Bike lane installed on Milwaukee


A lane of northbound traffic on Milwaukee Avenue was removed last week to allow for a dedicated bike lane that was installed as part of a block-long "road diet" in front of the Jefferson Park CTA Terminal, 4917 N. Milwaukee Ave.

The lane reduction runs along the east side of Milwaukee between Higgins Avenue and Gale Street. Road diets are intended to slow traffic by narrowing the roadway through lane reductions and other measures.

Vehicles in the left lane at Higgins are now required to turn left onto Higgins or merge over to the right. Northbound Milwaukee then becomes a two-lane roadway again at Gale, where there is a stoplight.

There are no lane reductions for southbound traffic, and a left-turn lane was added for southbound traffic turning into the Veterans Square retail and office center, 4849 N. Milwaukee Ave. Plans call for the right lane of southbound Milwaukee, where portions are used for parking, to become a bike/car shared lane.

No on-street parking was removed for the project, and the new separated bike lane is located only in front of the CTA terminal on the east side of the street. In addition, in front of the terminal in the middle of Milwaukee, plans call for a refuge island, where pedestrians can wait for a safe opportunity to complete their crossing.

"The goal is to make Milwaukee safer for those not in (vehicles)," department spokeswoman Susan Hofer said of the project. Milwaukee is a popular bicycle route for those commuting to the Loop, she said.

Plans for the project were first announced 3 years ago as part of a larger proposal to install protected or buffered bike lanes on Milwaukee from Lawrence Avenue on the south to Elston Avenue on the north.

Under some concepts for the project, a traffic lane on Milwaukee would have been eliminated in each direction, and about 20 percent of on-street parking would have been removed, but the city chose a scaled-back version of the project due to community concerns. More than 4,000 people signed a petition objecting to the elimination of traffic lanes and the location of protected bike lanes along the curb.

The city recently removed parking along sections of Milwaukee to accommodate bike lanes between Addison Street and Irving Park Road.

Alderman John Arena (45th) has supported bike lanes and other measures, such as bump-outs that shorten the distance of crosswalks, in an effort to narrow roadways and slow down traffic and increase safety.

Several pedestrian refuge islands are being installed on Milwaukee in the Gladstone Park area this summer. An island also is being considered for the Raven-Milwaukee intersection to accommodate students who cross Milwaukee on their way to and from Onahan School, 6634 W. Raven St.