Plenty of Good Chicago Bikeway Projects Will Be Built in 2018

The list includes several miles of neighborhood greenways

New buffered lanes on Stony Island Avenue near Lake Calumet will make cycling to Big Marsh bike park a bit safer, although truck traffic will still be a hazard. Photo: Slow Roll Chicago
New buffered lanes on Stony Island Avenue near Lake Calumet will make cycling to Big Marsh bike park a bit safer, although truck traffic will still be a hazard. Photo: Slow Roll Chicago

Today the Chicago Department of Transportation provided Streetsblog Chicago with a list of bikeways slated for 2018 installation, and it’s a promising roster, if somewhat North Side-centric.

In 2017 CDOT installed 16 miles of new bikeways and restriped 22 miles of existing bikeways. The 208 facilities included the popular Glenwood neighborhood greenway in Uptown and Edgewater, and dashed bike lanes on Milwaukee in Wicker Park as park of a “complete streets” redesign of the corridor.

Green lines are planned protected bike lanes, red lines are planned buffered bike lanes, and orange lines are planned neighborhood greenways.

This year 20 miles of new bikeways and 20 miles of restriping are planned, including the following buffered and protected lanes.

  • Stony Island Buffered Bike Lanes: Doty to 122nd
  • Clinton Protected Bike Lane: extension from Van Buren to Harrison PBL
  • Mid-Level Randolph Protected Bike Lane: Michigan to Lakefront Trail
  • Washington Buffered Bike Lanes: Desplaines to Canal
  • Cermak Buffered Bike Lanes: Marshall to Wood
  • Vincennes Buffered Bike Lane: 76th to 69th
  • Upgrading protected bike lanes with concrete curb

CDOT will also be putting in several miles of “neighborhood greenway” side street routes. These are essentially the same thing as “bike boulevards” in other cities. But so far proposals for concrete traffic diverters on these streets, which prevent drivers – but not cyclists – from using them as cut-through routes, have been shelved due to opposition from residents. The following routes will get 20 mph speed limits, other types of traffic calming, signs, and pavement markings.

  • Glenwood (Ridge to Devon)
  • Glenwood/Greenview (Devon to Evanston Border)
  • Manor (Montrose to Lawrence)
  • School/Roscoe (Lincoln to LSD)
  • Wood (Milwaukee to Cortland)
  • Cortland (Damen to Ashland)

A few thoughts on some of the upcoming bikeways:

The Stony Island lanes will improve bike access to Big Marsh bike park and nature center, something that South Side bike advocates have been requesting for years.

The protected lanes on mid-level Randolph are a good idea. Currently getting from Upper Randolph to the Lakefront Trail requires circuitous, non-intuitive routing, but taking middle Randolph is not for the faint of heart due to fast vehicle traffic and the gloomy environment. In addition to the protected lanes, better lighting would improve this route.

Current options for getting from Upper Randolph (where the Millennium Park bike station is located) to the Lakefront Trail are circuitous and non-intuitive.
Current options for getting from Upper Randolph (where the Millennium Park bike station is located) to the Lakefront Trail are circuitous and non-intuitive.

Extending the Washington bike lanes to from the West Loop to the Loop proper is long overdue. Last year a couple blocks of lanes were added from Halsted to Desplaines, so this new stretch will fill in the missing link to the protected lanes along the Washington Loop Link bus rapid transit corridor.

The Cermak buffered lanes will make an important through street a bit safer to bike on – that stretch currently has no marked bikeways — and they will also help calm traffic and shorten pedestrian crossing distances. On the other hand, I still wouldn’t recommend riding on Cermak unless you’re accessing a destination on that street because it gets plenty of truck traffic, and 21st Street, a block north, offers a safer, more pleasant alternative.

The Vincennes buffered lanes represent a modest upgrade from the existing conventional bike lanes.

The extension of the Glenwood greenway north to Evanston will be handy, since the existing signed route from the Lakefront Trail to Evanston is a bit circuitous. It appears that the section of Glenwood from Ridge to Devon has already been striped.

The existing Glenwood Greenway south of Devon is a popular bike route. Photo: John Greenfield
The existing Glenwood Greenway south of Devon is a popular bike route. Photo: John Greenfield

The Manor greenway, which will connect California Avenue and Horner Park to the North Shore Channel Trail, is a project that was watered down. CDOT piloted traffic diverters on Manor in 2016, but the test was canceled after a backlash from residents who disliked having to adjust their driving routes.

The School / Roscoe greenway will help calm traffic on and publicize what is already an excellent east-west bike route (Roscoe is westbound and School is eastbound.) Even though the western terminus of the greenway routes will be Lincoln, School works as an eastbound route from Oakley (2300 west) to the lake, and you can head take Roscoe west to Roscoe Village (where it already has bike lanes) cross Western Avenue with a stoplight, and take bike lanes on Campbell south to Belmont to cross the river.

The Wood and Cortland greenways will extend the existing Wood greenway north from Milwaukee Avenue and make it a little safer to access the Bloomingdale Trail.

It’s great that almost all of these bikeways will make streets where plenty of people are already riding bikes safer and more pleasant for cycling. And the Stony Island lanes will encourage more people to ride to Big Marsh, an important South Side amenity that is currently a little scary to access on two wheels.

However, it’s unfortunate that just about all of Chicago’s neighborhood greenways – the above list plus the existing facility on Berteau in Ravenswood and Lakeview and a nearly completed greenway on Leland in Uptown – are being installed in relatively affluent, bike-friendly North Side neighborhoods. That’s because so far this type of bikeway has been funded by ward menu funds. That means that either the alderman has to be willing to spend money on the project, or residents have to vote for it in a participatory budgeting election.

In South Side and West Side communities with less biking and other infrastructure priorities, it may be tougher to get support for spending the local ward’s limited funds on bikeways (although neighborhood greenways benefit all road users by discouraging speeding.) But residents in these areas also deserve low-stress, traffic-calmed routes, so the city should figure a way to fund neighborhood greenways in all parts of town.

  • what_eva

    Any word on bollard replacement along Dearborn? The block by Chase Tower got repaved recently. It’s restriped now, but no bollards, which means that uber/lyft drivers frequently pull to the curb (through the left turn lane) and block the bike lanes.

  • LazyReader

    Right because what Chicago needs most is bike paths. The phrase “Chicago Politics” is synonymous with Corruption. Despite the corruption of Mayor Daley, Chicago spent the better part of the 90’s and early 2000’s onward combating suburban flight then it all went down hill then by the 2010’s it all went down hill. In 2017 alone, Chicago had 2,500 shootings, 650 homicides. It’s battling a 50% spike in Opioid overdoses, the cities bonds were downgraded now to junk status they have virtually no money to engage in any capital improvement projects, it’s primary transit system the “L” is so dilapidated it has a 23 Billion dollar maintenance backlog; it’s so badly rusted you could scrape it off with your finger nail. No more than half the cities pension obligations are financed; you honestly think they’re gonna show up for work when the pension system collapses. The city’s essentially bankrupt; that it’s mayor Rahm Emanuel had to basically with hat in hand, go to Springfield to beg for money to pay the bills. Which Illinois doesn’t even have they’re in a similar boat

  • rwy

    The Rogers Park greenway ends at Chicago Ave, a high street route. The green way should connect to a street like Custard.

    Also, California where it intersects that Manor St. greenway should have contraflow bike lanes.

    Also any word on a bridge over the Northshore Channel? The one between Lincoln and Devon. Or is that in Lincolnwood?

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Having the greenway connect to “Custard” would be sweet!

    Here’s tan update on the Stone Bridge from October — construction was supposed to start earlier this year. https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/the-turbulent-history-of-the-bike-bridge-that-will-complete-the-north-shore-channel-trail/Content?oid=32568627

  • Jared Kachelmeyer

    It would be nice if they put a light at Manor and Lawrence, could probably move it over from Sacramento…

  • Cameron Puetz

    Also one of the sections that was resurfaced didn’t have the manhole levels readjusted, so the manholes are now like permanent potholes.

  • Jeremy

    It would be nice if a greenway could be put on Dickens Ave. It is a one way street that is at least 4 car widths wide.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9a3d5f2761e8dba126f8269b852848d3a53a71b474bf0911bf8fdbb21244c6d6.jpg

  • Jeremy

    Yet people are paying hundreds of millions of dollars to build high rises. Some guy on the internet vs. people with actual money to invest? I know who I am going to bet on.

    https://chicago.curbed.com/maps/high-rise-tower-skyscraper-construction-map

  • Tooscrapps

    New lanes are great, but the City is doing a poor job maintaining existing lanes and important connectors.

    – The pavement on the northbound Clybourn PBL is atrocious, especially on Division and around Larrabee.
    – Cortland, on the east side of Ashland is and has been a wrist-breaker as long as I can remember. This is an extremely important section that connects the 606 to the Cortland bridge.
    – The pavement in the bike lane on Wells between Grand and Ohio (between the turn lane and travel lane) has been potholed for a good 3 years now. Most riders go in the turn lane or travel lane to avoid it.
    – As others have stated, the Dearborn PBL is in pretty rough shape too.

    CDOT needs to send their employees on bikes and audit how their existing “marquee” infrastructure is doing before expanding PBLs they won’t maintain.

  • 神隠し

    Why are you reading this blog? Do you just love to get outraged at things that don’t affect you at all?

  • kastigar

    At the last MBAC (Mayor Bicycle Advisory Council) it was announced that bidding is open for the Northshore Channel bridge, construction will begin before the end of summer.

  • kastigar

    A contra-flow lane is needed on Carmen, between Albany and Kedzie. Westbound from the North Branch trail there’s no easy way to get to the new trail near Gompers Park on Foster and the unfinished Weber Spur trail. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/713665b8be5ee037b6af194a73daa785d390092bec91411ca35b16a4d91ba74e.jpg

    This short contra-flow lane wouldn’t solve all the problems, but it would be a start.

  • Any word on the completion of the Washington protected lane between Holden Ct and Michigan? The lane still abruptly stops at Holden, where riders are met with vehicles loading and unloading. A concrete island was installed at Wabash last year, along with a stripped lane with no bike symbols between Wabash and Michigan. Bike lights were installed under the L two years ago but remain covered and unused.

  • Mark Twain

    Painted lines and happy thoughts doesn’t provide a safe cycling environment. When will CDOT actually start putting in real protection for cyclists and not plastic bollards? Dearborn should be an easy upgrade; elevate the land, put in a curb along the bike lanes length, and add concrete bollards. Simple, and it doesn’t have to cost $100M

    One other point: anyone tried to safely ride west of Canal lately into the West Loop? There is no safe, westbound alternative into the West Loop.

  • Carter O’Brien

    What the hell ever happened with the Wellington Greenway, which was a winner in the 2016 35th ward PB plan? Rosa Ramirez better get on the ball with this one, this is a total dealbreaker.

    https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/pallardy-logan-square-hit-and-run-cpd/Content?oid=25865226

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Here’s are routes between the North Branch Trail and the North Shore Channel Trail. Granville to Springfield is an option for getting to the Weber Spur, which starts north of Devon. You need to cross four-lane Devon without a stoplight, but there’s a planted median that you can use as a pedestrian island. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e908933257a1e38d51f985de802158404e0175ae8011f9916605854397424238.png

  • planetshwoop

    Rosa is too busy running for ANY other office to ever pay attention to this.

  • planetshwoop

    Harrison.

  • John Wirtz

    Unfortunately “elevating the land” is not usually an easy upgrade because of the need to relocate drainage structures, which often creates conflicts with other underground utilities. It can be done, but not cheaply.

  • John Wirtz

    Love biking on Custer Street

  • Mark Twain

    Not really the West Loop.

  • Mark Twain

    No doubt. Wonder why we haven’t tried bricks in this country. Oh, yeah, unions.

  • rwy

    Hey, it was late at night!

  • Mark Twain

    Yes, we can put multiple efforts in place, at once, to try and save lives.

  • rwy

    Finally.

    Now what we need is bike lanes to make it easier for Evanston residents to access the trail. Perhaps bike lanes on Main between McCormick and Dodge?

  • John

    I don’t think I understand how bricks would solve the problem. Are you saying we wouldn’t need storm sewers if we had brick streets? Do you want to bike on bricks?

  • Mark Twain

    Negative, I am not saying drainage is not required, but our current solution is obviously not working. Cycling on brick is really not an issue, and it doesn’t foul as quickly as asphalt. The Dutch figured it out.

  • planetshwoop

    It was supposed to get one.

    I’ve just taken to crossing on foot and holding my hand out.

  • planetshwoop

    Van Buren isn’t bad.

  • rwy

    Why are those plastic bollards used everywhere?

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Replacing asphalt streets with well-installed bricks would be a good thing for cycling. It’s common in the Netherlands, where if utility work is needed they just pull up the bricks and reinstall the later, so you don’t get the troughs of bike-lane obliterating rough concrete that are common on Chicago streets. The new brick paving on Argyle Streets seems to have been well-executed. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6ef81a0c05f7a06f93976b64065c3d096f36738b24c196c6dd4f891903122cb9.jpg

  • Greg

    Leland Avenue Greenway in Uptown please!

  • Carter O’Brien

    I doubt it’s a union thing – laying and maintaining bricks is very labor intensive. I think it’s more of a fossil fuel dependency and subsidy issue, asphalt is cheap as we aren’t paying the true cost of it.

    I remember marveling at the brick streets in London about 15 years ago, what really stuck out for me was efficiently small spots could be fixed either by simply flipping the brick or replacing broken ones. I think the standard conversation about the economics of asphalt vs brick (this is interesting: https://engineering.stackexchange.com/questions/3075/why-do-we-pave-roads-instead-of-making-them-from-removable-parts) isn’t really a “true cost” of accounting analysis, as it rarely factors in time and productivity lost to gridlock when entire blocks are closed down to replace streets – often due to just a few, albeit nasty, potholes.

  • Tooscrapps

    After seeing hundreds of asphalt patches that look like mountains, I have zero faith in utilities/contractors reinstalling the bricks “as was”.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Randolph protected lanes go west to Clinton, and then you’ve got a couple of blocks until Desplaines, the start of service drives in both directions. Granted, the Kennedy crossing isn’t great.

    Fulton is another good westbound route, especially now that there’s a stoplight at Halsted, and it becomes two-way after Racine.

  • Mark Twain

    Fulton is full of entitlement west of Halsted. Beware.

  • rwy

    Ride your bike around Willamette. Very rough ride.

  • Bernard Finucane

    In Germany, as a rule, any paved surface that is not subjected to high speed traffic is permeable, to reduce pressure on the storm drains. Than means sidewalks, parking lots, bike lanes and reduced speed streets.

    The result often looks like this:
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6a76a013a961ef1dd997d2b0485e0c4c0f3ba4030801ff0f9fe791a29cb388a3.jpg

    This is a one way street (foreground) crossing a wide sidewalk and a bike path (left)

    And construction looks like this:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e1b03ec3e9e72b978f12c75971de978b7ac75e5ac841b49ed95c55ecf53ea20b.jpg

    These surfaces are smooth for bikes.

  • rohmen

    Fulton has become pretty horrible as a west route, and stands to get worse with all the development occurring (at least while the developing/building IS occurring). Moreover, you have to cross Ogden at an unsignaled intersection, and the recent fatality shows how bad of an idea that really is.

    That said, Fulton IS the best (I ride it daily), which shows how dire the westbound problem really is

  • rohmen

    Because they at least provide a modicum of security. The Lake Street protected bike lane had them up, and no one generally drove in the bike lanes (or at least it was rare) while they were there. The City took them down (do they still count Lake in the protected lane miles I wonder?), and now you regularly see people driving in the lanes.

    On the plus side, without bollards, the glass sweeping and snow removal is much better since they can use regular sized vehicles…..

  • Anonymous Bike Zealot

    I grew up in Chicago. The city is close to 1,000,000 people smaller now than it was when I was a child. In the real world (as opposed to the Streetsblog echo chamber) that’s as epic a failure as you can have. His point is valid. Chicago is a dumpster fire. Oh, and by the way, developers don’t put their own money into these projects, generally speaking. That’s your retirement money. It’s kind of funny if you think about it at any depth deeper than you are.

  • Jacob Wilson

    The Dutch also have some of the strongest unions FYI.

  • what_eva

    You get stuck at Michigan though. I tried to get from Dearborn to the LFT a couple of days ago after work (the day after this article was posted). Getting from Washington to upper Randolph at 5:30 PM was a challenge. I initially thought I could just jump on Michigan for a block, but that entire block was backed up with cars waiting to turn onto Randolph. I ended up cutting through Millennium Park a bit to get to Randolph.

    I then proceeded to get completely lost in Lake Shore East looking for the circuitous route to the LFT. I finally found one, but it’s not even the ones marked on the map above. I went through cancer survivor’s (labeled in pink), then down the curving path through Peanut Park past the tennis courts and ended up at middle Randolph/LSD.

  • I never used the lake street bike paths because they were either full of glass, or cars were parked in them.

  • 16 miles in 2017? We should be happy with whatever we can get I suppose in the current political climate. Meanwhile, in Barcelona (where I am for family visit right now) the mayor vowed to install over 300KM (ca. 200 miles) of bike paths during her mandate. She is mostly finished; last year alone more than a 100KM were installed. The majority of these paths are physically separated (with posts or “armadillos”) and some offer ingenious solutions to tricky traffic situations. See http://ajuntament.barcelona.cat/bicicleta/en/

  • Frank Kotter

    I’m not joking. Put any of his comments into a search engine. It appears that they are doing this full time. I’ve blocked them so I can’t provide evidence now but the text blocks show up on dozens of comments on various web sites.

  • Frank Kotter

    Hey Chitown! Any ‘a year in the life of Argyle’ updates? Really interested to see it day-to-day and get a reaction from shop owners.

  • Guy Ross

    1: The population is not ‘close to 1 million [less]’ than when you were a child unless you were born in the 1930s.
    2: The population has remained stable over the past 30 years and grown over the last ten.
    3: Using metro area population as a measure of success is unwise.
    4: I love hearing counterpoints and supported conversation on this platform but yes, the ‘stop killing pedestrians’ mantra is so darn tiring….
    5: echo chamber or not, your comment adds little.

  • Adam

    I’m no expert, but I have been taking Randolph and using the service drives as John mentioned above. It’s not ideal between Clinton and the Kennedy, but OK after that.

  • Have/will they be doing anything to fix the condition of Cermak itself? I’ve had multiple near-misses over the years thanks to the terrible road conditions + the stretches of track that are no longer in use, but present hazards at random points.

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