Eyes on the Street: Construction Crews Pour New Concrete on Milwaukee Bike Lane

New curb and concrete island construction on Milwaukee Ave. between Erie and Sangamon.
New curb and concrete island construction on Milwaukee Ave. between Erie and Sangamon.

Crews are in the end of week two of two in constructing new curbs on the northbound side of Milwaukee Avenue to separate bikes and cars. The project to enhance the existing protected bike lane on this side of the street was announced last Wednesday and constructed started immediately. Construction is supposed to last two weeks in each direction.

A person rides a Divvy bike north on Milwaukee Avenue and squeezes between cars and orange traffic barrels.
A person rides a Divvy bike north on Milwaukee Avenue and squeezes between cars and orange traffic barrels. It doesn’t feel much different than riding through Wicker Park.

New concrete curbs are being poured between the row of parked cars and the bike lane, while concrete islands are being placed in the clear zones the separate parking lanes from driveways. Motorists tend to park in the clear zones while waiting to pick up or drop off, and block views of oncoming bicyclists.

This is one of the clear zones at driveways and intersections that ensures a lot of visibility of bicyclists to turning motorists. However, these areas are usually delineated with paint and plastic posts, the effectiveness of which is nil.
This is one of the clear zones at driveways and intersections that ensures a lot of visibility of bicyclists to turning motorists. However, these areas are usually delineated with paint and plastic posts, the effectiveness of which is nil.

Parts of the curbs in some areas appear ineffective, given that they’re an inch or two tall. Additionally, at some of the most dangerous parts of the street, at Erie and at Green/Ohio, there will be no new infrastructure to slow down drivers or close off certain turns that drivers sometimes speed into.

A low curb at Carpenter St allows motorists to make wide fast turns. An alternative could be to have the curb the same height and to ban the 270 degree turn from southbound Carpenter to northbound Milwaukee. It's common for motorists on Carpenter to drive past the stop bar and nose into the bike lane as people are cycling.
A low curb at Carpenter St allows motorists to make wide fast turns. An alternative could be to have the curb the same height and to ban the 270 degree turn from southbound Carpenter to northbound Milwaukee. It’s common for motorists on Carpenter to drive past the stop bar and nose into the bike lane as people are cycling.

There is no detour, so bicyclists and motorists are required to shared a single, standard width lane. But if you ride north on Milwaukee to at least Leavitt Street, then it feels pretty much like the stretch of the street through the Wicker Park “Death Star trench”.

Low curb on Milwaukee at Green
There is a low curb on this part of the infrastructure project, between Green (behind the photo on the right) and Ohio (on the right).

Next week, presumably on Wednesday, crews from the Sumit construction company will work on installing similar infrastructure on the southbound protected and buffered bike lanes.

Motorists coming from the north on Green Street (which is a north-south street) often make a dash across the bike lanes and travel lanes of Milwaukee, putting bicyclists and other motorists at risk.
Motorists coming from the north on Green Street (which is a north-south street, and marks the beginning of the northbound side of the project) often make a dash across the bike lanes and travel lanes of Milwaukee, putting bicyclists and other motorists at risk.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Milwaukee Bike Lane Overhaul Includes Some Concrete Protection

|
Note: Keating Law Offices, P.C. has generously agreed to sponsor two Streetsblog Chicago posts about bicycle safety topics per month. The firm’s support will help make Streetsblog Chicago a sustainable project. Chicago’s busiest cycling street is receiving some safety improvements, including a segment of bike lanes with concrete protection. Milwaukee Avenue, nicknamed “The Hipster Highway” […]

CDOT Has a Full Plate of New and Upgraded Bike Lane Infrastructure

|
During last week’s Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council meeting Chicago Department of Transportation staffers shared a number of updates on the city’s bike network. At the event, CDOT planner Mike Amsden, who manages the department’s bikeways program, explained how funds from Blue Cross Blue Shield’s $12 million sponsorship of the Divvy bike-share system are helping to pay for bike […]