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Today, I saw another cyclist get hit at the Chicago/Ogdon/Milwaukee intersection. My workplace is nearby and I can't even count the number of accidents and near-hits I've seen there. It is an extremely dangerous intersection for cyclists, pedestrians and even drivers.

 

Why aren't the protected bike lanes going where cyclists need the most protection? According to Steve's Bike Crash Map Kinzie and Elston are relatively safe when compared with Milwaukee, Wells, and Lincoln. Steve probably know this data much better than I.

 

So what's the thinking behind the protected bike lane placement? Trying to establish safer alternative routes? If the hotspot streets & intersections are avoided for protected lane construction, how else can they be made safer?

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I noticed that the less than gentrified area of Humbodlt park on Division has preliminary marking for parking spots spray painted,

 

Now it's not a heavily traveled road for bikes but it would seem if your making spots for cars could you make a lane for bikes too?

 

 

I agree that this is the strategy, but I'm not so sure it's so dumb.  Kinzie is probably the absolute worst protected bike lane I've ever seen, but the venting of the local idiot journalists has no traction because it's a relatively unimportant corridor, you're guaranteed the local alderman isn't going to start up some stupid grassroots anti-cyclist campaign, and it dips CDOT's toe in the water to let them know they aren't the Department of Cars.

 

If they do the next 10 bike lanes in stupid places, I'll agree with you, but putting the first one or two in politically safe locations makes a lot of sense in my opinion.  The Milwaukee Ave. protected bike lane is going to be a huge, huge fight if it ever happens. Being able to say "look, we did this in five other places and the world didn't come to an end" is going to help a lot. 

 

Daniel G said:

I'm pretty sure the way they're rolling out protected lanes follows a test-market strategy. As in, they're getting put in the easiest possible places to put them. Any place with at least some bicycle traffic and low potential for local opposition is the likeliest to get a protected lane. Similar to the high-speed rail strategy, in which Tampa-Orlando would be the first corridor on the docket, rather than Boston-DC or LA-SF. Obviously, the latter two corridors need high-speed rail more urgently than does central Florida, but TPA-ORL is the easiest possible place to build. So they build it, folks see that the free market does not implode and the moon does not plummet to earth, and then they start to turn attention to the big projects.

 

I think it's a dumb strategy, and putting infrastructure in the areas that need it the least leaves future projects vulnerable to "See! But no one uses the last lane you built" arguments. But if dipping people's feet into progress slowly is the only way to see that it happens at all, then so be it.

Most streets in the city don't have space for protected bike lanes without removing either travel lanes or parking.  Removing parking on Milwaukee will be nearly impossible due to the combination of the parking meter lease deal and the impacts to local businesses.  So I think Milwaukee will be tough to accomplish.  You'll probably see more opportunistic installations; places where parking or travel lanes can be removed easily or where there happens to be enough width for the protected bike lanes as is.

I could be wrong but I feel that when the Kinzie lane was put in, there was a sort of "add-on" update to Milwaukee that has helped my commute greatly.  This being the removal of on street parking southbound on Milwaukee and a dedicated lane being painted there for turning right/continuing to Des Plaines. (I am unaware if this was included in the original plan, so if it was, apologies) I am hoping that this will happen once the Elston lanes start going in. Even just the removal of the parking in that corridor would help immensely.
The lighted intersection at DesPlaines/Milwaukee/Kinzie needs serious work. As is the left turn light for cars and cyclists from SB Milwaukee onto the cycle track leaves enough time for about two bicycles to safely pass. It needs to go from approx. 8-10 seconds to 20 to meet demand and prevent cyclists from trying to shoot the gap when the light is green for SB Milwaukee to continue south on Des Plaines. The signage also needs to be made more clear that a green light means that traffic will be come north from Des Plaines as well. The first couple of times I rode there I didn't realize the light was also for that side of the intersection and the hill makes it difficult to see if cars are coming before you're already too far into your left turn to stop.
I agree that lights timing needs to be changed. Even cars don't have much time to cross

Ash L. said:
The lighted intersection at DesPlaines/Milwaukee/Kinzie needs serious work. As is the left turn light for cars and cyclists from SB Milwaukee onto the cycle track leaves enough time for about two bicycles to safely pass. It needs to go from approx. 8-10 seconds to 20 to meet demand and prevent cyclists from trying to shoot the gap when the light is green for SB Milwaukee to continue south on Des Plaines. The signage also needs to be made more clear that a green light means that traffic will be come north from Des Plaines as well. The first couple of times I rode there I didn't realize the light was also for that side of the intersection and the hill makes it difficult to see if cars are coming before you're already too far into your left turn to stop.
Not saying the timing of the left turn light from Milwaukee onto Kinzie couldn't be improved more, but they did recently adjust the timing of the lights a month or two ago to make the green longer than it was when the cycle track was first installed.  It use to be ridiculously short.  May not be perfect, but I think it shows they are at least thinking these things out even after the protected lanes are built.          

ChristopherMCA said:
I agree that lights timing needs to be changed. Even cars don't have much time to cross

Ash L. said:
The lighted intersection at DesPlaines/Milwaukee/Kinzie needs serious work. As is the left turn light for cars and cyclists from SB Milwaukee onto the cycle track leaves enough time for about two bicycles to safely pass. It needs to go from approx. 8-10 seconds to 20 to meet demand and prevent cyclists from trying to shoot the gap when the light is green for SB Milwaukee to continue south on Des Plaines. The signage also needs to be made more clear that a green light means that traffic will be come north from Des Plaines as well. The first couple of times I rode there I didn't realize the light was also for that side of the intersection and the hill makes it difficult to see if cars are coming before you're already too far into your left turn to stop.
I've also noticed some improvement at this intersection.  I agree that it could still be increased by a few seconds to allow for more than 1 or 2 bikes to get through in each light cycle.

ad said:
Not saying the timing of the left turn light from Milwaukee onto Kinzie couldn't be improved more, but they did recently adjust the timing of the lights a month or two ago to make the green longer than it was when the cycle track was first installed.  It use to be ridiculously short.  May not be perfect, but I think it shows they are at least thinking these things out even after the protected lanes are built.          

ChristopherMCA said:
I agree that lights timing needs to be changed. Even cars don't have much time to cross

Ash L. said:
The lighted intersection at DesPlaines/Milwaukee/Kinzie needs serious work. As is the left turn light for cars and cyclists from SB Milwaukee onto the cycle track leaves enough time for about two bicycles to safely pass. It needs to go from approx. 8-10 seconds to 20 to meet demand and prevent cyclists from trying to shoot the gap when the light is green for SB Milwaukee to continue south on Des Plaines. The signage also needs to be made more clear that a green light means that traffic will be come north from Des Plaines as well. The first couple of times I rode there I didn't realize the light was also for that side of the intersection and the hill makes it difficult to see if cars are coming before you're already too far into your left turn to stop.
But what about the proposed lanes in the original post? I for one am happy that Elston is getting a makeover in any way. I began riding Elston on my way home after recently moving and while I prefer it to Milwaukee for myriad reasons, it has major drawbacks. I am hoping that when the dedicated lane goes in, cars will slow down a bit and some potholes will be filled. <---Wishful thinking.
I believe the reason they are putting in the new buffered bike lanes in at low residential and business areas are for a test for the future to put them in much more trafficked areas.  Not to mention budget.  The Kinzie lane and the other new lanes are just the first step to becoming a much more bicycle friendly city.  I feel everyone should use "311" much more often.  Reporting things, whether they have happened or not, definitely gives the city a better direction to future projects.
The word is that Elston and 18th St. lanes will be happening in the next month.

Rhea Butcher said:
But what about the proposed lanes in the original post? I for one am happy that Elston is getting a makeover in any way. I began riding Elston on my way home after recently moving and while I prefer it to Milwaukee for myriad reasons, it has major drawbacks. I am hoping that when the dedicated lane goes in, cars will slow down a bit and some potholes will be filled. <---Wishful thinking.

Kelvin, Milwaukee/Ogden/Chicago is the intersection along Milwaukee Avenue with the highest number of bicycle crashes. I created this table and map to show them, using data from 2007-2009.

The blue rings on the map are called, in GIS parlance, "buffers" and are circles used to select things (in this case, bike crashes) within a certain distance of the circle center. In this map I used 50 feet radius buffers (100 feet diameter). While this distance encompasses the intersection from center to all four curbs, it doesn't encompass the crashes that happened just outside the buffer that were still most likely influenced by the intersection (like drivers' turning movements).

I am working on a project with three friends to create a better map and "crash browser". I mentioned it in the last story on Grid Chicago in this post. For this project, we are using 200 feet radius (400 feet diameter) buffers to ensure we encompass the entire intersection and the area in which it still has an effect. This also grabs the bike lane "pinch points", places where a bike lane doesn't start until 100-200 feet beyond the intersection. 

I am also concerned with the strategy and approach CDOT is using to choose locations. It's not transparent; at MBAC, CDOT said they were choosing locations "without controversy and that could be implemented quickly".

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