1 Nov 2012

Introducing Clark Street’s New Buffered Bike Lane, Where Bikes Protect Parked Cars

The City of Chicago recently repaved Clark from Diversey to Addison. In the process, a new buffered bike lane is being striped on this portion of the road. This morning, Bike Walk Lakeview tweeted a photo of the newly striped lane just north of Diversey.

I’m disappointed with the results. I’m no traffic engineer, but I don’t see why there wasn’t enough room for a protected bike lane in this stretch.

Clark Street's new buffered bike lane, just north of Diversey.

Clark Street's new buffered bike lane, seen here just north of Diversey. Photo by [Adam Herstein](

While the City has not released the striping plans for this project, there appears to be a 2-foot wide, traffic-side buffer and a 6-foot wide bike lane. There’s no buffer next to the parked cars, meaning the usable width of the bike lane is reduced to just 2-feet when you account for a 4-foot door zone.

Had this been designed as a protected bike lane, with parked cars to the left of the lane, you could install a 5-foot bike lane with a 3-foot buffer between the parked cars and the bike lane. When you subtract a 4-foot door zone, your usable bike lane width is 4-feet. In other words, double the usable width of the current buffered setup.

I’ve heard that a buffered lane was installed as part of this project, in favor of a protected lane, due to lack of funding. That’s a bullshit excuse. There’s zero extra cost involved in striping the protected setup I just described. The only extra cost would be delineator posts to further protect the lane, but these could have been easily added once additional funding became available. Now, if the City wanted to upgrade this portion to a protected lane, they’d have to pay to both remove the existing striping and install new striping.

This, folks, is not how you build 100 miles of protected bike lanes in four years. At the snail’s pace that the City is currently installing protected bike lanes, we’re lucky if we get that many in ten years.