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Eyes on the Street: Roosevelt Raised Bike Lane Is Almost Ready to Ride

Illinois Bicycle Lawyers - Mike Keating logo

It seems like it has taken an eternity, but the Roosevelt Road raised bikeway is finally getting the green paint and bike symbols that will turn it into a functional cycling route. This Chicago Department of Transportation initiative is part of a streetscaping project that involved widening the sidewalk along Roosevelt between State Street and Michigan Avenue to make room for the two-way bike lane.

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Street layout from State to Wabash, where the bikeway will exist as on-street lanes, to the left of bus lanes.

The new lane extends a block or so past Michigan on the north sidewalk of Roosevelt, ending near the trunkless metal legs of the “Agora” installation and the Grant Park skate park. From there, cyclists can head north a block to the 11th Street bike and pedestrian bridge over Metra and South Shore tracks. From there a multi-use path leads under Columbus Drive and Lake Shore Drive to the Museum Campus.

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CDOT rendering of Roosevelt streetscape, looking east from Wabash. Note the separation between the blue crosswalks and the green "crossbikes."

The streetscape project also includes new metal benches and decorative pavers inscribed with various words that are meant to be thought-provoking, or evoke the cultural facilities of the Museum Campus. Near the CTA ‘L’ station at Roosevelt and State, which serves the Red, Orange, and Green Lines, CDOT has installed extra-long bus shelters that will have ad panels.

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A crew member applies adhesive to the lane for attaching the thermoplastic bike symbol segments. Photo: John Greenfield

Between State and Wabash Avenue, the bikeway will exist as a pair of one-way bike lanes located in the street and marked with green paint. Eastbound bicyclists will use a special “crossbike” – a crosswalk for bikes – to move to the bi-directional raised bike lane on the north side of Roosevelt east of Wabash. Westbound cyclists will be shepherded from the raised lane to the westbound on-street via a green-marked lane that will slant from the sidewalk to the bike lane.

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Using a torch to "weld" the symbols to the sidewalk. Photo: John Greenfield

The on-street bike lanes aren't marked yet, but the sidewalk bikeway is nearly finished -- workers were installing the bike symbols this afternoon. Hi-visibility blue crosswalks have been installed a Rosevelt's intersections with State, Wabash, and Michigan, and some of them have the same kind of semi-random works emblazoned on them as on the pavers and benches.

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Some of the blue crosswalks have semi-random words printed on them. Photo: John Greenfield

So far, not everyone is a fan of the wordy crosswalks. “It’s distracting,” concerned citizen Stephen Boyd recently told CBS. “There’s going to be an accident any second.”

While that may not be a realistic worry, the design of the giant bus shelters does seem to be a bit problematic. Streetsblog's Steven Vance has discussed this issue before, but it really is puzzling why the designers chose to devote a lot more sidewalk width to the shelters than the pedestrian right-of-way.

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A new, extra-long bus shelter creates a bottleneck near the station. Photo: John Greenfield

When I dropped by in the mid-afternoon, this layout was creating a minor bottleneck. During rush hours and Bears games, it seems like the narrow walkway must be a major annoyance.

That misgiving aside, it will be interesting to see how the new raised bikeway works out once all the lane markings are in place. It's now fairly obvious that the green areas are intended for bicycling, so hopefully people on foot will respect that and stay on the unmarked portion of the sidewalk.

This post is made possible by a grant from the Illinois Bicycle Lawyers at Keating Law Offices, P.C., a Chicago, Illinois law firm committed to representing pedestrians and cyclists. The content is Streetsblog Chicago's own, and Keating Law Offices neither endorses the content nor exercises any editorial control.

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