Desplaines boss, Desplaines! A new protected bike lane takes shape

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Cars are currently being parked in the Desplaines bike lane, but probably not for long. Photo taken just south of Madison Street. 

This is an exciting moment for cycling in Chicago as the department of transportation races to meet its goal of reaching a total of thirty miles of protected and buffered bike lanes before it gets too cold to lay thermoplastic. As Steven wrote yesterday, CDOT began installing new traffic signals last weekend for the eagerly awaited, two-way protected lane slated for a 1.2-mile stretch of Dearborn Street between Polk and Kinzie streets.

Since Mayor Emanuel himself declared the lane would be built this fall, if the weather holds up it’s likely this “game-changing” facility will soon be completed. As the first protected lane in the central Loop and the first two-way protected lane, Dearborn will probably draw some criticism from the anti-bike crowd. But the 4,500 signatures the Active Transportation Alliance recently collected in support of the lane prove that plenty of Chicagoans are looking forward to getting a first-class downtown bike commuting route.

Grid Chicago readers alerted us that CDOT also began striping new protected bike lanes on Desplaines Street in the West Loop last weekend, so yesterday afternoon I pedaled downtown for a look-see. From Kinzie to Fulton Street, a two-way section, the department is putting in “enhanced” shared lane markings, the same type that were recently installed on Wells Street south of the river. These markings encourage cyclists to ride in the middle of the lane; presumably “Bikes may use full lane” signs will be installed, as they were on Wells.

Continue reading Desplaines boss, Desplaines! A new protected bike lane takes shape

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Not every bike lane is cause for a celebration

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The Grand Avenue bike lane is less than 2 years old and came with destroyed pavement. This photo was taken between Clark and LaSalle Streets. 

The addition of a bike lane on any given street is not necessarily a victory for citizen cyclists. In order to to be a worthy expansion of the cycling network, bike lanes should be installed (with appropriate contextual modifications) on streets where such an addition makes the roadway more conducive to comfortable cycling. Grand Avenue isn’t one of these streets. The addition of a bike lane between Orleans Street and Navy Pier in 2010, when no other changes were made to the street environment and design, did not make the street better to cycle on. There were preexisting issues that have remained long after the lane was striped.

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A right-turn lane would likely have fit at LaSalle Street, but instead drivers use the bike lane to prepare for their turn.  Continue reading Not every bike lane is cause for a celebration

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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

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