CDOT responds to COVID transportation challenges with a flurry of bike rack installations

A new on-street bike corral by the Recyclery in Rogers Park. Photo: CDOT
A new on-street bike corral by the Recyclery in Rogers Park. Photo: CDOT

One aspect of the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 transportation response that deserves some kudos is bike parking. Last year saw a boom in bicycling, since many residents turned to bikes for socially-distanced transportation and recreation, creating a need for more parking racks. Other developments in 2020 that added to parking demand included the launch of Divvy’s electric bikes and the second Chicago scooter pilot, since both types of micromobility devices could be locked to racks with built-in cable locks.

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New racks on Wacker Drive east of Michigan Avenue. Photo: CDOT

The Chicago Department of Transportation rose to the occasion, installing 899 “inverted U” racks, each of which parks two bikes. They also put in 20 on-street bike parking corrals (one was replacing a damaged corral), which park 10 cycles. That brings Chicago up to more than 16,500 bike racks, with at least 36 corrals currently installed.

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Some highlights of this year’s installs:

  • 300 racks installed downtown to accommodate people switching to bike commuting from other modes during COVID.
  • 23 racks installed in the 10th Ward on the Far Southeast Side, at locations identified in Divvy outreach/expansion.
  • 29 racks installed on North, Chicago, and Ogden avenue on the West Side as part of the Invest South/West community development program
  • 39 racks installed in 1st Ward in Logan Square as part of the Milwaukee Avenue protected bike lane project

CDOT currently has 400 racks and 10 corrals in production for spring, and the goal for 2021 is to install a thousand new racks. Plans for spring 2021 include working with community groups in Belmont Cragin and Old Town to install custom community-branded bike racks.

Communit-branded bike racks installed this year in in Boystown. (Which are already obsolete.)
Communiy-branded bike racks installed this year in in Boystown. (Which may already be obsolete.)

To request bike racks, go to CDOT’s bike parking web page, which also has info about corrals and abandoned bike removal.

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The new Chicago Department of Transportation bike parking program manager, Kathleen Murphy, described the upcoming summer and fall installation season during the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council meeting two weeks ago. She outlined three initiatives that will get over a thousand new bicycle parking spaces installed on sidewalks and roadways. Murphy is continuing the city’s long-standing program […]