for those who live in chicago
Posted 23 February 2011 - 09:48 AM
Posted 01 March 2011 - 04:57 PM
Unlike the bike lanes in many other cities where the designated lane is just a 5-foot wide strip of the street next to traveling vehicles, the city is adopting a "cycle track." This special type of bike lane will create a physical barrier between vehicle lanes and the lane designated for cyclists. Cycle tracks most commonly use concrete "Jersey walls," typically seen in construction sites, or raised concrete barriers that don't let bicycles pass into the vehicle lanes or vice versa.
The news came after the Chicago Department of Transportation was given a $3.2 million grant from the federal government to improve their bicycle lanes by testing and building cycle tracks in the city. As of right now, CDOT is trying it out on Stony Island Avenue, between 77th and 69th streets.
The benefits in using a cycle track exceed using a typical bike lane. The planned cycle track would be much wider than the usual 5-foot lane in addition to building and using a solid barrier. Other cities are already using cycle tracks, including Portland, OR, and have so far seen increased numbers of cyclists on the road due to improved safety. Many studies conducted on bicycling in cities have shown that many commuters opt out of biking to work due to safety concerns, which is the number 1 reason many take cars or other transportation instead.
And it's not just the cyclists who would benefit from the proposed cycle track. Motorists often worry about being forced to drive so closely to cyclists on narrow and traffic-clogged streets, especially since some cyclists consistently ignore traffic laws.
But some cyclists are already looking forward to the safer bike lane. Daniel Scully, a 25-year-old college student, said, "Chicago traffic can be horrible for bikers. The lanes are narrow, people drive like crazy, and traffic makes everything worse. I collided with a car last year when the driver was distracted by their phone and drifted into the bike lane. If the city puts in these cycle tracks, an accident like that would be completely avoidable. I think this is a great move."
Sara Miller, a 32-year-old from the North Side, said, "I leave my apartment early every morning to avoid the dangerous traffic. It's certainly not safe for bikers and if the city puts in these cycle tracks I would bet on more cyclists using them. It's a great idea and it's long overdue."
While the city is testing out the cycle track on the stretch of street on Stony Island Avenue, if all goes well, the city is planning to start construction in 2014.
Rachel Krech provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. As a college student from the Chicago suburbs pursuing two science degrees, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.
Posted 19 March 2012 - 09:27 AM