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Uptown's Protected Bike Lanes Delayed by Wet Weather

By Adeshina Emmanuel | November 20, 2013 6:33am
 Cold and wet weather has pushed back the project until spring, according to the city.
Bike Lane Installation Postponed in Uptown
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UPTOWN — Cold, wet weather has spoiled the city's plans to install protected and buffered bike lanes on Broadway in Uptown this month.

The bike lanes, which the city plans to install between Foster and Montrose avenues, are now on hold until the spring, according to Chicago Department of Transportation spokesman Peter Scales.

Scales said that the thermoplastic paint used to mark lanes "needs warm, rising temperatures of at least 50 degrees in order to properly adhere to the street surface," and that striping crews need about "two weeks of warm enough weather," to finish the project.

With cold weather expected next week, Scales said it's better to postpone the project until spring.

Officials say Broadway is due for a safety upgrade. The four-lane street has no median and no designated bike lanes. CDOT said there were 909 motor vehicle accidents between 2006 and 2010, and that 23 involved a bike.

The 60-foot-wide stretch of Broadway between Foster and Wilson Avenue would get buffered lanes, which are like conventional lanes, but with more space "to keep cyclists separated from motorists in travel lanes and also to keep cyclists further from parked vehicles and opening doors," according to CDOT.

Lanes from Wilson to Montrose, a 70-foot-wide span of Broadway, would be barrier-protected, a method that uses "physical barriers, such as parked cars and pollards, to separate bicyclists from motorists," according to CDOT.

As part of the bike lane improvements, the 1.05-mile span of Broadway between Foster and Montrose would also undergo a road diet, reducing the four-lane street to a two-lane street with a turn lane in the center.

Broadway from Montrose to Wilson will feature a northbound travel lane and a southbound travel lane, both 11 feet wide and separated by a 10-foot-wide center turn lane. There will be 9-foot-wide parking lanes on each side of the street, next to a 4-foot-wide buffer with bollards and a 6-foot-wide bike lane next to the curb.

Broadway from Wilson to Foster will feature two 11-foot-wide travel lanes, one going in each direction, separated by a center turn lane. Bike lanes on both sides of the street will be 4 feet wide and be surrounded on both sides by 2-foot-wide buffers, with 7-foot-wide parking lanes against the curb.

Chi.Streets.Blog, following a meeting at the 46th Ward office last month, reported that "bus stops on Broadway will be located in 'mixing zones' with cyclists," meaning "that when buses stop to load and unload passengers, cyclists will have to ride to the left of the bus, or wait behind it," according to the blog.

Before CDOT confirmed Tuesday that the $200,000 project was on hold, Ald. James Cappleman (46th) sent an email to constituents last week warning that "with the unexpected cold snap, it's looking more probable that we will have to wait for warmer weather to complete the project."

He said that the project would likely get back underway around April 15 "if a wait is needed."

Uptown resident Melanie Eckner, also a member of Bike Uptown, said that the city "should use the extra time that's been put on us by the weather to really optimize the [Broadway] design," and better coordinate it with the $203 million rehab of the Wilson Red Line station. She suggested add-ons to the project to increase bike parking and bike storage for commuters. 

Eckner also said she thinks the reconfiguring of Broadway would be safer and less confusing if the curbside bike lanes continued throughout the corridor rather than just existing between Wilson and Montrose.

But she acknowledged that the 10-foot difference in width between that stretch and Broadway between Foster and Wilson might pose some obstacles for the city when it comes to keeping things uniform.