Saturday, August 25, 2012

New nearby bike lanes on Halsted, Elston and Clark!

In the past few weeks, new or upgraded bikeways have appeared close to Lincoln Park! It's funny that many have come near, but none are within the boundaries of our neighborhood. Below is a screen shot of the Active Transportation Alliance's ongoing bikeways tracker, taken on August 25, 2012 (I added the circle).
Blue lines = completed bikeway upgrades. Red lines = proposed/future upgrades. Purple line = bike lane
upgrade in progress. Green circle = invisible force field keeping improved bike lanes out of Lincoln Park. 
Even though none of the new bikeways are in our neighborhood, they are useful when we ride to and from other destinations, of course. I checked them all out and took a few pictures to share.


First up is Halsted Street, from Diversey to Wellington. This used to be a conventional bike lane, with a simple stripe of paint next to the line of parked cars, with bike symbols added periodically. However, they hadn't been repainted for a long time, and were nearly invisible in many spots.
The Halsted Street bike lane has not been repainted in years, and much of it looks like this.
(Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park) 
The new lane is a buffered bike lane, meaning there is extra width to the lane, with an additional line and diagonal stripes on the outside of the lane, which is a visual reminder to motor vehicles to stay out the bike lane.
New Halsted buffered bike lane starts up just north of Diversey. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
The Halsted buffered bike lane has an outside buffer. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
On the whole, I like the "outside" buffered bike lanes. The extra room is nice, and the newly painted striping does give a certain level of support to a person riding a bike. 

However, buffered bike lanes of any kind don't stop cars from drifting into the lane, using it as a passing lane, or using it to double park.
Even on a short one-third-mile stretch, I encountered a few vehicles using the new Halsted buffered bike lane as a
parking lane. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)

Which brings us to protected bike lanes! As you know, these bikeways use a row of plastic bollards and usually a row of parked cars to separate the bike lane from the moving traffic. There is now a protected bike lane fairly close to us, on Elston, from Milwaukee Avenue on the south, to North Avenue on the north. (It will continue north of there, but that's all that's completed for now.)
Elston Avenue protected bike lane, south of Division Street. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
The intersections on the Elston protected bike lane have very bright green paint providing added visibility.
(Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
The Elston protected bike lane is a great upgrade for people who use Elston as a commuter route from parts of the city to the northwest to the central business district area. Some people might even start using it as a bike commuting route instead of Milwaukee Avenue due to the added level of protected it affords, and more space designated for bicyclists.

But for now, it's not extremely useful for those of us living in Lincoln Park, as it runs through an industrial area with few destinations alongside it. 


Clark Street from North Avenue on the north to Oak Street on the south is receiving buffered lanes.  This one is not quite done yet, so these pictures below are of a work in progress.  

This stretch of Clark previously had nothing at all for bicyclists. On the bike map, it had the dreaded orange line, which is officially named "Recommended Bike Routes" but in reality meant: There's no protection for you here, but lots of bicyclists use this stretch anyway, so have faith in the safety-in-numbers theory and good luck!
Clark Street south of North Avenue had the dreaded orange line on the bike map.
Clark Street on this stretch is now getting a buffered bike lane, with an inside buffer, meaning the extra stripe is on the inside of the lane, presumably to help bicyclists remember to ride outside the door zone.

Clark Street's new buffered bike lane near Schiller. Notice how few metered spots are used on both sides of the street, even on a busy Saturday morning. Too bad we can't remove those spots and put in an actual protected bike lane, thanks to Chicago's 75-year parking meter lease deal. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
Clark Street buffered bike lane, still in progress, at Goethe Street. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
A bicyclist takes advantage of the new buffered lane on Clark at Elm. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
The bike symbols are not in, and the intersections are not all complete. There are some parts where the bike lane disappears completely due to lack of width from the presence of parked motor vehicles, which doesn't seem optimal, but I'm hoping the bikeways planners have something good up their sleeves for us, and I'll withhold pictures and judgment until the entire stretch is complete.

Have you ridden any of these new bikeways?

-- Michelle Stenzel

Follow Bike Walk Lincoln Park on Twitter @BikeWalkLP

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