OLD TOWN — A little more than a week after city workers broke ground on new protected bike lanes along Clybourn Avenue, the first of their kind in the city, the project is already taking shape.
Three feet of concrete now separate the bike paths from traffic, which has been whittled down to one lane in each direction. The barrier-protected lanes will run down Clybourn Avenue between North Avenue and Division as well as on Division between Clybourn and Orleans Street.
The Illinois Department of Transportation is using the project as a pilot for the rest of the city, hoping it validates evidence that protected lanes increase safety without creating too much congestion.
Some bikers, like Frank McEneaney, already feel safer knowing a new path is being carved out for them.
"I think it's a great idea, and I hope it catches on in other places," said McEneaney, who often bikes from his home in the West Loop to a gym in Lincoln Park. "It'll make it easier to get around, for sure."
But the downside of the project, namely the erasure of 65 parking spaces along Clybourn, amounts to a headache for some local business owners.
"People have been complaining a lot, since it's a lot harder to come in and drop off your laundry if you don't have a good place to park," said Misuk Yoo, owner of LC Cleaners on the corner of Clybourn and Larrabee Street, echoing the concerns of other business owners on the block. "We'll get by, but I think this will still have an effect on business for us."
Workers said the new lanes will be ready for bike traffic in early August.
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