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Clybourn Ave and State St Could Get City’s First Curb-Separated Bikeways

Central Montreal Bike Lanes - pioneers in separated lane
A two-way curb-separated bike lane in Montréal, Québec. Photo: Adriana McMullen

At yesterday's Mayor's Bicycle Advisory Council, Chicago Bicycle Program project manager Mike Amsden revealed a new detail about the missing piece of the Clybourn Avenue buffered bike lane. The Chicago Department of Transportation is working with the Illinois Department of Transportation to install a protected bike lane on Clybourn that may be separated by a curb.

IDOT had until recently prohibited protected bike lanes on roads under its jurisdiction, which includes all of Clybourn and Elston north of Armitage Avenue.

At October's unveiling of an honorary street sign for Bobby Cann – killed in May by a drunk driver near Larrabbe Street – 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett announced that IDOT would implement a protected bike lane pilot project on Clybourn. The project would cover the stretch from Division Street to North Avenue, the only section that did not get bike lanes when Clybourn was redesigned earlier this year. Further details are unavailable but Amsden wrote in an email that "we're still gathering some existing conditions data and scoping the project in partnership with IDOT." He expects CDOT will host a public meeting in January.

Memorial to Bobby Cann, killed while bicycling
Critical Mass stops at a memorial for Bobby Cann.

Another project might also have curb-separated bike lanes. Amsden said that CDOT is working with 3rd Ward Alderman Pat Dowell to install the city's first curb-separated bike lane on State Street between 26th Street and Garfield Boulevard/55th. This 3.5-mile project will extend the buffered and protected bike lanes installed on State between 18th and 26th earlier this year and connect to a potential -- but yet-to-be-designed -- bikeway on Garfield Boulevard, labeled a "crosstown bike route" in the Streets for Cycling Plan 2020.

The route passes the Dearborn Homes, Illinois Institute of Technology and student housing, and De La Salle Institute high school. Near IIT's campus, the bike lane would greatly improve the convenience and comfort of cycling on this part of State Street, where drivers tend to speed because of the limited number of driveways and the long medians that seem to have a funneling effect. There's no curbside parking by IIT, but north and south of campus, State is a typical four-lane street with parallel parking. A protected bike lane will likely mean a road diet -- converting the four travel lanes to two lanes plus a center turn lane -- that preserves parking.

IIT · State Street Village
A typical view of State Street through the Illinois Institute of Technology campus. Photo: James Lin

The project is too new for Amsden to describe any more details. In his email he said that CDOT just finished reviewing existing conditions and will come up with a "design concept" next. "We need to do a lot of outreach along the corridor over the next couple of months, including an initial public meeting ideally in late January," he wrote.

Amsden anticipates both projects will be constructed in 2014.

New protected bike lane on State Street, near Cermak Road. More photos. Photo: John Greenfield

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