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

bike law ambassador
Ann Groninger Sep 19, 2020

Guest post by Bike Law Ambassador Nicole Van Baelen The pandemic has affected our lives in many different ways. For me, working from home has provided both the opportunity, and the need, to spend more time than usual riding my bike. While riding the 3500 miles I have logged so far in the saddle this […]

Read More
Georgia Bikes Keynote Speaker
Bruce Hagen Sep 17, 2020

Elliott Caldwell, the Executive Director of the statewide advocacy group Georgia Bikes! is filled with both excitement and enthusiasm at the thought of having the 11th Annual Georgia Bikes Summit to be a completely virtual event for 2020.   While he’ll miss the opportunity for camaraderie that is a staple of prior Summits, as well […]

Read More
Bike Coalition Randy 1
Joe Piscitello Sep 16, 2020

Bike Law PA‘s Joe Piscitello sits down with Randy LaBasso to learn more about his work promoting better and safer biking for all. JOE:  Randy, can you tell us about your role at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia? RANDY:   Sure. I am the Policy Director for the Coalition which is an advocacy group that […]

Read More
Diversity in Cycling Heidi
Danny Feldman Sep 15, 2020

Diversity in cycling is a long overdue and very welcomed trend.  The face of cycling is changing, for the better. In Birmingham, Alabama, that face is Heidi Saul.  Active in multiple groups diversifying recreational cycling, Heidi is known for her cycling outfits, her passion for the bike, and her belief that cycling makes Birmingham (and […]

Read More
Virtual Bike Race
Charlie Thomas Sep 02, 2020

This article follows Part 1 about virtual bike racing in a time of COVID.   How the Tour of the Gila went virtual. For the past 33 years, the small southwestern New Mexico town of Silver City transforms into a bicycling bonanza during the final weekend of April. That’s when bicyclists from across the U.S. and internationally […]

Read More
TriDot Podcast Rachael of Bike Law
Rachael Maney Aug 31, 2020

I am honored to have been interviewed on the TriDot Podcast, discussing bicycle safety and the work of the Bike Law Network, our Foundation, and our Ambassador community. Whether you commute by bike, are a weekend warrior, slow roll with family and friends on your favorite trails, love or hate the pavement, or live for […]

Read More
Load More