Why Clark Street in Lakeview wasn’t a protected bike lane: it’s 1 foot too narrow


Clark Street buffered bike lane just north of Diversey Avenue. Photo by Adam Herstein. 

CDOT responded today to my inquiry asking why Clark Street between Diversey Avenue and Addison Avenue received a buffered bike lane and not a protected bike lane. Bikeways planner Mike Amsden writes:

Clark Street (Diversey to Addison) was striped as a buffer protected bike lane, and not a parking protected bike lane, because it is a 51′ roadway throughout the project limits. As you might know, the minimum roadway width for installing barrier protected bike lanes on roadways with one travel lane and one parking lane in each direction is 52′, and the preferred minimum width is 58′. A 52′ roadway allows for a 5′ bike lane, a 3′ buffer zone, an 8′ parking lane and a 10′ travel lane in each direction. However, even when a roadway is 52′, other roadway characteristics and operational considerations must be assessed before installing parking protected bike lanes. These characteristics include the amount of bus, truck and bicycle traffic, loading and delivery needs of local businesses, emergency vehicle access and maintenance requirements.

These standards come from the NACTO* Urban Bikeway Design Guide. If you have not read this guide I recommend doing so as it will likely answer many other questions you may have. The guide can be found here. http://nacto.org/cities-for-cycling/design-guide/

To answer your final question, if we were to recommend a parking protected bike lane on a 51′ roadway, all curbside uses (parking, standing, loading, valet, etc.) would have to be eliminated on one side of the roadway for the entire stretch in order to do so.

1 foot is all it takes, it seems. You can see the relevant NACTO standard in this image. Notice items 4, 5, and 6, that describe the minimum widths for the bike lane, buffer area, and parking lane, respectively.

One-Way Protected Cycle Tracks
Design guidance for One-Way Protected Cycle Tracks in the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide.

Update: Why can’t certain lanes be narrower?

Someone asked in the comments this question, which Amsden anticipated: “We can’t go with a 7′ parking lane because then you’d have a 7′ parking lane next to a 10′ travel lane. People wouldn’t be able to get out of their cars, buses/trucks wouldn’t be able to maneuver, emergency vehicle access would be restricted, etc. That’s why even a 52′ roadway (with a 8′ parking lane next to a 10′ travel lane) is considered really tight.”

* National Association of City Transportation Officials, the yin to American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials yang (AASHTO).

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Pavement to the people: an update on CDOT’s new public space initiatives


The People Spot at Little Black Pearl art center in Bronzeville. Photo courtesy of CDOT.

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

Local pundits like ex-Sun-Times columnist Mark Konkol and the Tribune’s John McCarron and John Kass have trashed the city’s new protected bike lanes as a waste of space on the streets. But Chicagoans tend to overlook the massive amount of room on the public way given over to moving and parking private automobiles.

A new Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) initiative called Make Way for People is dreaming up more imaginative uses of the city’s asphalt and concrete, creating new public spaces that are energizing business strips. In partnership with local community leaders, the program is taking parking spots, roadways, alleys and under-used plazas and transforming them into People Spots, People Streets, People Alleys and People Plazas, respectively, lively neighborhood hangouts.

“It’s not a top-down program where we come in and say, ‘We think you need a People Spot or a People Street,’” says Janet Attarian, head of the department’s Streetscape and Sustainable Design section. “Instead we say, ‘We want to help you build community and culture and place and, look, we just created a whole set of tools that wasn’t available before.’”

Continue reading Pavement to the people: an update on CDOT’s new public space initiatives

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Heritage Bicycles opening party was a good time


The owner talks to party guests. You can see the small food menu above him. 

Guests to Saturday night’s opening party at Heritage Bicycles and General Store (2959 N Lincoln Avenue) had their choice of free wine and any coffee drink the baristas could make. There were hors d’oeuvres and delicious cupcakes, too.

John met Michael Salvatore, the owner, several months ago, but I met him for the first time. He was surprised that so many people showed up (over 70 while I was there), and impressed and appreciative of all the attention his shop has received locally and nationwide (people all around the country have been linking in).

My friend Alexander Richard came, too, and he said the idea of a café and bike shop is well thought, adding, “it’s something entirely progressive, which is what this city needs”.

Continue reading Heritage Bicycles opening party was a good time

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


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

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Grounds for celebration: Chicago’s first bike & coffee shop is almost open


Heritage Bicycles staff

It was a nice surprise when I checked e-mail Monday morning and saw an announcement for the grand opening party for Heritage Bicycles General Store, Chicago’s first bike shop café, on Saturday, January 28, 6-11 pm at 2959 N. Lincoln. I immediately called up owner Michael Salvatore to ask for a sneak peek at the nearly completed space.

When I checked out the storefront back in October, Salvatore told me he hoped to open the shop in November but, unsurprisingly, it’s taken a little longer than expected for this unique business to navigate the city’s permitting process. “The City of Chicago was quite the hurdle,” he said when I visited on Tuesday. “This has been a learning process for me, the architect and the entire crew, but it’s been a fun experience. And if we’d opened in November the Christmas rush would have killed us, so the timing turned out for the best.”

When I dropped by, city workers were poking around with flashlights inspecting the shop’s electrical work, and the space was still a work in progress. But it’s clear this will soon be one of the most attractive coffee shops, let alone bike stores, in town.

Continue reading Grounds for celebration: Chicago’s first bike & coffee shop is almost open

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