Protected bike lanes appear to be out as option for Milwaukee Avenue safety improvement project

The use of protected bike lanes, which are located along a curb, appear to be out as an option for the Milwaukee Avenue safety improvement project, but the use of “buffered” bike lanes and a “road diet,” which eliminates existing lanes of traffic, remain options.

At an Aug. 19 community meeting hosted by a group of Gladstone Park residents, a representative of Alderman John Arena (45th) reported that Arena does not support ‘Option C” for the project for the Gladstone Park business corridor. That option calls for the elimination of one lane of traffic in each direction and the installation of protected bike lanes along the curb, with the parking lane being moved to about 10 feet from the curb.

The Gladstone Park Chamber of Commerce has raised objections to any lane reductions on Milwaukee, and strong opposition to a road diet was voiced at the community meeting.

Project engineers for the city Department of Transportation have expressed concern about the feasibility of protected bike lanes, which were being considered for a stretch of Milwaukee between Central Avenue and Elston Avenue. Some merchants have complained that having the bike lanes along the curb would hamper truck deliveries.

Still under consideration for the project is what the department has named “Option A,” which calls for keeping all existing lanes of traffic but increasing the width of the existing bike lanes, which measure about 5 1/2 feet in width. The wider bike lanes would be located to the outside of the parking lane, which would remain along the curb.

“Option B” would eliminate one lane of traffic in each direction and create a continuous left-turn lane down the middle of the roadway, with buffered bike lanes to the outside of the parking lane, which would remain along the curb.

Buffered bikes lanes do not have any physical barriers but include several feet of space on either side of the bike lane, creating greater separation between the bike lane and the adjoining traffic and parking lanes.

All of the options would include crosswalk safety enhancements. In Jefferson Park, a road diet is being considered for in front of the CTA Terminal.

The project is intended to slow traffic and make the roadway safer for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians. Construction is expected to start next year.