West Side Residents Tell CDOT Where New Bikeways Should Be Built

Bike planning meeting in the Austin neighborhood
Consultants and a couple of locals discuss bike routes on the West Side.

Last night the Chicago Department of Transportation held a meeting at the Austin neighborhood library to get feedback from residents on which routes should be prioritized as the city builds out the planned bike network on the West Side.

second West Side public input meeting takes place tomorrow night from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. at the Legler Library, 115 S. Pulaski Road in East Garfield Park. There will be a presentation at 6:00 p.m.

At the Austin meeting Mike Amsden, assistant director of transportation planning at CDOT, spoke about the planning process that led to the publication of the city’s Streets for Cycling 2020 Plan in fall 2012. He said this year the department wants to construct some of the yet-unbuilt bike routes from the plan – some as lanes, perhaps others as traffic-calmed “neighborhood greenways” on side streets.

For the purposes of this year’s bikeway planning process, the West Side is defined as the area bounded by the city limits, Roosevelt Road, California Avenue, and North Avenue.

The CDOT staffers and consultant went over the unbuilt local bike routes from Streets for Cycling Plan map that they’ve judged to be the most feasible and beneficial locations. They factored in health outcomes, like the prevalence of childhood obesity, diabetes and heart disease among residents along the corridors, which could potentially be improved by providing safer streets for biking. They also met with “community influencers” suggested by the local six alders in November to vet the routes and took their advice into account.

CDOT developed a scoring system based on this info and created maps where the potential bike routes are color-coded according to their respective scores. At last night’s meeting, residents voted on which of the high- and medium-priority routes they want to see built.

Unfortunately, the meeting was sparsely attended — there seemed to be only three members of the general public there, although here representatives from the Active Transportation Alliance and Slow Roll Chicago were present. The residents talked to the staffers about how crime and person safety issues influence their route choices, which streets are best for east-west biking, and the challenges of finding good north-south routes west of Central Park Avenue.

There will be two meetings in April to collect feedback on Southeast Side bike routes, held in the East Side and Pullman neighborhoods. You can also send route ideas, and suggest additional community members and groups for CDOT to reach out to, to cdotbikes@cityofchicago.org.

  • rohmen

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I just hope that with the construction/painting of new bike routes, that the City also remembers to keep up the routes that do already exist.

    The Washington/Warren lanes through the West Side are in absolutely horrible shape—both pavement wise and lane marking wise. So are the lanes on many of the (admittedly few) north/south routes.

    CDOT under Rahm has expanded the routes and should be congratulated for that, but we have to upkeep them as well. Otherwise, this stuff is just a photo op at a ribbon cutting ceremony.

  • Re: maintenance

    CDOT doesn’t maintain lanes. They leave it up to two programs:
    1. Arterial Resurfacing (AR), which does long segments (miles, not blocks), and the CDOT bike program essentially doesn’t have to pay for new or refurbished bike lanes as part of it.

    2. Menu money, where an alder has to choose to maintain the bike lanes out of the $1.3 million annual budget.

    There is no indication that this is changing.

  • Washington/Warren are pretty good in some sections. IIRC, they were resurfaced in the last 2 years west of Central Park Avenue. They’re also in fine shape through the United Center/West Loop area.

  • rohmen

    The washington/warren lanes are generally okay east of Western, but Washington west of Garfield Park is pretty bad, at least on the south side of the street. Bike lane lines are pretty much completely gone in many stretches—though to be fair that’s true of almost all of the lane markings on those stretches. I’d imagine a repave is in the near future (hopefully). Warren east of the park is in okay shape with regards to the painted lines, but the pavement itself could use some overall work.

    The issue on the west side is likely that menu funds aren’t used towards street upkeep at all, with arguably good reason. I’m sure there are other services some of those neighborhoods need much more than smooth, well-marked roads, though I think that illustrates why the current funding system sucks.

  • A huge portion of East Garfield Park and West Humboldt Park is in the Chicago/Central Park TIF district. It’s what paid for new street lighting on streets around the conservatory.

    Then there’s the Midwest TIF district. The city can use these to pay for Divvy stations and bike lanes. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ca5e0c5ba11a73c1e34d5935e1e74d53ce4dc54151900260a3b5e06626a22b99.png

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