Still to go: 99.5 miles of protected bike lanes, 25 bridges

Well, Mayor Rahm Emanuel only promised one: 100 miles of protected bike lanes. But as I pointed out on Friday, July 22, 2011, there are 25 bridges that are still hostile to cycling.

[flickr]photo:4085957281[/flickr]

If you can see the water below, you’re on an open metal grate bridge. But don’t look down as you may lose your balance. 

Let’s say that Emanuel and Department of Transportation (CDOT) commissioner Gabe Klein finally read that study the department conducted in 2004 and pledged to fix them.

And let’s say they offered this:

25 miles for 25 bridges. Instead of building 100 miles of protected bike lanes in the mayor’s four-year first term, his administration would only build 75 miles, but add bike-friendly decks to 25 bridges.

Would you take that deal?

Comparing costs

We know that the bridge plates cost $30,000 plus installation. And the half-mile Kinzie Street protected bike lane (in both directions) cost $140,000. So it seems bike-friendly bridge decks are cheaper than protected bike lanes* – most of the other bridges are longer than Kinzie and will cost more. The study does note the distances and portion of each bridge deck made of metal grates.

Another method of bike-friendly decking is filling the grates in with concrete, like you see on Randolph and Harrison Streets. This may be a more complicated installation because the bridge has to be able to accommodate the extra weight.

The next step

The City likely won’t offer that deal. If citizen cyclists want bike-friendly bridges, they’re going to have to raise a ruckus. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” The first thing you should do is find out who your alderman is.

Cross-posted to Moving DesignRead more policy insights from Steven Vance. 

*What should be determined is the effectiveness of each facility change on the number of crashes reduced (or increase in the feeling of safety), or the change in the number of people bicycling here.

10 thoughts on “Still to go: 99.5 miles of protected bike lanes, 25 bridges”

  1. Yeah! I’d take that deal in a second. While I enjoy the Kinzie street bike lane almost daily, I think hostile bridges (and highway underpasses) are more of a deterrent to ride between neighborhoods.

    I’ve eperienced that a few times in the last few months when trying to get from the Northside to Logan Square. There is no direct route that avoids this type of pinchpoint.

    Too bad my ward contains no bridges nor highway underpasses.

  2. i’d sign onto this idea as well. i hadn’t ridden kinzie at all this week until this morning, and was pleasantly surprised to see bridge plates installed. hard to believe they cost as much as reported though.

    1. Here’s a breakdown of costs:
      http://gridchicago.com/2011/recap-on-the-kinzie-street-protected-bike-lane/

      Why do you think this is “so much”?

      For comparison, repaving a street costs between $313,000 and $356,000 per mile in Chicago, according to 2009 Menu fund expenditure data, for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Wards. 

      And installing a decorative bench in the 2nd Ward at 1111 S Wabash cost $1,800. 
      http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/obm/supp_info/Aldermanic%20Menu/2009aldermanicMenu11.1.10.pdf

    2. Here’s a breakdown of costs:
      http://gridchicago.com/2011/recap-on-the-kinzie-street-protected-bike-lane/

      Why do you think this is “so much”?

      For comparison, repaving a street costs between $313,000 and $356,000 per mile in Chicago, according to 2009 Menu fund expenditure data, for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Wards. 

      And installing a decorative bench in the 2nd Ward at 1111 S Wabash cost $1,800. 
      http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/obm/supp_info/Aldermanic%20Menu/2009aldermanicMenu11.1.10.pdf

      1. so the cost per mile for this bike lane on top of the road is pretty close to the cost of paving the road in the first place?   all for some plastic sticks, paint and fiberglass.  to me it seems excessively priced.  but I’d guess the city usually overpays for results, it’s the nature of the beast.

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