Protected bikeways in Chicago

Also known as a cycle track. See map.

Leave a comment about where you think a protected bikeway could be installed in Chicago. Things to consider:

  • Aldermanic support - Can you convince the Alderman to support and possibly help fund its design and construction with their menu funds?
  • What is the prevalence of crashes (all kinds)?
  • How many people ride there?
  • How many people drive there? Get car volume data
  • What is the road width? (measure curb to curb)
  • But still be creative!

I'll look up the relevant aldermen if you don't know it. Sometimes half of a street will be in one Ward and the other half of the street will be in another (see ward boundaries). Such is the case with parts of Wells Street. In 2010, Alderman Reilly (42) paid to have the northbound bike lanes restriped but the southbound bike lanes are in Alderman Burnett's Ward 27 (you know, the guy who advertises on bus stop benches).

I don't list Milwaukee Avenue here. Milwaukee Avenue, like Halsted Street, is an interesting beast. It has constantly changing roadway widths and lane configuration. But it interacts with some of the most crash-prone intersections in the city (think Chicago/Ogden Avenues). It is a special case and will require a more special review.

Archer Avenue

Segment: Entire street, from city boundary to State Street

Blue Island Avenue

Ward: 25
Alderman: Solis


  • Protected from Roosevelt to 18th.
  • Unprotected from 18th to 21st.
  • Bike lane on 21st towards Paulina or Wood.
  • Bike lane on Paulina or Wood to Blue Island.
  • Protected bike lane on Blue Island to Western Avenue.
  • Protected bike lane towards Little Village (California Avenue) on 26th Street from Blue Island/Western.

Chicago Avenue

Ward: 1, 27, 32
Aldermen: Moreno, Burnett, Waguespack
Segment: Between Ogden/Milwaukee and Western (1.5 miles)

Currently: Chicago Avenue at this location is wider than Halsted (4 main lanes, 2 parking lanes, 0 bike lanes) yet has 5,000 fewer cars driven on it each day. It's high time the space be reallocated on a street where people are constantly speeding and rarely giving people riding bikes the required 3 feet to legally pass. During rush hours, many buses drive on the street. Also between these limits there is a lot of housing, retail, and nightlife, increasing the demand for cycling facilities. Traffic tends to drive fast. The bus route is very frequent.

Potentially: Chicago Avenue could be home to a two-way bike lane or a pair of physically protected (“cycle tracks”) or buffered bike lanes.

Waguespack has shown to be supportive of bicycle projects. His Ward also includes parts of Wicker Park and Bucktown. Alderman Moreno has said he skateboards in the bike lanes.

Clybourn Avenue

Segment: Entire street, Belmont/Western to Division (3.5 miles)

Currently: In many stretches, Clybourn Avenue is 50-52 feet wide, with two main lanes in each direction, and a parking lane on each side. This can be redivided into a 7-8-10-10-8-7 configuration (giving 7 feet wide curb side bike lanes).

Clybourn goes through many shopping areas, including Costco, two Dominick's, two Aldi stores, Trader Joe's, Sheffield/Clybourn, and North/Clybourn. It also passes the North/Clybourn Red Line station.

Damen Avenue

Segment: 18th Street to Grand Avenue (2.3 miles)

Currently: Damen Avenue has a bike lane from Roosevelt Road to Harrison Street and then from Lake Street to Webster Avenue (passing Grand Avenue).


  • From 18th to 16th, the street is wide enough, if you remove the little existing parking.
  • From 16th to 14th, under the very long train viaduct - it is very dark under here and no bike lane exists. Occasionally members of the community add handpainted signs saying, “Watch for cyclists.”
  • From 14th to Roosevelt Road, the road is 4 lanes wide but carries little traffic - no bike lane exists.
  • From Harrison Street to Lake Street, the road is 4 lanes wide but carries little traffic for most of the day - no bike lane exists.

Fullerton Avenue

Segment: Ashland west to City limits

Currently: From The Planner's Dream Gone Wrong: “Fullerton has a 100-foot right-of-way, a remnant of it's history as one of the city's busiest streetcar lines. It's also a commercial dead zone. Prior to 1949, a streetcar ran as far west as Central Avenue, letting off passengers (and customers) every couple of blocks. Today it's a four-lane, high-speed automotive corridor (and one which is generally impossible to cross on foot). Between the Chicago River and the street's terminus at Grand Avenue (roughly six miles), vacant storefronts abound. East of Ashland Avenue, Fullerton narrows to Chicago's standard 66-foot width, and commercial activity picks up markedly.”

Potentially: From The Planner's Dream Gone Wrong: With a road diet paring down the road width from 100 to the standard 66 feet, there would be room enough for separated cycletracks and a light-rail or BRT line, without sacrificing a single oh-so-precious parking space.

Grand Avenue

Ward: 42
Alderman: Reilly
Segment: Navy Pier/Lakefront Trail to California Avenue

Priority sections

I have broken the segment into the below sections. They are not ordered, but if developed incrementally, I would recommend that these be the limits of the first sections of protected bike lanes.

  • Navy Pier/Lakefront Trail to Wells (bike lane on both parts)
  • Wells to Halsted (bike lane on both parts)
  • Halsted to Wood (bike lane on Halsted) - section would help cyclists cross Ashland to Wood, which is a two-way, north-south neighborhood “connector”
  • Wood to Damen (bike lane on Damen)
  • Damen to California (bike lane on both parts) - section would help cyclists cross Western to Rockwell/Washtenaw (one-way pair), and California. Also would help east-west cyclists get to Western Avenue Metra station (MD-W, MD-N trains).


Ward: Too many to list
Segment: Various segments


Many segments of Halsted Street are wide and not all road space is used. There are many places where a protected or buffered bike lane is spatially feasible.

King Drive

Segment: Cermak Road to 51st

King Drive is by far the fastest way to go from downtown to Bronzeville, Hyde Park, Washington Park, and other nearby neighborhoods. But the wide road influences people to drive their cars very fast. The street has an existing bike lane.

As of 2012, CDOT has proposed a road diet and protected bike lane on King Drive from 26th to 51st. At 51st, the protected bike lane would transition to one on Ellsworth Drive through Washington Park, where it would then connect to Morgan Drive and Rainey Drive going east-west to connect to 55th, the site of another road diet.

Kinzie Street

Ward: 42
Segment: Milwaukee/Desplaines to Wells Street

While a protected bike lane here probably wouldn't increase the number of people bicycling, it would reduce conflicts with automobiles. I don't think the crash rate here is significant, though (I'll need to check the bike crash map). A protected bikeway on this segment would probably mean a bridge treatment (Kinzie has an open metal grate bridge) and that's always positive.

Also necessary to change (in addition to bridge treatment): The pavement under the Orleans viaduct at the Merchandise Mart would need to be repaved. And this intersection will need better lighting.

Bonus points: A bike box should be created at westbound Kinzie at Desplaines at the top of the hill in front of the Blommer chocolate factory store.

Ogden Avenue

Ward: Many
Segment: Western border with Cicero (around Kostner Avenue) north to Chicago Avenue at Milwaukee Avenue.

Vincennes Avenue


Wabash Street

Ward: 2, ?
Segment: Harrison Street to 35th Street

Leading from downtown to the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) campus. May trade segments with State Street where appropriate.

Washington Boulevard/Street

Ward: 27, 42
Alderman: Burnett, Reilly
Segment: Morgan to Chicago River

Currently: A major eastbound (one-way) downtown street for both people driving and people riding bikes. Also important for several CTA and private bus routes. 55 feet wide. 3 main lanes, 2 parking lanes, 1 south side bike lane. The bike lane ends at Des Plaines. Speeding and abrupt lane changes are commonplace. The lack of lane striping between Jefferson and Clinton contributes to few drivers driving in a straight and predictable line. Five lanes of traffic move under the train viaduct, with the southern two reserved for buses only. Occasionally people will drive their non-bus automobiles in the bus-only lanes. The bus-only lanes are the safest place for people riding bikes to be. In the mornings, traffic is backed up from the bridge over the Chicago River (where lanes narrow) and Wacker (a signalized intersection) to Des Plaines.

Potentially: Reduce each lane width to 10 feet (this will slow traffic); make parking lanes 8 feet wide; add a buffered bike lane with the remaining 9 feet. Between Des Plaines and the Chicago River, reduce the buffered bike lane to 7 feet, and widen the parking lane to 10 feet turning it into a bus only lane on the curb side.

Wells Street

Ward: 42
Alderman: Brendan Reilly
Segment: Chicago Avenue to Chicago River

CDOT “proposed” (or suggested) the possibility of a buffered bike lane on Wells Street, in the 42nd Ward (Alderman Reilly). See second page of this handout from the September 2010 MBAC meeting.

Western Avenue

Segment: 26th/Blue Island to 55th Street (Garfield Boulevard).

Note: This is the Avenue side of the dual-road Western. Western Avenue is wider than Western Boulevard. The intersection at Western Avenue/Western Boulevard with 55th Street/Garfield Boulevard would need improvements. Right now the intersection prioritizes the movement of cars, quite quickly in fact. The turn radii are quite large and traffic speeds high.

The protected bike lane would pass by the Western Avenue Orange Line 'L' station which needs a lot of access improvement (starting with a signalized crossing for the senior home would be a great start). The station has 3,559 peak weekday boardings (October 2010). The last month of data, December 2010, saw 2,762 weekday boardings.


/home/stevevance/ · Last modified: 2012/04/29 07:33 by stevevance
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