Eyes on the Street: Milwaukee Bottleneck Update and New Bikeways

Drivers continue to respect the parking ban on Milwaukee, so there’s sufficient space for northbound cyclists. Photo: John Greenfield

The Chicago Department of Transportation is chugging along, creating new buffered and protected bike lanes this summer. Recently, new stretches of buffered lanes were striped striped in Noble Square, on Noble between Erie and Augusta, and downtown, on Upper Randolph between Michigan and the bike station.

Before I went to check out a couple of new stretches of buffered lanes this morning, I stopped by the construction bottleneck on Milwaukee north of North. I was pleasantly surprised to see that paper “No Parking” signs are still affixed to poles on the east side of the block, and drivers seem to be respecting them. As a result, there’s sufficient road width for north- and southbound cyclists to share the road with motorists fairly safely.

Southbound cyclists on Milwaukee have more breathing room now. Photo: John Greenfield

Last week, Streetsbog reader Andrew Scalise sent us a photo of a tow truck enforcing the parking ban, which is a likely factor in the compliance by drivers. There are also some safety cones sitting in the gutter.

Next, I dropped by Noble, which now has buttery-smooth new asphalt. Noble has always been a good biking street, but the addition of the good pavement and buffered lanes should make it an even more popular route. The lanes have dead space striped on the right side to encourage cyclists to ride out of the door zone.

Looking north on Noble by Eckhardt Park. Photo: John Greenfield

Noble connects Milwaukee, the city’s busiest biking street, and Erie, a good east-west connection between Ukrainian Village and River West. The new lanes would be even more useful if CDOT striped a contraflow lane on the short, one-way northbound block of Noble between Augusta and Milwaukee.

Noble at Milwaukee. A southbound contraflow lane would be useful here. Photo: John Greenfield

After that, I cruised southeast to check in on the new protected bike lanes on Harrison from Deplaines to Wabash. Flexible posts still need to be installed, and people are still parking in the lanes in stretches where “No Parking” signs haven’t been added yet, but I noticed a couple of new improvements. Terrible pavement in the bike lane across the street from the Greyhound station has been replaced. Of course, that segment need to be restriped now.

harrison street before after at greyhound
Pavement across the street from the bus station, before and after repairs. Photos: John Greenfield

Last week, Streetsblog’s Steven Vance told me he wasn’t pleased with the design of the lanes at Dearborn. At the time, the westbound bike lane seemed to disappear before the intersection to make room for a wide right-turn lane for motor vehicles.

The westbound Harrison bike lane at Dearborn, as of last week. Photo: John Greenfield

However, CDOT has since added a wide green stripe and a sharrow to make it obvious that it’s a shared lane. While it’s still possible for bike riders to get stuck behind right-turning motorists yielding to pedestrians, at least it’s obvious where you’re supposed to pedal.

The westbound Harrison lane at Dearborn as of this morning. Photo: John Greenfield

At State, I got to check out construction on one of two new entrance canopies for the Harrison Red Line stop. The $10 million, TIF-funded station rehab project will also waterproof the mezzanine and platform areas, repair three staircases, and add new new granite floors and LED lighting.

Building a new entrance canopy for the Harrison Red Line stop. Photo: John Greenfield

Last, I stopped by Upper Randolph, where the existing conventional lanes have been upgraded to buffered lanes with dead space striped on both sides. Where the eastbound lane is curbside near Michigan, next to Millennium Park, it still chiefly functions as a standing zone for tour buses. However, further east, the lane moves to the left of a parking lane, and the buses only partially block the bikeway.

The bike lane on the left guides cyclists to Lower Randolph. Photo: John Greenfield

CDOT also added another short stretch of buffered lane to shepherd cyclists to Lower Randolph, where they can ride a few more blocks east to access the Lakefront Trail. Hopefully, the department is planning to add a stretch of green paint here to alert motorists to look out for cyclists merging left.

  • Fibinaccignocchi

    ” While it’s still possible for bike riders to get stuck behind right-turning motorists yielding to pedestrians, at least it’s obvious where you’re supposed to pedal.”

    Because God forbid bike riders had to wait a second so someone could get across the street.

  • Mishellie

    Why should cyclists going straight wait for right turning traffic to clear once the pedestrians clear? You sit behind those right turning cars, it might take several light cycles to get through.

    God forbid cyclists EVER get to go anywhere directly.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    Sounds like God Forbid cyclists have to wait or possibly get right hooked. Hey everybody has to wait sometimes. What’s wrong with that? Come up fast on a right turning vehicle and get your self in the blind spot and you might find yourself waiting in an emergency room.

    Last week saw a biker ride up the right side of a turning CTA bus at Broadway and Berwyn. Biker didn’t stop until he was two feet from the side of the turning bus. God forbid I’d have to witness a numskull being splattered on the street.

  • Mishellie

    Sounds like god forbid we give cyclists enough priority to not tempt them into getting themselves right hooked because they don’t know better but dont want to sit stopped behind stopped cars waiting to turn right.

    Why can’t the lane go to the left of the turn lane?

  • skyrefuge

    Huh? Replace the word “cyclists” with “drivers” and see if your statement still makes any sense. Drivers have to wait behind turning cars all the time.

    Did I miss the law passed that declared cyclists a *privileged* class that requires all other forms of traffic to give way to it?

    Anyway, looks to me like at that intersection 90% of Chicago cyclists would have no problem sliding to the left side of right-turning cars in order to continue straight.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    I don’t think I have ever set out to tempt some poor cyclist into doing something unsafe because the poor fella doesn’t feel the need to wait his or her turn in traffic.

    Would that be a legal defense. All I can say in response is “get thee behind me, satan”.

    Here’s a little song you might enjoy.

  • Mishellie

    That’s why turn lanes were invented.

    At this intersection cars turning right are siphoned off so cars going straight can go directly forward.

    Bikes have to wait or be comfortable taking the lane. I’m fine with doing that but there are cyclists who are not and this design is shitty for them.

  • Mishellie

    You haven’t but designs like these encourage under confident people to do unsafe things so that they can go directly where they want to go.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    From my perspective I don’t know the difference between a confident or an unconfident cyclist. I can see bad judgement and good judgement. And if the winking turn signal of an automobile is tempting cyclists to exercise bad judgement and seducing them to cut around the right side of a turning vehicle in an attempt to pass before the vehicle can complete its turn you get hooked. As a driver I stop for pedestrians. Many times you think the crosswalk is clear, then a pedestrian steps into the street feet from the crosswalk and cuts across short cutting. Am I supposed to hit pedestrian because you or other unconfident bikers don’t want to wait?

  • Nope – the city is just supposed to create lanes for vehicles and lanes for bicycles. It didn’t do that here, even though CDOT has done that in many other places.

  • Justin

    “The bike lane on the left guides cyclists to Lower Wacker.”

    I think you mean “Intermediate Randolph.”

  • Fibinaccignocchi

    Well then, I guess those cyclists are just going to have to wait sometimes before getting what they want. You know, like the rest of the world is required to, due to this thing called, LIFE. #firstworldproblems

  • Fibinaccignocchi

    Did it ever occur to you that there might not be enough right of way along that section of street to allow for a right turn lane, a thru lane, AND a separate bike lane?

    The lane markings pretty clearly direct cyclists into the left most portion of the right turn lane. Stop whining, you’re making cyclists sound like entitled babies.

  • Fibinaccignocchi

    You know as better than most that there isn’t always enough right of way to accommodate everyone. This looks like one of those instances. The city did it’s best here and per the usual, a small entitled section of the demographic is complaining that they didn’t get the moon. Well no one ever promised anyone a rose garden.

  • Fibinaccignocchi

    And they gave cyclists like a huge strip of green pavement. They could have said, “Nope, not enough right of way to create a separate lane, we’ll just nix all accommodations for bikes here altogether. Or just slap down some sharrows and put up a sign and call it a day.” But they didn’t, they tried to provide as much of an accommodation as possible given the circumstances and people are still complaining. And what are they complaining about? That they have to wait a minute, the same thing so many cyclists roll their eyes at when listening to the complaints of impatient drivers. Get over it. Pass on the left by merging with the thru lane or stay in the turn lane and suck it up and wait a second just like millions of other regular pepople do in traffic avery single day. Being on a bike doesn’t mean you’re entitled to never have to wait for traffic. Jeezus.

  • Mishellie

    Cyclists ACTUALLY get jack shit compared to every other type of traffic. So yes, when we d get something, care should be put into it to make it right.

  • Wait a minute? If cyclists were not filtering to the front of the line here (because of the lack of space), then they would be waiting in a line of cars that stretches enough to miss the first and the second traffic signals at this intersection.

    The number one and number two reasons people ride bikes in urban areas are low cost and convenience. Take either away and you’ve got more people driving or taking a crowded transit system.

  • Fibinaccignocchi

    Oh my god, you’d complain about being hung with a new rope…

  • Fibinaccignocchi

    So merge with the thru lane and go on about your business. Or take another route. Or take a train, or bus, or walk. I mean it seems pretty clear from the two images that there’s isn’t enough space for a separate lane. The city is doing it’s best. What do you want, a tunnel? A bridge? Tear out a sidewalk or tear down a building to make space for a bike lane for 30ft?

    These comments in the face of a city making accommodations for cyclists where ever and whenever possible that cycling should get some sort of supreme deference and that “convenience” means being able to take any route you choose, AND always having priority, AND never, ever having to wait in traffic AND always feeling totally protected is unreasonable. Bikes aren’t the only vehicles on the road. People need to learn when to be gracious lest all cyclists come off looking like ingrates.

  • Mishellie

    Oh my god what’s the point if it’s not safe and effective?

  • Fibinaccignocchi

    You’re statement assumes that it isn’t safe or effective. On what basis? What’s the metric for safe and effective? I think you just like to complain.

  • Mishellie

    1) not safe, continues to not seperate cars and bikes at intersections, a major critique of American bike lanes.

    2) not efficient, continues to not seperate cars and bikes at intersections, causing bikes going straight to be caught behind turning cars who are in turn waiting for pedestrians to cross.

  • “…ingrates.” Please watch your language. We have a comment policy and this is the relevant point regarding this comment.

    “We may edit or delete ad hominem attacks, unnecessary or uncreative profanity, off-topic posts, lengthy or poorly written rants, flat-earth arguments and comments that we feel don’t add any real value to the conversation that’s underway.”


  • cjlane

    Seriously? “ingrates” is offensive in some fashion? It just means ‘an ungrateful person’.

    Sure, if you go to urbandictionary, it has an offensive definition, but if one is sensitive to offense, urbandictionary is not the place to go. Even ‘bike’ has an offensive meaning at urbandictionary.

    Please to explain, Steven.

  • Please refrain from personal attacks. Future comments of this nature will be deleted. Thanks.

  • Fibinaccignocchi

    Oh please. An observation that people need to pick their battles and occasionally show some gratitude otherwise they run the risk of making their peer group look like ingrates is now being threatened with an arbitrary censorship policy? Give me a break. Nice open and healthy forum you’ve got going here.


    noun ˈin-ˌgrāt

    : a person who does not show proper appreciation or thanks for something : an ungrateful person

    Someone who doesn’t show occasional gratitude could be reasonably be considered an ungrateful person. Or, an ingrate. Merriam Webster makes no mention of the word being considered vulgar, nor is anyone even actually called an ingrate in my comment.

    Further more my original comment and subsequent defense is wholly germane to the conversation and not off topic. In fact I find it somewhat ironic that I’m getting flak on a STREETSBLOG franchise for suggesting the notion that drivers AND cyclists should accept that they should occasionally be expected to wait while pedestrians cross the road.

    Someone needs to cool down.

  • Fibinaccignocchi

    Nice. I of course see no warning or deletion of the previous users use of profanity. Oh, wait, I see the stipulation about necessary or creative profanity. How conveniently arbitrary. Too bad allegory and metaphor don’t pass your litmus test.

  • Fibinaccignocchi

    Do you understand what right of way is? And how there is only a limited width to the road? That there isn’t always enough room on the road for a separate lane for everyone? That there are other road users to consider besides cyclists? Do you understand the meaning of the phrase “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”?

    “Safe” and “efficient” are absolutes. There is no absolutely safe or efficient solution. Only safer and more efficient solutions. The city has provided you with a safer and more efficient solution than previously existed. They have done their best with what the conditions allow.

    Maybe, at a certain point, it’s up to the individual to make a choice, and bridge that last 5% gap that the govt. didn’t provide for them, and stick their arm out, signal, look behind and merge into the thru lane and get on with their life. Instead of sitting behind cars that are waiting for peds to cross the street, and fuming about how stupid the city is for giving us bike lanes but not giving us exactly the kind we wanted in every situation.

  • cjlane

    I’m seriously interested in what set off Steven about your use of “ingrates”–since he specifically quoted that *single* word, I have to believe that was the trigger.

    Still wondering how “ingrates” is somehow offensive. Especially when more provocative language is consistently tolerated from some commenters who hew closer to the line (eg, in attacking commenters who are at least perceived to be pro-care/anti-bike).

  • John

    Bollards on Randolph now to keep buses out.

  • Saw them tonight — good stuff!


Milwaukee Bike Lane Overhaul Includes Some Concrete Protection

Note: Keating Law Offices, P.C. has generously agreed to sponsor two Streetsblog Chicago posts about bicycle safety topics per month. The firm’s support will help make Streetsblog Chicago a sustainable project. Chicago’s busiest cycling street is receiving some safety improvements, including a segment of bike lanes with concrete protection. Milwaukee Avenue, nicknamed “The Hipster Highway” […]