Photoset: Chicago’s Broadway protected bike lanes are in

June 13, 2014 at 6:34 pm

I’m not sure if they’re done yet, but the Broadway road diet project in Uptown is installed.

The project narrows Broadway from 4 lanes to 2 from Foster to Montrose, and includes a protected bike lane on two blocks from Montrose to Wilson, and buffered bike lanes the rest of the way.

It actually took me a minute to notice that the lanes were there; as I headed west on Montrose from the lake, I looked to see if they were in but didn’t see anything. Looking a little further, I noticed they were in – but the actual protection doesn’t start for nearly half a block! Riding along that stretch (until the protected lane begins) still feels just as stressful as before.

Just north of Sunnyside, the large area allows bikes and buses to “mix” before the protected bike lane begins again.

Right now, it’s… okay. There is a lot of room at the curb cuts so drivers can (theoretically) see if it’s safe to turn into traffic without having to block the bike lane, but in practice I’m not sure if that will work.

Naturally, a cable truck was parked in the bike lane portion.

Like all bike lanes in Chicago, the bike infrastructure basically disappears at intersections, and there is no basic green paint (there wasn’t enough money for more than just paint).

There are no plastic posts anywhere (those could be coming), so we rely on paint to keep drivers away. If there were more funds available (and there are, somewhere), the striped areas could have been bioswales with trees or other traffic-calming, protective infrastructure.

I really wish Chicago would start to put planters in. If nothing else, it would provide a little shade and some more permanent-feeling infrastructure (that can still be moved).

My rating as of today?

I haven’t rated any other bike lanes, but a “three out of five” is how I feel. I’m comfortable using it, but I don’t think it’s quite enough for everyone. Getting protected bike lanes further out in neighborhoods (well, in the N 4000’s) is a good start though.