02

Blog

Loop Link BRT; First Impressions.

By Jim Freeman

brt stop centerChicagoans who work in the loop have been enduring construction on Madison and Washington for the last several months. We’ve seen bus station islands emerge from what was the middle of the street. Now complete, the stations’ roof resembles the rib cage of some prehistoric animal. The glass ceilings lifted with steel rafters make artistic architecture for a bus stop. The Loop Link bus stops are off the sidewalk, separated by a green bicycle lane. People waiting for a Loop Link bus will no longer take up valuable sidewalk space, rather they will wait on the island for the next bus. Perhaps this signals the end of pedestrians wading through a huddled mass of people waiting for westbound buses at evening rush hour.
On Friday there was a CTA employee distributing fliers to bus commuters informing them of the change in loop bus stops starting this morning. The Loop Link is intended to make travel easier for motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians and CTA users alike. Traffic on Madison has been expanded from three through lanes to two dedicated car traffic lanes, one bus-only lane, and a green bicycle lane.

IMG_20151220_104453_148If you’re like me you’ve long felt that Chicago needed to provide some safe passage for bicyclists wishing to traverse the loop east and west. I’ve been dreamily watching the bike lanes take shape over the last few months. My hope is that the new green lanes may provide some conflict relief for my daily commute.

Today I rode the 20 Madison bus in to work today just to sample the anticipated Loop Link. Pickup was normal as any other day with the exception of the bus reading “20 Madison via Loop Link.” A lighted construction sign just east of Clinton warned traffic of new traffic patterns and advised motorists to stay out of the red “bus-only” lanes. The route was also the same, until we crossed over the river and entered the new red “bus-only” lanes marking the Loop Link.

e driver slowed the bus to about 5 mph. The bus eased forward until the front door was even with a yellow band marked on the bus stop island. I estimate the island will accommodate two buses at once.

After leaving the first loop link stop the bus was slowed to a stop by a right turning car partially blocking the bus only lane. I anticipate this will be a common disruption for rush hour loop link buses. It’s one thing to mark bus only lanes, but it’s quite another thing to actually keep other vehicles out of them.
I exited the bus at the new Dearborn stop. The islands are elevated, so there is no “step down” when exiting at a loop link stop. An elderly lady with a walker exited the bus behind me with ease.  walker lady

The islands are equipped with ramps to marked crosswalks across the adjacent bike lanes. I noticed that pedestrians tend to walk in the bike lanes rather than on the sidewalk when exiting the Loop Link islands. I expect we’ll see some interactions between bicyclists and pedestrians on this point while people learn how to negotiate the new bus stops.

Overall I’m very excited about loop link. As a transit user I hope it will provide more efficient bus travel during busy travel times. As a bicyclist I hope the bike lanes will provide safe travel to east/west loop commuters. Be careful when you’re riding in the new bike lanes. Be conscious of pedestrians in the lanes and watch out for drivers making turning movements across the bike lanes. Just because they mark bike lanes doesn’t mean we can run down pedestrians. Let’s be courteous while people get familiar with the new Loop Link traffic patterns.ped in bike lane

Comments

Ghost bike in New Orleans
Charlie Thomas Nov 26, 2019

Recently, I was in a spirited discussion about whether Louisiana needs a law to act as a middle ground between serious criminal charges and petty traffic tickets when a bicyclist is hit or killed. Someone asked whether Louisiana law should hold a driver, who didn’t have the “intent” to hurt someone, criminally accountable. This led […]

Read More
Bike Law Ambassador
Bruce Hagen Nov 18, 2019

Trena, as her friends and family call her, is also Joshua’s mom, she works in accounting, a born and raised Atlantan and perhaps the most enthusiastic daily user of the controversial Atlanta Streetcar.  What was at first just a weight loss goal quickly turned into an unexpected journey of self-discovery, transformation and purpose. Today Trena […]

Read More
Lauri Boxer-Macomber Nov 17, 2019

Today, we at Bike Law join the European Federation of Road Traffic Victims (“FEVR”) in commemorating the 2019 World Day of Remembrance, honoring and remembering the many millions of people killed, injured and impacted by traffic crashes, and recognizing that “life is not a car part.”    We ask you to watch and pass along this […]

Read More
Brendan Kevenides Nov 11, 2019

A federal government agency is making a controversial recommendation to all 50 states that all bicyclists be required to wear helmets.   Mandatory bicycle helmet laws are a terrible idea.  Cycling as a form of recreation and transportation offers a myriad of benefits to the individual and the community as a whole.  An adult or child […]

Read More
Lauri Boxer-Macomber Nov 07, 2019

On Saturday, November 2, 2019, the family of Kathleen (“Kate”) Kirsch placed a ghost bike in her honor near the site of the tragic September 13, 2019 motor vehicle operator versus bicyclist collision that ultimately led to the loss of her life. Ghost bikes are public memorials parked on public ways near fatal crash sites […]

Read More
Rachael Maney Nov 01, 2019

November 1, 2019: Daylight Savings ends this Sunday, November 3rd, and we are counting down to fewer day time hours and the most dangerous time of year to ride a bike in the U.S. With approximately 65% of all crashes occurring in low light conditions, and the number of fatal crashes at a 30 year […]

Read More
Load More