Protected bike lanes are intended to make travel safer for bicyclists, but many drivers say they find the new road configurations confusing and congested. Charlie Wojciechowski reports.
Chicago's new protected bike lanes are intended to make the commute safer for those on two wheels, but some drivers say they find the new lane configurations congested and confusing.
Along North Dearborn Parkway, from West Kinzie Street in the north to West Polk in the south, city officials have removed one car lane and replaced it with a two-way bike lane protected by traffic with a lane of parked cars.
The reconfiguration is designed to reduce accidents and encourage cycling in the Loop, but many drivers said they see danger ahead.
"I think it's a bad thing. A lot of people are going to get hurt," said one driver.
"It's real confusing. Especially .. having bikes in traffic and there's just too much going on," said another.
The city plans to add 25 miles of protected bike lanes every year, not only downtown but throughout the neighborhoods as well.
"Chicago moved up dramatically [on ranks of cities] on people who bike to work. It's part of our sustainability plan. Third, it's part of my effort to recruit entrepreneurs and start-up businesses because a lot of those employees like to bike to work," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at an unrelated press event Tuesday.
Bike enthusiasts couldn't be more pleased.
"It's a very big deal for people who want to bike, and we've found that people want safer streets and more people do want to get out on their bikes," said Ethan Spotts with the Active Transportation Alliance.
The lanes along Dearborn will have their own traffic signals.
The first route, on Kinzie between Milwaukee and Wells, debuted in July 2011.