North Lawndale residents were fuming over the city’s action installing bicycle lanes along the curb on Independence Boulevard and moving the parking lanes into the middle of the street. They don’t oppose bike lanes, but they feared for their safety in having to enter and exit their cars in traffic. They were also concerned about potential damage to their automobiles parked so far in the street on a busy thoroughfare.
They took their case to Alderman Michael D. Chandler and appealed to him to get the city to move the bike lane between the traffic lane and the parking lane, so they could park their cars at the curb. Alderman Chandler took up their crusade, contacting Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein.
According to the Alderman, when he explained that his constituents were upset, Klein snapped, “Well, what do they know? I hired world-class architects to design Chicago’s bicycle lanes and I’m not changing them!” He said the Independence bike lanes are the same as the bike lanes in the Loop.
But, Klein learned a quick lesson about taking on residents of North Lawndale when they are upset. They held community meetings and pointed out that the bicycle lanes along Douglas Boulevard are on the outside of the parking lanes and that works just fine. They also said the Loop has totally different traffic and parking patterns with no residents parking their cars overnight on the streets in the Loop.
In the end, the Commissioner relented and agreed to give North Lawndale residents what they wanted.