A New Bikeway on Middle Randolph From Michigan Avenue to Lakefront Trail

Workers put the finishing touches on the Middle Randolph bike lanes. Photo: Anne Alt
Workers put the finishing touches on the Middle Randolph bike lanes. Photo: Anne Alt

There’s a new, reasonably bike-friendly direct cycling route between the Loop and the lake. This week the Chicago Department of Transportation installed bike lanes on the middle level of Randolph Street between Michigan Avenue and the Lakefront Trail. There were already buffered bike lanes on Upper Randolph, leading to and from the Millennium Park bike station, which, inconveniently, is located on top of one of Chicago’s biggest hills.

CDOT is calling the new bike lanes “protected,” since they’re in the process of installing flexible plastic posts on the striped buffer to the left of the lanes. But it would really be more accurate to describe these as “enhanced buffered lanes” or something, since the flimsy poles really serve as more of a suggestion to drivers to stay out of the bike lanes, rather than actual physical protection. I doubt the posts would even mess up a car’s paint job if a driver ran over them. It would be great if the department upgrades the lanes with concrete curbs to offer actual physical protection for bike riders as soon as possible, as it is currently doing on the Milwaukee Avenue bike lanes in River West.

Leaving the Columbus Avenue viaduct on Middle Randolph. Photo: Anne Alt
Heading east on Middle Randolph, just below the end of upper Randolph. Photo: Anne Alt

But the new Randolph lanes still offer a good option for people traveling between the Loop and the Lakefront. West of Michigan, Randolph is a westbound street with a car-parking-protected bike lane.

While eastbound Washington Street also has a protected lane, getting to Middle Randolph from there is relatively frought, requiring cyclists to bike a block north on multilane Michigan, an intimidating prospect for folks who aren’t seasoned urban cyclists. If that’s your situation, I say there’s no shame in riding slowly on the broad sidewalk on the east side of Michigan (although it’s technically illegal to do so if you’re over 12.)

But it would be great if CDOT installed a short sidewalk bike lane here with green paint and plastic posts. Or, better yet, the city should convert one of the four (!) northbound travel lanes on Michigan to a protected bike lane.

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