Eyes on the Street: The Randolph Protected Bike Lane Starts to Take Shape

Looking south at the Dutch-inspired intersection at Randolph and Canal. Photo: CDOT

The Loop Link bus rapid transit corridor on Washington Street includes a concrete-protected bike lane between the island bus stations and the curb. But the construction of the raised, curbside bus platforms and dedicated bus lanes on Madison Street involved the removal an existing bike lane.

The Chicago Department of Transportation plans to replace the Madison bike lane with a new protected lane on Randolph Street. But long after the Madison lane – the Loop’s only westbound bikeway – was removed, the Randolph lane still isn’t open. As a result, westbound cyclists are riding in the red bus-only lane on Madison. While that’s not an ideal situation, it doesn’t seem to be significantly slowing down CTA buses.

A panoramic photo (hence the curving effect) of the Randolph/Canal treatment shot from the south by M.P. Hurley.

The good news is that the protected infrastructure on Randolph is finally starting to materialize, although the bike lane probably won’t be open for a few months. CDOT recently completed a Dutch-inspired intersection treatment at the northeast corner of Randolph and Canal Street, with concrete refuge islands to help protect cyclists and pedestrians from motorized traffic.

Refuge island for the mid-block crossing between City Hall and the Thompson Center. Photo: John Greenfield

A refuge island is now being built by the mid-block crosswalk between City Hall and the Thompson Center, west of Clark Street. But there is currently utility work going on Randolph in the Loop, which won’t be done until late August or early September, according to CDOT spokesman Mike Claffey.

After that work is done, Randolph will be repaved and the white striping and green bike lane installation will be completed, Claffey said. CDOT expects the bike lane to be operational before the end of the construction season in late fall.

  • rohmen

    Is the plan to stop this at either Clinton or Canal, or is this running all the way into the west loop? I’d imagine they’re going to use canal to connect this to the eventual Lake Street PBL they keep talking about, but running it out all the way to the west loop would be nice (and traffic is pretty hairy around evening rush hour with everyone trying to get to 90/94).

  • johnaustingreenfield

    The Randolph bikeway will end at the Canal Street two-way protected bike lane, which will connect to Fulton Street.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Here’s a map of the upcoming network.

  • rohmen

    It’ll be interesting to see how they deal with the Fulton/Canal/Clinton 4-way stop intersection. That’s part of my daily route now, and it’s easily one of the worst intersections to ride through. I feel like I’m playing a game of chicken with cars most of the time.

    It’ll also be interesting to see if they put money into improving Fulton. The pavement is pretty bad, and it’s getting pretty busy over there between the new businesses and things like google/weworks, etc. Looks like they want to funnel the west loop bicycle traffic down that street, which makes sense given how many people already use it.

  • Eventual Lake Street protected bike lane? I don’t think they had plans to continue it east of where it ends now at Damen.

  • That intersection (Fulton/Canal/Milwaukee) is pretty dumb. For southbound cyclists there’s now a sign that says “bike lane on left side ahead”. What kind of information is this?

    What about the design confirms what the sign says, and what about the design indicates how I’m supposed to move over there?

    That being said, this intersection is a good candidate for a small roundabout, as it would provide a way for cyclists to go from a right side lane and exit out onto a left side lane on the same street.

  • R

    Great call Steven. I take that every day and think about how smooth and efficient a roundabout would be. Although heading southbound, bikes would still have to merge in front of cars going SB in the roundabout to get to the left side of the street, right? How is this managed elsewhere

  • Smittys75

    What’s the final configuration going to be? Two traffic lanes, a parking lane, and then a bike lane next to the curb? It’s really hard to tell, given all of the construction on Randolph.

  • rohmen

    Maybe I’m mistaken, but I thought the whole point of that one windbag (I forget his name, but the guy that was the lead against the Ashland BRT) promoting a Randolph protected lane through the West Loop was to avoid a protected lane CDOT was planning on Lake from east of Damen through to downtown.

  • what_eva

    There is a similar issue on Dearborn at the north end of the bike lane. The 2 way protected lane ends just north of the river (Kinzie I think), but a left-side conventional bike lane keeps going up to Walton by the Newberry Library. Then the lane just ends in a really bad way.

    First, Dearborn is 2 way north of Walton, so cyclists continuing north need to merge right, but then there is a left turn lane next to the bike lane, so you need to cut in front of left-turning traffic (which includes the 22-Clark bus) and the through traffic lane to get over to the right.

    In practice, I usually cut across to the right during the block before, ignoring the last bit of the bike lane.

  • Roger Romanelli


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