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The Dearborn Protected Bike Lanes Is Getting More Concrete Curb Protection

Construction has started in Printer’s Row. Photo: CDOT

One of Chicago's first and most popular protected bike lanes is getting another upgrade.

The Chicago Department of Transportation announced yesterday that it has launched construction of concrete curb protection on the Dearborn two-way protected bike lane, along its entire length from Polk to Kinzie. The lane sees about 800 bike trips during the evening rush, according to the city.

This isn't the first concrete protection the bikeway has received. In 2016 CDOT added concrete curb treatments, inspired by Dutch protected intersections, on Dearborn at Randolph and Washington. This infrastructure also shortens pedestrian crossing distances and provides more space for people on foot to wait for a walk signal.

Concrete protection installed at Dearborn and Randolph in 2016. Photo: John Greenfield
Concrete protection installed at Dearborn and Randolph in 2016. Photo: John Greenfield

This summer the city added concrete curb protection to stretches of the popular Milwaukee and Elston bike lanes in West Town.

The current work on the Dearborn bike lane beginning at the south end in Printer's Row, progressing in roughly four-block chunks. For starters, the northbound portion of the bike lane will be closed for about two weeks to accommodate the installation of curbs to the right of the lane. The new barriers will help prevent motorists from driving and standing in the lane.

The southbound portion of the Dearborn bike lane will remain open between Kinzie and Harrison during the entire project, but  a detour is currently required between Harrison and Polk due to other construction work. Southbound bicyclists can ride east on Harrison and south on Plymouth Court, a quiet, alley-like street a half block east of Dearborn, to get to Polk.

CDOT is advising northbound cyclists to merge into the westernmost Dearborn travel lane. Signs have been posted in the construction zone reminding drivers they are required to yield to people on bikes. CDOT's news release about the project states that drivers shouldn't attempt to pass cyclists in the travel lane unless there's enough room to give three feet of clearance, and that motorists shouldn't break the 30 mph speed limit when doing so.

Alternately, more confident cyclists may prefer to ride on two-way State Street, a block east. While State is a busy multilane street, I find that traffic speeds tend to be moderate, which makes it reasonably rideable if you're comfortable sharing a lane with cars and buses.

Dearborn construction will be limited to non-rush hours. The project is estimated to last approximately 4 weeks.

CDOT did not immediately respond to a question about whether there's any plan to address the many hazardous, roughly two-inch-deep manhole cover divots in the Dearborn bike lane in the blocks near Daley Plaza. That would be a major safety improvement as well.

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