Eyes on the Street: Milwaukee PBL Construction Starts Sooner Than Expected

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Looking southeast at Milwaukee/Ogden - a buffered lane is already rideable. Photo by John Greenfield.

It was quite a surprise to come upon fresh white thermoplastic stripes on Milwaukee Avenue Thursday evening. Many Chicagoans have been eagerly anticipating new protected bike lanes on Milwaukee, the city’s busiest bike street, which will be the missing link between existing PBLs on Kinzie and Elston. At a public meeting about the bike lanes at Intuit arts center on April 30, Chicago Department of Transportation staff said this stretch of Milwaukee would be repaved in May and the lanes constructed in June, pending continuing community outreach and final approval. At that meeting, a vocal minority of local business owners and residents complained about CDOT’s proposal to relocate about half of the street’s curbside parking spaces to side streets, as well as other details of the plan that they feared would make it harder to drive.

Last week crews began tearing up sections at the north and south ends of the project site for repaving. CDOT Spokesman Pete Scales said the department hopes to finish this work by this Monday. I recently noticed a few patches in the middle of this section had been recently patched, which seemed odd, since I was under the impression CDOT would be redoing the entire stretch. The new striping on this section indicates that this middle segment will not be completely repaved – no biggie, since the asphalt here is reasonably smooth. More importantly, new striping suggests that the PBL plan is now a done deal, and we can look forward to seeing the finished product sooner than later. We’ll get you more details on the status of the project soon; here’s a quick tour of what’s on the ground so far.

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West side of Milwaukee south of Ogden. Photo by John Greenfield.
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Continuing south on Milwaukee - a floating parking lane. Photo by John Greenfield.
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Continuing south on Milwaukee. Photo by John Greenfield.
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A contractor measures the street width on a section of Milwaukee north of Grand that is already partially repaved. Photo by John Greenfield.

  • Adam Herstein

    I’m confused about the second to last photo. Is that whole right lane the bike lane? What are the dotted and solid lines further out?

  • Wayward Daughter

    Yesterday I was hit by a car while biking at Damen and Grace. The car was going the wrong way down grace, fleeing from another accident he had caused. Luckily I am not seriously injured, as I was across the street from a fire department station and all the firefighters came to the rescue. I was given a police report at the hospital, but I don’t know what else to do. My bike is done for and I’ll have numerous hospital and doctors bills.

  • Josh Ellis

    Sorry to hear that and glad you are mostly OK. Everyone ride, drive, and walk safe this weekend.

  • That’s Milwaukee between Carpenter and Morgan, looking southeast. The plans show that as having 7-foot-wide, curbside bike lanes, although the bike lane on the west side looks wider than 7′. The east side will be protected by a line of parked cars; the west side (visible in the photo) will be a buffered lane with flexible posts. The dotted line is where cyclists will make the left turn on Morgan; the next solid like is the continuation of the bike lane.

  • Very sorry to hear about this, and I’m glad you are not seriously injured. Active Trans’ crash support hotline, 312-869-HELP is a good place to get started. There is also useful info on what to do after a crash on their website: http://www.activetrans.org/crashsupport/faq You will probably also want to talk to a lawyer who specializes in bike crashes; Active Trans can help you locate one.

  • Adam Herstein

    Ah, makes sense now. Thanks!

  • Yes, that section, from Carpenter to Ogden, will have a parking-protected lane with bollards on the west side and a buffered lane with bollards on the east side.

  • Adam Herstein

    That’s great! Bollards will help the lane feel more like a dedicated cycle track than just a slightly wider bike lane like most of the other buffered lanes are.

  • I don’t see any reason why there couldn’t be bollards on all curbside buffered lanes.

  • Adam Herstein

    I agree, but most of the buffered lanes are not curbside.

  • I had the same question. This must be a kind of passing zone, which would align with what Gabe Klein said about designing something that would appeal to people who ride fast and people who ride slow.

  • I believe the section of Roscoe and Campbell between Western and Belmont fits this description.

  • Scott Sanderson

    I rode it today and it was fantastic. There was one pinch point going south right after Ogden where I always felt I was going to get doored or run over, and today it wasn’t there.

  • Interesting! I’ll have to check that out today.

  • Adam Herstein

    You’re correct, but AFAIK that’s the only example.

  • Also King Drive in Bronzeville, per Steven.

  • Riding it today, I saw new markings that show the extra-wide section in that photo is a bus stop. Look for another Eyes on the Street shortly.

  • Yeah, I see that now in Active Trans’s image they just posted to Twitter. Awaiting your photos!

  • Chicago Cyclist

    I’m glad you’re alright! Best of luck getting everything sorted out.

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