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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.

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