City Adds Protected Bike Lanes Along Stretch Of Milwaukee Ave.

City Undermines Another Quick Alternative Route For Drivers

A biker crosses the bridge over the Ohio feeder ramp along Milwaukee Ave. as two confused pedestrians walk along the newly painted bike lanes.

The city debuted another, nearly one mile stretch of both protected and traditional bike lanes along Milwaukee Avenue between Kinzie Street and Elston Avenue Thursday.

The new bike lanes, designated as a “spoke route” or main bike thoroughfare, link the city’s first protected bike lanes on Kinzie Street with the ones along Elston Ave. and become the 30th mile of protected bike lanes in the city.

“We are redesigning intersections to ensure they are safer for bicyclists, and improve hundreds of miles of residential and commercial streets for the people who use them every day,” said Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein. “Chicago is planning to build more protected bike lanes than any other city in the country, and will soon be the most bike-friendly city in the United States.”

City officials tout the safety improvements there including resurfaced roadway, bike lanes in both directions with physical barriers and buffers and a bike passing lane on the bridge over the Ohio feeder ramp to allow faster cyclists to get by their slower counterparts.

There’s even a new bicycle only traffic signal at Milwaukee and Elston to supposedly reduce conflicts between bike riders and motorists.

Spokespeople for the Active Transportation Alliance which lobbied the city hard for these new lanes were ecstatic about the new addition to the city’s rapidly growing network of bike lanes.

“This project showcases the widespread public support for new and safer types of
bike lanes in Chicago. Almost 3,000 people signed a petition we circulated supporting the project,” said Active Trans’ Lee Crandell.

But this portion of Milwaukee Ave. has always served as a speedy alternative when expressway traffic was extraordinarily heavy, to get to the Loop or neighborhoods adjacent to downtown.

The addition of bike lanes on both sides of the roadway have narrowed the street dramatically and may slow traffic, possibly increasing congestion there. In addition, many parking spots have been removed due to the new bicycle lanes.

CDOT claims 30% of the 12,000 vehicles that travel this portion of Milwaukee Ave. exceeded the speed limit prior to the new bike lanes, and that 600 crashes have been reported along Milwaukee Ave. the past five years.

The city provided no data to back up these claims.

7 Responses to City Adds Protected Bike Lanes Along Stretch Of Milwaukee Ave.

  1. David says:

    I’m shocked at the 30% claim. I would have thought it was closer to 95%. I understand the bemoaning of the loss of an alternate route for cars. The thing is that bicycles don’t really have a safe route out to the north and west. Personally I would have loved to see Kinzie fixed going much further West. But this is a well used route that is used by bicycles and is a good choice to convert as it s not a PRIMARY car route. Unlike Ashland or Western o Irving, this is a back up route for cars. The Kennedy is the primary.

  2. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    David,

    I’m not bemoaning, I’m just stating the facts.

    OK, I’ll admit I’m bemoaning a little here.

    I actually don’t have too much of a problem with the bike lanes on that stretch of Milwaukee–it’s a pretty good fit. I don’t think they needed lanes on both sides of the street. I also think you will begin to see more motor vehicle congestion there as well due to these changes, and I think that’s not good for traffic congestion in general.

  3. MRL says:

    Its not good for CAR traffic congestion. But there are ways around this — the EL that runs along Milwaukee right underground and a bike. Both are excellent options. Although I just moved to the burbs, I used Milwaukee as my main commute for over two years. The bike lanes will help flow and safety tremendously not just from cars, but from a handful of very VICIOUS bus drivers who seem to be out to get the bikes.

    As more and more cars see bikes whizzing past them on Milwuakee, the easy alternative is to get a bike.

  4. David says:

    PTG wrote:

    I don’t think they needed lanes on both sides of the street.

    My comment:

    ??Huh?? Bicycles and cars go both IN and OUT of the city. How would putting a lane on one side do anything? Certainly you are not suggesting that the lanes only flow in one direction and bicycles salmon in the other direction. Yes. They need lanes on both sides of the street.

  5. Pete says:

    The people have spoken: no more bike lanes!

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