CHICAGO — Fines for vehicles blocking bike lanes represent a tiny fraction of the city’s overall revenue from ticketing, but that could change with a new crowdsourcing initiative and more ticket writers on bikes.
There are more than 200 miles of on-street bike lanes in Chicago and city law prohibits driving and parking in them, a violation that carries a $150 fine.
City data shows the number of tickets issued for vehicles blocking bike lanes increased by 25 percent from 2016 to 2017, as the city added more lanes and implemented a new 311 code so that people riding bikes can easily report a “Vehicle Parking in a Bike Lane.”
From 2015 until June 30, the city issued 11,105 tickets to vehicles parked illegally in bike lanes, and brought in $1,192,711 in revenue from the ticketing.
The bike lane tickets are a fraction of the $264 million in parking tickets brought in per year, but that could potentially change as more bike lanes get built and the data on where bike lanes are being blocked becomes readily available.
Department of Finance spokeswoman Kristen Cabanban this week said members of the department, which oversees ticketing, have twice met with Christina Whitehouse, founder of Bike Lane Uprising.
Launched 11 months ago, Bike Lane Uprising publishes a crowdsourced database of obstructed bike lanes using photos submitted by cyclists. There are hundreds of contributors who regularly upload images of cars and trucks in bike lanes. The photos often feature license plates.
Cabanban said the department plans to “continue to engage and partner” with Bike Lane Uprising to address concerns raised by their website contributors.
The city is working with the site to determine how to best use the data they collect to support the city’s enforcement efforts and its existing technology, Cabanban said.
The city currently employs 119 parking enforcement aides and hired more parking enforcement aides on bikes in May 2018 to augment its existing team of bike patrols. There are now 32 enforcement aides on bike, up from 20 in 2015.
“As a city, we are focused on building a culture of traffic safety for cyclists, and we utilize our parking enforcement aides to enforce the Municipal Code, which includes citing those who obstruct bike lanes,” Cabanban said in a statement. “In our effort to ensure that the roads are safe for cyclists, we incorporate bike lane maps and 311 complaint data into our strategy for assigning enforcement resources to the areas where blocked bike lanes continue to be a problem for cyclists.”
Delivery trucks, cars and even police vehicles are often seen in bike lanes, even though it’s against the law to park or drive in bike lanes.
Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) said he supports the city’s efforts to use technology to bolster ticketing and described Bike Lane Uprising as “a great example of a community-driven project to address a known problem.”
“Both constituents and I have seen primarily deliveries, ride-share drivers and construction [vehicles] block the bike lanes around Chicago,” Moreno said in a statement.