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Protected Bike Lanes

Concrete protection comes to Clark bike lanes north of Berteau, which will help keep drivers from blocking them

To their credit, the drivers Streetsblog saw there today were parking properly in their new lane.

New concrete parking lane end caps on the east side of Clark Street north of Hutchinson Street (4230 N.), looking south. Between the new concrete slabs, flexible plastic posts and/or precast concrete curbs will discourage drivers from entering the bikeway. Photo: John Greenfield

I realize Streetsblog Chicago has a run a lot of updates on the upcoming Clark Street protected bike lanes between Montrose Avenue (4400 N.) and Irving Park Road (4000 N.) in Uptown/Lakeview. Granted, the SBC headquarters is located nearby, so that's one reason the project has been on my radar. But early December will be Bike Lane Week on this website, during which I will visit all bikeways the Chicago Department of Transportation has built in 2023 that I haven't previously checked out and documented.

Plans for the Clark Street corridor. Image: CDOT

That said, two days ago I wrote about how, while CDOT had already built concrete-protected and raised bike lanes on Clark south of Berteau Avenue (4200 N.), so far the department had only painted the PBLs north of Berteau. As a result, drivers were confused about where to park and were clogging the curbside bikeways with their cars. Bicycle riders were understandably annoyed by the situation.

Improperly parked cars on the west side of Clark south of of Hutchinson on November 19, looking south. Photo: John Greenfield

But last Monday I shared the good news from CDOT and local alderperson Matt Martin's (47th) office that concrete protection was on the way to solve the parking snafu. "Confirmed, bollards and precast concrete," Martin's chief of staff Josh Mark texted me. "It's all the same as on Augusta and Kedzie."

The same location on Hutchinson as shown above, as it appeared today. A scooter rider legally uses the (partially completed) bike lane and pedestrian island, but no cars are in the bikeway. Photo: John Greenfield

Lo and behold, when I passed through the corridor today on a noodle soup run, I saw that the concrete elves (actually skilled CDOT contractors) had already arrived, and the bikeway is nearly complete on the west side of Clark. To their credit, the drivers I saw were parking properly in the new parking lane to the left of the bike lane.

Kudos to this delivery driver for correctly parking in the proper lane today rather than blocking the bikeway. Clark south of Hutchinson, looking north. Photo: John Greenfield

However, it's worth noting that the east side of Clark north of Berteau is currently mostly just paint. That's a stretch where all the car parking will be converted to a curbside bike lane, which will presumably be protected with a physical barrier, hopefully concrete curbs rather than flimsy flexi-posts.

The bike lane on the east side of Clark north of Berteau was still mostly unprotected today, but that will likely change soon. Note that some people on bikes are still avoiding the new curb-protected bike lane on the west side because it's not totally finished yet. This is south of Pensacola Avenue (4330 N.), looking north. Photo: John Greenfield

Needless to say, some motorheads aren't happy about the parking conversions. "Loss of... parking for a tiny handful of bicyclists," someone commented on Facebook. "The Utopian left is a cancer."

A "tiny handful" of five bike and scooter riders recently spotted on Clark at Irving Park, looking south. Photo: John Greenfield

It's true CDOT is stripping car parking from the east side of Clark between Montrose and Irving Park. But the department observed that, of the 100 car spots that previously existed, fewer than half of them were used on a typical day. (During Chicago Cubs games, tour bus parking will be relocated from Clark to Irving Park.)

The low parking spot use is surely due to the fact Graceland Cemetery occupies the entire east side of this section of Clark. But, hey, if the Facebook folks think there aren't enough spaces now, maybe we should tell all the famous dead people there to park their carriages somewhere else!

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