Kinzie Street protected bike lane gets an update

If you’ve ridden down the protected bike lane on Kinzie Street recently you may have noticed that a significant number of the flexible posts have been removed. The removal comes almost one year after first being installed and follows suit with what other cities like New York have done.  

On some sections of the protected lane, the flexible posts are now just spaced further apart. In other sections, like in the photo shown here, posts remain only at intersections or crosswalks to help guide cars to their lane, but leaving some mid-block stretches of the lane with no posts.

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind from a safety perspective is that the lane of parked cars remains as a physical barrier separating people on bikes from moving traffic, and posts also remain where there are no parked cars.

While there have been some reports of cars parking in the bike lane, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) is monitoring the situation daily. If you see cars parked in a bike lane, you can report them to the police.

The fact that CDOT is comfortable enough to remove some posts is a sign that drivers, bikers and pedestrians alike have become accustomed to the protected bike lane. Also, fewer posts cuts costs and is less intrusive on the roadway.

Actice Trans has heard some concerns from the public and from aldermen that the posts add too much clutter to the street. Some people find them confusing and unsightly. If the same safety improvement can be achieved with fewer posts, then this can be a great example of less being more.

Protected bike lanes will still provide protection for people on bikes and will become a staple of roadway design in Chicago in the years to come. The fact that users of Kinzie Street have adapted as quickly as they have is a positive sign of things to come.

More information

 Here's some more information on the Kinzie updates from Grid Chicago: http://gridchicago.com/2012/a-post-about-posts-why-cdot-took-out-bollards-along-the-kinzie-lanes/

We agree that posts are

We agree that posts are needed for protection and that concrete curbs would be even better. It's our understanding that posts remain at intersections and crossing points, as well as where the bike lane is next to a travel lane. In some spots, a lane of parked cars serves at the barrier between the travel lane and the bike lane, which offers far more protection than flexible posts. It's our understanding that posts are being reduced primarily in these spots with a parking barrier, similar to New York's approach:

http://www.activetrans.org/sites/default/files/imagecache/resize_for_gal...
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-4UiVxdGmVnQ/Tl6aGafZ0VI/AAAAAAAAAfs/Zv0Ujzs-1p...

This only works of course when drivers have learned how to use the floating parking lane, which they've learned in New York. It also works better where the parking lane is usually full, so that drivers can take their cue from other parked cars, and the other parked cars serve as a barrier to crossing over into the bike lane. This is why it's important for CDOT to monitor the situation, to see if driver behavior has changed with these tweaks.

I agree with the concerns

I agree with the concerns above. We've seen a number of cars parking in the PBL here over the past year, and removing the posts makes this much easier to do. I really don't understand the upside of removing the posts (is it really just to make the street less "unsightly"???), and I'm surprised that ActiveTrans seems to support this move.

If anything, I'd hope to see this lane go in the other direction, with the barriers turning into something more permanent (like the curbs protecting PBLs in NYC). I'm worried that this will make the Kinzie lane much less safe and effective.

There was a car parked in the

There was a car parked in the bike lane last week. The driver may not have realized what he was doing because all of the parking spots on that side of the street were available. If the barriers had been there, he would not have been able to block the lane.

Removing the posts nullifies

Removing the posts nullifies the "protected" in "protected bike lane". If anything, we need more protection, i.e. concrete barriers. Past experience has shown that we can't count on the police to monitor the bike lanes, especially as more are being added. Cars will undoubtedly abuse the lack of protection by driving/parking in the bike lane. This is a huge mistake.

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