Chicago’s newest protected bike lane rolls by CNU’s front door

Heather Smith's picture

You know something is big when everyone is talking about it. When cross sections of street design appear in the paper and there are editorials about mode share.  Turns out protected bike lanes have gone mainstream.

Crossing the street every morning for past several  years to come to work at the Marquette Building I cross Dearborn Ave, usually jaywalking across three lanes of moving bus taxi and car traffic going 35-40 miles per hour all in one direction.

This week I got a jolt since things have changed.  The delivery and parking lane has been moved over to make room for a two way protected bike lane.  There is now a buffer so that bikes do not get doored.   The most startling change is to look down at the pavement or the signs is to notice that the bike way is 2 ways.    And yesterday the city unveiled something once only reserved for Amsterdam or Portlandia—a real red yellow green bike signal.  They even redid the signal timing to give special directions to cars turning left and for bikes so everyone should know how to behave.  

At today’s press conference  Chicago DOT commissioner Gabe Klein and Mayor Rahm Emanuel reconfirmed their commitment to get to 100 miles of protected bike lanes.  This is good news for everyone because it forces everyone to slow down. Dearborn is now the ultimate in shared space.  Everyone—biker/driver/pedestrian has to pay attention to what everyone else is doing.

As a pedestrian it is a shock to look both ways for bicyclists, As a cyclist it will be fantastic to have a space protected from cars.  As a driver I will have to look around and slow down.  But isn’t that the first rule of the road--or in life? Knowing how to share .  At CNU we eagerly await the results of our new street.  I hope it will result in a safer slower space for everyone.


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