Upgrading Protected Bike Lanes with Concrete Curbs
Upgraded Protected Bike Lanes with Concrete Curbs
CDOT has adopted concrete curbs as the standard barrier for all new protected bike lanes. Until recently, the primary markers of these facilities were reflective flexible delineators which are more susceptible to damage and provide less separation for cyclists from moving vehicles. Upgrades to all of Chicago's existing protected bike lanes is underway, and existing buffered bike lanes are also being upgraded with concrete curbs.
Concrete barriers harden the line between vehicle lanes and bike lanes, eliminating confusion about where cars should park and drive. These barriers raise the stakes for drivers who might be tempted to pull into a bike lane—most people won't jump a curb for a standing zone.
Creating stronger separation between bikeways and vehicle lanes makes a street more comfortable to ride on, encouraging more people of all ages to use Chicago's bikeways network.
There are two primary ways that CDOT carries out the concrete upgrades:
- Pouring concrete on-site, the traditional cast-in-place approach
- Installing pre-cast concrete blocks along the facility
Pre-cast concrete barriers are manufactured off site, delivered, and installed as separation between vehicle traffic and bikeways. Installing pre-cast concrete barriers can be faster and simpler than poured concrete, enabling rapid upgrades of bike facilities throughout the City. Reflective flexible delineators are also used as a visual cue to drivers and to assist plowing snow from the bike lanes during winter.
Pouring concrete barriers on-site brings quality results, but may also take more time and coordination. Timing and weather can impact a successful concrete pour and may also mean longer closures for bikeways while upgrades are carried out.