Mayor Emanuel adding protected bike lanes in Loop

BY ART GOLAB Staff Reporter
August 5, 2012 8:24PM

Gabe Klein, commissioner of transportation, shows the mayor a map of proposed bike lanes while Alderman Ariel Reboyras, 30rd Ward, looks on. At Malcolm X College, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announces the building of more than 30 miles of bicycle lanes in neighborhoods across Chicago this year. Photographed on Sunday, August 5, 2012. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times

Chicago’s newest protected bike lane will run along Dearborn Street in the Loop and will include red lights for bikes.

It’s part of a planned bike lane network that Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Sunday said will help Chicago to attract and keep high tech companies and their workers who favor bicycles.

“By next year I believe the city of Chicago will lead the country in protected bike lanes and dedicated bike lanes, and it will be the bike friendliest city in the country,” Emanuel said Sunday at Malcolm X College.

“It will help us recruit the type of people that have been leaving for the coast. They will now come to the city of Chicago. The type of companies that have been leaving for the coast will stay in the city of Chicago.”

Emanuel cited a recent meeting with executives from the hot Internet startup company GrubHub, who told him that when they recruit engineers, they show the new protected bike lanes that Chicago has been installing since last summer.

Emanuel and city officials spoke at Malcolm X College on the Near West Side, where a newly erected, protected bike lane runs past the north side of the building on Jackson between Western and Halsted. That lane will soon be extended into the Loop, city Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein said.

By the end of the year, Chicago will have 22 miles of protected bike lanes, bringing the total to 33 miles. The cost, according to Klein, is about $140,000 a mile.

In protected bike lanes, bicycle traffic mostly runs along the curb, protected by skinny plastic pylons. Where automobile parking is allowed, cars park next to the pylons, several feet away from the curb, providing additional protection to cyclists.

Chicago is also using buffered bike lanes, which use pavement markings to provide a wider distance between bikes and cars.

The new protected lane on Dearborn will have bicycle signals. Details were not released on how they would work, but in other cities they work the same as red lights for cars. They also halt bikes while giving motorized traffic on the same street right turn arrows, which prevents turning cars from hitting cyclists.

Protected lanes on Dearborn will run in both directions from Polk to Kinzie. The popular Kinzie protected lanes will be extended east to connect with Dearborn.

Other projects announced Sunday to be completed this summer were:

A “Neighborhood Greenway” on Berteau between Lincoln and Clark on the North Side. This will use a combination of signage and various traffic calming methods to slow traffic and make the street more bike friendly.

Improvements to the Milwaukee Avenue bike lane connecting Kinzie and the new protected bike lane on Elston.

A “road diet” expanding pedestrian and bike areas while eliminating lanes of motor traffic along part of South Chicago Avenue on the South Side.

Protected or buffered bike lanes will be or already are installed on:

  • 31st Street between Wells and the lakefront.
  • 55th Street between Cottage Grove and Dorchester.
  • King Drive between 26th and 51st streets.
  • Clark Street from North Avenue to Walton.
  • Three miles of West Side boulevards.