Surfing the web last weekend I ran across a post on “Let’s Go Ride A Bike” about new protected bike lanes in Chicago. Many thanks to Dottie for letting me repost her write-up – I enjoy reading her blog. Also great to know that Chicago plans to put in 25 miles of protected bike lanes in 2012 and 100 miles by the end of the new mayor’s first term of office! The photo is courtesy of Dotti at Let’s Go Ride A Bike.
I’m interested in what is going to happen here in Chicago with these lanes (primarily Kinzie) and flexible bollards, particularly after the mixed reaction to similar lanes on First Avenue here in Minneapolis. By all accounts that I read, the lanes have been well received by cyclists and automobiles seem to be adjusting to the change. I poked around on the City’s website and information there indicates the following: 1) Cyclists feel very safe with the new bollards and feel less safe in standard bike lanes. 2) Half of the respondents who responded were using this route prior to the installation of the bollards, bike boxes and green paint. 3) Ridership is up with this installation – some of the information I read on other sites indicates it is up 60% since installation. One later report stated that bicyclists accounted for about 48% of the total traffic (car and bike) on this stretch. 4) Cost of installation was $140,000.
I wasn’t able to find much information about what is going to happen this winter – there was mention of both removal of the bollards and of a smaller snow removal machine for the lanes themselves.
Several thoughts occur to me that are worth considering: Minneapolis should definitely keep an eye on what is happening in Chicago – similar conditions prevail for snow removal. They are also using a lot of green paint and it will be interesting to see what happens to that paint over the next year. Secondly, would such installations encourage more women to ride? Safety is often cited as a concern for women. I plan to follow this and will report back when more information is available.