CHICAGO – Nearly eight months since a cyclist lost his life biking across DuSable Lake Shore Drive, efforts continue to make crossing the busy expressway safer.
Anyone who has taken DuSable Lake Shore Drive through Grant Park may have noticed construction that started this week. The Chicago Department of Transportation announced the work is to install new medians and provide increased protection for people crossing the expressway.
It’s something safety advocates say is long overdue.
Construction takes out the left lane in both directions between Monroe Street and Balbo Drive. Despite the traffic, safety advocates are taking a victory lap.
“We’re welcoming the construction, we’re welcoming the concrete,” said Bike Lane Uprising founder Christina Whitehouse, who adds that construction on DuSable Lake Shore Drive signals improvements that she said were desperately needed.
“It was a known problem area,” she said.
In February, Gerardo Marciales was killed after being struck by a driver while in the crosswalk at Balbo. During a vigil, Jaime Bolognone, Gerardo Marciales’ fiancée, remembered the cyclist.
“Gerardo was the kindest, most generous person that I’ve ever known. His passing has really impacted so many people. We just really miss him so much,” she said.
It was then that Bike Lane Uprising installed a ghost bike in Marciales’ memory at the site where he was hit and killed.
It also highlighted just how dangerous the intersection was.
“The bike didn’t actually fit 100% in the median and we put it there on purpose because it highlighted just how narrow the median was,” Whitehouse said.
The Chicago Department of Transportation is installing new medians at Balbo, Jackson, and Monroe.
“The biking community is a very tight knit community, people know when construction’s going to take place, when it’s announced. People talk about it and this was kept very hush, hush and I wouldn’t be surprised if they feel that there’s liability on their part,” Whitehouse said.
Still, she says its a change that will hopefully protect others.
“It is an mprovement, it’s definitely not solved, we’re still seeing people running the red light but it does make it a little bit safer, and right now it’s nice to have a little bit of a win,” Whitehouse said.
Construction on the median and resurfacing on DuSable Lake Shore Drive is expected to continue through the end of the month.