The Chainlink

New bike lanes protect Logan Square cyclists but keep customers away, some business owners say

The city has installed plastic curbs and bollards to protect bicyclists on one of the city’s most dangerous streets for traffic accidents. But one local business owner said the loss of parking has cost him one-third of his revenue.

Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square is now home to the city’s newest public safety initiative for bicyclists: bike lanes protected with plastic curbs and bollards.

The street is one of the most heavily traveled routes in all of Chicago, with nearly 500 accidents in less than five years, according to Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st). Chicago’s traffic safety data shows two-thirds of crashes from 2014 to 2018 on Milwaukee Avenue involved people walking and biking. The $320,000 bike lane expansion project funded by the Chicago Department of Transportation is expected to dramatically lower that number.

“Almost 500 crashes in five years is not sustainable. That’s not healthy, particularly as we see an uptick in increased cycling during this pandemic, an uptick that we want to see stay,” La Spata said Friday afternoon at the unveiling of the enhanced bike lanes.

“That said, it was imperative, not only to restructure our infrastructure for the way Milwaukee Avenue is actually used but to also respond to public safety concerns.”

Using plastic curbs and bollards instead of concrete saved time and money; they took three weeks to install instead of months, according to David Smith, Chicago’s bicycle and pedestrian program manager. And in winter, snowplows can go over them, instead of around them.

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