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?

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

An outsider’s Chicago bike itineraries

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Photo by Alan Scott Walker

This guest post was submitted by Tim Eyre, who crosses the country frequently for his job as a manager with Extra Space Storage. Eyre is a cycling enthusiast and he’s found that exploring the cities he visits via bicycle is a good way to connect with and learn about the communities he visits. He offers the following bike route suggestions for visitors to Chicago, but locals may find them interesting as well.

Chicagoans, don’t take what you have for granted. My weekdays are spent on the road, and it’s sheer grace that I discovered bicycling to keep me sane a few years back. Wherever I’m working, I can always find an escape by cruising the town on two-wheels. As any cyclist knows, the disconnect between the observer and the community that car travel creates quickly fades away when you’re self-propelled and out in the open air. Neighborhoods come alive, and we actually meet other people.

Of all the cities I regularly ride in, Chicago may be the best. The 18.5-mile Lakefront Trail is obviously the heart of this city’s bike scene, and understandably chock-full of locals and visitors like myself taking in the view. Recently, however, I’ve been branching out, taking advantage of the city’s interactive bike map, a tool that urbanites in other metropolises across the globe would drool over. If you’ve never checked it out, it details roads with existing bike lanes, shared lanes, and recommended routes.

With a little pre-planning and my GPS-equipped phone in my pocket, I’ve been discovering new favorite rides across Chicago, from Bucktown to Little Italy. Whether you’ve got an hour after work or a full day to explore, here’s my outsider’s suggestions for a perfect ride.

Continue reading An outsider’s Chicago bike itineraries

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

North Side Streets for Cycling planning district also looking for additional input

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People cycle on Wrightwood Avenue at Southport Avenue, a street that residents of the North Side district would like to see as a bicycle boulevard. Photo by Eric Rogers. 

John wrote on Tuesday about the West Side district’s efforts for the Streets for Cycling Plan 2020. I just received an email from the North Side district (North Avenue to Howard Street, east of the Chicago River) asking for people’s input. Continue reading North Side Streets for Cycling planning district also looking for additional input

Bicycling in Chicago, a view from the south side – part 1

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Bicycling on 76th Street, a recommended bike route under the Skyway and several railroad viaducts, and some of the poor conditions described below. Photo by Eric Rogers. 

Editor’s note: Anne Alt writes about cycling on the south side of Chicago, in two parts. -SV

Five years ago, I moved from Rogers Park to Beverly when my husband and I bought a house. I’d spent a fair amount of time riding on the south side, but didn’t fully appreciate how much more difficult it would be to ride to other south side destinations until I started doing it from here on a regular basis.

What’s different about riding on the south side? Continue reading Bicycling in Chicago, a view from the south side – part 1