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Decades of research shows that expanding roads doesn’t provide lasting congestion relief. More lanes means more traffic.

Kinzie Street protected bike lane will stay!

In a big win for Active Trans members and supporters, Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) officials confirmed the Kinzie Street protected bike lane will remain in place. 

Earlier this year, 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly introduced an ordinance that would require CDOT to temporarily remove the lane, which was Chicago’s first protected bike lane and one of the most popular bike routes in the country. This much-loved bike route connects the North and West Sides of Chicago to downtown.  

Citing concerns about traffic congestion associated with the Wolf Point development, Ald. Reilly proposed installing a new bike lane on Grand Ave. as an alternative to Kinzie. However, that Grand Ave. bike lane never materialized, and it’s clear that people would continue to bike on Kinzie even if the bike lane was removed. 

Active Trans mobilized over 1,400 people to write emails to Chicago City Council, asking them to keep the bike lane in place. We also helped organize a letter to Alderman Reilly jointly signed by nearly 50 businesses with a similar message about Chicago’s very first protected bike lane: improve it, don’t remove it. 

Already, potholes have been patched and fresh paint has revitalized faded street markings, but now the city acknowledged for the first time that the lane is staying. This is great news! 

Alderman Reilly has been a supporter of active transportation options for his downtown ward. The 42nd ward is home to many of Chicago’s most advanced bike lanes, and none of this progress would have been possible without his support.  

While we didn’t agree with the alderman about removing the Kinzie bike lane, we thank him for working out a solution with CDOT and for highlighting some elements that need to be improved.

Our wish list for Kinzie includes:

  • Curbs or another more durable and attractive alternative to plastic bollards, which are regularly knocked down
  • Better enforcement to prevent vehicles in the bike lanes
  • Resurfacing the lanes and better maintenance
  • Improved lighting under the viaducts
  • A traffic light at Kingsbury where too many cyclists don’t yield to pedestrians
  • Improved sight lines at intersections and driveways

Improving the Kinzie Street protected bike lane to better meet the needs of everyone using it is the right move. We hope the new paint and patched potholes are just the beginning and more improvements to this critical link in our bike network are on the way.