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Construction Begins on Berteau Avenue Neighborhood Greenway

Construction of the Berteau Avenue neighborhood greenway

Berteau Avenue from Lincoln Avenue to Clark Street is en route to becoming Chicago's first neighborhood greenway. The project resembles a "bike boulevard," allowing two-way bike traffic where car traffic is one-way only and adding traffic calming elements like curb extensions at intersections. Construction started in late August, a couple of months later than projected.

At many intersections, the city is now installing curb extensions with bioswales (landscaping that captures, stores, and filters runoff water, reducing the strain on sewers during storms), as well as signs saying "ONE WAY EXCEPT BIKES" and "DO NOT ENTER EXCEPT BIKES." I spotted three people bicycling east on a westbound segment for car traffic this morning.

According to Alderman Ameya Pawar's email newsletter last Friday, the final phase of construction will consist of a new bike signal at Damen Avenue for eastbound riders, and additional street markings, wayfinding signs, and "reduced speed" signs. The whole project, including resurfacing between Ravenswood and Ashland, should be completed by October.

On the block between Damen and Winchester, the speed limit is marked at 20 mph. The narrowed travel lanes should encourage people to drive at a safe speed regardless of the speed limit.

Construction of the Berteau Avenue neighborhood greenway

The design also calls for the removal of stop signs for east-west traffic at Greenview Avenue and adding a traffic circle. Stop signs impair convenient travel by bike, so removing them is a key component of neighborhood greenways.

Residents kvetched about traffic diverters -- another hallmark of bike boulevards, pioneered in Davis and Berkeley, California -- that would have forced drivers to turn off Berteau while allowing bicyclists to keep going straight. This would have reduced "cut through" traffic on Berteau but the city abandoned the idea after encountering resistance.

Construction of the Berteau Avenue neighborhood greenway

At Clark Street, a new refuge island allows eastbound bicyclists turning north onto Clark to make the turn in two stages, but also narrows the road, squeezing north-south bicyclists among automobiles, much like the Humboldt Drive road diet in Humboldt Park. Drivers, bus operators, and cyclists will have to merge into a single file line to pass by Berteau here. The island also makes room for a left-turn lane from northbound Clark onto westbound Berteau.

The Berteau project is the third location in the city with a contraflow bike lane -- and, at eight blocks, the longest -- following the two-block segment that's been a longstanding feature at the north end of the Lakefront Trail on Ardmore Avenue, and last year's one-block addition on Albion Avenue between Lakewood Avenue and Sheridan Road.

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