Eyes on the street: Railroad tracks in intersection being removed


Crossing railroad tracks while bicycling is more than a bumpy annoyance. It can also cause a crash. The abandoned railroad track is finally being removed this month from the intersection of Division Street and Halsted Street. This is likely part of the larger project that removed the Kingsbury Street railroad track from Division Street to North Avenue this summer.


Also new at this intersection is a new street name sign. It uses a different typeface, with larger text, but forgoes the grid numbering system (it would have “800 W” written on the sign).


What the intersection looked like earlier this year in March.

Grid Bits: CTA modifies Red South plan, hearing Tuesday; bike crashes at intersections


Bonus: The Chicago Transit Authority is building an auxiliary entrance at the Roosevelt Green and Orange Lines station, on the south side of Roosevelt, near the Starbucks, Jewel, and dry cleaners. This was previously exit-only. The new entrance will speed up trips for those who transfer from the eastbound #12 Roosevelt bus to this train station. Photo by the CTA. 

There are six stories (five transit, and one bicycling) mentioned in this September 4th edition of Grid Bits. The Chicago Transit Authority has been very busy in the past few months.



Chicago Sun-Times will sponsor three years of the “first day of school free rides” program that gives all Chicago Public Schools students a free ride today and in 2013, and 2014.

Sun-Times Media is contributing more than $150,000 to the program, designed to promote first-day attendance for CPS elementary and high school students.

Continue reading Grid Bits: CTA modifies Red South plan, hearing Tuesday; bike crashes at intersections

Does the new “tied arch” bridge on Halsted encourage speeding?


Approaching the new bridge from the south. Here there are two travel lanes, bike lanes and parking lanes.

When new bridges are built in Chicago, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) generally requires that they be built to accommodate projected traffic demands. The assumption is that in the future there will be more people driving than ever before, although most of us hope this won’t be the case.

So when the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) rebuilt the North Damen Avenue bridge over the Chicago River in 2002, IDOT insisted that the old two-lane bridge be replaced with a four-lane, although Damen is generally only a two-lane street. But as a rule, if you give Chicago drivers the opportunity to speed, they will.

So it shouldn’t have been a surprise that as soon as the new bridge opened, motorists took advantage of the new half mile of wide open space between stoplights at Fullerton and Diversey to put the pedal to the metal. The speeding cars, plus the fact that bike lanes weren’t included in the project, turned a formerly bikeable bridge on a recommended bike route into a hostile environment for cyclists.

Continue reading Does the new “tied arch” bridge on Halsted encourage speeding?

Bridges update: Halsted now fully open, Chicago Avenue to be reconstructed, one lawsuit settled so far


Photo of the reconstructed Halsted Street bridge at Chicago Avenue (looking north) by Ian Freimuth. 

John’s interview with Lorena Cupcake on Monday generated some new chatter about open grate bridges on Twitter. We’ve written about the dangerous bridges several times before and called for them to be fixed, even offering to trade 25 miles of Mayor Emanuel’s 100 miles of protected bike lanes for 25 safe bridges. Since then I’ve heard nothing but support for the idea from people who want truly safe connections across the Chicago River even if it meant fewer cycle tracks and buffered bike lane – the sentiment is based largely on the desire to maintain and fix what exists, rather than build anew.

Halsted Street

You can now continuously ride (in the street, no sidewalk jumping necessary) on Halsted Street from Chicago Avenue to Division Street, over Goose Island. The bridge at Division Street was replaced and opened in December 2011, while the bridge at Chicago Avenue had its deck replaced (among other changes). On the edges, a concrete surface was made in a new bike lane to make the bridge more comfortable for cycling.

The pavement marking design on Halsted Street going northbound approaching Division Street uses the centered bike lane design we panned in the article, How Danes make right turns. The bike lane is in between a 10 feet and 11 feet wide travel lane, for about 500 feet, so cyclists will be passed by buses and trucks on both sides. For over 300 feet of the 500 feet section, the bike lane has only dashed lines, possibly reducing its overall visibility. This situation is found on several other streets around Chicago. Dan Ciskey told us, “I hate getting passed by people going 40 MPH on both sides of me on Roosevelt Road”. Roosevelt Road between State Street and Canal Street has a collection of different bike lane designs: There’s a centered bike lane in each direction for hundreds of feet, then the bike lane is shared (again in each direction) with an ambiguously marked bus lane for hundreds more feet.  Continue reading Bridges update: Halsted now fully open, Chicago Avenue to be reconstructed, one lawsuit settled so far

A Complete Streets “heads up” for Division Street


Plan drawings show lack of bicycle accommodations. 

Last year I requested from the city plan drawings for the bridge replacement and road reconstruction at Halsted Street and the north branch canal (near Division Street). Included in the response to my FOIA request were plan drawings from the Department of Transportation’s Division of Engineering for a complementary project, the reconstruction of Division Street between Cleveland Street (east) and the railroad viaduct by the McGrath Lexus dealer (west).

So no one is caught off guard like some felt in regards to the Fullerton Avenue/Lake Shore Drive project, I wanted to give a heads up for a project that I think lacks consideration of the principles of complete streets and Chicago’s Complete Streets policy. In other words, what is proposed is not a complete street. Continue reading A Complete Streets “heads up” for Division Street

The Halsted Passage


The sign says “bridge closed ahead” – not for people on foot or with bicycles. Cross the river by entering the sidewalk on the west side of Halsted Street.

Sorry if I’m revealing anyone’s secret. During reconstruction on the Halsted Street bridge over the Chicago River just north of Chicago Avenue, it’s possible to cross into Goose Island and continue on Halsted Street. Construction is supposed to last until May 2012. The west side sidewalk is open. And the Halsted Street bridge over the North Branch Canal of the Chicago River, just south of Division Street, has been open since December.


Looking north from the sidewalk along the bridge. 


Looking west at the concrete plant from the sidewalk along the bridge.