Business as usual: Wells Street bridge closure detour falls short of “8 to 80” bike planning


A variable message sign on Wells Street at Hubbard directs traffic to LaSalle Street. There was no sign directing bicyclists, which is odd because this route on June 26, 2012, saw 679 riders from 7-9 AM at Chicago Avenue. 

The Wells Street bridge closed on Monday, November 5, to all traffic (the sidewalks were open in the morning) so that the bridge can be rebuilt; a new concrete deck will be constructed providing a safer surface for bicycling. The Chicago Department of Transportation estimates construction will finish by December 1, 2013. To reroute traffic, CDOT posted a map and plan showing different detour routes for different transportation modes: one each for pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers, and bus operators.

Information on the street, however, doesn’t match the plan. People on bikes are directed by the map to turn left from Wells Street onto Kinzie Street and then use Clark Street to cross the river. Yet a variable message sign on Wells Street directs Wells Street traffic to use Illinois Street. One Grid Chicago reader told us that changing lanes on his bicycle, during morning rush hour, from the bike lane on Wells Street to make a left onto Kinzie Street was difficult because many drivers were not turning left onto Illinois Street; in the subsequent days he took Clark Street from the north but found traffic to be worse. Continue reading Business as usual: Wells Street bridge closure detour falls short of “8 to 80” bike planning

Wells Street bridge to close next Monday, November 5, with bike detour on Clark Street


Clark Street now has bridge plates for bicycling and is part of CDOT’s recommended detour for bicyclists who travel south on Wells Street to south of the Chicago River. Photo taken October 30, 2012. 

The Chicago Transit Authority and Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) jointly announced in a press release today the yearlong closure of the Wells Street bridge. The press release detailed the two, short duration closures in the spring of the CTA Purple and Brown Lines to repair Tower 18. CDOT published an accompanying map of the detours that will go in place which include a route for bicyclists to travel south on Clark Street where new bridge plates have been installed. According to Alderman Brendan Reilly’s newsletter, the project completion date is no later than December 1, 2013.


Photo of poor quality pavement taken September 4, 2012. 

Grid Chicago has contacted CDOT to ask that the potholes, cracks, and uneven pavement on Clark Street in the right-most lane before the bridge be repaired. Dan Burke, deputy commissioner of the division of engineering at CDOT said over the phone they would send paving crews to the spot within a week.

View this rapidly created Google Maps of the Wells Street detour in a larger screen. The thick blue line represents the recommended detour for bicyclists; LaSalle Street is another option but lacks bridge plates (about half of the bridge has a concrete deck). It was adapted from a CDOT-issued map (.pdf).

Updated October 31 to include the information about potholes and completion date. 

Bike sharing delays, bike lane designs, and other highlights from Wednesday’s MBAC meeting


CDOT staffer Mike Amsden describes the city’s commitment to bicycling in a presentation about the progress of the Streets for Cycling Plan 2020. 

Yesterday’s Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council (MBAC) meeting was the first in a new format we reported on back in December. There was a meeting in March, but its schedule wasn’t announced. The new format resembles the original format in 1992, when Mayor Daley started MBAC, with formally defined membership. It’s now modeled on the Mayor’s Pedestrian Advisory Council, according to Luann Hamilton, deputy commissioner of project development at the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT). She expounded:

We’ve added so many issues. When we started, biking in Chicago wasn’t a health issue, it was a recreation issue. Once it was linked to health, it brought in a whole new group of people that needed to be connected. Bring more voices, more diversity. Modeled after our MPAC which was formed in 2006 (also has technical and stakeholders committees). Some represent agencies, others are advocates, community members, all who want to make streets safer and usable by all travelers.

The council can be active again, vote, carry motion, write a letter. I think we were instrumental in creating changes, like at CTA and Metra [getting them to allow bicycles on buses and trains]. I think this Council can have a powerful voice. All the folks who have come over the years can still come and make presentations.

The first hour is for members to speak and present. The remaining half hour is for public comments and discussion. Hamilton answered affirmatively to Active Transportation Alliance executive director Ron Burke’s question about whether or not she anticipates the council being able to make recommendations. Continue reading Bike sharing delays, bike lane designs, and other highlights from Wednesday’s MBAC meeting