Friday, December 14, 2012

Dearborn Bike Lane Opens Today!

Graphic on spacing for Dearborn (via Chicago Tribune)

Bikers rejoice -- there is a new way to navigate the busy streets of the Loop!  The bike lane on Dearborn from Polk to Kinzie opens today according to a solid article in the Tribune:
Chicago's campaign to broker an orderly coexistence, if not complete harmony, among motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians will begin to face its biggest test so far Friday. 
That's when two-way protected bike lanes — outfitted with traffic signals for bike riders to obey — will open in the heart of the central business district, on Dearborn Street between Kinzie and Polk streets, the Chicago Department of Transportation said.

The $450,000 project covering about 12 blocks is a high-profile component of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to make Chicago one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world and to socially re-engineer how city dwellers choose to commute to work or just get around in a heavily congested urban area. 
There was a lot of talk about this lane and it seemed to drag on a little, but when they finally put paint to asphalt it actually happened pretty quickly. It was just late November when they striped the road and now two weeks later it's about to be functional.  Just in time for the heart of the winter!

Anyway, as Dennis McClendon noted on our message board, if you want to witness the pomp and circumstance that comes with a civic improvement there is an official ceremony at 1pm today.

Happy (and hopefully safer) riding!


Anonymous said...

god what a joke.

Seriously please DO be offended when I hurl my trash at you and you glide by on you snazzy Schwinn.

Anonymous said...

This has affected my commute! Terrible congestion in the morning..all for the 3 people that will be utilizing this.

Anonymous said...

Dont complain about commute times. the loop commuters survived years without upper/lower wacker. you have that back now. use it and stop complaining about one bloody lane of traffic.

rokd said...

The lane has been in construction, i.e. closed, for days and on the day that it's finally open to cyclists, there is a jam that greatly inconveniences your commute? Please.

Our neighborhood is nestled between TWO highways. There are SIX northbound streets crossing the Loop. If you are so inconvenienced, make a right, or a left, take another street, or climb some stairs and take the 'L'... you have options.

To put things in perspective, one lane out of many has been repurposed to make viable options that might reduce the very congestion which is the bane of your (our) existence.

Let's cool down and keep an open mind.

Anonymous said...

I have to say, it really looks like crap. What a waste of money.

South Loop Joe said...

Hey maybe now we can make State street for pedestrians and buses only.
Oh yes that failed also.
wait til the first snow and watch how quick the pretty white posts get plowed away.
another grand Chicago waste of money we don't have.

rokd said...

The lane has been in construction, i.e. closed, for days and on the day that it's finally open to cyclists, there is a jam that greatly inconveniences your commute? Please.

Our neighborhood is nestled between TWO highways. There are SIX northbound streets crossing the Loop. If you are so inconvenienced, make a right, or a left, take another street, or climb some stairs and take the 'L'... you have options.

To put things in perspective, one lane out of many has been repurposed to make viable options that might reduce the very congestion which is the bane of your (our) existence.

Let's cool down and keep an open mind.

Anonymous said...

How dare the city of Chicago infringe on my car-centric lifestyle where I don't need to ever see anything else than my air-conditioned condo and city jeep. When I go overseas, I am appalled to see vibrant inner cities with street side cafes and walkable neighborhoods. I demand more vacant lots, fewer parks and surface parking lots!

To all south loopers: how many of you drive to work in the Loop? Why don't you use the L trains or walk/bike?

Super SLooper said...

Hey, Anonymous motorists -- Get over yourselves. Your cars cause pollution. Our bikes don't. Your need for gas is responsible for wars overseas. Get over your misplaced anger and experience some simultaneous exercise + commuting on a 2-wheeler. Your road rage is ugly and shouldn't carry over to blog posts about positive changes in transportation options.

Lee said...

People who don't bike may not fully appreciate how completely transformational this seemingly minor change is for people who bike to work or meetings in the Loop. It is only one street in the Loop, but it has a huge impact for people biking. So maybe an explanation is helpful: Biking in the Loop had always been a stressful and scary experience that made me feel like I was risking injury just trying to get around. Because of the anxious pace of downtown traffic, you always feel like you're in the way, and you have to rush and ride fast and get where you're going as quickly as possible just so you can get out of harms way, and it's never clear where you're supposed to be on a bike. The difference on Dearborn now is incredible -- it's not scary any more, you can ride at a more relaxed pace, you don't feel like you're in the way of drivers anxious to speed past you, and it's clear where you should go. This isn't just good for people biking -- it's good for everyone else around them too. The new bicycle traffic lights are also great -- they make it so you don't have to worry about turning cars hitting you any more, and because they're directed specifically at people on bikes and they're so helpful, the red lights are being taken seriously by people biking.

For drivers, I think it'll be helpful to get bikes and cars a bit more out of each other's way and to get more cars off the street and out of your way. Ever since I sold my car, I am one less car causing traffic in front of you. Rush hour traffic on Kinzie Street is now 55% bicycles since the protected bike lane was put in there, and I think Dearborn will get far more use than Kinzie. Milwaukee Ave. traffic is now more than 40% bicycles during rush hour, but since there's not a protected bike lane there to help sort out cars from bikes, there's a lot of confusion and crashes on that street. But just imagine if all those people biking during rush hour where in cars instead -- our streets would not function. People take up considerably less space on a bike than in a car -- they're easier to pass and often they can even fit in their own lane where a second lane for cars wouldn't fit. This is a win-win when streets are made safer and more people bike.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely wonderful that I can SAFELY commute to work. Thank you Rahm, we are only a 1/4 of the way to 150 miles of PROTECTED bike lanes. Welcome to the 2000's Chicago...

Anonymous said...

Rush hour traffic on Kinzie is now 55% bikes??!! WRONG. Not even close. Do me a favor and stand outside the East Bank Club at 8:30 am on a Wednesday morning and observe. There is no way that 6 out of every 11 commuters that pass you are on a bike. You are nuts.

Paul Botts said...

I've no idea why people keep bringing up the early-80s State Street debacle as a previous example of what's being done now on Dearborn. Back then the city banned cars from State Street, rerouted dozens of CTA bus routes onto it and expanded the sidewalks in such a way as to make it impassable for bicycles; today the city has kept cars on Dearborn, added no new bus traffic to it, and created protected bike lanes. Apples to kumquats.

And seriously, moderator, you MUST ban anonymous comments from here. Actual adults are highly unlikely to keep participating here with the anonymous trolls having free reign.

Anonymous said...

Just like the lanes on 18th Street. Nobody is using them, and car traffic is becoming horribly slow - How green is that, Rahmmy?!

Brianbobcat said...

Anon 7:55am, my girlfriend and I have used the 18th street bike lanes to get to and from Ping Tom Park for a picnic this summer. It was my first experience on a bike lane, but we enjoyed it. The least enjoyable park of getting from the lakefront to Ping Tom was the intersections of Michigan, State, and Clark, where the bike lane becomes a car turn lane and we didn't really have a place to go. Other than that, the biking and picnicing went smoothly.

I wholeheartedly agree, remove the Anons permanently. If these people care half as much about the Sloop as we do, then they'd create a free account to post their comments. Other than that, they're just trolls.

BRENDAN said...

cowardly anons

When will sloopy learn...

My daughter is an avid biker in the loop having to depend on bicycle deliveries for nearly half her business and even she tells me that it creates more problems. Of course cyclist are going to love it but really, what a waste!

Sandeman said...

can we revisit this thread in a year's time? It would be interesting to see who's right about the bike lanes.

I'm guessing that the pro-bikers are going to win... by a landslide.

Anonymous said...

win what? Are there stats compiled on this? What will the stats cover? Bikes per day v cars no driven anymore or the pollution levels?

I mean seriously is this not the dumbest statement? Sandeman sounds like an angry liberal

Anonymous said...

Roads were originally made for horses. Pay for play politics puts in bike lanes...what about more horse lanes? What about pedestrians? I'm tired of our sidewalks being taken over by chairs and tables with people ordering fancy foods. We walkers need a walking lane in the street. We all know....Chicago doesn't clean sidewalks but at least they attempt to clear the streets.....WALKERS UNITE

Anonymous said...

anon @ 341 seriously! Preach that, but you wont get an audience on this blog. Too dumb

MarkChicago said...

Anon Logic:
Cars are harmful to the city, get rid of them and make room for bikes, dogs, and parks.

Thugs & streetcreepers are a fact of life, get used to it or move to the suburbs.


Anonymous said...

Why are the comments always against cars? My bus now takes 5 minutes longer as a result of the added bike lanes. Multiply that by 50 people on a bus and you're talking 250 additional hours wasted per bus sitting in additional traffic. I walked down Dearborn the other day. The whole 10 minute walk south I saw 2 bikers. I think the mayor needs a reality check. This isn't Portland.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:05

Much as I dislike that the bike lanes are causing more congestion for everyone else, to be fair we do need to remember that it is winter and less people bike in the winter. I find myself counting bikers now too though! My relatively brief time on the street yesterday:2 today:0.

Anonymous said...

the fact that winter will deter bike riders is a further indictment of the stupidity of installing PERMENANT BIKE LANES.

Get a clue rahm. I swear one day im gonna trow garbage at those damn hippie posers. Wouldnt that be fun, everyone line up and throw tomatos and banana peels at these hispter tards..

Sandeman said...

Benefits of Urban Bike Lanes to Other Road Users.

For Pedestrians:
Greater separation from traffic increasing comfort and safety. This will result in an increase of bikers due to reduction of fear of being hit or “doored”.
Reduced splash from vehicles passing through puddles.
An area for people in wheelchairs to walk where there are no sidewalks, or where sidewalks are in poor repair or do not meet ADA standards A space for wheelchair users to turn on and off curb cut ramps away from moving traffic.

In dry climates, a reduction in dust raised by passing vehicles, as they drive further from unpaved surfaces.

For Motorists:
Greater ease and more opportunities to exit from driveways (thanks to improved sight distance).
Greater effective turning radius at corners and driveways, allowing large vehicles to turn into side streets without off-tracking onto curb.
A buffer for parked cars, making it easier for motorists to park, enter and exit vehicles safely and efficiently. This requires a wide enough bike lane so bicyclists aren't "doored."
Less wear and tear of the pavement, if bike lanes are restriped by moving travel lanes (heavier motor vehicles no longer travel in the same well-worn ruts).

For Other Modes:
Transit: A place to pull over next to the curb out of the traffic stream.
Delivery vehicles (including postal service): a place to stop out of the traffic stream.
Emergency vehicles: Room to maneuver around stopped traffic, decreasing response time.
Bicyclists: Greater acceptance of people bicycling on the road, as motorists are reminded that they are not the only roadway users;
Non-motorized modes: An increase in use, by increasing comfort to both pedestrians and bicyclists (this could leave more space for motorists driving and parking).

For the Community (Livability factors):
A traffic calming effect on arterials when bike lanes are striped by narrowing travel lanes.
Better definition of travel lanes where road is wide (lessens the "sea of asphalt" look).
An improved buffer to trees, allowing greater plantings of green canopies, which also has a traffic calming effect.

Superman said...

Here is a fact-based article about the bike lanes written by an architect. I invite those of you who read Kass' article to compare it to this wonderful piece:

Anonymous said...

anon @ 122

every one of those reasons sound very far fetched, sorry not buying it.

Anonymous said...

everyone knows that most people who ride a bike to work because they are poor ( under the guise that it is more ecological )

Seriously, those rejects who defend these training wheel lanes are most likely very poor and smoke alot of green. I actually might take part in this "garbage throwing" party and try and knock those losers off their little schwinns

And believe me, they will pick up their little tricycles and go right home.

Sandeman said...

snark all you like... bike lanes are only going to grow, and grow, and grow (just like your waistline)

...and you probably couldn't hit a biker with your trash if you tried.

Liberal or conservative, we will all share in saving lives on our roads.

Anonymous said...

Nice prejudice Anon 1:41pm.

Anonymous said...

Oh believe me Sandeman, when i throw a pie in your face and knock your little body off that schwinn you will get right back up and run home.

Bike lanes are a waste of money and most people agree with me

Sandeman said...

throw a pie in my face?

you are a clown...

Anonymous said...

@ Sandeman

Easy little fella, don't wanna get hurt now do ya?

Sandeman said...


Anonymous said...

Sandeman 12/8@1:22p, the points you post are not about the bike lanes on Dearborn, where the parked cars have been moved away from the sidewalk.

Drawbacks of Dearborn Urban Bike Lanes to Other Users

For Pedestrians:
Pedestrians must now wait longer at some intersections to allow for a separate turn arrow.
Pedestrians do not have a clear view of traffic when crossing the street west to east due to the parked cars being moved away from the sidewalk.
Pedestrians no longer have a constant walk light on Polk from east to west.

For Motorists:
Motorists will need to account for additional travel time due to the restriction of lanes available.
Motorists will need to account for the additional travel time due to the turn lanes having a separate arrow (ie if the turn lane is full, the next lane over is effectively blocked despite the green light by the car waiting to turn).
Motorists will need to navigate thinner lanes, being especially careful for cars which have not parked completely in the "parking lane".
Motorists have less places to park due to the addition of turn lanes.
Motorists have added unpredictability as to what bus, delivery vehicle, taxi, etc. might be temporarily stopped, bringing traffic down to 1 lane.
Motorists need to be prepared to deal with whatever bikers decide to do at the end of the bike lanes, where there is no traffic light for bikers.
Motorists who park on the west side of the street now must cross a bike lane to get to the sidewalk.
Possibly more wear and tear on the roads, if the same number of cars/trucks/buses/etc are traveling in fewer lanes.

Other Vehicles:
On the west side of the street: No place for any vehicle to stop out of the traffic stream, other than a few "standing zones" which are not clearly marked to be seen while you are driving, as they are on the pavement.
On the east side of the street: No place for any vehicle to stop out of the traffic stream. Any such stops effectively chokes traffic.
Emergency vehicles: No room to maneuver around traffic, increasing response time.
Transit: longer travel times.
Bicyclists: Less acceptance from motorists as room was taken away from the many for use by the few.

For the community:
A visually compressed street, as parked cars have been moved away from the sidewalk.
The addition of ugly little spokes pointing out of the street, to ensure that no one gets inthe way of bikers.
Another thing to argue about.

Anonymous said...

that list is HILARIOUS!!!

is that the motorists' view of this bike lane? WOW!

I like the last bit, the single thing mentioned about bicyclists and how they will gain LESS acceptance from drivers... what's lower than zero?

It would probably help bikers to accept your list if you stated that you have biked in Chicago before and you understand the other point of view, but you obviously never did and don't.

Anonymous said...

ANON @ 511

Thanks for the post! That is the first concise response I have seen on this topic yet!

Also, key thing to remember...

"room was taken away from the many and given to the few"

emily said...

people will argue with Anon @ 511 but the fact is everything stated is 100% on point correct. Sorry bikers, but the sad reality is youre a nuisance.

Unknown said...

Who commutes down Dearborn anyway?? The resistance to the bike lane is comical.

I have a list about this bike lane:
1. Saves the lives of people using bikes... period.

Our transportation plan can go in two directions:

European model - where multiple modes of transportation are safe options providing vibrant, people-friendly cities.

Detroit model - you can only drive downtown.

Which choice do you anti-bike motorists think is a better future for Chicago???

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:38

I have biked in Chicago. Once I even rode my bike up to Old Town from here. I personally find it very dangerous to combine heavy, faster moving vehicles with light, no-protection vehicles so I stopped riding on busy streets many years ago (like 15).

I have no problem with bikers who observe the rules. Honestly, I don't see very many of those. The ones I see choose whether they wish to be cars, pedestrians, or bikes based upon what is convenient for them at the time. And hear ones that argue that they shouldn't have to stop because they lose momentum (I saw a biker get hit by a car this way; thankfully he walked away - I still have no idea how). Imagine if the cars decided that THEY shouldn't have to stop because it takes more gas in stop-and-go traffic.

In a perfect world, we could teleport ourselves with no traffic, pollution, or harm to others; however, this is not a perfect world and for most people it is simply not practical to become a regular rider. Therefore I reiterate that the lane was taken from the many and given to the few.

I do occasionally (to be truthful, I should say rarely) still use my bike on the lakefront bikepaths. I walk my bike to Grant Park and then ride from there.

Anonymous said...

I ride from the Sloop to the middle of the Loop to work every day. I do my best to stay on roads that have bike lanes or are less traveled as to not compete with cars. But there are areas where that is not an option. I stop for traffic lights and stop signs, cars and pedestrians. Ergo, I am a responsible bicyclist.

I also own a car, but do not drive downtown if I don't have to. I have a CTA card, but prefer to ride my bike unless the weather is bad. You can't live in this city and enjoy all of the different neighborhoods and culture without a car, in my opinion. My point is I have options, am not a "tree hugger" or burnout or any other ill-used stereotype used in these comments.

I greatly appreciate that the city provide safe paths for bikes and believe they make a huge difference in keeping us all safe (bicyclists, pedestrians and driver). But that assumes that we all respect each other and follow the rules. Most do not, hence all the vile hatred in the comments whenever bike paths get mentioned on Sloopin. I have had cars cut me off, push me off the road and drive in the bike lanes. I have had pedestrians walk in front of me when they did not have the right of way. I have felt frustrated and embarrased as other bicyclists rudely and irresponsibly run through crosswalks, red lights and stop signs. If we all followed the laws and common courtesy, this would not be a problem. We all need to take responsibility in making this a problem.

I will give the bike-haters one point; I don't think Dearborn was the best choice for a bike lane. It is a heavily travelled route through downtown. There are several other north/south routes that would have impacted traffic less if a lane was reallocated to bikes. By moving from three to two lanes for traffic and keeping the bus lines on Dearborn, we made traffic worse when it didn't need to be so.

I hope the city continues to make Chicago safer for all forms of transportation, cars included. But let's be honest that this all starts with each and every one of us. Respect each other and we will all get home safely.

Mark A.

Anonymous said...

Mark A,

Wow. The poster of "Drawbacks on Dearborn" has total respect for you. Thanks for being a responsible cyclist.

Anonymous said...


You seem to be leaving out that there are a good amount of "car haters" as well

remember it takes two to tango

Anonymous said...

I don't know that I agree that Dearborn wasn't the best choice. I think it makes sense to have the bikes and buses on the same street, and I think the city was looking forward and not at current traffic flow. It's just a change of habit needed for the car drivers now. If Dearborn is too slow, they need to move over to another street.

Anonymous said...

I work at a law firm at Dearborn and Madison. My window overlooks Dearborn. This morning from 8 am to 9 am I saw less than 10 bicyclists travel in either direction on Dearborn's bike lanes. On the flip side, pedestrian and motorist traffic was jammed. Can someone please tell me how/why this was a good idea?

Anonymous said...

anon @ 12:35

Please do not upset the liberal idiots on this board with that "logic". It will only insight further bad posts

Anonymous said...

et's keep in mind that lots of people have the day off from work today and/or are out of town for the holidays.

Anonymous said...

Counting bikers in December is not the best time of year for a survey...

The bike lanes are a great idea because it will eventually reduce the number of cars traveling through the Loop (and reduce needless deaths, more importantly). In fact, the Kinzie path has seen a 55% rise in bike usage over the last year.

If you are looking to get from the southside to the northside, take Canal or Jefferson, stay out of the Loop.

Save your survey for June and tell us how many bikes you count while you pretend to be working... lol.

Anonymous said...

"Kinzie path had seen a 55 percent rise in usage." Translation: now 13 people use it per hour compared to the 8 that used it before.

Anonymous said...

This is Chicago. June weather only lasts 4 weeks. Terrible justification for doing this at the expense of the taxpayers.

Mangeb said...

Correct. Counting the number of bikes on a path right in December/January is silly since you will only find the hardcore riders out in these temperatures. Come spring, summer and fall you will see many more on the road.

Mark A.

Anonymous said...

This whole thing has made me crazy. I don't think the bike lanes are that much safer than anything else because there are always pedestrians STANDING in the bike lane waiting to cross the street. I see bikers in the traffic on the right hand side just like always. I'm happy to ride to work in decent weather but I don't think this was a great time to try a new experiment- sorry, I can't bike in slush and get to work in a presentable state.

Those who don't realize how major a street Dearborn is to those trying to get north via auto are woefully uninformed about the congestion issues in this city. While I like the idea in concept in execution it has been a disaster and added lots of time to my commute.