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Eyes on the Streets: New Bike Lanes and Pedestrian Facilities on Vincennes

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Before and after: New bike lanes and pedestrian island make it safer to cross Vincennes at 80th, just N. of Westcott Elementary. Top image: Google Street View. Photo: John Greenfield

Vincennes Avenue, which runs southwest from the 69th Street Red Line to the city limits, is one of the bike-priority Spoke Routes identified in the City's Streets for Cycling Plan 2020. Vincennes already had conventional bike lanes running from the train stop to 76th, and protected and buffered lanes from 84th to 103rd.

Earlier this summer, the Chicago Department of Transportation filled in a gap on the bike route by installing new buffered lanes between 76th to 84th in Gresham and Chatham as part of a repaving project. The project also included zebra-stripe crosswalks and a couple of  pedestrian islands.

The section near 76th has five car lanes and curbside buffered lanes. Photo: John Greenfield

The section of Vincennes near 76th is still not ideal for biking, since it's still a wide road with four travel lanes plus turn lanes. However, the curbside buffered lanes in this stretch certainly help make cycling more tolerable.

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Typical configuration on the southern portion of the new bike lanes segment. Photo: John Greenfield

Further south, the project has a big positive impact, since it converted what was a de facto four-lane road into two travel lanes, a turn lane, the buffered lanes, and a parking lane. In addition to creating a fairly nice street for biking, this calms traffic and reduces crossing distances for people on foot. CDOT built the pedestrian islands at 80th Street, by Westcott Elementary, and at 82nd Street, by Simeon Career Acadamy, which make it safer for students to walk to school.

The buffered lanes continue under railroad viaducts near 83rd Street. Photo: John Greenfield

Another nice touch is that bike lanes were striped under railroad viaducts near 83rd Street, which makes a big difference in reducing the barrier effect of these underpasses. Hopefully this is the new normal for when CDOT builds bike lanes that go under train tracks and highways.

Davick Barnes, a neighborhood resident who bikes on Vincennes every day to his job at a car wash, said he appreciates the new bikeway. "It’s a nice addition to the community," he said. "You're not supposed to bike on the sidewalk, so it’s better than riding in the street without bike lanes." He added that he appreciates the new asphalt. "It’s much a smoother ride."

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