Since my holiday shopping plans took me to the Loop today I decided to check out the new Dearborn bike lane for the first time. I secured a video camera to my helmet and rode. (See the video below). I was concerned that riding it on a grey and cloudy Sunday would not provide a "typical" downtown riding experience. Usually, the Loop is deserted on a Sunday. However, today being only nine days until Christmas it was quite busy with both pedestrians and motor vehicles.
All and all I enjoyed the experience. It was down right luxurious to have space to ride through the Loop that I as a bicyclist could call my own. That said, the new bike lane is definitely in beta, and as such, great caution should be taken when riding it. Many pedestrians and motorists clearly do not know how to deal with the new infrastructure. The most interesting parts of the video are:
4:20 - A pedestrian crosses right in front of me without looking. (I suppose I could have been more polite in reminding her that she should do so.)
4:30 - Four pedestrians are just standing in the lane apparently unaware of where they were.
6:59 - A taxi driver enters the lane and confronts me head on. We have a brief conversation in which he tells me that there is a taxi stand at that location. He is right, but I tell him that he no longer can stop there. He is quite pleasant actually and seemed genuinely confused as to what he was supposed to do. I watch him exit the bike lane. In fairness to him, taxi drivers should receive some instruction regarding relocation of taxi stands in light of the new bike lane.
As the video shows there is a great deal of standing water in the bike lane. It rained all day yesterday. Were it colder that water would have of course turned to ice making travel in the bike lane quite dangerous. Certainly the City will need to monitor the situation throughout the winter so the bike lane can be utilized safely.