By Lynda Lopez
8:39 AM CDT, July 26, 2011
Chicago unveiled its first completed protected bicycle lane Monday as part of Mayor Emanuel's plan to make the city more bike-friendly.
The new lane, which separates cyclist traffic from vehicle traffic with soft posts, spans a half-mile stretch of Kinzie Street between Milwaukee Avenue and Wells Street and cost an estimated $140,000 to install.
Emanuel's administration has said the city plans to add 25 miles of bike lanes per year, for a total of 100 over his four-year term.
Last week, bicycles accounted for 48 percent of the morning rush hour traffic on Milwaukee at Kinzie - about 820 to 890 vehicles, according to the city.
"I love the new bike lane," cyclist Marcus Hardaway of University Village said Monday. "I often feel unsafe on the road because drivers think the road only belongs to them. Adding protected bike lanes is a step in the right direction. I can't wait to see more in Chicago."
Melinda Braxton of Humboldt Park said she sometimes feels unsure on the road, but she likes the new lane.
"I feel a whole lot safer now," she said.
Gerard Jamroz of Ravenswood said the bike lanes are an added benefit to the city, but they don't make him feel safer.
"The protected bike lanes are great. We should bring more to Chicago," Jamroz said. "But they don't make me feel safer. It appears safer, but you are still in danger from cars, buses and cabs. They can easily knock over the barriers. I would always wear my helmet regardless."
The next protected bike lane is expected to be added between Damen and Halsted on Jackson. Work on that lane is expected to begin in August.
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