Protected bike lane status report

  • Look for bicycle signage along Dearborn Street near Lake Street in Chicago.
Look for bicycle signage along Dearborn Street near Lake Street in Chicago. (Antonio Perez/ Chicago…)
February 01, 2013|By Leonor Vivanco, @lvivanco | RedEye

Chicago is pedal pushing.

City crews installed 27 miles of protected bike lanes in 2012, making some progress on Mayor Emanuel’s goal to turn Chicago into the most bike-friendly city.

The total of 27 miles brings the tally to 30 miles of protected bike lanes since Emanuel took office in May 2011, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation's report 2012 Bikeways – Year in Review released Friday.

Emanuel plans to get 100 miles of protected bike lanes installed during his first term. Bike lanes can be protected by barriers like flex posts or by striped buffers on the pavement marking the bike lane and giving more space between cyclists and vehicular traffic compared to standard bike lanes.

Last year, the city counted 9.4 miles of new barrier-protected bike lanes. In December, the two-way Dearborn Street bike lane from Polk to Kinzie Streets with traffic signals became the first protected bike lane in the Loop.

Other barrier-protected bike lanes went along Elston Avenue from Chestnut to LeMoyne Streets; 31st Street from Wells Street to Lake Shore Drive; Lake Street from Central Park to Damen Avenues; 55th Street from Cottage Grove to Dorchester Avenues; Des Plaines Street from Harrison to Kinzie Streets.

The 17.65 miles of new buffer-protected lanes were placed in neighborhoods including the South Loop, Lakeview, Roscoe Village, Humboldt Park, Hyde Park, Gresham and Bronzeville.

“When Mayor Emanuel took office there were no protected bike lanes in Chicago. Now, we are setting a new standard for cycling facilities for other cities to follow, and are a national leader in that effort,” CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein said in a news release.

The city plans to build roughly 25 to 30 miles of protected bike lanes each year until 2015 to meet Emanuel’s goal, said CDOT spokesman Pete Scales.

The very first protected bike lane was completed along Kinzie Street between Wells Street and DesPlaines Avenue in July 2011, a couple months after Emanuel took office.

2012 also included:

>> 1 mile of new standard bike lanes

>> Almost 1 mile of new shared, contra-flow or priority lanes

>> 10 miles of restriped bike lanes

>> 7 bridges retrofitted and treated with concrete infill or fiberglass plates to be bike-friendly

>> 4 on-street bike corrals

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