Tagbike lane

Bike to work week now, but what about next week?

Groupon mentioned on its blog that 126 employees rode to their Chicago office Monday.

Since the city has a goal of having 5% of trips under 5 miles by bicycle*, how do we ensure those same 126 employees ride their bike next week? Or tomorrow even!

With more of this:

A protected bike lane on Kinzie Street. These have been shown to reduce the number of crashes as well as slow down car traffic.

And some of this:

A family riding their bikes on Prospect Park West in Brooklyn, New York City. This bikeway is unique because it has both directions and is protected from traffic by parked cars. Photo by Elizabeth Press.

We’ll also need some left turn bays for bicyclists:

This will help cyclists make safer left turns across intersections. As seen in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Then we’ll see this:

Happy people riding together in our neighborhoods. With lights at night, for sure.

Oh, we’ll probably need additional bike parking, like this station at Amsterdam Zuid station (think Chicago’s Union Station or New York City’s Penn Station):

Free, underground, double-decker bike parking.

*We’re probably somewhere between 0.5% and 1.5% (of trips under 5 miles by bike). No data’s actually available on this; not for the baseline year of 2006 and most likely will not be available for the goal year, 2015.

Chicago catches up to NYC in one 3-day project

What were Mayor Daley and the previous Transportation commissioners waiting for when it came installing modern and then-innovative bikeway facilities?

Why have Rahm Emanuel, Gabe Klein, and the Chicago Bicycle Program installed every modern and previously-innovative bikeway treatment under the sun in just three days? The project’s not over, but a lot has happened since Monday.

On Day 3 of construction of the Kinzie Street protected bike lane, CDOT builds (photos from the Bicycle Program’s Flickr photostream):

Bike-only left turn on southbound Milwaukee to Kinzie (perfect)

Through-intersection bike lane using European-style “yield squares” (okay, they’re actually called elephant’s feet)*

Same yield squares (elephant’s feet) at driveways.

Very wide!

New signage telling turning drivers to stop for people walking across the street and riding their bikes.

*I always forget that Chicago created its first through-intersection bike lane at Sheridan and Ardmore, at the north terminus of the Lakefront Trail, to get bicyclists onto the on-street bike lane network.

Stony Island cycle track still on, but conflicting reports

Update June 9, 2011: At Wednesday’s Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council (MBAC), Deputy Commissioner Luann Hamilton reiterated that the Stony Island project was still on and that the long timeline to complete (2014) will be largely because of design reviews and other considerations required when using state and federal funding. She also mentioned that the Chicago Tribune printed a correction in its Wednesday morning paper

The Chicago Tribune wrote about the Kinzie Street protected bike lane on Monday and may have implied at the end of the article that the Stony Island cycle track project, which has earmarked federal funding through the Illinois Transportation Enhancements Program, was canceled (“dropped from consideration”).

On second read, this probably means it was no longer being considered the location for the city’s first protected bike lane. News reports and interviews with city officials put the completion and opening of this protected bike lane in 2014, at the end of Rahm’s first term.

Conflicting reports

In February, Chicago Tribune transportation reporter John Hilkevitch quoted CDOT spokesperson, Brian Steele, saying, “There is already a lot of bicycling on the route, and we envision the cycle track as being a good connection to Jackson Park, the lakefront and the larger bike network in the city.”

Then yesterday, in June, the same reporter wrote, “But the location, chosen mainly because Stony Island has abundant lane capacity, was dropped from consideration because too few bicyclists use the corridor, officials said.” [NBC Chicago reported the same today alongside their video of today’s press conference.]

How many people ride their bikes on Stony Island? What is CDOT’s criteria for choosing protected bike lane locations?

Still on the drawing board

A person rides their bicycle on what will soon be the buffer between the bike lane and parking lane. Flexible delineators, also known as soft-hit bollards, will demarcate the zones.

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).

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.

Comments on the Kinzie Street protected bike lane

After reading about the new protected bike lane on Kinzie Street, people are speaking up.

From Chicargobike:

I have to admit that this doesn’t seem to be a location that fulfills any of the criteria I just mentioned – it seems instead to be directed at people who already are bicycle commuters to the Loop, largely young, fit adults. I don’t think they are the people who can benefit from a track and it should be placed elsewhere.

Excerpted from Protected bike lanes get a wobbly start.

From Duppie:

While the safety improvements will become clear in the crash statistics, there are a lot of things that can make a bikelane good or bad from a user perspective. They should have a formal evaluation process after 6 months or a year to see what works what and what doesn’t.

Excerpted from their comments on The Chainlink.

From anonymous:

I’m a big fan of protected bike lanes, but starting this lane at Milwaukee/DesPlaines just seems like a remarkably bad idea to me.  The problem is that there’s a very steep downhill decline between Desplaines and Clinton.   That means you constantly have lots of bikes traveling at very different speeds, and this lane is going to trap them in a small space designed for slower speeds.   Right now, this works fine because the cyclists spread out all over the right lane (because of the downhill speeds, taking over the lane is no problem).

Excerpted from Saturday’s post on Steven Can Plan.

From BlueFairline:

Your photos remind me of another problem with this specific location, as you often have a Blommer truck parked on the westbound side with a large hose running between the truck and a nozzle on the side of the building. This hose will have to run across the protected bike lane. You’re going to have to have bicyclists either jump between the dividers into the traffic lane to go left of the truck, or stop and lift their bikes over the hose. Any advice on which option is the more reasonable for bicyclists?

From their comment on Chicagoist. Find more naysaying on this Chicagoist article.

What are your thoughts on the location, protected bike lanes, or bicycling in Chicago?

A group of people riding their bikes wait at the light at Division and Milwaukee, going southbound.

Where would you ride

Infrastructure and street design is the most influencing factor in how we behave and maneuver our vehicles (bicycles included, even if Illinois doesn’t think so and California does) in the roadway.

I’m taking a non-scientific poll.

1. Given the lane configuration in the photo below, and the dearth of vehicles in any lane you see, where would you ride your bicycle, and why?

2. Now take a look at this photo mockup of a protected bike lane on Milwaukee Avenue through the 1st Ward in Wicker Park. Where would you ride your bicycle, and why?

Which facility would you prefer to ride your bicycle in?

1, or 2?

Read more about cycle tracks/protected bike lanes on Steven Can Plan.

Let’s keep talking about protected bike lanes

Rahm Emanuel was sworn in as mayor on May 16th, 2011.

On page 36 of the Chicago 2011 Transition Report (PDF) is a 100-day deadline for IDENTIFYING the first two miles of protected bike lanes.

That 100-day deadline is August 24, 2011.

You’ve read about my thoughts on CDOT’s plan for a Stony Island cycle track, my list of 13 locations for protected bike lanes (like Clybourn and Grand Avenues), and now Alderman Moreno’s F-bomb about parking preventing a protected bike lane on Milwaukee Avenue through Wicker Park.

And the latest news comes from Alderman Maldonado and the 26th Ward offices’s partnership with Humboldt Park Advisory Council, the Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities, and the Active Transportation Alliance. At this meeting on Wednesday night, the consultant, Sam Schwartz Engineering (SSE), presented its proposals to make the street network in and surrounding the park safer, mainly by creating pedestrian refuge islands, protected bike lanes, and slowing car traffic.  I never blogged about the Chicago Department of Transportation’s plan to calm traffic on the north-south Humboldt Drive, but John Greenfield discussed this road diet. To the disappointment of some residents, including myself, the road diet will not include any bike facilities, especially not this two-way cycle track I designed.

SSE displayed proposals for protected bike lanes and a road diet on a future version of Humboldt Drive from Palmer Square to Augusta Boulevard, and on Division Street between California Avenue and Central Park Avenue. I asked if they will share their slideshow online.

This is how some people voted. There were four identical poster boards. It’s up to SSE to count the votes. As you can see, because of the differing dollar amounts, votes are weighted. I put $50 on one and $30 on another ($20+$10).


This design will not be happening, nor will any bikeway appear on this street because “it doesn’t connect with the bikeway network.” But there’s a bike lane on Augusta Boulevard just two blocks south of Division Street! It’s a bad excuse. People ride on streets without bikeways all the time.

WE HAVE TO KEEP TALKING ABOUT THIS ISSUE.

How far can a protected bike lane go in the 1st Ward

Now’s the time to start imagining a future Chicago that has a protected bike lane on the busiest and most crash-prone street for bicycling in Chicago. And 1st Ward Alderman, Joe Moreno, seems to have gotten the wheels turning.

This is what a cycle track or protected bike lane on Milwaukee Avenue between California Avenue and Division Street might look like; the whole stretch is in the 1st Ward. If I had the skills, I would photoshop in some bollards or Jersey barriers making it look similar to this lane in Brooklyn.

Actually, this is what it would look like. Thank you Nate Lynch for creating it. 

The overarching challenge of creating such a facility, which would make bicycling through a bit safer by eliminating most doorings, is dealing with Chicago Parking Meters, LLC (CPM). If you’ve been living out of the country or under a rock, it’s the company owned by a bank or two and leased Chicago’s on-street parking spaces and revenue collection system (the city still gets to collect the fines). CPM essentially owns the space. And if we want to do something with that space, we either have to buy it back through an annual fee or trade them equivalent performing (expectedly) spaces elsewhere that aren’t currently controlled by parking meters.

When asked about this problem on April 20, 2011, at the Boiler Room in Logan Square, Alderman Moreno said, “Fuck, em.” John Greenfield has the full story:

“Six years ago Chicago was ahead of Seville in terms of biking,” says Moreno. “Now Seville has physically separated bike lanes and a bike-sharing system, and they’ve closed down their center city to cars. It’s so easy to bike there, everybody’s doing it: old people on adult tricycles, young men in suits and women in heels.”

“What I meant was, this is 2011. I’ve talked to Rahm Emanuel and he’s on board with moving forward in a bold direction, so I’m not going to stop,” Moreno told [John]. The alderman says he might be willing to swap LAZ’s lost parking spaces for a high-density garage on Milwaukee. “I say to them, if you want to be part of the solution, great. If not, feel free to sue the city.”

Please send your support to Alderman Moreno.

As a first location for a protected bike lane under Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 100 days plan, I don’t support choosing Milwaukee. It will take too long to get paint and bollards on the ground here while Grand, Clybourn, or Blue Island Avenues pose fewer barriers.

Construction update: Pilsen streetscape improvement

The most popular posts on Steven Can Plan are Chicago infrastructure construction updates.

In October 2009 I told you about the Cermak/Blue Island Streetscape project from the Chicago Department of Transportation. The article was called, “Pollution fighting bike lane coming to Pilsen.” I was kind of skeptical at first, but never mentioned this to anyone.

I’m happy to say it’s a reality and you can see the world’s first (I think) bike lane made of permeable pavers that have an ingredient that reduces the amount of nitrogen oxide in the nearby air. On Tuesday I was riding to Bridgeport via south Halsted Street and saw the construction on Cermak Street. I rode west to check it out. Then I saw work happening on Blue Island Avenue and had to check it out. These’re the results!

The construction situation at the northwest corner of Halsted and Cermak, where new sidewalks will be built.

Some vaulted sidewalks are being filled in.

The pollution fighting bike lane! Not complete: it needs signage and striping so you may see people parking in the future bike lane. The top inch of the permeable pavers has TX Aria from Italcementi.

Do you want this facility? Where?

Take a look at this protected two-way bike lane in Brooklyn, New York City.

Some people are suing to remove (or change it). If you’re someone who doesn’t live there, here’s why this fight could still be important for you. Or maybe you want to know why the bike lane was installed.

If your city’s transportation or public works department proposed a protected bike lane or cycle track for your town, where should the first one go?

I propose 11 locations for Chicago (see link for ideal segments):

  • Blue Island Avenue
  • Chicago Avenue
  • Fullerton Avenue
  • Grand Avenue
  • Halsted Street (in some discrete locations)
  • King Drive (connecting downtown/South Loop to Bronzeville, Hyde Park, Washington Park)
  • Ogden Avenue (the entire street, from the city boundary on the southwest side to its dead end at the Chicago River near Chicago Avenue)
  • Wabash Street (connecting downtown and IIT)
  • Washington Boulevard/Street
  • Wells Street – this may be one of the easiest locations to pull off, politically at least, especially if Alderman Reilly pays for all or part of it with his annual appropriation of $1.32 million (“menu funds”).
  • Western Avenue

    Notice how I didn’t propose Stony Island. Here’s why.

    P.S. This will not be like the case of high-speed rail in America, where if one governor refuses money for an HSR project, other governors can compete for that money. The Prospect Park West bike lane will not be picking up and moving to another state 😉

    Look at all that room for people to go about their business, whether by car, bike, roller skates, wheelchairs, or their own two feet. Photos by Elizabeth Press.

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