Get Ready for Chicago’s Next Great Greenways on Roscoe and School/Aldine

In general Roscoe and School/Aldine are already good streets to ride on, but the greenways will make them better. Image: Google Street View
In general Roscoe and School/Aldine are already good streets to ride on, but the greenways will make them better. Image: Google Street View

Some of the best biking streets in town are roads that were already good places to ride, and then the Chicago Department of Transportation added enhancements to make them even better and advertise them to residents. The recently installed Glenwood Avenue Greenway springs to mind. It was already a great north-south alternative to busy Clark and Broadway in Uptown and Edgewater that became even more useful and popular after CDOT added contraflow bike lanes on the one-way southbound section, plus northbound sharrows and wayfinding signs.

Likewise, westbound Roscoe and eastbound School (called Aldine east of Clark) are already an excellent low-stress couplet of streets for cycling across Lakeview between Roscoe Village and Lake Michigan. Not only are these generally peaceful and leafy routes, but all crossings of major streets have stoplights or four-way stop signs, which makes crossings safe and easy.

As recently announced on Lakeview alderman Tom Tunney’s website, the city is planning to designate these streets as Neighborhood Greenways between Ashland and the Lakefront Trail. Details are sketchy right now, but presumably the improvements will at least include shared-lane markings (bike-and-chevron symbols) and route signs. Tunney describes the greenways as “bike lanes,” so perhaps there will be full-fledged bike lanes on the streets, and hopefully CDOT will install traffic-calming infrastructure, such as traffic circles, sidewalk bumpouts, or speed humps.

The alderman writes that “Neighbors on School/Aldine and Roscoe have contacted my office to voice concerns about speeding vehicles that use School/Aldine and Roscoe to bypass traffic on Belmont.” That’s a good argument for including traffic diverters, infrastructure that prevents drivers from using the streets as a continuous cut-through route but allows cyclists to travel nonstop. That would be a first in Chicago, and it would make these streets even nicer for residents, as well as cyclists and pedestrians.

Tunney notes that the greenways would be be the 44th Ward’s first east-west bike lanes, connecting with five major north-south bike routes: Lincoln, Southport, Clark, Halsted and the shoreline path. He adds that the project is currently wrapping up the planning and study phase. A ward task force and CDOT staffers have been reviewing traffic studies and have reached an agreement on the types of traffic calming measure they will recommend for community review. There will be a public meeting on the proposal in the next month or two.

A raised bike lane may be built on Broadway to facilitate the northbound jog for westbound riders on Roscoe (orange). No word yet if there's anything planned on Broadway for eastbound riders on School/Aldine. Image: Google Maps
A raised bike lane may be built on Broadway to facilitate the northbound jog for westbound riders on Roscoe (orange). No word yet if there’s anything planned on Broadway for eastbound riders on School/Aldine. Image: Google Maps

One interesting element of the plan is the possibility of adding a short stretch of raised bike lane (similar to what was recently installed on Roosevelt between Wabash and Grant Park) on Broadway to facilitate the northbound jog of about half a block that westbound riders on Roscoe need to make. CDOT spokesman Mike Claffey says the design is still being worked out, but it will be revealed at the community meeting.

  • Elliot10

    Yes yes. So it is actually official. We need this in Lakeview. I’m really looking forward to this. I’m definitely going to the community meeting as well.

  • planetshwoop

    This is good — too many of the E/W routes are just routed through too busy streets. Moving to sidestreets will be an improvement.

  • Carter O’Brien

    It’s progress, and glad to see it.

    Alas, for those of us west of the river this provides an alternative to a relatively peaceful stretch of Belmont (Cubs game traffic being an exception). Belmont needs some love further west because there is no leafy side street that crosses the river or expressway.

    We still need a bike/ped bridge over the river somewhere between 2800 and 3600 N. There has to be a way to add one that can work around the boathouse.

  • R

    Yes, often thought of a Roscoe bike bridge so that one can EASILY get from Elston, signalized at California, then across the river branch over to buffered lanes on Roscoe. Or at least freaking put bike lanes on Belmont. So Irving Park, Addison, Belmont, Diversey, and Fullerton have no bicycle lanes and the only E/W ways to cross river/bridges/and highways

  • PatrickJBarry

    A bikeway and traffic calming would be great for School Street east of Ashland, as that stretch does indeed attract auto drivers who are in too big of a hurry. We pull our grandkids out of car seats along that street and are often surprised at how fast the cars are moving, putting us at risk. Greenway, yes.

  • Henry

    Fully agreed – there’s no safe E-W river bike crossing between Montrose and Cortland – a three mile stretch. And auto traffic is especially hectic on all those bridges during rush hour.

    This is what’s so frustrating about the missed opportunity to install bike lanes during the Belmont/Western reconstruction.

  • Kim Hagan

    No to the bike lanes on School Street. It’s fine the way it is. Stop messing up perfectly good streets. Chicago only has a handful of months that are biking weather.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Do you live on School? If so, what are your specific issues with the greenway proposal?