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Day Two of Bike Lane Week on Streetsblog Chicago: Far Southwest Side

Checking out new bikeways on 119th, the Major Taylor Trail connector, 81st/82nd, and Loomis.

6:55 PM CST on December 5, 2023

The Loomis Boulevard protected bike lanes. Photo: John Greenfield

This post is sponsored by Boulevard Bikes.

Check out Day One: Mid-South Side here.

Check out Day Three: Near Southwest and Near South Side here.

Check out Day Four: Mid-North Side here.

Check out Day Five: Near Northwest Side, Far West Side, Near West Side, Near North Side here

Needless to say, the weather was cold and rainy for the second day of Streetsblog Chicago's Bike Lane Week, in which I'm checking out 2023 Chicago Department of Transportation bikeway installations that I haven't previously visited. But, don't worry, I was well-prepared for my tour of Far Southwest Side bikeways today with warm, rain-friendly clothing and fenders, so I stayed reasonably comfortable.

Unlike yesterday's tour of Mid-South Side bikeways, my CTA Red Line trips from Streetsblog HQ in Uptown had no major delays. But I did find out why Red trains had to detour from the subway to elevated tracks Monday due to "police activity."

The bikeways I checked out today, and an excerpt of CDOT's new map of all bikeways installed in Chicago in the modern era, showing the existing routes these new bikeways connect with.

According to CTA Media, "There was a brief disruption in Red Line service due to an unauthorized person on the tracks near Lake at around 11:30 a.m. Monday." They suggested I contact the Chicago Police Department, which responded to the incident, for more info.

Police News Affairs said, "The victim, a 23-year-old male, related he was at the train station at [Lake Street] when an unknown male offender approached. The offender then shoved the victim with his hands in the shoulder area. The offender then fled southbound on State Street. The victim declined EMS. No one is in custody at this time."

Rendering of platform barriers at an MTA station. Something as simple as this might help save lives and prevent delays on the 'L' system. Image: Charles Gans via Streetsblog New York

Thankfully this incident didn't end in tragedy. But if it's the case that the victim fell on the tracks, and/or the assailant fled via the tracks, it's yet more evidence that the 'L' system needs platform barriers to prevent incidents like this which, at the very least, cause service delays.

After I got to 95th, I rode my bike south and west to try out the 119th Street protected bike lanes between Halsted Street and Ashland Avenue, which were recently upgraded with concrete curbs.

Unfortunately, there are no curbs in locations where there's high on-street car parking demand. That's unfortunate because it means less protection for bike riders, but CDOT probably views that absence as a necessary evil.

A location along 119th with no curbs on the north side of the street. Photo: John Greenfield

The next two videos show the new on-street Neighborhood Greenway route connecting the two segments of the Major Taylor Trail off-street path. It mostly just consists of shared lane markings, aka "sharrows," bike-and-chevron symbols.

Below are Neighborhood Greenway side street routes on 82nd and 81st streets. The 82nd route starts with a risky unsignalized (no stoplights or all-way stop signs) crossing of four-lane Ashland Avenue from an older greenway west of the avenue.

The iffy unsignalized Neighborhood Greenway crossing at 82nd/Ashland. Photo: John Greenfield

I worked as a bike courier in Chicago for years and definitely qualify as a "strong and fearless" rider. But crossing Ashland this way felt a little sketchy to me. So it definitely wouldn't be comfortable for "interested-but-concerned" folks, or families with young kids.

But the new Loomis Boulevard curb-protected bike lanes are pretty good. Still, like 119th, the protection drops off at some points.

Take a virtual ride on these new bikeways, and let us know what you think in the comment section.

Check out Day One: Mid-South Side here.

Check out Day Three: Near Southwest and Near South Side here.

Check out Day Four: Mid-North Side here.

Check out Day Five: Near Northwest Side, Far West Side, Near West Side, Near North Side here

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