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Take a virtual ride on the new Augusta Boulevard protected bike lanes

Plus CDOT Commissioner Gia Biagi gives her final speech on building safe infrastructure before she leaves the job this Friday.

5:49 PM CDT on August 9, 2023

One of the new protected lanes at Augusta and Oakley avenues. Photo: John Greenfield

This post is sponsored by The Bike Lane.

More please! The new 1.3-miles of protected bike lanes protected bike lanes on Augusta Boulevard between Milwaukee and Western avenues are a great example of why curb-protected bike lanes should become Chicago's default bikeway design.

The Augusta corridor and nearby biking streets. Image: Google Docs

Sure, the Augusta bikeway isn't absolutely perfect. While this project involves plenty of concrete curbs to shield bike riders from reckless drivers, particularly at intersections, many of the mid-block sections only have flexible plastic posts, which do little keep motorists out of the bike lane, as you can see below.

Local alderperson Daniel LaSpata (1st) leave's today's Augusta ribbon-cutting, passing a flex-post that's been squashed by a careless driver. Photo: John Greenfield

And Chicago really needs to start installing protected intersections, which reduce the possibility of a turning driver striking a cyclist riding straight in a bike lane. Augusta doesn't have any protection within the intersections.

Augusta and Ashland Avenue, looking east. Photo: John Greenfield

Those reservations aside, the Augusta lanes are a great project. My sense is that is would be a relatively comfortable cycling route for "interested-but-concerned" bike riders, seniors, and families with young children.

Judge for yourself with this virtual ride on Augusta from Milwaukee to Damen Avenue:

Best of all, Augusta is not just a couple blocks of protected bikes lanes, with the user fending for themself in non-protected "door zone" lanes for most of their trip. And it connects with Milwaukee, the city's busiest biking street, which is slowly making its way to becoming a fully protected corridor. It also passes by William H. Wells Community Academy, Christopher Columbus School, and Rowe Middle School, so it's a safer way for kids to bike to school.

The project was city-funded through the Chicago Works infrastructure fund, at a cost of just over $1 million. It also involved lowering the speed limit to 20 mph.

Photo: John Greenfield

So I'd offer a tip of the helmet to the Chicago Department of Transportation and bike-friendly local Alderman Daniel La Spata (1st) for building and supporting this project, respectively.

Speaking of CDOT, this was outgoing Commissioner Gia Biagi's last bike project ribbon-cutting before she steps down this Friday. Augusta is an excellent final achievement before she rolls off to her next endeavor. I suggest watching her final speech on the importance of building safe bike infrastructure. below.

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