Eyes on the street: New paint-and-post bike lanes on Logan east of Western

It's getting a little safer to bike to the Diversey Rock and Bowl. Logan boulevard, looking northeast towards Diversey.
It's getting a little safer to bike to the Diversey Rock and Bowl. Logan boulevard, looking northeast towards Diversey.

As the Chicago Department of Transportation wraps up installation of the road diet and new paint-and-post bike lanes near the dangerous Logan Boulevard and Western Avenue intersection, there are lots of opinions about them.

The new layout on Logan.
The new layout on Logan.

People who ride bikes seem generally pleased with the street makeover, but the consensus seems to be that the bikeways could really benefit from some sturdy physically protection that will keep drivers out of the lanes, rather than just flimsy plastic poles. An easy solution would be to place Jersey barriers, low modular wall segments, on the striped buffer, between the posts. Or why not class up the corridor by putting in heavy, decorative flower boxes, like this example from Toronto?

A flower box-protected bike lane in Toronto. Photo: John Greenfield
A flower box-protected bike lane in Toronto. Photo: John Greenfield

In today’s Block Club Chicago coverage of the project, there was a nice comment about the lanes from Logan Square neighbor Corson Barnard, who said she doesn’t ride bikes but appreciates the traffic-calming effect of the road diet on a corridor where reckless driving was common. “I really see it as a way to demonstrate compassion for your neighbors and be reminded that everybody is passing through the world a little differently,” she said.

On the other hand, longtime resident Frank Manzella told Block Club that he longs for the days when the Logan/Western intersection, a complex junction of two busy streets and Kennedy Expressway access ramps, was even more car-centric then it has been in recent years. Back in the day, spaces near the intersection that are currently home to a skate park and a dog park were occupied by driving lanes. He argued that reverting to that dystopian road layout would somehow “improve safety.” As it happens, there’s a new Facebook discussion group that’s perfect for Logan Square residents with a similar windshield perspective.

Today CDOT crews installed plastic posts on the previously striped sections of the bikeway west of the viaduct. Note the rather sad looking sidewalk in this photo, looking east.

Posts have been installed in the bike lanes. Photo: Rudy Faust
Posts have been installed in the bike lanes on Logan west of Western. Photo: Rudy Faust

Worst of all, when these folks got to the Logan/Western intersection, there was still be no crosswalk at the south leg to enable them to continue east. Therefore, if they were heading to, say, the Target on the south side of Logan, they had to make three street crossings instead of one. Despite the recommendation from a 2018 Active Transportation Alliance report on the junction that a new crosswalk be installed, the transportation department isn’t putting one in, claiming that car traffic volumes and movements preclude that.

ATA recommendation for a new crosswalk on the south leg of Logan Western. Image: ATA, Port Design
ATA recommendation for a new crosswalk on the south leg of Logan Western. Image: ATA, Port Design

On the bright side, CDOT has striped new paint-and-post lanes on Logan east of Western to Diversey Avenue at the river, by the Diversey Rock and Bowl bowling alley. In some cases the lanes include parking-protection – cyclists will be riding between the curb and parked cars, separated from moving traffic.

Screen Shot 2021-10-06 at 9.57.17 PM
Paint-and-post bike lane with no parking lane on Logan looking northeast towards Elston, next to Target.

As you can see, as is often the case when new parking-protected lanes are installed, things are kind of a mess right now, with lots of cars parked in the bike lane. In some locations it actually looks like the cars might have been parked there when the crew arrived, and the workers just striped the lanes and bolted down the posts around the vehicles.

Looking east on Diversey towards Elston before and after CDOT converted buffered lanes to parking protected bike lanes. It's going to take drivers a little while to get used to the "floating" parking lane. Top image: Google Maps
Looking southwest on Diversey towards Elston before and after CDOT converted buffered lanes to parking protected bike lanes. It’s going to take drivers a little while to get used to the “floating” parking lane. Top image: Google Maps

Things should improve after more pavement markings, green paint, and/or signs are installed, and drivers get used to the new layout. But, again, plastic bollards don’t really stop drivers from entering bike lanes, so sturdy barriers like Jersey walls or planters should be added.

Have you ridden the new bike lanes? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

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