This rating raises philosophical questions. Extreme heat is bad. High winds are bad. But when combined, is the whole better or worse than the sum of its parts? A windy hot day means you have to exert more energy to go the same speed. But the wind might also cool you down. All of which is to say, you can take this many different directions.
1.5/4. It’s gonna suck regardless. Bring a change of clothes and enjoy your rides!
A new, separated bike lane opened along Chicago Avenue between Davis Street and Sheridan Road in Evanston this past weekend. It’s a big deal. It’s the first phase of a $13 million project to build a 2-mile protected bike lane from downtown Evanston to the northern end of Northwestern’s campus along Sheridan Road.
The plan was first approved in 2014, but the Evanston city council delayed it for two years. Then in September 2016, Chuyuan “Chu” Qiu, a first-year Northwestern student from China, was killed by a cement truck while turning her bike at an intersection onto Sheridan Road. That awful event spurred residents to press the city to complete the project quickly. Officials complied, and work began in late March.
At first glance, everything about the new lane suggests progress for cyclists. Few would dispute the need for better bike infrastructure on Chicago Avenue and Sheridan Road, as it’s a busy route for cyclists and drivers alike. It’s a refreshingly ambitious project, and as far as bike lanes go, it’s expensive. You’d think this would be something of a jewel in the crown of Chicagoland bike infrastructure.
But the second glance tells a more complicated story. Yes, it’s a separated bike lane. But the result so far is marred by compromises that actually create new dangers for cyclists. In many ways it’s a bike lane for drivers: its main priority is getting cyclists out of the road. What they do once they’re in the bike lane hasn’t gotten as much thought.
I won’t overstate the case, because there’s lots of good to this project. It looks like a bike lane and sometime acts like a bike lane. It provides pretty good protection to riders between blocks. They’ve even extended the walk signal timing at the intersections! That’s wonderful. But especially at intersections, where crashes tend to happen, the plan leaves something to be desired.