CHICAGO (CBS) -- The Chicago Department of Transportation and Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st) announced Monday that construction is beginning on new protected bike lanes on Milwaukee Avenue in the Logan Square area.
Installation began Monday on the new protected bike lanes on Milwaukee Avenue from the intersection with Western Avenue northwest to the intersection with California Avenue. There have been painted bike lanes on that stretch for several years.
The project is part of CDOT's Vision Zero program to improve traffic safety.
Milwaukee Avenue in that area is one of the city's most heavily-traveled bike routes.
CDOT is very pleased to be starting this work that will create safer conditions forall users on this corridor, in particular people walking and biking," CDOT Commissioner Gia Biagi said in a news release. "This a great example of what we can achieve when we listen to voices in the community and work in partnership to re-imagine how we use our public way to make it work for everyone."
The changes will be phased in over several weeks. On Monday, they began with the relocation of some metered parking spaces and the installation of bike lanes.
A new bus boarding island will also be constructed at Milwaukee and Maplewood avenues.
Milwaukee Avenue has been identified in the city's Vision Zero Action Plan as a high-crash corridor. Traffic safety data showed two thirds of all injury crashes over five years on Milwaukee Avenue involved people walking or bicycling.
After discussions with transportation activists, community members, local businesses, and the ward, CDOT put together a redesign the department said would better reflect the needs and use of the corridor. They include northwest-bound and southeast-bound protected bike lanes to separate people from cars, and bump-outs and crosswalks to improve pedestrians' visibility.
Support for the protected bike lane has not been unanimous. Last November – before the coronavirus pandemic took its own toll on businesses – some area business owners expressed worries about the loss of parking.
They wondered if biker safety would come at a cost to their bottom line.
CBS 2 looked into car versus bike crash records in that area. As of last November, records showed there had been two in 2016 and seven in 2017, but it rose sharply to 12 in 2018. Updated data were not immediately available.
Those crashes happened with painted bike lanes on the street.
In addition to the protected lanes, more than 35 new bike racks are being installed on the affected stretch of Milwaukee Avenue for ample bike and scooter parking. Some metered parking spaces for cars will be moved to nearby streets, CDOT said, adding that residential parking will not be affected.
Construction of the bike lanes will take about two weeks, weather permitting.
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