A plan to step up efforts to clear blocked bicycle lanes in the wake of the death of a 3-year-old girl in Uptown on June 9 advanced at Wednesday’s meeting of the Chicago City Council with the support of 44 members.
Authored by Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward) and Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th Ward), the measure would give employees of the Department of Finance — not just members of the Chicago Police Department — the authority to order the vehicle blocking the bicycle lane to be ticketed and towed.
Vasquez said it does not make any sense to require that a Chicago police officer document that a bicycle lane is blocked before a tow truck from the Department of Streets and Sanitation is summoned to remove the vehicle.
The measure would also require signs to be posted if a bicycle lane has to be closed to allow permitted work to take place warning bicyclists about the closure and telling drivers they must yield to those on two wheels.
Violating that provision could trigger fines of between $500 and $1,000 and the revocation of the firm’s permit, according to the ordinance.
Vasquez said he was spurred to act by the death of 3-year-old Lily Shambrook. She was riding in a carrier on her mother’s bike when a ComEd truck parked in a bike lane forced her mother to go around the vehicle. A semi-truck struck the bike, killing the toddler.
Lily was one of three children killed in car crashes in the past month. In 2022, 17 pedestrians and four bicyclists have died in crashes.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said after Wednesday’s City Council meeting she had not yet reviewed the proposal.
A separate measure, backed by Vasquez and Reilly, would allow any resident to submit a complaint about a blocked bicycle lane to the city’s 311 system with a picture.
Chicago Department of Transportation officials told WTTW News they use complaints to 311 “to guide enforcement and identify hotspots to improve public safety,” not issue tickets.
Chicagoans can send in 311 requests virtually at 311.chicago.gov and using the city’s CHI311 app.
For years, cyclists have complained that the city has fallen down on the job when it comes to enforcing people who drive or park their cars in bike lanes. The obstruction forces cyclists to enter mixed traffic, which can be potentially dangerous.
WTTW’s Nick Blumberg contributed to this report.