If Chicago residents are not familiar with the city's new bike lanes, they'll soon get a friendly reminder. The city plans to crack down on those who park in bike lanes, issuing warnings and $100 tickets for violators. Although the city has had laws on the books for the last three years prohibiting parking in bike lanes, police and Department of Revenue ticket-writers have never enforced them.
Bicycle advocates stress the urgent need for motorists to obey no- parking laws. "People don't realize it is a life-threatening move to park in a bike lane," says Dave Glowacz, director of education for the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation. "Bicyclists have to veer out into moving motor vehicle traffic."
The current push for enforcement has paralleled the rapid installation of bike lanes. This year, the city added more than 20 miles of cycling paths, bringing the grand total to 72. By 2004, the city plans to have 150 miles of the lanes in place, with an eventual goal of a 400-mile network.
Because many motorists are unaware of both the danger and the laws concerning parking in bike lanes, the city has contracted with the Bicycle Federation for an awareness campaign. A group of outreach specialists called Mayor Daley's Bicycling Ambassadors will first drop off fliers along streets with bike lanes. After people have been appropriately warned, the city will begin ticketing. "There's no users guide printed on the bike lane for motorists," Glowacz says. "We want to make sure that somebody teaches the motorists before we punish them."