45th Ward Residents Can Vote for Ped, Bike and Transit Improvements

Jefferson Park Transit Center
Statue of Thomas Jefferson in front of the Jefferson Park Transit Center. Photo by Jeff Zoline.

One of the great things about the participatory budgeting process, now taking place in Chicago’s 5th, 45th, 46th, and 49th wards, is that it encourages aldermen to spend ward money on outside-the-box sustainable transportation projects. By allowing citizens to vote on how a ward’s $1.3 million in discretionary “menu” funds are used, the process provides support from constituents for expenditures that might seem more politically risky than the usual roadwork and streetlamp repair.

Case in point is Alderman John Arena’s 45th Ward, a Far Northwest district made up largely of the Jefferson Park neighborhood, not usually thought of as a hotbed for progressive transportation policy. Thanks to input from residents, protected bike lanes and on-street bike parking corrals, as well as a new pedestrian stoplight by the Blue Line’s Jefferson Park station, will likely be on the ballot when voting starts on May 29.

Asked why Arena was willing to give up his right to determine how the menu money should be spent, Chief of Staff Owen Brugh said, “We don’t have a monopoly on what the best ideas are for our community. To motivate people to get involved in the process, frankly, you have to give up a little power. We decided to trust our constituents and take that leap. It’s their tax money.”

View Proposed Jefferson Park buffered lanes in a larger map

Proposed buffered lanes on Lawrence (blue) and Milwaukee (red).

There have been six community meetings so far to brainstorm ideas for the ballot. There will be an expo where residents can find out more about the various proposals tonight from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Filament Theatre, 4041 North Milwaukee. Additional seminars will take place on Thursday, April 11, from 7 – 9 p.m. at Saint Constance Church, 5843 West Strong, and on Saturday, April 13, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Copernicus Center, 5216 West Lawrence.

“It’s very time- and labor-intensive for the ward staff and volunteers,” Brugh said. “But in the end it’s going to be worth it because we’ll end up with a budget that accurately reflects the community’s values. The expos will be a chance for us to get feedback from the community one last time before we finalize what’s going on the ballot.”

New buffered bike lanes are proposed for a two-mile stretch of Milwaukee between Lawrence and Addison at an estimated cost of $120,000, according to 45th Ward Director of Development Anthony Alfano. There is also a proposal to upgrade existing bike lanes, on an .8-mile stretch of Lawrence between Long and Cicero, to buffered lanes, for an estimated $32,000.

View Location of pedestrian stoplight by Jeff Park station in a larger map

Proposed location for a pedestrian stoplight at the Jefferson Park Transit Center.

Citizens will likely be able to vote for bike corrals in three locations, costing a total of $7-10,000, Alfaro said. One could go by a Mariano’s Fresh Market at 535 North Elston, another might be installed at Fischman’s Liquors and Tap, 4780 North Milwaukee, and a third could be placed at Lawrence and Marmora, in a small, mom-and-pop shopping district.

Brugh said the third corral location is in an area that has traditionally been underserved for bike facilities. “Once you get west of Milwaukee on the Northwest side there aren’t a lot of bike amenities,” he said, “Right now it’s a very car-centric place. Bike parking would help create one more transit option so we can further promote businesses in the community.”

The new pedestrian stoplight at the Jefferson Park transit center would be located just north of the exit for southbound and eastbound buses. “The way the streets are configured, it’s a little complicated to cross Milwaukee there,” Brugh said. He added that the new signal could also facilitate left turns by buses leaving the station, as well as left turns by buses entering the station from the north. The cost for the signal it yet-to-be determined.

Early voting for the menu budget takes placed from April 29 to May 3 at the ward office, 4754 North Milwaukee; constituents will also be able to vote from May 3 to 5 at other locations, to be announced. “It’s really up to the community on whether or not these things get done,” Brugh said. Hopefully Jefferson Parkers will support these projects that will encourage walking, biking and transit use in their neighborhood.

  • Thanks, it’s always interesting to see how the budgeting process is working in wards across the city. Any Chicagoan can look up how their alderman allocated their ward’s menu funds for the past few years on the city’s website:

  • Anonymous

    Why don’t people harass Mariano’s into putting in some bike parking? There’s nothing else right by that Mariano’s, so an on-street bike corral doesn’t make much sense there.

  • Jakub Muszynski

    Now this I like. This far west Chicago definitely underserves bicyclists, I hope that plans for buffered lanes do get realized. The Lawrence’s bike lanes could really use a refresh. CDOT and the different wards around Chicago should look into installing bike air pumps near bike lanes. The Jefferson Park transit center would make a great place to place one, because so many bikes begin or end their journey here or just pass by this area.

  • Yes, and there’s sheltered, high-capacity, double-decker parking at the station.

  • Jakub Muszynski

    Exactly why I think that such a air pump could serve many bicyclists in the area. Any idea who I can contact over at CDOT or CTA to get the idea rolling?

  • I’ll look into it…

  • Anonymous

    The bike lane markings on Lawrence need to be refreshed, in both the 45th ward and the 39th Ward to the east..

    These haven’t been painted for years, and are invisible along large lengths of Lawrence Avenue.

  • pothole

    There is bike parking at Mariano’s on Elston. I’ve used it. Because of the parking on Elston so close to the entrance to Mariano’s, there are going to be a lot of conflicts between cars and bicyclists as the weather improves. Cars pretty much have to inch into the bike lane to see the traffic and some are less careful than others. Removing some parking and installing a bike corral would seem like a win-win.

  • Kudos to the designer of this Mariano’s and the zoning administrator for having bike parking so close to the entrance. You can’t say the same for the Mariano’s West Loop (Monroe/Halsted) where the bike parking is over 100 feet from the entrance, on the backside of the building, where people must either walk through the parking lot to get to a store entrance, or around the building.

    The “inching into the bike lane” problem is inherent to how we design the bike lane, roadway edge, and sidewalk. The Dutch have a different design that allows drivers to pull – one at a time – into a space between the bike lane and the roadway into which they are trying to turn. Or they put a space between the bike lane and the sidewalk, in a way that gives the driver full view of cross traffic, without having to block the sidewalk or the bike lane. These aren’t the only ways they solve the inching problem.

    Here’s an example intersection that puts a space between the roadway into which the driver will turn and the bike lane (with red asphalt).

  • In Copenhagen and other cities around the world (including Vancouver, BC), there are powered air pumps.

    In Chicago there are 7 air pumps next to DIY bike repair stands at shops. See a list on my Chicago Bike Guide iOS app.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the pics, I haven’t been up by that one since it opened.

    I guess I would say just remove the parking to up visibility, don’t spend additional money on a corral that might see very limited use.


Street Repairs Make It on 5th Ward PB Ballot; CTA and Bike Projects Don’t

Traditionally, Chicago aldermen choose to spend their discretionary “menu” funds on meat-and-potatoes infrastructure projects like street repaving, sidewalk repair, and streetlight replacement. This week, however, residents in four different wards are voting in participatory budgeting elections, helping to decide how their district’s $1.3 million in menu money will be spent. Three of the wards will […]