After art student Lisa Kuivinen, 20, was fatally struck on August 16 by a flatbed truck driver while biking downtown in a Milwaukee Avenue bike lane, many people noted that the bike lane was blocked by construction zone nearby at 830 North Milwaukee. While the lane closure doesn’t seem to have been a factor in the crash, the case has drawn attention to the problem of the many current Milwaukee Avenue work zones creating a hazard for cyclists.
When I rode on Milwaukee from Logan Boulevard to Kinzie Avenue last week I counted 18 construction sites, at least seven of them for transit-oriented development projects. I observed that the sidewalk on the west side of Milwaukee north of Grand Avenue was blocked off by plastic Jersey walls for a TOD project at the northwest corner of the six-way intersection. However, the green bike lane was unaffected by the work.
Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case. Reader Dries Kimpe cc-ed us on an email he sent to local alderman Walter Burnett noting that the barrier has been moved east so that the southeast-bound bike lane is now part of the construction zone. “[The] developer has fully closed off the bike lane without providing any signs providing an advanced warning to bicycles and without providing any safe alternatives,” Kimpe wrote, adding that the only reason the bike lane seemed to be walled off was to provide a parking space for construction vehicles.
“This is very close to the spot where only recently a 20-year-old bicyclist was killed in a traffic [crash],” Kimpe added. “Given how busy the Milwaukee bike lane is, and considering the dangerous situation at a complicated intersection, I would hate to see another incident in the news.” He noted that cyclists are now squeezed into a tight space between the plastic wall and motorized traffic, which makes it more likely that “right hook” crashes might occur.
“My hope is that your office can reach out to the developer to make them aware of this fact, and to provide a safe passage or alternative for cyclist,” Kimpe wrote.
After Kuivinen’s death, Burnett told Streetsblog that the Chicago Department of Transportation was going to provide an update on the 830 North Milwaukee bike lane blockage. After a few requests, we still haven’t been able to get more info on this from CDOT.