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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Wells Street bridge to close next Monday, November 5, with bike detour on Clark Street

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Clark Street now has bridge plates for bicycling and is part of CDOT’s recommended detour for bicyclists who travel south on Wells Street to south of the Chicago River. Photo taken October 30, 2012. 

The Chicago Transit Authority and Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) jointly announced in a press release today the yearlong closure of the Wells Street bridge. The press release detailed the two, short duration closures in the spring of the CTA Purple and Brown Lines to repair Tower 18. CDOT published an accompanying map of the detours that will go in place which include a route for bicyclists to travel south on Clark Street where new bridge plates have been installed. According to Alderman Brendan Reilly’s newsletter, the project completion date is no later than December 1, 2013.

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Photo of poor quality pavement taken September 4, 2012. 

Grid Chicago has contacted CDOT to ask that the potholes, cracks, and uneven pavement on Clark Street in the right-most lane before the bridge be repaired. Dan Burke, deputy commissioner of the division of engineering at CDOT said over the phone they would send paving crews to the spot within a week.

View this rapidly created Google Maps of the Wells Street detour in a larger screen. The thick blue line represents the recommended detour for bicyclists; LaSalle Street is another option but lacks bridge plates (about half of the bridge has a concrete deck). It was adapted from a CDOT-issued map (.pdf).

Updated October 31 to include the information about potholes and completion date. 

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From safety to where? Discussing the future of safe streets at a CNU talk

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Rob Bielaski, Steven, Mark de la Vergne, Eric Dumbaugh.

By coincidence both Steven and I recently appeared on two different panels about sustainable transportation within a few days of each other. Last Thursday I was part of the talk “Chicago Cycling: What’s Next?” at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in conjunction with their “Bikes! The Green Revolution” exhibit. Monday Steven participated in the discussion “Safe Streets,” hosted by the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) at the Jefferson Tap, 325 N. Jefferson in the West Loop. The panelists talked about what makes streets safe, and discussed new developments in Chicago street design.

Based in Chicago and headed my former Milwaukee mayor John Norquist, CNU is a nonprofit that promotes walkable, bikeable, transit-friendly, mixed-use development. Joining Steven on the panel, which doubled as CNU’s monthly happy hour, were Eric Dumbaugh, an associate professor at Florida Atlantic University who has authored more than forty books about transportation and urban planning, and Mark de la Vergne, a project manager at Sam Schwartz Engineering who has worked on Chicago’s pedestrian plan, the Streets for Cycling 2020 plan, and will be involved with siting and outreach for the city’s upcoming bike sharing program.

Continue reading From safety to where? Discussing the future of safe streets at a CNU talk

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Streetcar desire: John Krause wants trams on Clark Street

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Krause is tired of going Nuts on Clark waiting for for the slow-moving #22 bus.

[This piece also appeared in Checkerboard City, John’s weekly transportation column in Newcity magazine, which hits the streets on Wednesday evenings.]

Acid jazz pulsed on the sound system as a group of stylishly dressed transit fans clinked wine glasses last week at Vapiano, a sleek Italian restaurant at 2577 North Clark Street in Lincoln Park. They were there to launch the Chicago Streetcar Renaissance, a campaign to create a world-class streetcar line on Clark from the Loop to Wrigley Field, and eventually add lines in other parts of the city.

“Our mission is to grow the economy and the population of Chicago every year while reducing traffic congestion and making the city easier to get around,” says John Krause, 45, the architect who founded the movement, nattily attired in jeans and a dove-gray sports jacket. “That means every year there will be more people and fewer cars, more commerce and less congestion.”

He has a vision of the clogged traffic and the notoriously sluggish buses on Clark replaced by efficient, comfortable streetcars, more pedestrian traffic, on-street cafés and broad bike lanes. “The only way you can get rid of cars is to replace them with something better,” he explains. “In a car paradigm everybody assumes the city is going to grow more and more congested. But a public transit system is the opposite. The more people who use public transit, the better it gets.”

Continue reading Streetcar desire: John Krause wants trams on Clark Street

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