The city is gearing up to add 175 more Divvy bike-share stations this year, bringing the total to 475. On Thursday, 49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore hosted a community meeting at Eugene Field elementary to discuss potential Divvy station locations within Rogers Park. The meeting also covered the proposed north-south neighborhood greenway that’s a ballot item in the ward’s upcoming participatory budgeting election. Joining Moore to discuss these projects were Chicago Department of Transportation deputy commissioner Sean Wiedel and bikeways planner David Smith.
Wiedel began by discussing the nuts and bolts of the bike-share system: how to join, pricing, station locations and the expansion plans. There are currently about 15,000 annual members, 2,675 bikes and 5,152 docks in the system. Assuming that the January bankruptcy of Bixi, which supplies the bikes and stations for Divvy, doesn’t throw a wrench in the works, there should be a total of 4,750 bikes available in Chicago by late 2014. When an attendee asked about crashes involving Divvy users, Wiedel replied that over the system’s nine month history, there have only been a handful of reported crashes, which have resulted in no serious injuries.
The seven proposed 49th Ward station locations are Clark and Touhy, Sheridan and Greenleaf, Clark and Lunt, Clark and Columbia, Ridge and Touhy, and the Loyola and Morse Red Line stops. There was little negative feedback from attendees. However, while the Loyola station is slated for the southwest corner of Sheridan and Albion, some residents said they would prefer it was placed within the station’s new plaza. They noted that this intersection has a high number of pedestrians crossing the street, fast car traffic on Sheridan, and many turning vehicles, all of which could present hazards for Divvy riders. A resident also said they would like to see the Clark and Lunt docking station installed closer to the Rogers Park Metra Station at Lunt and Ravenswood.
Wiedel said the biggest challenge to station placement in Rogers Park was finding room for the docks, either on the sidewalk or in the street. The Morse Divvy station would be placed in the street in a no parking zone. The Sheridan and Greenleaf station would require relocating a bus bench and a bike rack.
Residents voiced concerns about station density and utility, with several people asking for more stations farther north and west. The city had applied for funding for an additional 75 stations via the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program, which could have meant more for Rogers Park. These 75 stations would have included several in Oak Park and Evanston, and more stations would likely have been installed north of Touhy in Rogers Park to connect to the Evanston border. Unfortunately, the state didn’t approve the grant. Wiedel said the city and the two suburbs plan on pursuing alternative funding for the expansion.
Smith discussed the proposed bike-priority neighborhood greenway along Glenwood and Greenview, which could feature traffic calming devices like chicanes, bumpouts, traffic circles, and the all-too-common speed humps. He emphasized that the purpose of a neighborhood greenway is not just to facilitate cycling, but also to improve safety for pedestrians and drivers. Narrowing crosswalk distances, decreasing the speed limit and diverting through traffic to arterial streets makes the street more livable for local residents as well.
Due to one-way streets, the proposed north- and southbound bike routes are slightly different. The northbound route would be:
- North on Glenwood from Devon to Pratt
- West on Pratt to Greenview
- North on Greenview to Jonquil
- West on Jonquil to Haskins
- Northwest on Haskins to Juneway
- West on Juneway to Chicago Avenue in Evanston
The southbound route would be:
- East on Juneway from Chicago Avenue in Evanston to Marshfield
- South on Marshfield to Jonquil
- East on Jonquil to Greenview
- South on Greenview to Morse
- East on Morse to Glenwood
- South on Glenwood to Devon
Many people spoke unfavorably of routing via Glenwood due to high car and truck traffic during rush hours, when drivers use the street as an alternative to Sheridan. One attendee suggested that removing the current prohibition against motorists turning left onto Sheridan from Devon could reduce traffic on Glenwood, since some motorists drivers turn onto Glenwood from Devon to avoid this limitation. Glenwood is also narrow enough that it’s sometimes difficult for two vehicles to pass, which can also be the case on Greenview, residents said.
One attendee worried that CDOT’s proposal to remove some stop signs along the route to make cycling more convenient could lead to drivers speeding past several youth facilities on these streets. Smith reassured the resident that the department would not remove stop signs without replacing them with another traffic calming tool.
Most commenters were skeptical of the greenway route, but Smith emphasized that planning is still at the preliminary stage and nothing is final. If the greenway receives funding via the PB election, construction would begin in late 2015.