Eyes on the Street: Milwaukee Repaving Done, Protected Lanes Taking Shape

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Looking north at Milwaukee/Chicago/Ogden, Chicago's worst intersection for bike crashes, now covered with silky-smooth pavement. Photo by John Greenfield.

The Chicago Department of Transportation’s Milwaukee Avenue protected bike lane project, which will connect existing PBLs on Kinzie and Elston is rolling along at a rapid pace. Yesterday white thermoplastic stripes were visible in the central section of the project, which is not being repaved. After riding the street this afternoon, I’m pleased to report that the north and south sections of the strip, which have been an obstacle course of rough pavement and exposed manhole covers since repaving started last week, are now covered with a smooth layer of asphalt, and even some pavement markings. More striping has been added to the central section as well, so the bikeway design is starting to come into focus.

Steven Vance and I are especially looking forward to seeing the effects of new pavement markings, including dashed bike lanes, bike boxes and high-visibility, zebra-striped crosswalks, on bike, pedestrian and motorist safety at the Milwaukee/Chicago/Ogden intersection, which currently has the highest bike crash rate in the city. These treatments will likely be completed this weekend, and we expect the new design will immediately make this confusing intersection safer and less chaotic. We look forward to seeing the bike crash rate drop here in the future, even as the number of cyclists on skyrockets. Here’s a quick tour of current conditions on Milwaukee.

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Looking southeast at Milwaukee and Carpenter. Buses will merge into PBL. Photo by John Greenfield.
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Looking northwest at Milwaukee/Grand/Halsted. To the business owner at last month's community meeting who insisted a dedicated right-turn lane is needed for cars here, despite CDOT traffic counts indicating the opposite: sorry, but cyclists are getting a bike box instead. Photo by John Greenfield.
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Looking southeast towards Milwaukee/Kinzie/Desplaines. The turn lane for bikes heading east onto Kinzie will now start further up Milwaukee. Photo by John Greenfield.
  • Endless Mike

    Awesome, because I almost ate it at Milwaukee & Halsted when my bike hit the uneven pavement last night and I had to bike down the sidewalk to get to Elston. Maybe it was the briefly unseasonable warmth that got this in gear. More optimistically hopefully it was the fairly warm reception it got from business owners along the route.

  • Actually, CDOT staff got a lot of grief from business owners at the April 30 community meeting: http://chi.streetsblog.org/2013/05/01/cdot-unveils-bold-vision-for-milwaukee-bike-lanes-drivers-grouse/

    At that meeting CDOT said the lanes were pending final community approval, so I’m not sure how they were able to move ahead so quickly with what seems to be the original design. I waiting to hear back from them for details. In the meantime, I’m psyched to see things progress so quickly!

  • Did the pavement on Halsted between Milwaukee and the Halsted bridge at Hubbard get repaved?

  • I didn’t notice. In one of my photos it looks like some repaving has be done on Halsted south of Milwaukee, but I’ll try to check on my way home this evening.

  • Endless Mike

    You had some who stood up for it: http://www.peopleforbikes.org/blog/entry/chicago_businesses_stand_up_for_green_lanes and there were complaints of course, but they seem (at least to me) fairly tame compared to where we’ve seen elsewhere (and CitiBike in NYC). I think its cool that high volume routes are getting the attention they deserve

  • Yes, this is definitely going to be a game-changer. I can’t until cyclists, residents and business owners are digging this section of Milwaukee so much that there will be a critical mass (NPI) of support for removing parking on Milwaukee in Wicker Park to make room for PBLs.

  • Lisa Curcio

    Based on this post, I decided to take Milwaukee home tonight. Frankly, I won’t ride it in rush hour again until it is finished. The lack of pavement markings everywhere had drivers and cyclists confused and it was much worse than it ever was before. The good part, of course, was that the asphalt is new and there was no pothole dodging needed!

  • If work continues at this pace, this stretch should be much less confusing within a few days.