CITY HALL — The city is planning to move protected bike lanes from Canal and Madison streets to Randolph Street, Washington Boulevard and Clinton Street as part of a bus-rapid-transit plan to ease congestion on Madison and around Union Station.
The alterations have always been part of the Central Loop BRT project, but were not widely publicized until the Chicago Department of Transportation made a presentation on it recently to the Mayor's Bicycle Advisory Council. The new lanes are expected to free cyclists from congestion surrounding Union Station and from sharing the road with the CTA's busy 20 Madison bus line.
"The approach is that the new lanes would serve the same purpose," said Kyle Whitehead, campaign director for the Active Transportation Alliance, which supports the switch.
It will create three new miles of protected bike lanes on Clinton, Washington and Randolph and replace 1.5 miles on Canal and Madison.
On Washington, bike lanes will be protected by running on the curb side of BRT stations, with buses and through traffic on the other side. According to Department of Transportation spokesman Pete Scales, the lane will be set off between bus shelters, but it's not clear yet whether by the plastic barriers found on the Dearborn Street protected bike lanes or in some other manner.
"They will be physically separated somehow," Scales said.
Whitehead welcomed that configuration.
"These new protected bike lanes on Washington and Randolph are the kind of bike lanes we like to see," Whitehead said, in that they're clearly separated from traffic.
In that way, the new lanes would also be an upgrade from the current lanes on Madison and Canal. Whitehead added that similar lanes along Dearborn had increased bike traffic on that stretch of road by 150 percent.
The BRT project was scheduled for this year, but Scales said construction was now expected to start late this year or early next.
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