Harrison Street is often used by many bicyclists as a stealth route, particularly since it has one of the rare bridges without open metal grates, sees surprisingly light car traffic, and is the only east-west route that connects the South Loop and UIC. Harrison is marked as a “crosstown bike route” from Loomis Avenue (1400 W) to Michigan Avenue (200 E) in the Streets for Cycling Plan 2020, so it’s due for an upgrade.
However, Harrison isn’t perfect: It’s too wide and thus invites motorists to speed, it lacks bicycle infrastructure, and its intersection at State Street is a bit confusing because the two sides are offset. We originally reported that Harrison would get bike lanes back in April, but have since obtained more details.
A majority of the 0.9 mile project length – from Desplaines Street to Wabash Avenue – will have protected bike lanes, and buffered bike lanes would be used in other locations “where lane widths and vehicle paths preclude barrier-protection.”
The Chicago Department of Transportation will make many other changes as part of the complete-streets project, including adding, removing, and shortening left-turn lanes, adding right-turn lanes at six locations, and adding, removing, and consolidating bus stops. CDOT will also change signal timing and replace traffic signals at several intersections.
To fix the intersection at State, CDOT proposed new traffic signal phases to separate eastbound and westbound movements for bicycles and vehicles. New traffic signals and timing would also separate the north and south side walk signals, to reduce conflicts between pedestrians and turning drivers.
However, the previously announced timeline for Harrison has slipped. CDOT bikeways planners presented this information to South Loop residents in October 2013, and said then that the new bike and crosswalk pavement markings would be installed after resurfacing that fall. The April 2014 press release then indicated a spring start. We are waiting for a response from CDOT about the cause for delay, but it’s obvious that the road hasn’t been resurfaced as of earlier this week.