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It Won’t Be Long Until the Glenwood Greenway Is Ready to Ride

Rendering of the contra-flow bike lane on Glenwood.

The Chicago Department of Transportation was initially hoping to install a neighborhood greenway on Glenwood in Edgewater in summer 2015, including a contraflow bike lane to legalize southbound cycling on a northbound stretch of the street. There was some resistance from neighbors who didn’t like the idea of “wrong-way” cycling on the street, which was presumably a factor in delaying the project, but CDOT says they’re finally ready to complete the new route.

Glennwood, a leafy side street that serves as an alternative to busy Clark and Broadway, the next continuous north-south streets to the west and east, is already a popular bike route, with up to 40 riders an hour on the corridor during peak hours, representing 25 percent of traffic, according to CDOT. However, perhaps because drivers aren’t expecting southbound bike traffic on the northbound stretch of Glenwood, six bicyclists were injured in crashes there between 2009 and 2013. Half of them were under age 18.

The contraflow lane will run from Ridge to Clark. The rest of the greenway will have sharrows.
The contraflow lane will run from Ridge to Clark. The rest of the greenway will have sharrows.
The contraflow lane will run from Ridge to Clark. The rest of the greenway will have sharrows.

Therefore, CDOT’s plan to legalize contraflow riding makes a lot of sense, because the new bike lane will encourage southbound cyclists to stick to the west side of the street, and alert drivers to their presence.

The current plan is for the contraflow lane to be striped on the northbound section of Glenwood, between Ridge and Foster, according to CDOT staffer Mike Amsden. From Foster to Carmen, a two-way segment, “sharrows” (bike symbols with chevrons) will be marked on the street, and more sharrows on Carmen will usher cyclists between Glenwood and Broadway.

Green pavement will be added at potential conflict locations, and flexible plastic posts will be strategically installed to deter illegal parking, Amsden said. The work will begin as soon as conditions are warm and dry enough for laying thermoplastic, and after the street markings are in, CDOT will build a refuge island at Carmen/Broadway to facilitate crossing the street by both cyclists and pedestrians. Broadway has buffered bike lanes south of Foster, so it's safe street to continue south on.

Last year the transportation department put in a small island at the southwest corner of Ridge/Glenwood that will mark the northern terminus of the contraflow bike lane and prevent motorists from driving south onto Glenwood. I already appreciate the island because it facilitates the brief contraflow move I currently make when riding southbound on Glenwood to access Edgewater Avenue, a westbound street that leads to Andersonville’s business district on Clark. (Once the greenway is in, I’ll probably just continue south on Glenwood in this situation.)

However Streetsblog’s Steven Vance noted that it’s currently common for drivers to park on the west side of Glenwood just south of the island, which is an obstacle for southbound cyclists making the move I just described, and would block the contraflow lane once it’s installed. Amsden responded that there’s already a No Parking sign at that location, and once the green paint and flexible posts are installed it will be more obvious to motorists that they shouldn’t park there.

An illegally parked postal vehicle at Glenwood/Ridge. Photo: Steven Vance
An illegally parked postal vehicle at Glenwood/Ridge. Photo: Steven Vance
An illegally parked postal vehicle at Glenwood/Ridge. Photo: Steven Vance

In other Greenway news, Amsden said that the project to build the Rogers Park greenway, which will run from Devon to Howard, mostly along Glenwood and Greenview, is also moving along. “It’s still moving through the federal [Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement grant approval] process, but no dates yet.”

So it shouldn’t be too far in the future before you can pedal from Argyle Street to Evanston primarily on low-stress neighborhood greenway streets.

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