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Hyde Park, Woodlawn, South Shore

Drexel Boulevard Bike Lanes To Remain Along The Median After Pushback From Neighbors, Cyclists

Drexel Boulevard's bike lanes were moved alongside the median in late 2018. They'll stay that way, CDOT confirmed, after Ald. Sophia King (4th) explored changing the road's layout in October.

Construction on Drexel Boulevard, shown here at the 51st Street intersection Oct. 16. The road has since been repaved, and permanent lane striping will be completed "as soon as possible" given a recent cold spell, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation.
Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
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KENWOOD — The verdict is in: No changes will be made to a recently redesigned stretch of Drexel Boulevard after the local cycling community voiced its support for keeping them as is at an October meeting.

The Chicago Department of Transportation confirmed the existing layout will be kept, with bike lanes running in both directions closest to the median. The update was first reported by Streetsblog Chicago.

Ald. Sophia King (4th) proposed changes to the boulevard’s layout at an Oct. 16 meeting as the road was being repaved, including:

  • Moving the bike lanes to the right of auto traffic, and creating parking lanes adjacent to the median; or
  • Using the lanes closest to the median for bikes during the day and for parking at night.

King did not respond to a request for comment.

Drexel’s bike lanes were moved to run alongside the median from 39th Street to 51st Street in late 2018 using federal funding.

The lanes were previously set between two lanes of car traffic and a parking lane. Meeting attendees noted this setup risked cyclists being “doored” as they rode.

In 2018, cyclist Luster Jackson swerved to avoid being doored along Stony Island Avenue, only to be fatally struck by a passing motorist.

King called the meeting after she said numerous area residents and churchgoers complained of a lack of parking in the neighborhood.

Meeting attendees, however, were overwhelmingly in favor of keeping the current layout for safety and aesthetic reasons.

Numerous attendees, like Steven Quispe of the 5000 block of Drexel, said the boulevard in its existing layout was one of the few safe bikeways on the South Side.

Quispe, who helped encourage attendance at the meeting, also noted his frustrations with churchgoers illegally using the bike lanes as parking spaces.

Others, like Cynthia Chappell of the 4700 block of Drexel, felt some of the boulevard’s beauty would be lost if more cars were allowed to park on it.

Chappell, who said she was “wholeheartedly” in favor of the existing layout as a homeowner, also noted that the current layout better ensures cyclists’ safety — though she doesn’t bike herself.

Although CDOT said no changes will be made, one resident recently reported confusion over unfinished striping along the stretch of road.

The lanes will be re-striped as soon as possible, “once the weather cooperates,” CDOT spokesperson Mike Claffey said. The department is waiting out the cold spell forecasted through Wednesday, he said.

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