Roger That! Low-Stress, North-South Bike Route Planned for Rogers Park

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Greenview north of Touhy, looking north. Image: Google Street View

The Chicago Department of Transportation recently held a public meeting about their clever proposal to install a contra-flow bike lane on Glenwood, between Ridge and Carmen, in Edgewater. More quietly, CDOT and the 49th Ward have been moving forward with an equally promising plan for a neighborhood greenway on Glenwood and and Greenview in Rogers Park.

CDOT staff declined to discuss the proposal, referring me to 49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore’s office. “Our main goal was to create some kind of route from Devon Street, the southern boundary of the ward, up to Evanston,” explained Bob Fuller, an assistant to Moore. Glenwood and Greenview are already popular bike routes in Rogers Park, with cyclists accounting for up to 25 percent of rush hour traffic. “Instead of high-traffic streets like Sheridan, Clark, and Western, it made sense to put the greenway on these residential streets,” Fuller said.

The draft plan is to have the route run along Glenwood from Devon to either Pratt or Farwell. From there, the greenway would jog west a block to Greenview and continue to either Howard or Jonquil. From there, cyclists could head west to Clark or east to Sheridan in order to get to Evanston. The roughly 1.7-mile route would work both northbound and southbound.

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A possible route for the Rogers Park greenway, in blue. Image: Google Maps

Rogers Parkers voted to fund bike improvements on neighborhood streets during the ward’s 2011 and 2012 participatory budgeting elections, so there’s currently about $140,00 in the kitty for the greenway, Fuller said. This cash could be used as matching funds to leverage federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement grants, so he estimates that about $800,000 will be available for the project.

The ward is more than a year into the community input process for the bike route. In April 2014, the local bike advisory group met to discuss various options for a north-south greenway. The group convened again earlier this month to check out the latest proposal.

Similar to the existing Berteau Greenway, the Rogers Park route would include various traffic calming strategies. Curb bumpouts, traffic circles, and bike-friendly sinusoidal speed humps will likely be involved. Raised crosswalks are also a possibility. Bike-and-chevron “shared-lane markings” will be installed, and a bike box may be put in at Devon/Glenwood, the only signalized intersection on the route.

Greenview is currently one-way northbound between Pratt and Morse. If the route uses this segment for two-way bike traffic, a contra-flow bike lane would be needed, or else this stretch would have to be made two-way for all road users, Fuller said. Alternately, southbound riders could be routed east to Glenwood via Farwell, which is one-way-eastbound.

There’s been some resistance to the Edgewater greenway plan from drivers who fear that the contra-flow bike lane will lead to more crashes, although the opposite has been true on streets that already have these kind of lanes, such as Berteau, Albion, and Ardmore. However, Fuller said that even non-cyclists in Rogers Park are enthusiastic about traffic calming on Glenwood and Greenview.

“There have been a few car crashes, including some hit-and-runs, on these streets,” Fuller said. “People who live on Glenwood and Greenview are interested in making sure people on foot are protected, because these are also nice walking routes.”

CDOT will be doing more detailed traffic counts in the near future, and will then hash out a final proposal. This will be presented at a final community meeting in late summer or early fall, in time for the CMAQ grant application deadline. It’s exciting to note that, once the Edgewater and Rogers Park greenways are created, cyclists will be able to travel all the way from Uptown to Evanston via a logical, low-stress route.

  • The route through Rogers Park is already relatively low stress for Rogers Park/Edgewater bike commutes to Northwestern. What would be GREAT is a low-stress alternative to Sheridan or Clark/Chicago from Howard past (or through) the cemetary.

  • There needs to be a cultural shift. A mindset change. Cars need to become clear second class users on this route. Cars need to be told in no uncertain terms that it is a bike route where cars are only tolerated if they behave themselves. What does that mean?

    It means that cars are never allowed to pass bikes. Paint the lines in the middle of the street if that is what it takes. Bikes are never to be passed on this route.

  • I have no idea why anybody bothers riding on Sheridan in Rogers Park, it’s so disgustingly uncomfortable. Clark is better but a little exploration will bring you to much better alternatives.

  • Unfortunately Glenwood has become a secondary route to Sheridan and Clark for drivers while being a prime bike route south of Pratt. I generally use Greenview to venture north from our place at Lunt and Sheridan though it’s often treated like Glenwood by drivers.

    My take, and not solely because I live here, Rogers Park is in a great position to develop as a non-driving focused neighborhood. There are a few obstacles along the way that I’ve observed. It’s viewed as a last ditch effort to live in the city while working in the suburbs, i.e. “requiring a vehicle to commute.” Or, “I’m so far away from everything I need to drive.” Plus there’s simply a hardened group that is hellbent on street parking.

    Aside from that? There really isn’t any reason for people to drive within the neighborhood. Even if you need to go beyond, Evanston has made strides to improve safety and over the last year exhibited leadership to overcome that turning point in balancing biking and driving while West Ridge and Edgewater are relatively similar in nature to Rogers Park that it’s still moderately comfortable to bike there.

    It’s lacking infrastructure, being ill-equipped and lacking motivation to change.

  • I live near Lakewood and Granville. I occasionally use Glenwood between Devon and Pratt. I feel that the traffic on Glenwood is often going too fast.

    I use Granville a lot, of course. It is a typical east-west almost arterial. Like Pratt and Morse. Peterson, Devon and Howard are real arterials. I’m speaking for cars here. Not bikes.

    For bikes the almost arterials have the potential to be a lot better. Especially between Clark and the lake. And likewise Glenwood and Greenview.

    Let me get back to Granville (my “for instance” for the others). I would declare Granville between Clark and Broadway a “cultural corridor” (or some other word than “corridor”). It has two grammar schools, two churches, a mosque and a performance theater in that four block stretch. I would set the speed limit to 20mph (or even 15?). I would do all I could to encourage bikers to use the middle of the lane and ban all bike passing by cars in that stretch.

    I would at least paint the center of the street bike lane green and at most build a curbless blended single level street-scape on par with what is happening to Argyle between Broadway and Sheridan.

    Getting back to Greenview/Glenwood, they need to be deconstructed as potential arterials for cars. That is in effect what Edgewater did to Glenwood south of Ridge when they one-wayed it going north from Foster to Ridge. Local usage by bikers has always had a strong defacto contra flow. My guess is that Greenview/Glenwood north of Devon needs similar treatment to reduce arterial use by cars. Insert some one-ways and/or cul-de-sacs with openings for bikes along the route between Devon and Evanston. (Speaking of Evanston when will they ever get around to installing a real full sized bike lane in the Sheridan Road curve around the cemetery?)

    I sense that you are on a similar page here. I sense too that the community, even the driving community is changing. There is more bike awareness and tolerance. More drivers are stopping for pedestrians in cross-walks. Rogers Park / Edgewater are ready for more bike/pedestrian infrastructure and restrictions on car usage both parking and driving usage.

  • duppie

    I am all for a greenway from Uptown to Howard, but I do have two concerns.
    1. There is often a lot of traffic on Glenwood between Devon and Pratt. As others have said, drivers might use it as an alternative for Sheridan. When i go north of Devon, I prefer to use Greenview NB, and Bosworth SB. They are existing low traffic, low speed streets
    2. From the Northern terminus, there is no good low-traffic route to Evanston. When riding to Evanston, I prefer Custer/Sherman, which is about a mile west of the Northern terminus. How do I get from Greenview and Howard to Custer on low traffic streets?

  • Anne A

    My alternative has usually been Howard to Custer plus an east-west combo (Oakton/South Blvd or or Main or Madison) to get to either Hinman or Sherman – not the most direct, but mostly pleasant.

  • Continue north on Greenview beyond Howard, turn left onto Jonquil, left onto Haskins, right onto Chicago Avenue, then use the Mulford viaduct to cut under the Purple line and continue to Custer. https://goo.gl/maps/vYQ8N

    It feels like a lot to accomplish just to get to Custer, though I can’t figure out a better way without turning off Greenview before Howard.

  • duppie

    Thanks for that tip. I’ll have to try that one.
    I usually turn off Greenview before Howard, something like Greenleaf> Wolcott> Winchester> Howard> Custer.

  • tooter turtle

    That’s what I’ve found to be best, too.

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