Spurred by Death of 3-Year-Old, Key City Panel Advances Plan to Step Up Bike Lane Enforcement


(WTTW News)(WTTW News)

A proposal designed to clear blocked bike lanes, spurred by the death of a 3-year-old girl in Uptown in June, canceled a key panel in the city on Thursday.

The City Council Transportation Committee vote took place six months after 3-year-old Lily Shambrook died while traveling in a pet carrier on her mother’s bicycle. After a ComEd truck parked on a bike lane forced his mother around the vehicle, a semi-truck hit the bike, killing the child.

The measure set for a final vote on Wednesday would give Finance Department employees — not just members of the Chicago Police Department — the authority to order that the vehicle blocking the bike lane be fined and towed away.

According to proponents, it makes no sense to require a Chicago police officer to document that a bike lane is blocked before a Department of Streets and Sanitation tow truck is called to remove the vehicle.

The measure would also require signs to be posted if a cycle lane needs to be closed to allow permitted works to be carried out warning cyclists of the closure and telling drivers they must yield to those on two wheels.

Violation of that provision could result in fines ranging from $500 to $2,000 and lead to the company’s permit being revoked, according to the ordinance.

The proposal would also increase the fines for parking in bike lanes without causing an accident from $150 to $250.

If approved, the measure would also require the Department of Finance to propose a pilot program to test how to automate enforcement of the ban on blocking bike lanes by Feb. 15.

A separate provision, supported by the Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th Ward) and Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward), would allow any resident to file a complaint about a blocked bike lane to the city’s 311 system with a photo. That measure did not go ahead.

Chicago Department of Transportation officials told WTTW News they use 311 complaints “to guide enforcement and identify hot spots to improve public safety,” they don’t issue tickets.

Chicagoans can send 311 requests virtually to and using the city’s CHI311 app.

For years, cyclists have complained that the city has fallen on the job when it comes to enforcing people who ride or park their cars in bike lanes. The obstruction forces cyclists into mixed traffic, which can be potentially dangerous.

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]


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Written by Natalia Chi

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