OLD TOWN — Cyclist Michelle Stenzel said she goes out of her way to ride on Clybourn's new curb-protected bike lanes.
"It is so lovely. I spent more time going home sometimes in order to enjoy it," said Stenzel, who helps run the blog Bike Walk Lincoln Park.
That's why she was disappointed to see delivery trucks and other cars blocking the lane by illegally parking on Clybourn next to the New City development.
The issue was first reported by advocacy blog Streetsblog in October, but DNAinfo Chicago spotted cars illegally parked there as recently as Friday at the same time as a news conference held to celebrate the bike lanes.
Stenzel said those illegally parked cars force cyclists to weave in and out of moving traffic, which can be dangerous and could potentially discourage cyclists from using the bike lane.
"It's bad enough to have to do that once, but when there's a couple of [parked cars] it extinguishes the purpose of having a bike lane there," she said.
On Friday, DNAinfo Chicago saw one truck and two other cars illegally parked in the buffered lane at Clybourn Avenue and Halsted Street, which is close to the start of the curb-protected lane.
A truck parked on Clybourn Avenue in the buffered bike lane. [DNAinfo/Mina Bloom]
"I think the fact that it happens is a good testament that we need curb protection as much as possible. The reason it's allowed to happen is there's no curb there," Stenzel said.
When asked about the issue at the news conference, Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn said, "If the trucks are parking there, it's a concern."
"We've got to be working with the city on enforcement to make sure that doesn't happen. Obviously this is for a purpose. That's problematic for us if the lanes are being used for a purpose that wasn't intended," he added.
A Chicago Police spokeswoman said police and parking enforcement aides can and do ticket for illegally parking in the bike lanes, but she did not immediately have data on how often they do so.
Streetsblog also pointed out that New City, 1500 N. Clybourn Ave., has underground loading docks to accommodate for deliveries.
"This is a brand new bike lane and a good opportunity for New City to take the steps to make sure that the space is truly kept free so cyclists can rely on it as a safe, low-stress route," Stenzel said.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: