Chicago Sun-Times

Sidewalk ban for bikers in Edgewater

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Technically, it's illegal to bike on the city's sidewalks. But many bicycle riders ignore this rule--no surprise, given the measly $25 fine and slack enforcement by police.

Enter North Side alderman Mary Ann Smith (48th), who just renewed a controversial ordinance that hits bikers who ride on the sidewalks along Sheridan Road with a hefty $250 fine. Bikes may also be temporarily disabled with the equivalent of a wheel-locking Denver boot. Read more about it in my column.

So, what do you think?

Is the ordinance unfair to bikers, or is it necessary to protect elderly pedestrians who live along Sheridan Road.



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10 Comments

I am a pedestrian (for all you bicylist that means I walk). there should be a $250.00 fine to anyone 16 or over who rides bikes on sidewalks. There should also be heavy fine for bicyclists who ride on the street and don't follow the rules of the road. I tired of seeing my life flash before my eyes due to a bike rider running a red light.

Mind you, this is the same alderman who suggested at our neighborhood association meeting that we have a lane of Lake Shore Drive dedicated for bicycles. Who has done nothing to address the real problem of all of LSD traffic being dumped into our neighborhood, rather than exploring efforts to expand LSD to Evanston, who has done nothing to implement traffic safety measures on Hollywood/Ridge, and who can not produce one individual who has been hit by a cyclist.

All that said, until the city provides signs encouraging people to ride their bikes on Winthrop and Kenmore between Devon and Bryn Mawr, rather than on Sheridan, you need to discourage people from mixing bicyclist with pedestrians. I hope that the fines collected will be used to work toward a solution to encourage people to bike, and steer them toward Kenmore and provide safer crossing areas to the park.

The city should then explore expanding LSD. Sheridan, Hollywood, and Ridge were not built to accommodate the number of vehicles dumped into our neighborhood, and elected officials have not done the work necessary to get a Metra station and parking lot to discourage our neighbors to the north and west to use our neighborhood streets as expressways.

I used to live on that section of Sheridan Road and had many elderly neighbors who were sometimes in fear of their lives when walking on that sidewalk. They had a legitimate concern then, and the amount of bike traffic has gotten considerably higher since that time.

I ride my bike more than I drive, and I hear plenty about cyclists' views on this situation. $250 is an excessive fine for this offense, but I do think that the fine should be substantial for riding on the sidewalk in this particular location, perhaps more along the lines of $125-150, so that people get the message.

I'd like to see other cyclists be more reasonable and think about the big picture. If your destination is NOT on Sheridan Road, please follow the signed bike route on Kenmore or Winthrop and ride with the direction of traffic. If you are going to a Sheridan Road location, would it kill you to walk your bike for a block or two? If you strike a frail, elderly person, you could be condemning them to a slow, painful death. Is a few minutes of inconvenience to you too high a price for preventing injuries and deaths? I think not.

I'm a biker who has been riding on the streets since age seven. I am so tired of bad bikers and trust me I've seen more then my share of them. I'd like to see them add the infractions of riding on the wrong side of the street, drunk driving/using cell phones while riding, not using hand signals, running stop signs and red lights. Bikers should plan their routes so that they are traveling on streets they feel comfortable riding off the sidewalk. Bikers need to realize that they are on vehicles not toys. If they're afraid to ride on the street then bike riding is not for them.

From 1981 through 1993, I bicycled the lakefront path 100s of times. I usually began in Wilmette and made the ride down to 35th Street beach and back. The one section of the path that I always dreaded was from Loyola U. to Devon. I felt guilty riding on the sidewalk, especially among so many elderly. And at the same time, I was not about to put my life in jeopardy riding on Sheridan Road. So I quickly learned to take Winthrop or Kenmore as an alternative. In those years, the two streets had not been marked as bicycle routes but, to me, it was such an obvious compromise.

There is absolutly no justification for bicyclists to be riding on the sidewalk in the Edgwater area when an alternative route exists. It is downright disrespectful to walking pedestrians. I am all in favor of a stiff fine to any bicyclist caught riding on the sidewalk.

Here is a clue for all the young, narcissistic, self-adoring Chicago cyclists: sideWALK.

R.J. Lang
Rio Rancho, New Mexico

Im from Evanston, and very experienced at navigating the confusing route between where the bike path ends/begins at Ardmore and Sheridan Rd.

Most cyclists, especially those heading north toward Evanston, seem clueless when they get to this transition point. It appears many have been enjoying their ride, want to keep going, but are afraid or hesistant to go one block west of Sheridan, turn right on Kenmore, then continue north through the Loyola campus. But the confusion still doesnt end at Loyola, because most cyclists are forced back onto busy Sheridan Rd. until they reach Evanston.

Most cyclists opt to stay on this forbidden section of Sheridan because they know it from driving north in their cars, or because instinct tells them it will keep them going in the right direction. And because the road at this point is too narrow to leave space for cyclists, it seems only natural for them to stay on the sidewalk, where they risk hitting people and getting ticketed.

Unless the city can come up with a VERY DETAILED SIGN/MAP that helps the majority of northbound cyclists who get confused when the lakefront path ends, I dont see this problem being rectified anytime soon. But I do agree that residents of this neighborhood have the right not to be scared or inconvenienced by cyclists zooming down the sidewalks between Hollywood and Devon Avenues.

I really think there should be more policing of motor traffic along that stretch of Sheridan. If they cyclist, myself included, feel safe on the street there would be no need to be on the sidewalks.

Have the cops pull over the speeding and out of control cars, and give the cyclists a break.

A broken hip can be a death sentence for the elderly.

It's been a very long time since I've seen a car drive on a sidewalk, but I see people riding bikes on them every day. The $250 fine for cyclists simply targets the people most likely to put elderly pedestrians at risk.

Certainly cyclists need to be discouraged or prohibited from riding on sidewalks in areas similar to this Edgewater area.

But to fine cyclists more than motorists for riding on the sidewalk is ludicrous. Lower the fine to the motor vehicle level, or raise the fine on the motor vehicles to that of the bicycle level.

What rationale is used to justify the difference?

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