Bike lanes in Chicago seem to be pretty crappy, due to the constant danger of being “doored” and of course the problem of being so close to traffic. I am absolutely certain that I am not the first to come up with this idea, but it has occurred to me that it would be relatively simple for the parking area and bike lane to switch places, with a curb between the two sufficient to keep cars from intruding into the bike lane. The parked cars would produce a natural barrier, and since doors most often open on the driver side, it would reduce dooring, too.
On roads where bike lanes are already designated, this policy wouldn’t even lead to a net loss of space for cars. However, while Anthony has been here, it has become more and more apparent that Western Ave., one of the most important thoroughfares in the city, is also incredibly dangerous for bikers. It’s dangerous because it’s so busy, obviously, and cutting space out for bike lanes would be a tough sell — but most of Western (at least the sections I’ve seen) also has wide sidewalks, and the incredible busyness of the street means that you don’t see restaurants taking advantage of the space with outdoor areas, etc. So: cut out part of the sidewalk to make a veritable bike expressway.
I haven’t done the math, but all these plans seem like they’d be relatively cheap to do. Am I wrong? Are there disadvantages I’m not seeing?
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