CDOT is close to completing installation of the city's first protected bike lane--on Kinzie Street from Milwaukee Avenue to Wells Street.
The 1/2-mile lane is the first in Mayor Emanuel's plan for 100 miles of protected lanes citywide.
A protected bike lane provides bicyclists exclusive space in the roadway by separating bicycle and motor-vehicle traffic. Installation began Monday, June 6 and will finish by month's end.
The protected lane sits adjacent to the curb. Lane width varies between 5-1/2 to 7 feet wide. The lane is separated from moving traffic by a 4-foot-wide buffer zone that includes flexible posts to help delineate the lane, as well as an 8-foot-wide parking lane.
The new protected bike lane also includes a first-of-its kind element in Chicago: Bike boxes.
Four of the boxes will be installed: two at Milwaukee and Kinzie (for right and left turns from southbound Milwaukee), one at eastbound Kinzie at Wells, and one at Kinzie and Desplaines.
A bike box sits at the front of a travel lane at an intersection, positioned in front of vehicles. The bike boxes—which are 16 feet long and run the width of the lane—provide cyclists a place to wait at a red light where they are visible to motorists, and aren't exposed to vehicle exhaust.
The bike boxes will be painted with green, skid-resistant paint to help increase visibility.
Bike boxes have been used in many U.S. cities to increase safety, and have been effective in reducing so-called “right-hook” crashes, in which right-turning vehicles hit cyclists traveling straight through the intersection.
The open-grate deck of the Kinzie bridge is being modified with non-slip fiberglass panels to create a smoother riding surface. The custom-fit panels will be fabricated by August, with installation following immediately.
Some media coverage of the Kinzie bike lane:
WGN Channel 9 Chicago
People for Bikes