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


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.

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An extended LSD trip?


McCaffery Interests rendering of the USX site, including a possible South Shore Drive reconfiguration.

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

Earlier this month Mayor Emanuel held a press conference at the former U.S. Steel South Works (USX) site, a weed-strewn piece of vacant land bigger than the central Loop, bulging into Lake Michigan from 79th to 92nd. He was there to herald the construction of a new $21 million, four-lane boulevard that will run two miles through the site, intended as the future main street of the proposed Chicago Lakeside Development.

Real estate developer McCaffery Interests hopes to build this upscale community with roughly 13,575 housing units, 17,500,000 square feet of retail and a 1,500-boat marina on the 589-acre site over the next few decades. “This [roadway] effort is part of a push to connect a forgotten, landlocked section of the Southeast Side of Chicago to the rest of the city, increasing its economic value,” Emanuel said. “What was once an eyesore will become an economic engine.”

Continue reading An extended LSD trip?

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