Fall bike lane construction update

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A Marking Specialists work truck in the Marshall Boulevard bike lane it just helped create (they work on weekends, too!). 

Chicago Department of Transportation staff and its contractor Marking Specialists have been busy this summer and fall, striping miles of conventional, buffered, and separated bike lanes in Chicago. This post documents all of the new bike lanes we haven’t yet featured prominently, some of which are likely still under construction as the photos were taken between 1 and 4 weeks ago.

Sacramento Boulevard, 24th Boulevard, Marshall Boulevard

Still to come on this project through Little Village, Lawndale, North Lawndale: Douglas, Independence, and Hamlin Boulevards. It connects with a short, separated bike lane on Jackson Boulevard between Independence Boulevard and Central Park Avenue. The Central Park Avenue bike lane then connects north to separated bike lanes on Lake Street and Franklin Boulevard. Collectively these bike lanes are called “West Side Boulevards”. I like how this new separated bike lane “goes places”: through and to residential neighborhoods, past schools and parks.

People parked their cars in the bike lane, which we’ve found to be typical for under-construction separated bike lanes. The pavement quality issues that Franklin Boulevard suffers from are present on this project as well, in multiple locations (there’s a small bush growing in the bike lane a few feet before your reach a large pothole). I look forward to seeing the ultimate design created at the intersections and high-speed curves in Douglas Park and the pavement issues corrected. This project is likely still under construction.

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A separated bike lane on Marshall Boulevard, looking south at a Pink Line viaduct. It’s parking-protected in some locations. In this photo, new parking spaces are created where none previously existed.  Continue reading Fall bike lane construction update

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Active Trans takes an active role in supporting the growth of green lanes

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Lee Crandell in the Kinzie Street protected bike lane. This photo and Jackson bike lane image are by John; all others are by Steven.

[This piece also runs on the website of the Green Lane Project, an initiative that is promoting protected and buffered bike lanes nationwide, sponsored by the national advocacy group Bikes Belong. The term “green lanes” refers to protected and buffered lanes and other innovative bikeways.]

After a lull earlier this fall, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) is moving full speed ahead expanding the city’s bikeway network. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has committed to building 150 miles of green lanes (110 miles protected and 40 miles buffered) by 2015. Earlier this year CDOT bikeway project director Mike Amsden told me he hoped to reach a total of thirty miles of green lanes before construction season ends this year.

The department recently striped several new stretches of buffered lanes on Chicago’s North, South and West sides. Crews are currently finishing a 1.3-mile section of protected lanes on 31st Street, as well as a continuous 3.5-mile network of protected lanes along the city’s historic boulevard system. Another ten miles of green lanes are still on the table for this fall, including a “game-changing” two-way protected lane on Dearborn Street through the heart of downtown. With the current flurry of activity it’s very possible CDOT will win its race against time.

Continue reading Active Trans takes an active role in supporting the growth of green lanes

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Help us pick the infrastructure to research and report on

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Sidewalk conditions on the Torrence Avenue bridge. The bridge is apparently slated to be replaced. Photo by Eric Rogers. 

On Monday, Illinois Secretary of Transportation Ann Schneider announced the state’s multi-year multi-modal transportation plan and a list of all projects it intends to build. I looked through the District 1 list and picked out 29 projects to happen (or start) in Chicago from now until 2015.

My list is here which includes 1 pedestrian, 2 rail, 6 transit, and 20 road projects. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) website lists all projects in the plan. Note that rail and transit projects are listed separately from road (and pedestrian overpass) projects.

Read through my handpicked list of projects and leave a comment telling me the project(s) about which you want to learn more. A sampling of the projects in the list:

  • Bridge replacement at Torrence Avenue at the Calumet River. This bridge is part of a recommended bike route and connects to the Burnham Greenway via 126th Street. It should be made bike friendly. The bridge deck is made of concrete, but the lanes are too narrow for comfortable cycling and the sidewalks are a mess.
  • 31st Street bridge replacement over Metra Electric tracks. The beach and playground here are popular destinations, and many people access the Lakefront Trail here. The bridge has two big bumps at the disintegrating joints at both ends of the bridge. CDOT has proposed protected bike lanes for this street segment, part of Wells Street to Lakefront Trail.
  • Resurfacing Noble Street from Augusta Boulevard to Erie Street. I’d like to recommend a change in this project: extend it north to Milwaukee Avenue, turn the segment from Milwaukee to Augusta into a two-way for bicycling (many people already ride against traffic here because it provides convenient access to Augusta Boulevard and Chicago Avenue, two blocks south), and make the street a bike boulevard. This street is very wide, yet has low traffic. The street should be modified to ensure appropriate traffic speeds.
  • Resurfacing Canal Street from Roosevelt Road to Cermak Road. This is a great opportunity to fix a gap in the bikeway network. A bike lane currently exists from 14th Street to approximately 17th Street, prematurely ending before the 18th Street cycle track. The road has a width compatible with a good diet plan, reducing the number of non-bike lanes and created a protected bike lane. The street is no longer used for Maxwell Street Market and can finally receive the quality bike lane due to it.

I excluded some projects because they are already under construction, like Fullerton Parkway at the Lincoln Park lagoon.

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CDOT proposes road diets, protected bike lanes for King, 31st and 55th

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CDOT’s Mike Amsden and 4th Ward Alderman Will Burns

I’m always happy to pay a visit to my old stomping ground of Hyde Park-Kenwood. So Monday afternoon I took advantage of a nice southbound wind and pedaled down the lakefront to Kenwood Academy for a 4th Ward community meeting hosted by Alderman Will Burns. At the assembly Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) bike planner Mike Amsden gave a presentation about the CDOT’s plans to install protected bike lanes and buffered bike lanes on the Near South Side. The new facilities would be part of the city’s Streets for Cycling plan to install 100 miles of protected lanes and some 150 miles of other innovative bikeways over the next few years.

Here’s a map of the proposed locations in or near the 4th Ward. As Amsden outlined at the meeting, these streets would be undergoing “road diets,” removing and/or narrowing car travel lanes to make room for the new bike lanes. Additional benefits would include discouraging speeding and other reckless driving behavior, as well as reduced crossing distances for pedestrians. Continue reading CDOT proposes road diets, protected bike lanes for King, 31st and 55th

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