Eyes on the Street: A Cycle Track Rises Along Roosevelt In South Loop

Raised bike path in front of Trader Joe's
A raised bike path is under construction on the north side of Roosevelt, between Michigan and Indiana avenues, outside Potbelly and Trader Joe’s.
Roosevelt raised bike lane construction from State to Indiana
Concrete formwork outlines the future route of the new bike path.

Next month, bicyclists of all ages will have a safe new way to get to the Museum Campus, Lakefront Trail, and Soldier Field from the South Loop once construction crews complete the city’s first raised cycle track. A two-way bike path along Roosevelt Road, between Wabash and Indiana avenues, is being built on the same level as the sidewalk on the north side of the street. This separated path will keep bicyclists out of a busy five-lane road that’s often filled with cars and buses traveling to or from Lake Shore Drive and the museums.

Raising the bike path up to the sidewalk’s level also circumvented the Illinois Department of Transportation’s ban on protected bike lanes along state routes like Roosevelt — also known as Illinois Route 38. This treatment is common in Europe, but is still rare in the United States.

130924 Publick Presentation FINALFINAL
A rendering of Roosevelt and Wabash shows how bicyclists going east, towards Grant Park, will cross Roosevelt before proceeding on the raised bike path along the north side (next to Trader Joe’s). Rendering courtesy CDOT.

Crews working for the Chicago Department of Transportation started construction on the path this summer, moving utility lines beneath Roosevelt between Wabash and Michigan avenues. In September, crews demolished the previous curb line and poured a new, wider sidewalk on the south side of Roosevelt between State Street and Michigan. Bump-outs replaced no-parking zones at the corners of Wabash and Roosevelt, and the Divvy station was moved to one at the southwest corner of Roosevelt and Wabash. Now, crews have moved to the north side of Roosevelt to construct tree planters, a new sidewalk, and the new raised bike path.

1. Roosevelt and Wabash sidewalk for @divvybikes, 2. return to original location, 3. Blackhawks bike!
The Divvy station at Roosevelt and Wabash has a new permanent home atop a new bump-out at the southwest corner.

An electronic board at the site indicates that CDOT anticipates completing construction on December 1, four weeks from today. Once the project is finished, it will create a safer, off-street east-west route for Roosevelt bikers — but there will certainly be a learning curve for both bikers and pedestrians, as bicyclists will now share a surface with pedestrians. The bike path will be separated from both sidewalk and street by a row of street trees.

Roosevelt raised bike lane construction from State to Indiana
The new, wider sidewalk along the south side of Roosevelt is now complete, as are bump-outs at the corner.

Bicyclists traveling on Roosevelt’s eastbound bike lane, on the south side of the road, will be able to use green-painted “crossbikes” across Roosevelt and Wabash to reach the cycle track on the north side. Currently, many are left to merge across several eastbound lanes to get from the right-side bike lane to the left-turn lane at Michigan, before proceeding into Grant Park. The path will end at Indiana, where bicyclists can turn north into Grant Park and toward the 11th Street bridge to the Museum Campus and Lakefront Trail, or turn south into Central Station.

Roosevelt raised bike lane construction from State to Indiana
The raised bike path continues across Grant Park’s southwest corner to Indiana Avenue.
  • nice catch of the blackhawks divvy

  • Have you ridden it yet? I think it comes with a slapshot boost when you’re approaching your 30 minutes time period. Adds a fourth gear or something.

  • I felt obligated to take a photo once I realized it was there, even grabbed a framed shot while I was at it.

  • The Wabash and Roosevelt intersection maybe the first great test of biker etiquette. There are certain requirements to maintain safety while operating around specific bike infrastructure, such as crossing the street at an intersection rather than departing a protected bike lane to arrive at a business mid-block on the opposite side of the street.

    Whether bikers follow the suggested (required?) path to transition from the south side eastbound lane to the raised lane on the north side will only be known with time.

  • BVE

    The real question in my mind is, will there be fewer total lanes for cars when this is done? I am watching as busy streets are made much, much worse, with backed up traffic stretching from Roosevelt down to 18th or Cullerton, all in the name of creating more bike lanes.

    Don’t get me wrong. I am a biker, and I love having bike lanes. But, you don’t magically make the cars go away by taking lanes away from them. You just make traffic in the South Loop as painful as traffic in other, more congested parts of the city. That is not a “win” for the South Loop! One of the huge benefits of the area has been that it’s a portion of the city that is livable, where you can actually get around if you need to.

  • Erik Swedlund

    Studies have shown that you do get fewer cars when you take away a lane. Some people choose alternate methods of travel.

    http://contextsensitivesolutions.org/content/reading/disappearing-traffic/resources/disappearing-traffic/

  • Backed up traffic six blocks from Roosevelt? Are you talking about Wabash or another street, because I have not seen that extensive of a traffic backup on Wabash.

  • Ginny Orlina

    Biker etiquette is definitely needed. I almost get run over by the bikers on the sidewalk along Lake Shore Drive in Grant Park. I have to walk in the grass!! Not fun for the senior citizens. I’ll believe they have etiquette on these new bike paths when I see it!!

  • HJ

    So “Liveable” now means “Driveable”?

  • Logan Square Driver

    Thanks for bringing that up. I couldn’t agree with you more. I also love bike lanes, but only the ones that don’t take space away from anything else. You don’t see Schaumburg taking space away from cars for bikes! Don’t Chicago’s planners realize that we could have the whole city be just like Schaumburg if only we’d stop making stupid decisions like building bike lanes?

  • Creating separate paths for people walking and for people biking should lead, I believe, to more frequent civil interactions.

    The interactions will then be relegated to the intersections of these paths (which aren’t always congruent with the street intersections) but unfortunately I’m not away of how the city designed them.

  • The project involves converting space for travel lanes into space for bicycling on a sidewalk-level path.

  • msjee

    So, the bike path is being installed. That’s great for cyclists, but must this be on a major thoroughfare with semis delivering to all kinds of businesses?
    My main concern is for the safety of pedestrians and cylclists alike.
    How about a dedicated bus lane or at least bus pull-over stop areas? The bus stops in the right lane of the west-bound regular traffic, leaving cars to bunch up and, more importantly, get stuck in the middle of the intersection of S. MIchigan Ave and Roosevelt. 1 lane is all that’s left for cars..

    I ask anyone how do emergency vehicles get anywhere in the blocks between the lake and Clark Street? There is absolutely NO way for an ambulance or fire truck to get through on Roosevelt – unless they can fly over those ridiculous tree plantings in the median.

    Anyone who thinks this is a fabulous idea needs to stand on Roosevelt in the 2 blocks between S. Michigan Ave and State STreet when there is a hockey/futball/football/event at Soldier’s Field AND oh, this summer, let’s add all the usual events in Grant Park and Northerly Island and see what happens.

    No one will get rescued if Fire / ambulances use Roosevelt Road.

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