Hopefully the long-awaited post installation will bring some order to the Clark Street chaos – Streetsblog Chicago

ByDavid M. Conte

Oct 26, 2021

Whenever parking protected bike lanes are installed there is bound to be a learning curve and as motorists get used to the new layout, including “floating” parking lanes and new sections where parking is prohibited. However, for various reasons, the new Clark Street cycle lanes were the worst-case scenario. But there’s reason to believe things will get better soon, as Chicago Department of Transportation crews today were bolting flexible plastic poles to demarcate the tracks, which will at least make it more obvious. where drivers should be parked.

New posts on Clark Street.  Photo: John Greenfield
New posts on Clark Street. Photo: John Greenfield

Assuming the bike lanes start to function as intended and more people start using them, bringing additional potential customers into the hallway, this should help reassure some of the shopkeepers in the strip. A few of these business owners pushed back on the parking conversions on Clark that were made to make room for bike lanes. More on this topic in a minute.

A cyclist on Clark Street.  Photo: John Greenfield
A cyclist on Clark Street. Photo: John Greenfield

The project on the high-speed, four-lane section of Clark Street between Hollywood Avenue (5700 N.) in Andersonville and Devon Street (6400 N), the southern border of Rogers Park, was announced in late July. The CDOT has removed most of the on-street parking from this segment of Clark to make room for bike lanes (there is a lot of parking on this car-centric stretch). However, in some places, on-street parking has been preserved, either by creating curbside bike lanes protected by parking, or by zigzagging the bike path on the left side of a street-side parking lane, which means that this section of the cycle lane is not protected.

The map below shows how the lanes go from a protected curbside parking lot (green on the map below), to a plastic curbside bollard (yellow), to unprotected on the side left of the parking lane (red.)

Image: John Greenfield via Google Maps
Image: John Greenfield via Google Maps

Work began in late August and since then Streetsblog Chicago has received numerous complaints from cyclists about drivers parking in the lanes. This is not surprising as it is a potentially confusing layout for cyclists and drivers, especially before the poles were installed today.

It took another two months before the poles were installed today. CDOT blamed the delay on supply chain issues related to the pandemic.

When I hit the lanes this afternoon, it seemed to me that the parking compliance was a bit better than in the past, although it was certainly far from perfect. All “No Parking” signs appear to be in place, so in places where the cycle path is lined with plastic poles, drivers parking there can no longer pretend they were unaware they were illegally blocking a track cycling.

What part of "This is a cycle path so you cannot park there" was not clear?
With a “No Parking” sign, pavement markings and poles, which part of “This is a bike path, you can’t park there” was unclear? Photo: John Greenfield

I noticed that at least one merchant in a block where the parking was private, George’s Deep Dish Pizzeria at 6221 North Clark, had a sign on the window directing customers to a 15 minute stand-up area on the corner of the side street, Thome Avenue.

15-minute parking zone on Thome Avenue.  Photo: John Greenfield
15-minute parking zone on Thome Avenue. Photo: John Greenfield

One of the main advantages of installing the station is that north of Granville Avenue, where Clark heading north is reduced from two lanes of traffic to one to make room for the bike path and parking, a wall of plastic bollards was installed to prevent motorists from driving. in the cycle path. This has recently been a problem. However, as you can see in the photo below, the new posts did not prevent a motorist from parking on the bike path.

Messages prohibiting motorists from using the cycle lane: fine.  Car parked on the cycle path: bad.  Photo: John Greenfield
A wall of new posts preventing motorists from circulating on the cycle path: good. Car parked on the cycle path: bad. Photo: John Greenfield

The word on the street is that there has been reluctance from some merchants about parking conversions. On some blocks, like the one below, the parking ban is ignored by several drivers. It’s somewhat understandable that some business owners are cranky about the change, as they are used to having very easy parking for customers and employees, rather than drivers having to park on the other side. from the street or around the corner.

Drivers ignore the parking ban on this Clark block.  Photo: John Greenfield
Drivers ignore the parking ban on this Clark block. Photo: John Greenfield

Since the now completed cycle lanes should be more functional, with more people using them, this should help reassure business owners that the cycle lanes are attracting more potential customers to the corridor.

IMG_3077
Parking compliance was good on this block today. Photo: John Greenfield

Local aldermen Andre Vasquez (40th) and Harry Osterman (48th) have undoubtedly received complaints from traders about the new layout. But it looks like those representatives could benefit from speaking with more of their constituents about the issue, including the people who cycle on Clark. And, of course, ensuring that stakeholders are informed in advance of planned changes in a street reduces the likelihood of pushback after they are implemented.

Vasquez and Osterman are also expected to look to Logan Square, where there has been a bitter reaction from a hardware store owner and restaurateur after the parking lot was converted near their businesses in the fall of 2020 to make way for protected bike lanes on Milwaukee Avenue. There were actually a few press articles on the refoulement at the time. A year later, hardly anyone is talking about this controversy – people have just gotten used to the new layout.

Sun-Times headlines from October 2, 2020.
Sun-Times headlines from October 2, 2020.

CDOT can do its part to help allay concerns that parking conversions on Clark were not worth it by keeping the bike lanes as passable as possible. This means replacing the flattened terminals, tweaking the design if necessary, and keeping the lanes free of trash, glass, and snow. And, of course, in the future, the ministry should focus on building more lanes with heavy-duty concrete protection or, better yet, raised above street level, to help ensure that parking non-compliance becomes a non-problem.



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