OLD TOWN — The city's first barrier-protected bike lanes on Clybourn Avenue are almost complete, with crews aiming to finish the last piece of the project — installing bike-specific traffic signals — within the next few weeks.
"I think this is a great addition to the neighborhood. Not only do they protect bikers and cars, this also enhances the neighborhood," said Ald. Walter Burnett Jr (27th) at a news conference held at Clybourn Avenue and Division Street to mark the near-completion of the lanes.
The $700,000 project, which is the first of its kind in the state, has transformed a stretch of Clybourn Avenue from Division to Halsted Street — which sees about 200 cyclists during the average morning commute — with three-foot-wide concrete medians that separate vehicles and bicycles.
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.
Within the next few weeks, crews will install bike-specific traffic signals — similar to the ones found at the Milwaukee Avenue and Dearborn Street bike lanes — at Clybourn Avenue and Orleans Street and Clybourn Avenue and Division Street, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.
The next step is for officials to study the "before and after effects to make our existing roadways better," according to Blankenhorn.
A push for bike lanes along Clybourn Avenue ramped up after cyclist Bobby Cann was killed on the road in 2013. Public officials recalled the "terrible, tragic accident" at the news conference, saying the lanes have already made the area more safe.
"With this redesign, you can already see that cars are moving at a more even, slower pace," said Ron Burke, executive director for biking, walking and transit advocacy group Active Transportation Alliance. "I can't sing the praises [of the officials] enough. This is really a groundbreaking project in Chicago. It is probably the most advanced bike lane that we have so far in this city. It's an example we want to see more of."
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