Bike box, another first on Kinzie Street

Update June 7, 2011: CDOT and Mayor Emanuel acknowledge the project with a Tuesday morning press conference. Here’s the press release (that doesn’t reveal anything we don’t already know) and photos from the event. NBC Chicago has video from the press conference (2:27).

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A bike box is a well-marked area where bicyclists can queue at signalized intersections ahead of cars, a way to get ahead and make bicyclists more visible to drivers. The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) installed one Tuesday morning, on Day 2 of the Kinzie Street protected bike lane project (read about Day 1). I asked a CDOT worker if it will be painted green or another color and they replied it would probably would. It appears that the design for the project is still being done while construction proceeds. I expect a section of the next block will be worked on tomorrow.


See a bike box in Portland.

More new information about this project


CDOT was also grinding out pavement markings on Kinzie Street in front of Jewel-Osco, where the CDOT worker explained a left-turn lane would be created for westbound travelers (matching the left-turn lane in the eastbound direction next to the bike box).


The uphill bike lane will not be protected. Chicagoist commenter BlueFairline pointed out a conflict with trucks delivering goods via hose to the Blommer chocolate factory. The truck needs to be curbside. Today confirmed how this would work out.

Lastly, the CDOT worker could not confirm if there will be a bike-only left-turn lane on southbound Milwaukee at Kinzie Street, as I suggested earlier.

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About Steven Vance

Enthusiast for urbanism, bicycling as transportation, and open data. Building a bicycle culture in Chicago.
  • brandonsouba

    Will the  uphill section of Kinzie (next to blommer) the only section that won’t be protected?  What about the rest of north side of Kinzie?

    • Steven Vance

      I don’t know for sure about this yet. I asked the CDOT worker and he was confident that it was the only unprotected section. But again, it seems that the project is still being designed as parts are being constructed.

  • Lizzy M

    I love the idea of  the bike box, but it’s going to take a massive driver re-education campaign before the boxes will be useful. As it is now, Chicago’s drivers constantly block crosswalks and stop well ahead of the painted limit lines at intersections. I don’t think drivers will obey street markings and allow cyclists to use the bike boxes as intended.

  • thecyclista

    That left from Milwaukee onto Kinzie is always problematic. 

    • Steven Vance

      That’s why I advocate for a bike-only left-turn lane here.
      Where I said that: Chicago’s first protected bike lane to go in on Kinzie Street

  • Lizzy M

    I like the idea of the bike box, but it’s going to take a massive driver re-education campaign before the box can function well in traffic. As it is, Chicago’s drivers block crosswalks at intersections and do not stop behind the limit lines at intersections. I have a hard time believing they will obey pavement markings for the bike boxes without an intensive effort to educate them about the boxes and their use in traffic.

    • Steven Vance

      I absolutely agree. Portland installed bike boxes in 2009-2010 and coupled it with a driver and biker education campaign.

    • Jeffrey

      This is a valid comment, but if we don’t start somewhere, drivers will never begin to obey something like a bike box.  If Mayor Emanuel really builds as many miles of bike lanes as he has proposed, there will be many opportunities for this to take hold in other parts of the city and for drivers to become familiar with them. 

      • Steven Vance

        Thank you for your comment. 

        I hope that these bikeway network improvements are seen across the city, so people biking and driving in all areas have a chance to use and interact with (and learn about) them.

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