Dearborn Street’s celebrity status skyrockets

Active Transportation Alliance posted a 1:50 video showing before and after conditions

The Dearborn Street two-way protected bike lane looks to be the biggest deal, nationally, in bicycle infrastructure since the City of Chicago built the Kinzie Street cycle track three weeks after Mayor Rahm Emanuel took office. If it had an account on Twitter, it’d be competing with Justin Bieber.

Here’s a collection of “chatter” about the project from within the short 90 hours it’s been open.

“More than just bike benefits”

The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) produced their own 1:50 video interviewing Chicago transportation commissioner Gabe Klein about the economic benefits of building bicycle infrastructure and showing scenes from the press conference and of people bicycling in the Dearborn Street bike lane.

“Back to the Future moment”

Architecture “observer” Lynn Becker reviewed how this new piece of infrastructure fits into the history and culture of Chicago, then and now. The following are unconnected excerpts.

On Friday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein dedicated the city’s most ambitious commitment yet to the ideal of taking biking beyond the recreational to make it an integral part of Chicago’s transportation system.

It was a Back to the Future moment, as Chicago rose the crest of the first major bike boom back in the 1890’s, when the introduction of the affordable safety bicycle set sales soaring.  It also created a new industry, with Chicago at its center.

The Trib’s John Kass, as part of his ongoing battle against the 21st Century, rails against “elitist politically coddled bicyclists” by indulging his usual habit of seeing everything in Chicago he doesn’t like as a Rahm Emanuel plot, raising spectres of traffic tickets and tolls for bikers.

It’s like having to learn a new language, relearning how we “read” the city as we move through it.  No doubt about it, it’s a bold initiative, and a real gamble.  It not only serves a constituency, but aims to shape behaviour.

Read on for Becker’s full commentary and a video of Klein and Emanuel’s speeches. Continue reading Dearborn Street’s celebrity status skyrockets

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Take a ride on the Dearborn Street cycle track

In case you haven’t been able to bike in the Dearborn Street two-way protected bike lane in the 48 hours it’s been open, here’s a 5 minute ride-through video, in the northbound lane from Madison Street to Kinzie Street. View on Vimeo. The song is “Tokyo Street” by airtone.

In this video you’ll get a feel for how the new intersection signals work, see the turn boxes at some intersections, and notice a lot of pedestrians! The video has been sped up by 40%.

See all articles about this groundbreaking project. See more articles with videos.

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Alessandro Panella, a local student, joins the inaugural ride on Friday, December 14.

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A great day in Chicago: protected lanes open in the heart of the Loop

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See more of John’s photos from the ribbon cutting and inaugural bike ride, as well as Steven’s photos from the event.

This afternoon when Mayor Rahm Emanuel opened the new two-way protected bicycle lanes on Dearborn Street, it was the exclamation point to a memorable year of bike improvements. Dozens of advocates gathered at the south end of the 1.2-mile greenway for the event, which also celebrated Chicago’s reaching a total of thirty miles of protected and buffered lanes citywide, plus the release of the Streets for Cycling Plan 2020.

The “game-changing” lanes on Dearborn, running the length of the Loop central business district, create a car-free route that even novice cyclists will feel comfortable on. They also make a statement that the city is serious about getting more Chicagoans on bikes. Building the lanes involved converting one of the three car travel lanes on the northbound street, which has the additional benefits of reducing speeding and shortening pedestrian crossing distances. Car parking was moved to the right side of the bike lanes, providing protection from moving vehicles, and dedicated bike stoplights, a first in Chicago, guide southbound cyclists and prevent conflicts between cycles and left-turning autos.

Continue reading A great day in Chicago: protected lanes open in the heart of the Loop

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Highlights from December’s Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council meeting

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Bicycle signals on Dearborn Street at Madison Street were turned on as of Wednesday. Photo by Kevin Zolkiewicz. 

Meeting minutes for the September 2012 can be downloaded (.pdf); read our recap of it.

Streets for Cycling Plan 2020

Download now (.pdf).

A few months late, the Streets for Cycling Plan 2020 will be released today, including a Bicycle Facilities Guide designed for all Chicagoans that shows the new facility types being installed on Chicago roadways and how to use them (no matter your transportation mode).

Bike sharing

The current focus is on finalizing the contract with Alta Bicycle Share. Chicago Bicycle Program coordinator Ben Gomberg said they would finish selecting the sites for bike sharing stations in January or February. Gomberg mentioned that Alderman Pawar is using menu funds to purchase 5 stations for the 47th Ward; Bill Higgins, a transportation planner in Pawar’s office, said that the “shortening” of the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) 11-Lincoln bus route (eliminating it from a 3 mile stretch between Western/Lawrence and Fullerton Avenues) was a basis for buying the stations. Alderman Moreno is also using menu funds to purchase 2 stations for the 1st Ward. DePaul University, Gomberg said, was interested in purchasing 3 stations.

No mention was made of the investigation by the Chicago Inspector General. Jane Healy, an activist from Blue Island, Illinois, and a board member for Active Transportation Alliance, asked if there was a timeline. Luann Hamilton, Deputy Commissioner of Project Development at the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), replied that there wasn’t one.

The cost of purchasing an additional station (there will be 300 purchased by the City in the first year an additional 100 kiosks in the following year) is $56,000, which includes 19 docks and 15 bicycles; there’s a discount if you buy more than one. CDOT will not be charging an operating fee to those entities who purchase kiosks, a policy in place at the Washington, D.C.-centered Capital Bikeshare program.

CDOT is looking for an organization to sponsor the bike sharing program. Citibank paid $41 million for the naming rights in New York City: “Citibike”.  Continue reading Highlights from December’s Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council meeting

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See you there? Dearborn Street cycle track opens Friday

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The barriers are coming down. Photo by Shaun Jacobsen.

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) will officially open the protected bike lanes on Dearborn Street on Friday afternoon, Chicago’s first two-way bike route with dedicated bicycle traffic signals.

CDOT will also formally release the Chicago Streets for Cycling Plan 2020, which calls for a 645-mile network of bike lanes to be in place by 2020 to provide a bicycle accommodation within half-mile of every Chicagoan. The plan sets forth a strategy to achieve Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s goal of making Chicago the best big city for bicycling in America.

Please join us for the grand opening of the Dearborn Protected Bike Lane and the release of the Streets for Cycling Plan 2020! A press conference is scheduled for tomorrow, Friday 12/14.

When: Friday, December 14 at 1:00 p.m.
Where: Park/Plaza located at approx. 700 S. Dearborn (just north of Polk)

We look forward to celebrating Chicago’s first two-way protected bike lane with our vibrant cycling community!

Thanks for all of your support,

CDOT Bike Program
www.chicagobikes.org

Note: Information combined from a press release and an email to the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council mailing list. 

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Oh Dearborn! The 2-way protected bike lane is almost completely striped

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Looking north at Dearborn and Monroe streets.

These are definitely exciting times for Chicago cyclists. I pedaled downtown this afternoon to see how the “game-changing” Dearborn two-way protected bike lane is progressing. I was expecting to see a few blocks of striping work completed. I’m pleased to report that by 4 pm this afternoon striping work seemed to be largely complete on almost the entire corridor from Polk Street to the Chicago River, less than 24 hours after work started.

One reason the work is going so fast is that it’s being done by Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) crews using paint, rather than contractors using molten thermoplastic, which might be worth considering for all bike lanes. Thermoplastic lasts much longer, but paint is a whole lot cheaper. My friend Dave Schlabowske, former Milwaukee bike coordinator, tells me that city crunched the numbers and found that it was cheaper to repaint their bike lanes every year than to stripe them with thermoplastic once every few years. This also might help with the “disappearing bike lane” problem.

But that’s a debate for another day. For now, let’s celebrate the lightning-fast progress of this pioneering facility, which CDOT says will be completed, including striping, signage, bollards and traffic signal timing, by mid-December, if the warm weather holds up. The bike-specific traffic signals will be crucial for guiding southbound bike traffic and preventing conflicts between northbound bike traffic and left-turning cars.

Since there are no bollards or signs up yet, many drivers were, understandably, parking in the bike lane, but the lane really won’t be completely safe to ride until the signals are activated anyway. One benefit that has already resulted is that, with the removal of one of the three travel lanes, Dearborn already feels calmer and more civilized, like a bustling neighborhood retail street rather than a typical downtown speedway. The following images provide a virtual tour of the new lanes heading northbound; more photos can be viewed here.

Continue reading Oh Dearborn! The 2-way protected bike lane is almost completely striped

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