Protected Bike Lanes Will Make State Street a Greater Street

130924 Public Presentation 4FINALFINAL
Bicyclist on State Street. Photo: CDOT

If support from aldermen Patricia Dowell (3rd) and Will Burns (4th) expressed at a public meeting on Tuesday is any indication, it should be relatively easy for the Chicago Department of Transportation to install buffered and protected bike lanes along State Street from 18th to 26th streets. This eight-block stretch is .8 miles long, since blocks are shorter than usual on the Near South Side.

1309244 Public Presentation FINALFINAL
Map of the project area.

In February 2012 CDOT proposed installing protected lanes along Martin Luther King Drive, half a mile east of State, from 26th to 51st streets in her in Dowell’s ward. But local church leaders opposed the lanes because they feared they would affect Sunday parking and detract from the aesthetics of the historic boulevard, according to CDOT Project Manager Mike Amsden. As a result, the project stalled. After the advocacy group Bikes Belong sent Dowell and other local politicians on a research trip to Denmark that June, she came back enthusiastic about transportation cycling and agreed to allow buffered lanes on King and protected lanes on State.

CDOT staffers Nathan Roseberry and John Wirtz presented on the State Street plan at the info session at Columbia College, which also included details on the city’s first raised bike lane on Roosevelt. Lanes with two-foot buffers on each side will be installed from 18th to Cullerton Street (2000 South). Curbside, six-foot-wide protected lanes, with a three-foot buffer between the lanes and parked cars, will go in between Cullerton and 26th Street.

An innovative aspect of this project is the removal of several parking spaces near intersections to improve sightlines. Other spots will be removed at sites where there are concrete medians, and next to new bus stops. CDOT will also remove parking next to vacant lots on the west side of State from 24th Street to 25th Street. This undeveloped land was the site of the Harold Ickes Homes housing project before the buildings were demolished in the late 2000s as part of the Chicago Housing Authority’s so-called Plan for Transformation.

130924 Publlic Presentation FINALFINAL
CDOT image showing parking removal areas in red.

The project also involves a road diet, converting four travel lanes to two through lanes plus turn lanes. CDOT says four-to-three conversions can be implemented on roads with up to 20,000 motor vehicles per day without adversely affecting traffic flow, and this stretch of State has only 12,600. Roseberry described the road diet as a way to “take advantage of a road with unnecessary travel lanes and use those for better uses.”

In keeping with the department’s current focus on complete streets, the project will also benefit pedestrians. The bike lanes will mean shorter crossing distances for peds, and workers will stripe high-visibility, zebra-stripe crosswalks. Rosenberg promised these changes would be good for local commerce. “We want to make sure we can help these businesses by improving the street,” he said. “We can really increase those retail sales.” The project is also a win for transit riders. Bus stops will be “rebalanced,” with little used stops, like one in front of the former Ickes Homes site, removed or relocated to speed the buses.


View Larger Map

This curb at 18th and Calumet is an obstacle to cyclists heading to the lakefront.

During the Q & A session, many residents and bike commuters voiced support for the improvements and pushed for further changes. These include better connections to the lakefront and existing downtown lanes, as well as adding a curb cut at 18th and Calumet, where cyclists currently need to hop a nine-inch curb to get to a bridge over Metra tracks on the way to the lake. The CDOT staffers said State is slated for more improvements in the future, since it is identified as a bike-priority Spoke Route in the Streets for Cycling 2020 Plan.

While the aldermen have endorsed the project, 3rd and 4th Ward residents should let Dowell and Burns know they support CDOT’s plan for aggressive improvements to State, making it better for all road users. As the King Drive experience with shows, it only takes a handful of opponents to water down a good sustainable transportation project.

  • Jin Nam

    Great choice. SO much space on State.

  • Chicagio

    It’d be nice if this could extend and connect to the work planned on Roosevelt. It would go a long way towards connecting the communities and creating a seamless bike system in the area. It’d make trips down to Opart Thai a breeze!

  • Andrew H

    This is great but I don’t understand why this doesn’t connect to 31st st or Roosevelt. Both are very close and have or will feature good E/W bike routes. It’s almost like CDOT isn’t thinking of a complete network and just putting bits and pieces here and there.

  • Nathanael

    Why are so many “churches” so consistently car-obsessed? What the hell is this, no pun intended?

  • “Cars bring people, people bring money, the money makes the budget–without the budget, churches can’t function” – Antonio Gomez, pastor of Armitage Baptist Church in Logan Square: http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/where-would-jesus-park/Content?oid=925267

    Of course, there are better ways of bringing lots of people to churches besides cars, such as bus rapid transit, which is why it’s funny that the anti-BRT movement is headquartered at a church. Of course you have to ask yourself, WWJR? (What Would Jesus Ride?)

  • Emily

    CDOT is thinking of a complete network: http://www.chicagobikes.org/public/SFC.php

    Be patient. There is more to come.

  • Emily

    Wabash is the “Spoke Route” north of 18th St.

  • Anonymous

    LSD had a good article about it.

    I summarize: A generation or so ago, you went to the nearest church for your weekly service. And that was that.

    Today you can choose from a myriad of services that are tailored to your specific needs/wants/desires. The downside is that your service of your choice may not be held in your neighborhood. So you end up driving.

    http://logansquaredriver.tumblr.com/

  • Robert

    Why don’t they continue it on Wabash? And it’s best practice to put bike routes on streets just one over from the major arterial car streets, not on them. (so happy the bike route for most of the South Loop area is on Wabash and not State, so much safer). I guess this far south State is pretty quiet when it comes to car traffic, but still…

  • John

    Wabash doesn’t cross I-55.

  • John

    Pavement markings are being installed this week.

  • Andrew H

    Yeah I see the 2020 plan but it’s still like they don’t make the effort to connect each of these individual projects (minus the IDOT nonsense). For example, the nightmare that is Kinzie at rush hour not connecting the Kinzie / Milwaukee, and Dearborn PBL. I know they are trying and appreciate it, just wish they could make these connections happen to complete the network. It’s these gaps that make me cringe for first timers wanting to commute.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Chicago Building Four Miles of Protected Bike Lanes This Year

|
The City of Chicago announced a new slate of bikeway projects today, outlining about 15 miles of new buffered bike lanes and a little more than four miles of protected lanes to be built in 2014. Under the plan for this year, protected bikeway construction in Chicago would continue to outpace every other American city except […]

An Update on CDOT’s Bikeway Construction

|
We’re currently in the midst of a bike lane building boom. Earlier this year the Chicago Department of Transportation completed groundbreaking protected lanes on Milwaukee from Kinzie to Elston, which involved removing about 50 percent of the parking spaces. Buffered lanes were striped on Wells from Chicago to North. Recently CDOT completed buffered lanes on […]

CDOT Reveals Plans for Chicago’s First Raised Bike Lane on Roosevelt Road

|
At a community meeting Tuesday at Columbia College, Chicago Department of Transportation Project Director Janet Attarian outlined plans for the new Roosevelt Road streetscape from State Street to Columbus Drive. The project will include a groundbreaking new segment of sidewalk-level, two-way bicycle lane, part of a bike-friendly route to and from the lakefront. The info […]