Dear cyclists, I apologize on behalf of some of my fellow pedestrians. You probably thought it would be great having a protected bike lane to keep bicycle traffic better separated from automobile traffic. Unfortunately, now cyclists have to worry about another hazard: Oblivious fussgängers wandering into their bike lanes. As a pedestrian myself I see the need to inform my less considerate peers that bike lanes are not pedestrian waiting areas.
On Dearborn Avenue in downtown Chicago there is a protected bike lane. The protected bike lane designates room for two way bike traffic and even has bike-specific traffic signals. A parking lane separates the bicycle lanes from automobile traffic.
A protected bike line, like the one on Dearborn, should be an ideal place to ride a bike in the city, but it is here that I have witnessed daily pedestrian encroachment on what should be an area dedicated to bikes.
When waiting to cross Dearborn many pedestrians like to creep out into the street and to have a few feet of head start when the signals change to their favor. Granted, pedestrians can stand in the area at the end of the parking lane without impeding bike or car traffic. That is, they won’t impede traffic if those pedestrians pay attention when crossing the bike lanes to ensure no one is coming. Sadly, that is rarely the case, and I often see people thoughtlessly step into the bike lanes causing an approaching cyclist to slow, swerve, or stop.
Furthermore, around 5 o’clock when bike, car, and pedestrian traffic are at their peak the self-declared pedestrian island of the parking lane often fills up with people causing other mindless walkers who followed the crowd off the curb to stand directly in the bike lane.
When people say “share the road” they typically mean that cars should share space with bicycles. As pedestrians we need to learn to share too. If you won’t do it out of kindness and consideration, do it because getting hit by a bike will hurt or will at least scuff your nice shoes.
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