Map: Here’s where CDOT has installed, or is currently building, bikeways this year.
Yesterday the Chicago Department of Transportation made the surprise announcement that it is currently in the process of installing 100 miles of bikeways in 2021 and 2022, which, combined with the 30 miles constructed in 2020, CDOT is billing as the largest bikeway expansion in Chicago history.
Local bike advocates have generally reacted positively to the news that the department is picking up the pace of installation. Another encouraging aspect of the plan is that lower-income and working-class communities of color including North Lawndale, Austin, and Belmont Cragin, which recently got new Divvy bike stations, are also getting cohesive new grids of bike lanes and Neighborhood Greenway side street routes, designed with input from local residents.
However, viewed at a macro level, the plan continues the longtime trends that have contributed to Chicago still lacking a connected, citywide network of bikeways that are safe and appealing for people of a wide range of ages and confidence levels. That’s what’s needed if cycling is going to be a viable transportation and recreation option for the masses.
It would be dumb to build bike paths in segments of just a few blocks, right?
Good protected bike lanes provide a similar level of comfort, so why does Chicago do that with PBLs, installing short stretches wherever it’s politically convenient, rather than multi-mile routes? pic.twitter.com/83GwBseZpG
— John Greenfield (@greenfieldjohn) September 23, 2021
Wards where local aldermen and/or residents haven’t been supportive of bike infrastructure in the past generally still aren’t getting bike lanes. In many cases CDOT is installing short-stretches of bike lanes in a piecemeal fashion, in spots that are logistically and politically easy, rather than creating multi-mile routes on corridors where people need and want to ride. For example, Archer Avenue, the most direct route between the Southwest Side to downtown, isn’t getting any new bikeways. And a mere 12 of the 100 miles will be protect bike lanes.
Even with 12 new miles, Chicago will still have only 37 miles of PBLs on more than 4,500 miles of city streets.
🚲NYC added 120 miles of PBLs over six years
🚲Mpls/St. Paul has 50+ miles now
What’s Chicago’s strategy for bulding a true citywide network? https://t.co/25e1GH6tZQ
— Active Trans (@activetrans) September 23, 2021
In a blog post published today, Active Transportation Alliance spokesperson Kyle Whitehead discussed the downsides of the plan. He noted that while 12 miles of protected lanes represents a 50 percent increase in the city’s total PBL mileage, we’ll still be way behind peer cities in that department. “Chicago is still too often compromising with painted bike lanes that have little impact on safety and won’t get nervous riders to hop on a bike.” And he noted that the plan still lacks “clear strategy to build a citywide network that will get people riding bikes from point A to point B safely and comfortably.”
Streetsblog has been nagging CDOT for a list of recently completed or in-progress bikeways for about a month now, and today the department finally published a spreadsheet with that information. While the department says 50 miles of bikeways are slated to be installed in 2021, and another 50 will be put in 2022, the list for this year only includes about 40 miles. Presumably the last 10 miles are to-be-determined, or else they’ll be pushed into next year for a total of 60 miles installed in 2022.
To make it easier to understand where bikeways have been installed or are currently under construction this year, I’ve create the map below. It’s partly for my own benefit, since I plan to check out some the new facilities that were previously off my radar. Here’s how the color-coding works:
Blue: existing bike network
Dark green: protected lanes, installed
Light green: protected lanes, under construction
Purple: protected lanes, planned (Logan Boulevard near Western Avenue)
Red: non-protected bikeway, installed
Pink: non-protected bikeway, under construction
Click the box in the upper right side of the window above to view the map on Google Maps. There you can click on the ward boundaries layer in the sidebar to see which aldermanic districts have few or no existing bikeways and/or aren’t getting any new ones. Probably not coincidentally, these include most of the parts of town that went for Donald Trump in the last election.
Have you checked out any of the recently installed bikeways that we haven’t already talked about on Streetsblog? Tell us what you think in the comments.