Fall bike lane construction update


A Marking Specialists work truck in the Marshall Boulevard bike lane it just helped create (they work on weekends, too!). 

Chicago Department of Transportation staff and its contractor Marking Specialists have been busy this summer and fall, striping miles of conventional, buffered, and separated bike lanes in Chicago. This post documents all of the new bike lanes we haven’t yet featured prominently, some of which are likely still under construction as the photos were taken between 1 and 4 weeks ago.

Sacramento Boulevard, 24th Boulevard, Marshall Boulevard

Still to come on this project through Little Village, Lawndale, North Lawndale: Douglas, Independence, and Hamlin Boulevards. It connects with a short, separated bike lane on Jackson Boulevard between Independence Boulevard and Central Park Avenue. The Central Park Avenue bike lane then connects north to separated bike lanes on Lake Street and Franklin Boulevard. Collectively these bike lanes are called “West Side Boulevards”. I like how this new separated bike lane “goes places”: through and to residential neighborhoods, past schools and parks.

People parked their cars in the bike lane, which we’ve found to be typical for under-construction separated bike lanes. The pavement quality issues that Franklin Boulevard suffers from are present on this project as well, in multiple locations (there’s a small bush growing in the bike lane a few feet before your reach a large pothole). I look forward to seeing the ultimate design created at the intersections and high-speed curves in Douglas Park and the pavement issues corrected. This project is likely still under construction.


A separated bike lane on Marshall Boulevard, looking south at a Pink Line viaduct. It’s parking-protected in some locations. In this photo, new parking spaces are created where none previously existed. 


Bike lane barriers: bush and large potholes. 


A separated bike lane on Marshall Boulevard as it transitions northbound into Sacramento Boulevard through Douglas Park. 


The bike lane turns left here (atop some major potholes) from northbound Sacramento Boulevard to westbound Douglas Boulevard. I’m curious how the bike lane will direct bicyclists to turn left. From this photo, it appears that you will merge across the through travel lane to a bike-only left-turn lane. I hope there’s a two-stage left-turn queue box (like at Division/Elston) as an alternative. 

See all the photos from this bike trip.

Clark Street between Diversey and Belmont

Upon seeing these this buffered bike lane and noting its dimensions, I was curious to know why a parking-protected bike lane against the curb wasn’t installed. This project is complete.

Update: See CDOT’s explanation for why a buffered bike lane was installed instead of a protected bike lane.

I’m not the only one with this burning question.




Photos by Adam Herstein. 

Clark Street between Germania Place and Oak Street

This welcome addition to the near north side helps keep congested traffic in its place allowing people bicycling to bypass that craziness (for the most part). It’s a two-way street in this segment, but Clark Street becomes one-way southbound at Walton Street, one short block south of Oak Street. This is where southbound riders would appreciate a buffered or parking-protected bike lane as the one-way segment (all the way to Harrison Street) becomes a 3+ lane  speedway; a speed limit of 25 MPH “controls” this section. When I visited to take photos, there wasn’t any signage that recommended southbound cyclists turn west onto Oak Street to reach Wells Street, where there is a bike lane. However, CDOT bikeways planner Mike Amsden said at the September 2012 Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council, in my response to a question about this logical connection, “We plan on extending Clark in the very near future”. This project is complete.


A 36/Broadway bus was hanging out in the bike lane.


Then a moment later, after I passed it, the 36/Broadway bus was being driven in the bike lane. 


Looking north at the buffered bike lane’s end. 


Looking north at the southbound lane. Photo by Michelle Stenzel. 


Traffic south of Oak Street is ready to be calmed, as the 25 MPH speed limit isn’t being observed. 

See all photos from Clark Street.

South Chicago Avenue between 79th and Baltimore Avenue

After my trip to South Shore to see the preparations for the new Jeffery Jump, I jaunted west to see the buffered bike lane on South Chicago Avenue. Whew, I do not recommend that you spend much time bicycling on this street – its large width and low volume leads to some high-speed automobile traffic. I haven’t asked CDOT or Alderman Hairston why a protected bike lane wasn’t installed here, but I have one idea: there are many driveways and curb cuts. This increases the complexity of the pavement markings and potentially reduces parking (although parking spaces don’t seem to be in high demand because there is a low density of land uses here). This project is complete.




A through-intersection treatment wasn’t applied on northbound South Chicago Avenue at 83rd, but it was applied southbound.

See all photos from this location.

31st Street between King Drive and Metra Electric tracks

On the same trip to the South Shore I stopped by 31st Street in Bronzeville to take note of bike lane construction there. Installation here seemed to have gotten off to a slow start. A week after I saw that it was being constructed, only about 4 blocks of a separated bike lane were in place, between King Drive and the western-most ramps to Lake Shore Drive. I was dismayed, but not surprised, to see that the westbound bike lane ended over 100 feet before reaching King Drive and the eastbound bike lane didn’t start until over 100 feet east of King Drive. The eventual extents of this project are Wells Street and the Lakefront Trail. This project is likely still under construction.




See all photos from this location. Check out what else has been proposed on the Active Transportation Alliance’s Bikeways Tracker.

Updated 12:53 to add link to explanation about Clark Street between Diversey and Addison. 

21 thoughts on “Fall bike lane construction update”

  1. Thanks for the updates. I live on Marshall Boulevard, and I’d love to know when it’s going to be done. As it is now, it’s worse for biking than before, especially going North, since they narrowed the travel lane and cars are parked in the bike lane.

    Also, what’s going on with Jackson east of Ogden? They removed the old bike lane a year and a half ago, and there’s still no new protected lane there, or any marked bike lane at all.

    1. I’ve been trying to figure out what’s going on with Jackson. The IDOT press office is still looking into it for me. I’ll have to give them a call back and see what’s up. The last time we asked CDOT, in June, they said, “in a few months”. There are NO lane markings on Jackson east of Ogden.

      As for Marshall, I’m going to guess that the little flexible posts won’t go in until Marking Specialists has finished striping the 3 mile route.

  2. “I hope there’s a two-stage left-turn queue box (like at Division/Halsted) as an alternative.”

    I think you meant Division/Elston.

  3. 8 feet between the curb and parked cars can feel quite narrow. I still prefer it to an unprotected bike lane, but I believe that is the logic behind going with buffered lanes in these instances. NYC has a few 8 foot protected lanes (Grand St & part of 2nd Ave), and they are noticeably tighter than the 11 foot protected lanes which are much more common. I also think in NYC street sweeping and snow plowing are more difficult with 8 foot lanes, as NYC doesn’t have any narrow street sweepers.

    1. The logic here, which I’m still trying to find out, wasn’t asked of the community. I’m not sure I like that. In NYC the DOT proposes projects to the Community Board (mainly to gain their favor, but whose approval isn’t required to move ahead). At this point, though, the public is made aware of the plans. In Chicago, some of the new bike lanes have popped up without warning and all of them have been announced with no details about their designs.

  4. I think Clark Street would be worse with protected bike lanes, next to the curb. Visibility for drivers entering or exiting Clark from Surf, Oakdale, and Orchard is spotty, and low-visibility, it’s downright dangerous for drivers on Clark Street (let alone cyclists!). Had CDOT had any balls, they would have tried creating protected bike lanes with N/S bike traffic next to each other, and vehicular traffic next to each other (see Montreal for an example).

    1. Visibility is not an issue when it’s accommodated in the design. That means, pulling parking back far enough. This is a complaint on Elston right now, but that’s partially due to people parking where they’re not supposed to but there’s nothing (hmm, maybe a flexible post) stopping them from doing so.

      1. Parking is still too cheap on Clark Street to warrant pulling any off. Let’s increase the price by 25% to deter drivers, then pull back the parking.

    2. My guess is that drunk people in Wrigleyville would end up using the protected lanes as an extended sidewalk. Clark could really use a road diet to handle the extra foot traffic in that area.

      1. This comment, the matter of which I’m already familiar with, fuels my trepidation about the effectiveness of the Dearborn two-way bike lane in the Loop to reduce crashes and increase ridership: the distance between intersections is at the low end in the range of Chicago intersections.

        The lights must be timed well for bicyclists to give them a “green wave” so that using the lane isn’t inconvenient.

  5. Buffered bike lanes are my favorite. There is too much congestion on Clark north of Armitage for protected bike lanes. The only sections on Clark where PBL’s should be considered is between Armitage and North, and south of Oak.

    1. Really? I would think more congestion would make protected lanes MORE necssary, not less, since stressed, congested drivers drive more aggressively and edge over into buffer zones trying to use every inch of the road.

    2. Clark Street south of Diversey has a very different street configuration. Firstly, it’s much narrower (~42 instead of 51 feet). And between Belden and Diversey it has the southbound rush-hour bus-bike lane.

      1. I really dislike that bus-bike lane on Clark. Having to swerve out of the lane to avoid a stopped bus is dangerous, plus taxis and other motorists still park there anyway.

        Going northbound is worse since you have the same issues, only with a 4-foot bike lane instead. The bus drivers seem to love driving and stopping in the bike lane, and it’s constantly full off illegal parkers and taxis.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *