The Chainlink

New Separated Bike Lanes on California Between Touhy and Dempster

I just read this post by Jen Groen to the Rides on Wednesday FB page:

Hey friends, heads up! The new separated bike lanes have been installed on both sides of California, along stretches of road between Touhy and Dempster. It's a squeeze in the areas with parking. A disastrous design for bikers going faster than 5mph. Be safe!

Anyone ridden this section? Any thoughts?

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I was on it last week.  At that time it was only on the west side.

So they just ruined my go-to route into Evanston?  Now this PBL bullshit is personal.

I live just a couple blocks from Dodge and Dempster in Evanston. I've been on it ever-so-briefly. I wasn't terribly impressed. They took a curb-parking-bike lane setup and turned it into a curb-bike lane-door buffer-parking setup. The door buffer, while useful, came out of the bike lane, so it's narrower than the old lane.

The one small improvement that I noticed is that the bike lanes now extend through intersections instead of ending briefly when right turn lanes start. The downside of that, of course, is that the opportunity for right hooks increased, since the bike lane is between the right turn lane (if there is one) and the curb.

I'll try to get by there in the next day or two and take a couple pictures.

Edit: Looking at the city's project newsletter, I noticed they gave phone numbers for the Resident Engineer and Project Manager, but no email. This is the 21st Century, right?

I rode it last week and again this morning. It is sub optimal.  I strongly preferred the previous design with cars closest to the curb and still plenty of room for bikes to ride with minimal  dooring fear.  The reality is  the very sides of the road are always in the worst condition and we are relegated to that portion of the road, where the leaves, twigs and other detritus will lay. It will take a while for locals to understand how it works and we will be spooking  drivers and especially their passengers.  All that being said, I suspect parents with youngsters will be  happy to have a lane that allows them to travel on the street that is less stressful. The people who use the street least often will be comforted when they venture out on a bike and those of use who use the streets a whole lot will have to get  used to a lane that is not terrible but certainly a step down from  that which existed before.  It is such a small percentage of my commute that  I shrug, coast  a bit more, and deal. Such is life.

This sucks.  This was my preferred route through Evanston.  I once rode the Church St. PBL and it was my worst riding experience EVER full of right hooks and wandering pedestrians.  Buffered Bike Lanes, please!

Fooey! That was one of my routes when i was working in Rogers Park. There was absolutely NOTHING wrong with Dodge/California as it was. i guess i'll be staying on Forest/Sherman/Sheridan from now on.

Did Evanston or Chicago even talk to any cyclists before building this travesty? 

FYI on the state budget re: road construction: There is a stopgap measure in the works to keep road construction going that will likely pass.  Or at least I hope so cause otherwise I will no longer be able to bill hours to IDOT after Thursday midnight.

Aaaand they passed the whole budget so the construction will go on.

I rode the PBL on Dodge this afternoon.   Narrow and prone to obstructions.  As an experienced and confident cyclist I preferred the prior configuration of the bike lane.  However, there are many people who are not comfortable riding a bike in traffic - even in a bike lane - who may be inclined to use this protected bike lane.   To the extent it promotes more cycling from people who are not currently riding - I am supportive.

I do think that the design of this PBL is a significant improvement over the Church St. bike lanes in downtown Evanston.   While there are still some potential right hooks, this is a better configuration over Church St.

BTW there is a strong debate about these lanes on Nextdoor.

I'm curious how you'd compare the Dodge and Church lanes. Do you have a link to the debate on Nextdoor? Thx...

My experience with the Church St. bike lane is that there is a lot of pedestrian activity in the bike lane - particularly near the train stations.   There is also more turnover in the parking spaces which creates more activity in the lane on Church St.   Since Dodge is more residential the turnover in the parking is not as frequent therefore reducing the presence of people getting in and out of their cars in the bike lane.

Based on my ride on Dodge St. yesterday there is better visibility at intersections which reduces the potential for right hooks.   My impression of Church St. is that many of the right turns are obstructed by parked cars and there is significantly greater traffic volume and more cars making turns at the intersections on Church St.   And, as you noted earlier, the lane markings extend through the intersection.

One thing on Dodge that I noticed was someone placed their garbage and recycling bins in the bike lane.   Not sure how the design of the lane will impact garbage collection.  There's always something :-)

To access the discussion on Nextdoor you need to sign in.   The conversation originated from the Southwest Howard neighborhood in Evanston and includes people from nearby neighborhoods.   If you sign up you will see the conversation.

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