Bicyclist on Clark Street almost rammed into by hospital courtesy van and driver

Location

2424 N Clark Street Chicago, IL 60614
Alderman Michele Smith, 43rd Ward

Type

Abrupt stop

What happened

I was riding in the shared bike/bus lane, southbound on Clark Street a bit after 8 am. In advance of the Fullerton/Clark intersection, I could see that there were a bunch of cars queued up to turn left. They were far back enough on the street that they were blocking any cars whose drivers wanted to proceed straight. At this point, the bike/bus lane is still clearly marked and divided from traffic, and is marked that way for another 50-60 feet.

Riding toward the intersection, I saw the Advocate Illinois Masonic Patient Courtesy van driver start to pull into the bike lane, in an apparent attempt to get around the jam of left-turning cars. Thinking they were going for it, I prepared to brake hard, but the van stopped, and I thought they saw me. I was wrong. As I pulled even with the front windows of the van, the driver hit the gas and the van jumped toward me and into the bike lane. I was able to swerve to the right and avoid the van. I yelled, “NO!” and pointed directly at the driver.

After I passed the van, the driver finished driving into the bike lane for the remaining 50-60 feet before the merged into the other lanes and pulled up behind me at the Southbound Fullerton/Clark red light. The light changed and the driver came up next to me, yelled something through the open passenger-side window. I couldn’t hear what they said, but their face looked none too friendly. I said, “Do you understand how bike lanes work?!?” but the driver was already gone, accelerating further down Clark street.

Suggested improvements

Short of building a buffered lane, which would mean it was no longer a rush hour bus lane, I’m not really sure.