Eyes on the Street: More New Buffered Lanes on the South Side

Oakwood Boulevard, just west of Lake Shore Drive. Photo: John Greenfield

The Chicago Department of Transportation continues to pump out more bikeways, as part of its effort to build 100 miles of protected and buffered lanes by 2015. Today I took a spin around the South Side to check out new buffered lanes on 75th Street and on Oakwood Boulevard.

Looking west on Oakwood, west of LSD. Photo: John Greenfield

In conjunction with a street repaving project, CDOT recently upgraded a quarter-mile stretch of conventional lanes on Oakwood, from its junction with Pershing Road to the lakefront trail, in Oakland. The buffered lane serves to shepherd cyclists to one of my favorite spots, a bulge in the coastline that was constructed a few years ago, which provides a breathtaking skyline view.

The view from the Oakwood hump. Photo: John Greenfield

The new buffers narrow the travel lanes, which helps to calm traffic. Since the lanes are curbside, flexible post to discourage drivers from driving and parking in them would be a good addition.

Road diet at northwest corner of Oakwood and LSD. Photo: John Greenfield

In addition, a section of the road has been striped with dead space just west of the southbound Lake Shore Drive offramp. This creates a tighter turning radius for vehicles coming off the drive, encouraging drivers to hit the brakes as they turn right onto Oakwood. Installing posts here as well would help keep motorists out of the striped area.

The east end of the 75th buffered lane, at Cottage Grove. Photo: John Greenfield

A few miles south, CDOT has upgraded a mile of existing conventional lanes on 75th from Cottage Grove Avenue to Stony Island Avenue, in the Grand Crossing neighborhood. This stretch is a bit of an orphan, since it doesn’t connect with any other bikeways, except for buffered lanes on South Chicago Drive. However, after rolling another half-mile east of Stony to Jeffery Boulevard, cyclists can head north a mile on Jeffery to access the Lakefront Trail. This section of Jeffery is fairly bikeable, thanks to the Jeffery Jump express bus’ car-free lanes.

The 75th BBL project included new high-visibility crosswalks. Photo: John Greenfield

Since they’re also striped on brand-new asphalt, the 75th buffered lanes are a very smooth ride. They also serve to shorten crossing distances for pedestrians, and they seem to be having a calming effect on car speeds.

Dellon Campbell. Photo: John Greenfield

“I love the new bike lanes,” said Dellon Campbell, who was cruising 75th on his mountain bike. Campbell, a 45-year-old grocery store worker, uses his bike as his main form of transportation. “Some drivers show no respect for people on bikes at all, so this should help.”

  • Andy B from Jersey

    Thanks again for another photo essay on your cool bike lanes. Nice to see Chicago bringing it to the next level. Meanwhile in Jersey, getting a standard AASHTO minimum 5 foot lane installed continues to require Herculean efforts.

  • Sure thing — it was a fun bike ride.

  • Scott Sanderson

    Seems like all that dead space on Oakwood/LSD could be turned into green space. Wouldn’t that be nicer than plastic posts.

  • Andy B from Jersey

    BTW, buffers on both sides! That’s the way to do it!

  • Kevin M

    In my opinion, there’s no way that the stripes alone will change turning habits at the corner of Oakwood and LSD. In the eyes of most road users, white stripes are merely a suggestion.

  • Fbfree

    It’s nice to see that they repaved Oakwood as well. Now, we just need to get decent access from the north Lakefront Trail onto Oakwood.

  • Anne A

    Bioswales – yeah!

  • Social_werkk

    I used to live by Oakwood-drove and biked there. I’d love to see some sort of protection to prevent drivers from riding in the bike lane because I definitely saw it as I drove and biked. It’s a great little section of the city by the lake. I just wish there was more TOD and the transit was a bit better. I’m happy to live in a part of the city where it’s easier to live without a car but as we all know, the ability to live well without a car in this city various by neighborhood.

  • ohsweetnothing

    Agree. Although I look at the design of most of this striping, and the only conclusion I come to is that this looks like “Phase 1” of a process that some point down the line will result in physical barriers of some sort being put into place.
    It’s probably not as jarring to start off with “just paint”…so you get the idea in place, then build up from there. At least I hope that’s the idea!

  • Dennis_Hindman

    The traffic calming effect of the buffered and protected bike lane installations will make bicycling more attractive. The lower average speeds of motor vehicles should also decrease the amount of traffic fatalities, although it might not decrease the amount of collisions.

  • Love these new lanes! Im a frequent user of the new Burnham Greenway bike lanes which gets me from Irving down to the State Line/Calumet Park all on some kind dedicated lane or path/trail. I encourage CDOT to continue to look for safe, non-car-oriented ways to get bikers to the Lakefront in all parts of the City. (Hint, hint: Montrose Beach)

  • Anne A

    These lanes are a very welcome addition in helping to create a more complete bike route network on the south side. Looking forward to riding them soon.

  • That it would! Even better if LSD was a boulevard.

  • How was the bike lane treated under the railroad viaducts at Greenwood Avenue and at Woodlawn Avenue?

  • Road diet! Here are some photos, traveling east.


Eyes on the Street: New Bike Lanes on the North Side

This is the time of year when the Chicago Department of Transportation hustles to get the last of the new bikeways installed before it’s too cold to stripe thermoplastic. Since the threshold is 50 degrees Fahrenheit, this week’s cold snap could mean the end of the construction season. Hopefully, this year, CDOT won’t attempt to […]

Eyes on the Street: New Buffered Bike Lanes on South Damen

The Chicago Department of Transportation continues to build new bike lanes, and upgrade old ones, in order to get the maximum number of miles in before it’s too cold to lay thermoplastic. Yesterday, I cruised over to South Damen Avenue, where the department recently striped buffered bike lanes on the three-mile stretch between 63rd and […]

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

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 […]

Exploring New Bikeways on Marquette Road

Yesterday, I navigated a couple of Chicago’s newest bikeways on Marquette Road, named for Father Jacques Marquette, one of the first Europeans to map out the northern Mississippi River. The Chicago Department of Transportation recently striped buffered lanes on Marquette (generally 6700 South) between Stony Island (1600 East) and Cottage Grove (800 East), and between […]