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Posts from the Eyes on the Street Category


Eyes on the Street: Roosevelt Raised Bike Lane Is Almost Ready to Ride

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It seems like it has taken an eternity, but the Roosevelt Road raised bikeway is finally getting the green paint and bike symbols that will turn it into a functional cycling route. This Chicago Department of Transportation initiative is part of a streetscaping project that involved widening the sidewalk along Roosevelt between State Street and Michigan Avenue to make room for the two-way bike lane.

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Street layout from State to Wabash, where the bikeway will exist as on-street lanes, to the left of bus lanes.

The new lane extends a block or so past Michigan on the north sidewalk of Roosevelt, ending near the trunkless metal legs of the “Agora” installation and the Grant Park skate park. From there, cyclists can head north a block to the 11th Street bike and pedestrian bridge over Metra and South Shore tracks. From there a multi-use path leads under Columbus Drive and Lake Shore Drive to the Museum Campus.

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CDOT rendering of Roosevelt streetscape, looking east from Wabash. Note the separation between the blue crosswalks and the green “crossbikes.”

The streetscape project also includes new metal benches and decorative pavers inscribed with various words that are meant to be thought-provoking, or evoke the cultural facilities of the Museum Campus. Near the CTA ‘L’ station at Roosevelt and State, which serves the Red, Orange, and Green Lines, CDOT has installed extra-long bus shelters that will have ad panels.


A crew member applies adhesive to the lane for attaching the thermoplastic bike symbol segments. Photo: John Greenfield

Between State and Wabash Avenue, the bikeway will exist as a pair of one-way bike lanes located in the street and marked with green paint. Eastbound bicyclists will use a special “crossbike” – a crosswalk for bikes – to move to the bi-directional raised bike lane on the north side of Roosevelt east of Wabash. Westbound cyclists will be shepherded from the raised lane to the westbound on-street via a green-marked lane that will slant from the sidewalk to the bike lane.

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Eyes on the Street: New Section of Lakefront Trail at Fullerton Is Half Open


The new section of trail north of Fullerton. Photo: John Greenfield

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About a year ago, the Chicago Department of Transportation and the Chicago Park District kicked off the Fullerton Revetment project, which is building 5.8 acres of new parkland along the lake. The main goal of the $31.5 million endeavor was to to replace the crumbling seawall. But it’s also making room for the partial separation of pedestrian and bike routes on a section of the Lakefront Trail that’s currently a bottleneck. Infill and revetment construction is wrapping up this fall, and landscaping should be done by next summer.

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A plan view of the project.

North of Fullerton Avenue, a section of the new path is already open, although the separate pedestrian walkway will only exist south of the avenue, west of the bike path. The soft-surface footpath will run for about 600 feet before ending at a turnaround at Fullerton. Workers have ripped out the old stretch of the trail north of Fullerton that hugged the Theater on the Lake, and walkers, joggers, and cyclists are now directed to the brand-new path segment.


The old section of the path by the Theater on the Lake is now closed. Photo: John Greenfield

The initiative includes widening the strip of parkland along the trail by as much as several hundred feet via infill, creating a brand-new hump of land that’s sure to be a hit with sunbathers. Last summer, that area resembled a milky turquoise tropical lagoon, contained by a wavy wall of corrugated steel pilings. Crews have since filled in the lagoon with rocks and dirt, and are currently covering the area with sod.

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Eyes on the Street: A Roundup of New Bike Lanes, Part I


New buffered lanes on Lawrence in Albany Park. Photo: John Greenfield

We’ve done write-ups of many bikeways the city installed this year as part of their effort to reach 100 miles of buffered and protected lane, including facilities on South Sacramento, South State, Vincennes, Clybourn, Milwaukee, and Washington. However, there were a few more new lanes I’d been meaning to check out, and some others that weren’t on my radar because the Chicago Department of Transportation hadn’t announced them on the bike program’s Facebook page. Recently, however, CDOT provided this list of bikeways they built this year:


Yesterday, I took advantage of the gorgeous weather to check out some of the new lanes on the Northwest Side. In the near future, I’ll provide a roundup of the new South and West Side bikeways we haven’t already covered.

It’s worth noting that most of the bikeway mileage installed this year was simply upgrades to existing facilities — usually turning conventional bike lanes into buffered lanes. While these upgrades helped CDOT to reach their goal of installing 100 miles of buffered and protected lanes within the last four years, they didn’t actually expand the bike network or improve connectivity. On the other hand, buffered lanes are more comfortable to ride in than conventional ones, so it’s nice that non-buffered lanes are going the way of the dinosaur.

Moreover, CDOT has halved their mileage goal for the next four years to only 50 miles. Since there will be less pressure to quickly rack up mileage, maybe there will be more emphasis on building brand new bikeways, rather than simply upgrading old ones.

And perhaps a higher percentage of the new lanes will be physically protected – only 19.5 of the 103 miles of lanes installed under Mayor Rahm Emanuel have been protected. In addition, CDOT has stated that they plan to focus on improving connectivity and making intersections safer, which is good to hear.


New buffered lane by the Copernicus Center, near Lawrence and Milwaukee. Photo: John Greenfield

Yesterday, I started out by riding the 2.50-mile stretch of buffered lanes, upgraded from conventional ones, between Central Park and Central in the communities of Albany Park and Mayfair. It’s always fun to check out this strip, a melting pot of Latin American, Eastern European, Middle Eastern, and Korean businesses. As is usually the case with new bikeways nowadays in Chicago, the lanes are generally marked through intersections, and the project also included new high-visibility, zebra-stripe crosswalks.

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Eyes on the Street: The Loop Link BRT Corridor Continues to Take Shape


Washington Street west of Franklin Street. Photo: John Greenfield

The Loop Link bus rapid transit route, slated to be largely complete by New Year’s Day, seems to be moving along nicely.

As I’ve discussed, some of the project’s features have been reduced, modified, or delayed. We’re not getting transit signal priority, truly level boarding, or enclosed bus stations, and the pilot of prepaid boarding will be delayed until next year. But we are getting limited stops, dedicated bus lanes, queue jumps, near-level boarding, and extra-long shelters with lots of seating, and we’ll eventually be getting prepaid boarding at all stations. As such, Loop Link should demonstrate some of the benefits of BRT and help build support for a more robust BRT system on Ashland Avenue.

Recently, crews installed green thermoplastic and bike symbols in the eastbound curbside protected bike lane that has been constructed on Washington Street along with the island bus stops and giant bus shelters, each averaging about 90 feet long and 14 feet high. A two-way, north-south PBL is largely complete on Clinton Street, and a westbound protected lane will eventually be installed on Randolph Street.


A crew installs pavers on the platform of a bus stop on Washington east of State. Photo: John Greenfield

When I stopped by yesterday, I saw that the platforms are also taking shape, as workers install pavers and tactile warning strips at the edge of the platforms — similar to those at ‘L’ stations. Underneath the pavers are electric heating coils, which will help keep the bus stops clear of snow this winter.


Tactile warning strips are being added to the edge of the bus platforms. Photo: John Greenfield

Seating will run almost the entire length of the shelters, so just about everyone who wants to will be able to take a load off. Wooden benches are already in at some of the stops, with metal dividers to discourage people from sleeping or skateboarding on them.


The view from inside a shelter. Photo: John Greenfield

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Once Again, the Construction of a Mariano’s Creates a Hazard for Pedestrians

People walking in the road on Broadway

People walking the street on Broadway past a sidewalk closed for the construction for the parking-rich Mariano’s development. Photo: J. Patrick Lynch

Broadway is a city-designated Pedestrian Street between Diversey and Cornelia in Lakeview. But during the construction of a new car-centric development, people on foot are encountering a decidedly pedestrian-unfriendly situation.

A massive new complex featuring a Mariano’s grocery store and an XSport Fitness gym, plus 279 car parking spaces, is currently being built at 3030 N. Broadway. For the past several weeks, the sidewalk on the west side of Broadway has been closed to accommodate the construction.

Streetsblog Chicago reader J. Patrick Lynch sent us photos of the situation, which is all-too-common in Chicago. Since the sidewalk closure signs are located mid-block, people who encounter them are supposed to backtrack half a block to the crosswalk in order to detour to the east sidewalk. Lynch tells us that many people simply opt to walk in the street.

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Eyes on the Street: 2-Way Protected Lane Is Taking Shape on Clinton


Tight post spacing discourages left-turning motorists from driving in the bike lane. Photo: John Greenfield

About three years ago, the Chicago Department of Transportation blazed a new trail by repurposing a lane of Dearborn Street to create the city’s first two-way protected bike lane. Now they’re building a similar two-way lane on Clinton Street as part of the Loop Link bus rapid transit project. After a few years of new bikeway designs, such as the Clybourn Avenue curb-protected lanes, the Clinton lane seems less game-changing and more like business as usual, but it has a few novel elements.


Bus and bike route on the Loop Link corridor. The Clinton bike lane is being extended north to Fulton.

The Loop Link corridor includes dedicated bus lanes on Clinton, Canal Street, Washington Street, and Madison Street. One-way protected bike lanes will be constructed on Washington and Randolph, with the latter replacing a conventional lane that used to exist on Madison.

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Eyes on the Street: Delivery Drivers Are Blocking New Clybourn Bike Lane

Delivery trucks and vans, including one from Gordon Food Service, are parked in the buffered bike lane on Clybourn Ave., and are nearly blocking the curb-protected bike lane.

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The new curb-protected bike lane on Clybourn Avenue and Division Street in Old Town aren’t even finished yet, but they’re already getting great use. Bike-specific traffic signals should be added later this fall, completing the project. However, there’s already a fly in the ointment – delivery drivers are blocking the lanes on a regular basis.

The bike lanes are located on Clybourn from Hasted Street to Division, and Division from Clybourn to Orleans Street. The problem is taking place by New City, a new mixed-use development on the southeast corner of Clybourn and Halsted, which includes 199 apartments and a shopping center. A movie theater and Mariano’s grocery store will be opening in the future.

There are loading zones on Clybourn near Halsted for truck and van drivers making deliveries to New City. However, the delivery drivers are also parking further south in the bike lane. On this stretch, the bikeway exists as a short, curbside buffered lane, and there are “No Parking” signs posted.


The Clybourn lanes have become popular with cyclists. Photo: John Greenfield

Streetsblog reader Justin Haugens rides this stretch of Clybourn several days a week on his commute between Rogers Park and the South Loop. He reports that there are vehicles in the bike lane “one-third to one-half of the time.”

What’s particularly frustrating about this situation is that New City was built with seven underground loading spaces to accommodate all the deliveries for the 370,000 square foot mall, with the goal of keep trucks off the streets. “Burying the docks was also a popular move with the neighbors,” Mike Drew, principal at the firm Structured Development, told Chicago Magazine last November.

Not only are the delivery drivers parking in the buffered lanes, but their trucks and vans are often parked very close to the start of the curb-protected section. That forces bicyclists to hit their brakes and make a tricky maneuver around a vehicle to enter the curb-protected portion.

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Eyes on the Street: Roosevelt Bike Lane and Bus Shelters Nearly Complete

Roosevelt Streetscape features

Each side of Roosevelt now has a long bus stop canopy with a massive “CTA” sign. Photo: Justin Haugens

The Chicago Department of Transportation may soon be cutting the ribbon on the Roosevelt Road streetscape and raised bikeway project. The initiative involved widening the sidewalk along Roosevelt between State Street and Michigan Avenue to make room for the two-way bike lane, which replaced conventional bike lanes on the same block of Roosevelt.

The new lanes extend a block or so past Michigan on the north sidewalk of Roosevelt, ending near the trunkless legs of the “Agora” sculptures and the Grant Park skate park. The last major step of the project is to install green pavement markings and bike symbols on the bike lanes. CDOT recently posted on Facebook that work will be done by November.

As part of the Roosevelt streetscape, crews installed new metal benches in places where people might actually want to sit. That’s not a given, considering that many of the benches put in as part of a similar road diet project on Lawrence Avenue in Ravenswood wound up facing blank walls or parking lots.

The Roosevelt benches, as well as decorative pavers inscribed with an odd group of words that are meant to be thought-provoking, or evoke the cultural facilities of the nearby Museum Campus.

Near the CTA ‘L’ station at Roosevelt and State, which serves the Red, Orange, and Green Lines, the department has installed extra-long bus shelters that will have ad panels. The #12 Roosevelt, #18 16th-18th, and #146 Museum Campus buses stop at this location. Above the canopies are massive vertical structures with the CTA’s logo and station name.

Between State and Wabash Avenue, the bikeway will exist as a pair of one-way bike lanes (just like now), located in the street. Eastbound bicyclists will use a special “crossbike” – a crosswalk for bikes – to move to the bi-directional raised bike lane on the north side of Roosevelt east of Wabash.

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More Before-and-After GIF Goodness: Bike Lanes, a Ped Scramble, and BRT


Images: John Greenfield, Google Street View

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Inspired by a post from Streetsblog USA’s Angie Schmitt, I recently tried my hand at using a new-ish feature of Google Streetview to illustrate how Chicago street transformations have improved traffic safety and made neighborhoods more livable. Google now lets you access archived Street View images, so it’s easy to see how our roadways have changed for the better.

Streetsblog Chicago readers said they enjoyed the last round of before-and-after GIF animations, so here’s a fresh batch, this time using some original photos, rather than just Street Views. Above is a view of the new curb-protected bike lanes on Clybourn Avenue in the Old Town neighborhood, which involved repurposing one of the parking lanes. It’s become an instant hit with cyclists.

Below is the city’s first (and only) pedestrian scramble intersection at Jackson Boulevard and State Street in the Loop. In addition to east-west and north-south crossing phases, the scramble phase allows walkers to cross in all directions, including diagonally.


Images: John Greenfield, Google Street View

These bike lanes on Vincennes Avenue in the Longwood Manor community show how some paint and flexible poles can transform an overly wide speedway into a calmer, more bikeable street quickly and cheaply. It would be great if the buffers are replaced with concrete curbs in the future.


Images: John Greenfield, Google Street View

The Loop Link bus rapid transit project is under construction on Madison and Washington streets downtown. This corridor, connecting West Loop train stations with Michigan Avenue, will include dedicated lanes, limited stops, and queue jumps, plus near-level and (eventually) pre-paid boarding. The Washington corridor will include a protected bike lane; the old bike lane on Madison (shown) will be replaced with a PBL on Randolph Street, 2 blocks north.

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Before-and-After GIFs of Projects That Made Chicago Streets More Livable


Last year, Streetsblog USA’s Angie Schmitt demonstrated how a new feature of Google Street View can be used to highlight street remix projects that have made cities more livable. Google now lets you look at archived Street View images, so it’s easy to compare what streets looked like before and after they were reconfigured.

I tried my hand at animating images of a few forward-thinking Chicago projects that have helped make streets safer and more pleasant places to travel and spend time. Above is the Lawrence Avenue road diet in Ravenswood, a four-to-three conversion which added wider sidewalks, curb bump-outs, pedestrian islands, and bike lanes.

Below is the Lincoln Hub placemaking project in Lakeview, which uses flexible posts and paint dots to shorten crossing distances, eliminate dangerous slip lanes, and create curb extensions that double as seating areas.


The Roosevelt Road raised bike lane project in the South Loop repurposed road lanes to make room for much wider sidewalks, plus the bikeway, parking racks, new trees, and benches. The bike lanes will get green paint and bike symbols soon.


This spring, the Chicago Department of Transportation built the city’s first curb-protected bike lanes on Sacramento Boulevard in Douglas Park. Eliminating the excess travel lanes has helped calm traffic.

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