Eyes on the Street: A Cycle Track Rises Along Roosevelt In South Loop
Next month, bicyclists of all ages will have a safe new way to get to the Museum Campus, Lakefront Trail, and Soldier Field from the South Loop once construction crews complete the city’s first raised cycle track. A two-way bike path along Roosevelt Road, between Wabash and Indiana avenues, is being built on the same level as the sidewalk on the north side of the street. This separated path will keep bicyclists out of a busy five-lane road that’s often filled with cars and buses traveling to or from Lake Shore Drive and the museums.
Raising the bike path up to the sidewalk’s level also circumvented the Illinois Department of Transportation’s ban on protected bike lanes along state routes like Roosevelt — also known as Illinois Route 38. This treatment is common in Europe, but is still rare in the United States.
Crews working for the Chicago Department of Transportation started construction on the path this summer, moving utility lines beneath Roosevelt between Wabash and Michigan avenues. In September, crews demolished the previous curb line and poured a new, wider sidewalk on the south side of Roosevelt between State Street and Michigan. Bump-outs replaced no-parking zones at the corners of Wabash and Roosevelt, and the Divvy station was moved to one at the southwest corner of Roosevelt and Wabash. Now, crews have moved to the north side of Roosevelt to construct tree planters, a new sidewalk, and the new raised bike path.
An electronic board at the site indicates that CDOT anticipates completing construction on December 1, four weeks from today. Once the project is finished, it will create a safer, off-street east-west route for Roosevelt bikers — but there will certainly be a learning curve for both bikers and pedestrians, as bicyclists will now share a surface with pedestrians. The bike path will be separated from both sidewalk and street by a row of street trees.
Bicyclists traveling on Roosevelt’s eastbound bike lane, on the south side of the road, will be able to use green-painted “crossbikes” across Roosevelt and Wabash to reach the cycle track on the north side. Currently, many are left to merge across several eastbound lanes to get from the right-side bike lane to the left-turn lane at Michigan, before proceeding into Grant Park. The path will end at Indiana, where bicyclists can turn north into Grant Park and toward the 11th Street bridge to the Museum Campus and Lakefront Trail, or turn south into Central Station.