DOWNTOWN — Speeding through downtown on two wheels is about to get a whole lot easier.
The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced it will begin installing barrier-protected bike lanes Friday evening along a 1.15 mile stretch of Dearborn Street, between Polk Street and Kinzie Street.
The affected stretch of Dearborn is a one-way nortbound street. Two-way bike lanes will occupy the west side, with southbound cyclists on the curbside and northbound bikes running alongside parked cars. Waist-height poles will be erected along the three-foot buffer space separating northbound riders from vehicles.
CDOT hopes to complete roadway striping this weekend and open the new lanes by mid-December, according to a release. The project includes the installation of dedicated traffic signals along the two-way bike route, the first cycling path of its kind on Chicago's busy streets.
Transportation Department Commissioner Gabe Klein said in a statement the bike lanes will provide "a safe and comfortable route" for bike commuters.
"The Dearborn Street two-way protected bike lane project will balance roadway space to ensure pedestrians, transit users, bicyclists and motorists can travel along and across the street safely," Klein said.
Dearborn has been particularly treacherous for pedal-pushers in recent years. According to CDOT, cyclists and pedestrians accounted for 57 percent of injuries stemming from the 986 collisions reported between 2006 and 2010, but were involved in only 14 percent of those accidents.
Parts of Dearborn will be inaccessible to traffic or for parking during weekend construction, which is scheduled from 9 p.m. Friday through 5 a.m. on Monday, city officials said. Friday night through Saturday afternoon, crews will be working on the west lane from Polk to Madison, and from Saturday evening until Monday morning, the west lane will be closed from Madison to Kinzie.
Parking on the west side of Dearborn will be prohibited during construction, so Loop visitors bound for nearby Christkindlmarket may be hard-pressed to find spots.