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Party Time, Excellent! Aurora, Illinois, Now Has a Curb-Protected Bike Lane

8:02 PM CST on February 26, 2016

The River Street curb-protected bike lane. Photo: Lindsay Bayley

No, I haven’t been binge watching “Wayne’s World.” I’ve had Aurora, Illinois, on the brain lately because the western suburb has been doing some babelicious street makeovers.

Last week we looked the totally awesome Downer Place streetscape project, included corner bump-outs to shorten pedestrian crossing distances, storm water-absorbing rain gardens, brick crosswalks, and attractive plantings.

Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 7.08.44 PM
The bike lane fills in a gap in the Fox River Trail. Image: Google Maps

Now let’s check out the City of Lights’ most excellent River Street curb-protected bike lane, which opened last December, according to the website Downtown Aurora. This “8 to 80” facility is located on the east side of the roadway, filling in a half-mile gap in the popular Fox River Trail. The bi-directional bikeway is ten feet wide.

The lane was put in as part of the reconfiguration of River Street from a wide, three-lane, one-way street to a two-lane, two-way street. Back-in, diagonal parking is being added on the block between Cross and Benton Streets. All of these changes should help calm traffic and prevent crashes, and pedestrians now have fewer car lanes to cross, so the project is a win for all road users.

Formerly River Street and Lake Street, one block west, formed a couplet, with River serving as the northbound street and Lake functioning as the southbound route. The city is planning on converting both streets to two-way traffic on the entire 1.1-mile street between New York and Gale Streets.

Green paint across intersections alerts drivers to the presence of cyclists. Photo: Lindsay Bayley

Both roadways were formerly under Illinois Department of Transportation jurisdiction, but the city was able to obtain a jurisdictional transfer on River in order to do the forward-thinking redesign.

IDOT has historically been slow to embrace people-friendly street design, although the fact that they constructed Chicago’s first curb-protected bike lane on Clybourn Avenue, a state-controlled street, is a very encouraging sign. Still, our city should definitely consider the jurisdictional transfer strategy for roadways where the Chicago Department of Transportation would like to do bold redesigns but faces resistance from the state.

All this urban planning talk is making me hungry. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to go grab a sugar puck over at Stan Mikita’s Donuts. Party on, Streetsblog readers!

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