Clark Street is one of Chicago’s busiest bike streets, and it was designated as a priority “spoke road” for bikes in the Chicago Streets for Cycling 2020 plan. However, it currently only has lanes post-marked flexible bike lanes for approximately one mile, between Hollywood Avenue (5700 N.) and Devon Avenue (6400 N.) in Edgewater, plus a temporary stretch. north of Wacker Drive at River North as part of a detour during the rehabilitation of the Dearborn Street Bridge.
That will soon change, thanks to two upcoming projects. First, the Edgewater lanes will get concrete protection, thanks to bike advocates lobbying local Alderman Andre Vasquez (40th), who then petitioned the Chicago Department of Transportation for the change. Construction of these upgrades is expected to begin in mid-July.
And on Friday, Alderman Matt Martin of the nearby 47th Ward announced physically protected bike lanes were planned for Clark between Irving Park Road (4,000 N.) and Montrose Avenue (4,400 N.) in Uptown. This stretch, which is also partly located in the 46th Precinct, represented by alder James Cappleman, is three blocks north of Wrigley Field and sees a lot of bicycle traffic.
Learn more @ChicagoDOTplans to add a protected bike path on Clark St between Irving Park Rd and Montrose Ave.
📅 June 28
🕑 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
— Alderman Matt Martin (@AldMattMartin) June 17, 2022
Road safety is a particularly pressing issue in the Martin District at this time. On June 2, an SUV driver fatally struck 2-year-old Rafi Cardenas in Lincoln Square in the 47th Precinct, and on June 9 a semi-driver ran over and killed 3-year-old Lily Shambrook in Uptown in the 46th Precinct. . Martin spoke at the large Walk + Bike for Safe Streets rally held on the morning of June 12 in response to these tragedies. And that same afternoon, longtime neighborhood volunteer Peter Paquette, 75, was fatally struck by a distracted driver in the north central, shortly after the alderman shook his hand during a a neighborhood event.
“Like many of you, I am devastated by these deaths,” Martin said in a statement after the murder of Paquette. “My office will continue to work to ensure that future improvements to pedestrian, bicycle, and transit infrastructure — not just in our neighborhood, but throughout Chicago — are holistic, systemic, and better designed to ensure safe streets for everyone.
A car-free block party will be held in honor of Rafi Cardenas on Wednesday, June 22 from 4-6 p.m. on the 4400 block of North Leavitt Street (2200 W.)
In memory of Rafi Cardenas, next week our office will open Leavitt Street (behind the Sulzer Library) so families and neighbors can safely use the street to ride scooters, bikes, or just hang out.
Come together to discuss how we can make our streets safer for everyone. pic.twitter.com/umnAvHW56I
— Alderman Matt Martin (@AldMattMartin) June 15, 2022
The new bike lanes on Clark in Uptown will help prevent future road deaths, not only by protecting cyclists from drivers, but also by shortening crossing distances for pedestrians and encouraging safer driving speeds. On Tuesday, June 28, from 6-7 p.m., there will be an online information session on the bike path with staff from CDOT and wards 46 and 47.
Josh Mark, Martin’s director of development and infrastructure, provided more information on Clark’s proposal. Cycle paths will have physical protection in both directions, likely concrete curbs, and will include protection via parked cars in some sections. Unlike many protected lanes in Chicago, the barriers will go all the way to the intersection, Mark promised.
In order to create enough right-of-way for bike lanes, some of the parking spots on Clark will be converted to bike spots, Mark said. “There will be a removal of parking – that’s how you do this stuff.” However, parking is already prohibited south of Hutchinson Street (4230 N.), so it’s not like a lot of parking spaces for cars will be eliminated. Parking demand is relatively low on this stretch anyway, since Graceland Cemetery runs along the east side of the street between Irving and Montrose.
One of the design challenges for CDOT is that the east side of Clark at the south end of this stretch is a CTA bus staging area. It is the northern terminus of the #9 Ashland Avenue route, there is also a stop for the #22 Clark bus, and Ashland bus drivers park between the two stops waiting to start new runs in south direction. The transportation department will likely accommodate these activities by constructing boarding islands for buses, with the northbound bike path located between the sidewalk and the island.
Mark said that as part of the cycleway project, CDOT plans to remove the pedestrian island in the middle of Clark at Berteau Street (4200 N.), which was built as part of the Berteau Greenway project in 2013. However , cyclists probably won. Don’t be too upset about this change, because the island creates a dangerous bottleneck, cyclists too narrow to comfortably share the lane with drivers. And until recently there was a treacherous sinkhole, often filled with water, at Berteau in the northbound lane near the sidewalk.
Martin also lobbied to create a plan of preferably protected bike lanes north of Montrose Avenue as part of the Chicago Planning Department’s “Clark Street Crossroads” study over a one-mile stretch. de Clark between Montrose and Foster Avenue (5200 N.), however, last week he publicly expressed frustration that an early draft of the plan made no reference to bike lanes. The alderman encouraged residents to lobby DPD to include cycle lanes in the next version, via an online form.
We asked the City to include a protected bike path in the new Clark Street Corridor Plan.
But their original plan doesn’t even mention the word “bicycle”.
Tell the city your thoughts 🔗 https://t.co/XG4GakJKc7 pic.twitter.com/QciyO9ahDw
— Alderman Matt Martin (@AldMattMartin) June 13, 2022
As for bike lanes on Clark from Irving to Montrose, Josh Mark hopes they will be installed by the end of this summer. However, an ongoing strike by Chicagoland quarry workers who produce materials for concrete and asphalt could slow or halt local road construction this season.
So let’s cross our fingers that workers and management will soon reach an agreement. “We’ve been pushing for this bike lane project for two years,” Mark said.
Register for the Virtual Clark Bikeway Plan Meeting on Tuesday, June 28 from 6-7 p.m. here.