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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.

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