Finally! Washington Protected Lane Is Being Extended East

Looking east on Washington east of Wabash. The new bus boarding island will a get oen or two standard CTA bus shelters instead of a Loop Link station. Photo: @elllveee
Looking east on Washington east of Wabash. The new bus boarding island will a get oen or two standard CTA bus shelters instead of a Loop Link station. Photo: @elllveee

The protected bike lane that was installed on Washington Street downtown in 2015 as part of the Loop Link bus rapid transit project improved safety for cyclists. But, due to ongoing construction on the new Washington-Wabash ‘L’ station, the bike lane ended abruptly just east of State Street, leaving cyclists to fend for themselves in mixed traffic.

The ‘L’ stop opened on August 31, and the Chicago Department of Transportation recently began work to extend the protected another full block east to Michigan Avenue. A concrete island is being added on the south side of Washington between State and Wabash to shelter cyclists and shorten crossing distances for pedestrians. Between Wabash and Michigan, a roughly 160-foot bus boarding island is being built on the south side of the street, which will double as concrete protection for the bike lane, said CDOT spokesman Mike Claffey.

Looking west on Washington west of Wabash -- a new island is being built to shelter cyclists and shorten pedestrian crossing distances. Photo: CDOT
Looking west on Washington west of Wabash — a new island is being built to shelter cyclists and shorten pedestrian crossing distances. Photo: CDOT

According to Nicholas Smith, a strategic planner for the CTA who has been working with CDOT on the Loop Link rollout and closeout, unlike most of the Loop Link corridor, there will be no red bus-only lane on this stretch of Washington, and the bus island will not feature a raised-platform BRT station with a huge, rake-like shelter. Instead the island, which will serve one-to-three bus routes, will get one or two standard J.C. Decaux bus shelters. Smith added that the project includes new signal phasing at Washington/Michigan.

Neither Claffey not Smith had an immediate explanation for why this block isn’t getting a bus-only lane or a standard Loop Link station. The good news is that, unlike Chicago’s other BRT shelters, which feature a gap of several feet between the rear glass wall and the roof, the benches inside the smaller shelters will tend to stay dry when it rains.

H/T to Twitter user @elllvee for giving us a heads-up on this project.

  • rohmen

    Any idea if they plan to extend some sort of bike lane east from Des Plaines to Canal? That area is a mess, and it’s another example of how the bike lane system simply stops for a 4 block gap that throws cyclists into chaos.

  • Cameron Puetz

    Any plans to extend any route east to the LFP?

  • Random_Jerk

    I wish they would come up with better solution in the area next to the Burnham Hotel. The bike lane terminates mid block, sharrows don’t really do anything… There are always cars park in front of the hotel and there are cars trying to make the right turn. Bikers are forced to either squeeze between a bus and turning cars or use BRT bus line. It kind of ruins the whole protected bike lane experience.

  • planetshwoop

    Agree. I’m curious about how to get across Wabash over to the Randolph bike lane.

  • planetshwoop

    Agreed. I think I’ll call/write the hotel and ask them about that as it’s a big irritation.

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