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.  Continue reading Fall bike lane construction update

Pavement to the people: an update on CDOT’s new public space initiatives


The People Spot at Little Black Pearl art center in Bronzeville. Photo courtesy of CDOT.

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

Local pundits like ex-Sun-Times columnist Mark Konkol and the Tribune’s John McCarron and John Kass have trashed the city’s new protected bike lanes as a waste of space on the streets. But Chicagoans tend to overlook the massive amount of room on the public way given over to moving and parking private automobiles.

A new Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) initiative called Make Way for People is dreaming up more imaginative uses of the city’s asphalt and concrete, creating new public spaces that are energizing business strips. In partnership with local community leaders, the program is taking parking spots, roadways, alleys and under-used plazas and transforming them into People Spots, People Streets, People Alleys and People Plazas, respectively, lively neighborhood hangouts.

“It’s not a top-down program where we come in and say, ‘We think you need a People Spot or a People Street,’” says Janet Attarian, head of the department’s Streetscape and Sustainable Design section. “Instead we say, ‘We want to help you build community and culture and place and, look, we just created a whole set of tools that wasn’t available before.’”

Continue reading Pavement to the people: an update on CDOT’s new public space initiatives

Window watching on the Green Line


James Porter, pictured above at the O’Hare Line’s Western stop, is one of Chicago’s foremost authorities on getting around the town without an automobile. As a music journalist, singer, harmonica player, and one half of the DJ duo East of Edens Soul Express, he travels from his home in the Mid-South neighborhood of Chatham to every nook and cranny of the city to get to record stores, concerts and gigs, usually by walking, bus and train. He recently contributed a post about sights visible from the Brown Line. As promised, here’s the sequel, James’ field guide to the Green Line.

When I think of the Green Line, I think of my old cassette Walkman. One morning in the early Nineties, I remember standing at the 47th Street stop waiting for the next train. At one point I ejected the tape, and as God is my witness, that cassette flew straight to the rooftop of 316 E. 47th street, which is located right under the ‘L’ stop. I didn’t make any attempt to get it back, either – I purchased the tape in a bargain bin for $1, so I just went back and got another copy for the same price. But I was more fascinated than anything by this impromptu physics lesson. I had no idea that the eject button of a portable tape player had that much velocity. So if anyone ever found a Flamin’ Groovies tape on the roof of what is now the New York Deli, now you know why.

Continue reading Window watching on the Green Line

Bike and proud: Red Bike and Green promotes cycling to African Americans


Last Saturday’s kickoff ride – photo by Daris Jasper

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

All Chicagoans should have a chance to reap the benefits of urban biking: cheap, convenient transportation, improved physical and mental health, and good times with friends and family. The proliferation of nonprofit bicycle shops and youth education programs, along with the rising popularity of fixies among inner-city teens, is starting to broaden the demographics of cycling here. But the local bike scene still doesn’t reflect our city’s ethnic and economic diversity. Eboni Senai Hawkins, 34, wants to change that. She recently launched the Chicago chapter of Red Bike and Green, a nationwide group that promotes bicycling in the black community.

Continue reading Bike and proud: Red Bike and Green promotes cycling to African Americans

CDOT proposes road diets, protected bike lanes for King, 31st and 55th


CDOT’s Mike Amsden and 4th Ward Alderman Will Burns

I’m always happy to pay a visit to my old stomping ground of Hyde Park-Kenwood. So Monday afternoon I took advantage of a nice southbound wind and pedaled down the lakefront to Kenwood Academy for a 4th Ward community meeting hosted by Alderman Will Burns. At the assembly Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) bike planner Mike Amsden gave a presentation about the CDOT’s plans to install protected bike lanes and buffered bike lanes on the Near South Side. The new facilities would be part of the city’s Streets for Cycling plan to install 100 miles of protected lanes and some 150 miles of other innovative bikeways over the next few years.

Here’s a map of the proposed locations in or near the 4th Ward. As Amsden outlined at the meeting, these streets would be undergoing “road diets,” removing and/or narrowing car travel lanes to make room for the new bike lanes. Additional benefits would include discouraging speeding and other reckless driving behavior, as well as reduced crossing distances for pedestrians. Continue reading CDOT proposes road diets, protected bike lanes for King, 31st and 55th

“One Pioneer, a Thousand Riders” by Oboi Reed


Oboi Reed at the new wooden velodrome at 8615 S. Burley – photo courtesy of Reed

In September John interviewed Oluntunji Oboi (“O-bye-ee”) Reed about his efforts to launch The Pioneers Bicycle Club as a way to get more South Siders and African Americans involved with cycling. Last month, Oboi did his first Chicago Critical Mass ride. We invited him to submit the following write-up of his experience for Grid Chicago:

In the words of The Notorious B.I.G., “It was all a dream.”
I dreamed of cycling as a form of healing.
I dreamed of cycling consistently with family and friends.
I dreamed of forming The Pioneers Bicycle Club.
Dreams came true, then I kept dreaming.
I dreamed of riding in Chicago Critical Mass.
I dreamed of riding in Chicago Critical Mass through some parts of the South Side.
The dream of riding in the mass came to life on Friday, October 28th, 2011.
The dream of riding through parts of the South Side, well, that dream is a bit more complicated.

Continue reading “One Pioneer, a Thousand Riders” by Oboi Reed