Construction of the 55th Street protected bike lane and road diet began Wednesday

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The eastbound bike lane begins at this bus stop at Cottage Grove Avenue. 

Erik Swedlund shares these photos taken Wednesday and today of construction on 55th Street between Cottage Grove Avenue and Woodlawn Avenue.

Room for the cycle track is made possible by removing a travel lane in each direction. Elements of this project that are different from previous bike lane projects in Chicago are the mixed traffic areas for right-turn lanes and bus stops.

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At Drexel Avenue, buses will merge into the cycle track to pick up and drop off passengers.

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At Ellis Avenue, right turning drivers will share the bike lane with people cycling through the intersection. 

We asked at a public meeting in April about the project if concrete bus stop islands were considered. Chicago Department of Transportation workers Mike Amsden and Nate Roseberry responded that that “was ideal” and would be looked at later after evaluating the current setup. One of the reasons they cited not doing that now was the added cost of the permanent, concrete infrastructure.

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This rendering of a bus stop island at Halsted Street (which has a conventional bike lane) and 27th Street in Bridgeport shows how buses would not leave the travel lane and would prevent driving in the bike and parking lanes (which is common here as people want to bypass those turning left onto 27th Street from Halsted Street). 

See Erik’s full photoset. See previous construction updates.

30 thoughts on “Construction of the 55th Street protected bike lane and road diet began Wednesday”

    1. thanks! I take 55th occasionally and it will be interesting how this shakes out. The drivers seem pretty bike-tolerant now, but if they lose a whole lane to buses/bikes, it might get . . . interesting.

      1. Note that the lane will not be for buses and bikes–just bikes. The buses will merge into the bike lane at curbside stops, but then move right back out to travel in the motor vehicle lane.

  1. Very very excited to see this going in! We’ll have to have a Hyde Park Kidical Mass route that celebrates it. I know a lot of parents are excited about the projects just because it should slow traffic, and make 55th easier to cross.

  2. How does the transition to PBL usually shake out? I noticed today that all of the parked cars were in the bike lane, not in the parking lane. Are there a few days of education / enforcement during the transition? Will it just start working once the whole length of the thing is done, instead of a small segment? Does it take a few bollards to make the areas more clear? There are currently some parking / bike designations scrawled in spray paint, but official logos haven’t been added.

    The moving traffic was avoiding both the parking lane and bike lane.

    1. People begin to park their cars in the proper lane within a couple of days of the bollards being installed. There may be some specific police attention, but I don’t know if that’s standard operating procedure.

  3. Seems like the painting is done now, and only the bollards are left. Can’t wait to see the parking transition over to the new status quo. We’ll have to do our next Hyde Park Kidical Mass Ride (July 29) to take advantage of the new PBL. Surely it’ll be all straightened out by then….

  4. As someone who often parks on 55th where the PBLs are being installed, it is completely unclear where one is supposed to park. Obviously all the parked cars are currently in the bike lane, and that is bad, but if the striped islands (bollards?) are for parking, there could be, as Elizabeth suggests, some education. They sure look like you are NOT supposed to park in them.

  5. The bollards are the posts that they started putting in today. I think that once they put them all in, it will help clarify things. But today it just seemed to be adding to confusion, especially because they didn’t block off parking before putting them in. It looked like it’s going to be tricky for some cars to get out of their parking spots.

    1. I’ve noticed that either the construction crew isn’t doing a good job with temporarily active “no parking” notices in their construction zone, or that people aren’t respecting the notices.

    2. oh yes that makes more sense! re: what the bollards are.
      too bad there are no left turn lanes onto Kimbark– this is one place where there was already congestion with two lanes. my guess is that it will easily back up into the intersection at Woodlawn during rush hours.

  6. Oh, and cars were definitely swerving into the parking area today to get around cars turning left. With spotty bollards and the bike lane full of parked cars, it’s getting trickier to bike there right now. Can’t wait til the transition is over!

  7. Today it varies from block to block (and sometimes within blocks) whether cars are parking in the new spots or the old. I hope the bollard installers take advantage of the correctly parked cars to put some more bollards in!

  8. There are still way too many cars in the bike lanes, even when there is ample parking available immediately adjacent, and far too few bollards. Who do we call to report this?

  9. According to Hyde Park Progress (http://hydeparkprogress.blogspot.com/2012/07/new-lanes-on-55th-st-learning-curve.html) they are now awarding tickets to cars that don’t shift to the new parking pattern. I wish they’d put some more bollards in, to make it more difficult to make the mistake. It seems like there are nicer ways to educate people than to punish those who don’t figure it out on their own.

    Plus, I think it’s insufficient deterrent to delivery trucks, who are likely to park “just for a quick delivery” in the middle of the bike lane.

    1. You are the second person to report this to me.

      A similar thing happened on Elston Avenue, before it was completed.

      Please report (with a photograph) if a delivery truck driver parks in the bike lane on 55th Street.

      1. This is from this afternoon, in the “bubble” around the condos. He’s got to block somebody’s traffic lane, but there were actually two car lanes here — one to continue around the roundabout, and one to continue east on 55th.

        1. This section of the 55th Street project is a bit different than the parts east and west of here. Around “Monoxide Manor” there are only buffered bike lanes. According to the CDOT staff, this was because a protected bike lane wouldn’t leave enough lane width for a fire truck or other emergency vehicle to pass vehicles that have pulled over.
          This section will likely see more bike lane blocking than the other sections, even after the project construction is complete.

          1. Actually, this is the location I was expecting to be more problematic. There was a delivery truck in the bike lane last week, and another this morning during my commute. I’d be more sympathetic, but it looks like there’s plenty of space for the delivery truck just around the corner on Kenwood, and a parking lot behind the store as well.

            Is there anything left with the project construction now? It looks done.

          2. And another one. This is a beer truck parked outside a school, so I’m not sure where they were delivering to. Maybe the bar across Woodlawn, on the other side of the Starbucks? The school seems an unlikely destination.

  10. I’ll be leading a Hyde Park Kidical Mass ride this Sunday, and we’ll be riding a short distance on the 55th street protected bike lane as part of that ride. If anyone would like to join, please do. You don’t need kids to come along, though you should enjoy slow rides with families, or this probably isn’t the ride for you (we’ll cover about 3 miles in about an hour). For more information or to rsvp, please see http://www.thechainlink.org/events/hyde-park-kidical-mass or https://www.facebook.com/events/465354060151253/ .

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