OLD IRVING PARK — Protected bike lanes will be installed on a dangerous portion of Milwaukee Avenue later this summer, after years of advocacy by neighbors and cyclists.
Raised concrete curbs are coming to the busy street between Addison Street and Irving Park Road near Six Corners to improve safety for cyclists using the “bike highway,” Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th) announced in his most recent newsletter.
“To help advocate for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists, Alderman Gardiner is working collaboratively with representatives from the [Chicago Department of Transportation] to have protected bike lanes installed by August 2022 on Milwaukee Avenue between Addison and Irving Park Road,” the alderman wrote.
Gardiner said the new lanes will have concrete curbs separating cyclists from cars and parking lanes will be outside of the bike lane on the southbound portion of the street.
City officials recently added new flexi posts to the bike lanes in front of Schurz High School, but the protected lanes are a bigger step forward for increased safety measures along the strip that houses a daycare, a high school and is home to many families. The improvements come after two cycling fatalities at Milwaukee and Kilbourn avenues and documented crashes along the blocks in the last four years.
Most recently, 22-year-old Nick Parlingayan was killed May 4 while riding his bike northbound. His death occurred just across from where a driver fatally hit 37-year-old cyclist Carla Aiello in 2019 and pushed neighbors to once again demand better safety measures on the street.
The safety additions are part of the city’s plan to improve Milwaukee Avenue, which is used by about 20,000 bicyclists daily — though it has long lacked infrastructure to keep people safe, advocates have said.
Last month, the city installed stop signs at Milwaukee and Kostner avenues, years after residents begged officials and the alderman for them. A pedestrian curb bump out is also being added at the intersection, part of Gardiner’s promise for improved safety in the area.
Also last month and after Parlingayan’s death, Metra officials added signs advising northbound cyclists can use the sidewalk to get through the Grayland station construction area.
Southbound cyclists can follow the normal detour route to Addison but can also cross over and use the north side sidewalk on Milwaukee.
Orange cones were also added past the bridge to create a little more room for northbound cyclists coming out of the construction zone.
The Metra project, which is expected to finish in 2024, has led to increased traffic in the area, residents previously said.
A speed camera in front of Schurz High School, less than a half-mile from where Parlingayan was killed, was also requested, but there are no installation plans for new speed cameras in the city right now, said CDOT spokesperson Sue Hofer.
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