CDOT fast to build new bikeways, but needs to rectify existing ones


A properly installed sharrow, 11 feet from the curb. 


An improperly installed sharrow, 9 feet from the curb, that hasn’t been rectified in over a year. 

A year ago I notified the Chicago Department of Transportation about some mistakes that were made in the installation of new bikeways. They replied October 25, 2011, with a description on how but not when they would be fixed. A year has passed and the fixes aren’t in. The first issue is “shared lane markings” (better known as “sharrows”) that were installed too close to parked cars after a construction project. The second issue is the case of bike lane signs far from any bike lane. Additionally, there are new (but longstanding) issues that are in need of resolution.

Sharrows too close

In the 2011 Chicago Bike Map, printed by CDOT, “marked shared lanes” are “usually established on streets with lots of traffic that are too narrow for bike lanes”. They consist of “special pavement markings [to] direct bicyclists to ride outside the ‘Door Zone'”. (The 2012 Chicago Bike Map omits these statements but they remain on the city’s bike map website and are printed in the federal manual of traffic control, MUTCD.) Continue reading CDOT fast to build new bikeways, but needs to rectify existing ones

Unique sharrow designs in Chicago

Officially known as “shared lane markings”, there are at least six unique designs for the marking on Chicago streets. The current standard, as set forth by the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), looks like this:

MUTCD sharrow, figure 9C-9


A sharrow design installed by CDOT’s contractors on Milwaukee Avenue across from Uprise skate shop as part of a refreshing of the sharrows in the 1st Ward. You can see the dimension of the design it replaced. The current sharrow has a “pointer” and narrower chevron; the chevron tips are aligned differently, too. Installed in 2012.


A second sharrow design, installed after water main construction on Milwaukee Avenue near Metzger Court and the Tocco restaurant. Notice how parts of it are tearing off. Installed in 2011.


A third sharrow design on Milwaukee Avenue across from the Aldi at Leavitt Street. Installed 2005.


A fourth sharrow design, on Clark Street just north of the Chicago River. Installed 2012.


A fifth sharrow design (“bike in house”) on Halsted Street just south of the Chicago River. Installed in 2003 or prior.


Then there’s the inverted sharrow, the sixth design. This location, at Elston Avenue and Webster Avenue, was installed after 2005 when the bike lane here was shortened to accommodate a left-turn lane. This is an older design but when Lincoln Avenue’s sharrows were refreshed in 2011, the design was repeated instead of switching to the current and proper design standard.

Eyes on the street: No pedestrian access at intersections


At the southeast corner of Madison and Green Streets. Fortunately, only 1 corner was impassable. The same isn’t true for some of the other intersections under construction. 

Does your neighborhood look like this?

Across the northwest side, including Logan Square, Avondale and West Loop, many intersections and alleys are having their curb cuts rebuilt to be compliant with transportation standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). At all of the construction sites I’ve passed by, none have alternate access or signage for pedestrians, forcing people’s paths to divert into the street and into traffic.


At the southeast corner of Diversey and Kedzie Avenues. This corner was completely non-barricaded at the time of the photo. 

Continue reading Eyes on the street: No pedestrian access at intersections

Safer roadway designs: How Danes make right turns

I went to Copenhagen, Denmark, in January 2011, and I was there for about 48 hours. I met Mikael of Copenhagenize, who lent me his Velorbis bike. I biked as much as possible, at all hours of the day, and I encountered a lot of the cycling infrastructure that makes it easy to bike and encourages the hundreds of thousands of trips by bike a day – even in winter!

This photo essay shows one of the ways you can design an intersection to facilitate safe right turns and through-maneuevers, for both people driving and cycling, as seen in Copenhagen. I’m posting this to show an alternative to the centered bike lane design common in Chicago that leads to many unsafe merge maneuvers that I mentioned yesterday in A tale of five bridges (first photo).


The driver of the white taxi on the left yielded to bicyclists going straight before making a right turn from the left lane to the right lane and enter the Kennedy Expressway ramp. Not everyone yields.  Continue reading Safer roadway designs: How Danes make right turns