is illegal for you to bike here”.

I told him that legally we are allowed to bike on the streets and that the law was that he has to pass with at least three feet of space. At this point he started yelling at me “How much taxes do you pay? I pay taxes.”

I’m not sure where he was going with his class-based argument. Was he implying that people who pay more taxes are more entitled to public space? I informed him that I pay property tax, income tax, sales tax and though I rarely use it I have a car which I also pay tax on. At that point I could see I was getting nowhere and I was getting pretty steamed so I just left.

Do taxi drivers have to take some sort of test indicating that they understand road rules before getting a license? It seems that this guy really had no idea that cyclists are legally allowed to bike on the street.

Ed. note: Taxi drivers indeed take a public chauffeur course at Harold Washington College before the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection will issue them a chauffeur permit. 

Suggested improvements

[None provided]

Cab passenger in double-parked cab nearly doors bicyclist downtown

Location

131 North Clinton Street
42nd Ward, Alderman Reilly

Type

Almost doored

What happened

I witnessed another Divvy rider in front of me pass a cab double-parked in the left lane. A passenger in the taxi opened a door just as the rider passed by, forcing her to swerve around the door.

Suggested improvements

Since a dock is located just a half block ahead of this point, on the opposite side of where the bike lanes are, a cycle track should be added to Clinton along the left (east) side of the street.

This cycle track should enclose the four blocks surrounding Ogilvie and the main Union Station structure. It would be the main collector cycle track for bicycle commuters utilizing the terminals.

Ed. note: The Chicago Department of Transportation may improve the bike facility on this street as part of the Central Loop BRT project, but so far has made no indication they will (two east-west streets will have bike facilities, Randolph and Washington, as part of the project). 

Bicyclist nearly pinched on Milwaukee when impatient driver uses parking lane to bypass stopped car

Location

1324 N Milwaukee Chicago, IL 60622
1st Ward, Alderman Moreno

Type

Had to stop abruptly

What happened

Headed southbound on Milwaukee Avenue at Paulina Avenue. Single vehicle was waiting to make a left turn onto northbound Paulina from southbound Milwaukee. Driver of black SUV behind turning vehicle did the usual, swing out wide into the sharrow/parking lane to avoid being inconvenienced for four seconds.

I had nowhere to go except to slam on the brakes. I’m aware of this maneuver developing, so I generally approach it very slowly. Still, with full lights on and going 3 MPH, I was inches away from being pinched between the SUV and the parked cars. Also figures that the driver was on his cell phone during the time.

Suggested improvements

Ban cars on Milwaukee  no more pandering in my suggested improvements. If motorists can’t handle almost killing someone daily, they don’t deserve to use the road. Period.

Bicyclist maneuvers to avoid getting hit by driver swerving into bike lane to bypass traffic

Location

1057 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL
27th Ward, Alderman Burnett

Type

Left hook
Passed closely

What happened

I was riding northbound in the Milwaukee Avenue bike lane and had just gone through the green at Noble Street when the driver of a black VW Beetle cut across my path and into the bike lane in an attempt to circumvent the stopped traffic (backed up from Ashland). I was able to swerve towards the curb to avoid collision. I yelled as I was maneuvering around the car to alert the driver to my presence.

Suggested improvements

Protected bike lanes and ticketing drivers who make dangerous maneuvers during rush hour.

Bicyclist must slow down to avoid being hit as driver doesn’t yield

Location

774 N Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, IL
27th Ward, Burnett

Type

Left hook

What happened

I was approaching the intersection Milwaukee has with Ogden, going southeast. As is typical at this intersection, as CDOT hasn’t fixed it despite the issue being well known for years, northwest-facing drivers who want to turn left from Milwaukee onto southwest Ogden receive a red signal before southeast Milwaukee traffic receives a red signal. These drivers then make their left turn while oncoming traffic still has the right of way. I don’t blame them for this. The intersection and the signal doesn’t tell them how to behave.

Suggested improvements

This seems easy: add a left turn signal or ban left turns.