A push to increase protection for bicyclists and pedestrians on Chicago streets is coming from a group of cyclist, who are calling for more bike lanes across the city to stop what they say is an increasing number of serious accidents and violence.
A small protest was held Thursday night in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood. Cyclists used their bodies to form a protected bike lane near Logan Boulevard and Western Avenue to send a message.
“CDOT is waiting too long and waiting for too much blood to be spilled for these types of upgrades,” said co-founder of Better Streets Chicago Kyle Lucas.
Lucas is the organizer of the protest, and said he was nearly killed two weeks ago while riding his bike home on Waveland Avenue.
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“They were swearing at me, they were honking their horn, revving their motor,” he said. “I couldn’t get over, there was nowhere to go; eventually they got fed up and they drove directly into my leg.”
Lucas’ group Better Street Chicago wants the city to install protected bike lanes throughout the city.
“We have families. We have people with children. We have grandmothers and grandfathers. Our friends our aunts or uncles who use these streets and the city does nothing to protect us,” he said.
Chicago Ald. Daniel La Spata announced last week the city is putting up protected bike lanes in the area following the death of Kevin Clark in May. Plans show that the lanes will run along Logan from Campbell, where the service drive of Logan empties out.
The lanes will go across Western all the way up to Diversey. Drivers may see an additional 30 seconds to their commute.
“I think a lot of us would argue 30 seconds is not so great a cost to bear for the road to be safer and more comfortable for everyone,” he said. “If 30 seconds per car means that we don’t see more cyclists losing their lives at this intersection that is a cost that I can live with.”
The safety upgrades and improvements include repainting the crosswalk for pedestrians and eliminating the right turn from westbound Logan to northbound Western. Lucas hopes the city will take their concerns seriously to prevent another death.
“I mean how many people have to die for them to care does it have to be one of their loved ones,” said Lucas.
The bike lanes will be installed in the mid-to-late September. La Spata says flexible bollards and paint will be used for the lanes, as opposed to something more permanent like concrete barrier. Officials want to test out the design first and from there make any necessary changes if needed.