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Protected Bike Lanes

Goin’ to Graceland: Take a virtual ride on the nearly finished Clark PBLs between Montrose and Irving Park

The project appears to be pretty much finished, but I'm double checking that no additional concrete, flexi-posts, or paint are planned.

Looking north at Graceland Cemetery. Photo: John Greenfield

Update 12/18/23, 4:30 PM: 47th Ward chief of staff Josh Mark told Streetsblog today that his office has gotten many questions about "the lack of concrete curbs on Clark you reported. The precast [concrete] curbs are coming. I'm told there was a delay in the contracting, but they're coming."

This stretch of Clark looks like it should be getting precast concrete curbs, right? Well it's reportedly getting some. Photo: John Greenfield

Last week during Bike Lane Week, I visited every bikeway that the Chicago Department of Transportation built this year, all over the city. So I feel comfortable writing yet another post about the Graceland Greenway, the new protected lanes located right around the corner from Streetsblog Chicago's Uptown headquarters.

Plans for the Clark Street corridor. Image: CDOT

This bikeway is located next to Graceland Cemetery between Montrose Avenue (4400 N.) and Irving Park Road (4000 N.) in the 46th and 47th Wards. Read this post for details on what this project involved. In a nutshell, CDOT converted the little-used car parking spaces on the east side of Clark next to the cemetery for the initiative. Wrigley Field charter bus parking has been moved to Irving Park, and CTA bus islands and a bus standing zone have been added.

Take a virtual ride in the videos below.


• Despite car-centric folks frequently arguing on SBC's Facebook page that PBLs are a waste of money because no one rides here during the winter, there were a fair amount of bike lane users when I visited Friday afternoon. Granted, there was a high of 52F that mid-December day – thanks global warming!

• These motorheads frequently claim that protected lanes cause problems for emergency vehicles. A recent WGN report found that, despite complaints from Augusta Boulevard residents in West Town, the Chicago fire and police departments didn't indicate that's an actual problem. And as you can see here at 1:15, the ambulance driver doesn't seem to be having any problems with the Graceland Greenway.

• The striped / flexi-post area between parked cars and the bike lane is fairly narrow, so bike riders should keep an eye out for opening car doors. However, most Chicago car trips are single-occupancy, with the driver leaving the vehicle through the non-bike lane side.

• The yellow curb that calms traffic in front of the gas station driveway just south of Berteau Avenue (see photo a few images below), is a nice touch.


• Much of the "protection" of the northbound bike lane is just paint and widely-spaced flexi-posts. Maybe that's to allow drivers to pull over if absolutely necessary, such as for an ambulance. But, if possible, CDOT should replace these flimsy bollards with concrete curbs, so we're protecting people, rather than drivers' paint jobs,

• On the other hand the raised bike lane and bus areas a block north of Irving Park seem to be working well.

• Past the bus shelter at 1:00, there's a curious opening in the concrete island, perhaps to allow workers using bike lane cleaning and snow-plowing devices to enter the the lane.

Here are some more still photos of the new bike lanes.


Clark and Berteau, looking south, before and after. Photo: John Greenfield
Looking south at Southport. Photo: John Greenfield
A skater passes by a gas station, where traffic is calmed by the yellow curb, looking south. Photo: John Greenfield


Biking north near Irving Park. Photo: John Greenfield
The raised bike lane and bus standing zone, looking north. Photo: John Greenfield
Bus shelter next to raised bike lane looking north approaching Southport. Photo: John Greenfield

The project appears to be pretty much finished, although I'm double checking with the transportation department that no additional concrete, flexi-posts, or paint are planned.

I'm sure there are lots of different opinions about how this bikeway turned out – feel free to state yours in the comments below. But while it's not an absolutely perfect bike route, I appreciate the innovative-for-Chicago bikeway design. That makes it a fitting neighbor for a cemetery where city planning and architecture heroes like Daniel Burnham, Louis Sullivan, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe were laid to rest.

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