The Chainlink

What do you think of the new "dashed" bike lane markings in Wicker Park?

Hi! I am a reporter for DNAinfo (and bike commuter) and doing a short post on the new bike lane markings along Milwaukee between Division and Western.

Work started on Tuesday and the project is not yet completed (green and tan pavement markings, which should take a week, then bollards, will be added).

I am wondering what those who've used the lanes so far think of the lanes. If you would like to be included in the story, please include your first and last name in the comments here on Chainlink and a narrative of your experience on the lanes. Or text me, 773 960 3997.   Will reference/link to Chainlink if any feedback received here.


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Interesting look. Does anyone know why they elected to do the dashed line rather than the full line?

Probably to make it even more confusing to clueless drivers.

"Advisory bike lanes" have to be used when the width of the road is not wide enough for a full bike lane, vehicles and bikes have to share the space. 

Maybe useful in preserving a gap to pass traffic, but if it ends up anything like it looked a couple days ago: no thanks, I'll keep taking the lane.

I find it worrisome. Sharrows are less safe than solid white line bike lanes. These dotted lines seem like another version of the sharrow and will probably be less safe than protected (safest) and solid white line bike lanes.

I have always assumed that broken lines mean that traffic should keep  an eye open but are allowed  to  cross that  broken line.

I think this is the intent of these lines as well.  Given the very narrow space on Milwaukee I  think the wizards wanted to set off space for bikes but wanted all users to  know that  the  barrier  is permeable. Cyclists need to  know that the bike lane is not  a safe haven and cars will occasionally come into the lane.  What  concerns me is drivers feeling the broken line  means, "ah screw it, I need more room and  I am  taking it."  I see this  as similar  to a sharrow but  less  obvious. A sharrow tells the drivers, "Hey you,  keep your eyes  open  for bikes." I  am not sure  what  the  dashed  lines tell those drivers. It is better  than nothing but I am not sure  by how much and I  am also  not sure  that  given the space constraints  whether much more  could be done without truly limiting vehicular  traffic which wasn't going to  happen.

They're White and mean nothing to drivers any more than the solid lined lanes or the green "protected" bike lanes.

Honestly, I wish they would have just paved the entire stretch from Kinzie to Irving Park. The cyclists constantly avoiding potholes and sometimes trying to pass each other doing so creates an incredible safety hazard. Cars speeding through in morning commute traffic, cyclists swerving, not great. As for those dotted lines, well, Joe Dirt said it best: "You can't polish a turd."

As another commenter pointed out, the white dotted lines are considered "advisory" while a white solid line means "stay in your lane."  These markings are part of the standard vocabulary used by traffic engineers/planners; they're not new.  If you drive the Oak St curve on Lake Shore Drive or drive through an open road toll lane on one of the expressways, you'll see the differentiation and transitions in the lane markings.  Having driven both, I can report that many motorists are clueless about this nuance of road markings -- which were originally intended to regulate motorist to motorist behavior on multi-lane roads. 

From chats I've had with a rep from the League of American Bicyclists, advisory bike lanes were first tried out on a stretch of road prone to crashes (various kinds) in the Minneapolis area.  The data they collected before/after strongly indicated a positive impact on safety for all road users.  I don't know what sort of education program went along with the introduction of the advisory bike lane.  I also don't know the ADT (average daily traffic) on this stretch of road (or on Milwaukee Ave), which is one of several measures engineers use to help determine the appropriateness of cycling infrastructure treatments.   

Advisory bike lanes are generally viewed as a step up from sharrows because they help identify the space where cyclists will be if/when they're on the roadway.  While I'm not a fan of either one, I'm happy to see that municipalities are giving new treatments a try where roadway width doesn't permit a bike lane.  I wish they'd use the advisory bike lane dotted lines at intersections where there may now be those diagonal dotted lines indicating that a bike lane disappears precisely where you need it most to sort out straight bound cyclists from right turning motorists.  

I live in Evanston where we have several east-west streets that are designated as bike routes (by a little green sign on the side of the road) without bike lanes, sharrows or advisory markings on the road itself and sufficient traffic that even confident cyclists avoid these streets (Main and Oakton).  I'd welcome testing out some new treatments.  But anything new needs a well thought out education program to go along with any physical changes.

Ii just rode Milwaukee for the first time in a week (waiting for the paving to be completed).  I do like the fact that the dashed white lines go all the way through the intersections, something most bike lanes don't do.  But they don't match the markings just a mile south of there.  As you head south toward the loop, there are dashed white markings that go through the intersections, with green filling in the middle.  The white dashes are thicker and shorter than the ones that were recently painted.  What gives?  Where  is the consistency? 

Also, the lanes could use a bicycle symbol painted in them to signal to the cars what they are there for.

And finally, I don't buy the argument that the road is too narrow for a solid white line.  Look at Lincoln and Clark.  Same width, solid white lines.


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