What do Hyde Parkers really think of the 55th Street protected bike lanes?

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[This piece originally ran 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.]

Bike planners and advocates get excited when green lanes appear on city streets, but how do regular folks feel about them? To get a better idea, I pedaled to 55th Street in Chicago’s Hyde Park community, where the city recently built new protected bicycle lanes.

A square-mile of land on the city’s South Side, surrounded by parkland to the west and south and Lake Michigan to the east, Hyde Park is famous as the home of the University of Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry and the Obamas. A dense, ethnically diverse college neighborhood, it naturally boasts a high bike mode share.

Continue reading What do Hyde Parkers really think of the 55th Street protected bike lanes?

Not every bike lane is cause for a celebration

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The Grand Avenue bike lane is less than 2 years old and came with destroyed pavement. This photo was taken between Clark and LaSalle Streets. 

The addition of a bike lane on any given street is not necessarily a victory for citizen cyclists. In order to to be a worthy expansion of the cycling network, bike lanes should be installed (with appropriate contextual modifications) on streets where such an addition makes the roadway more conducive to comfortable cycling. Grand Avenue isn’t one of these streets. The addition of a bike lane between Orleans Street and Navy Pier in 2010, when no other changes were made to the street environment and design, did not make the street better to cycle on. There were preexisting issues that have remained long after the lane was striped.

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A right-turn lane would likely have fit at LaSalle Street, but instead drivers use the bike lane to prepare for their turn.  Continue reading Not every bike lane is cause for a celebration

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

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