Get Ready for Chicago’s Next Great Greenways on Roscoe and School/Aldine
Some of the best biking streets in town are roads that were already good places to ride, and then the Chicago Department of Transportation added enhancements to make them even better and advertise them to residents. The recently installed Glenwood Avenue Greenway springs to mind. It was already a great north-south alternative to busy Clark and Broadway in Uptown and Edgewater that became even more useful and popular after CDOT added contraflow bike lanes on the one-way southbound section, plus northbound sharrows and wayfinding signs.
Likewise, westbound Roscoe and eastbound School (called Aldine east of Clark) are already an excellent low-stress couplet of streets for cycling across Lakeview between Roscoe Village and Lake Michigan. Not only are these generally peaceful and leafy routes, but all crossings of major streets have stoplights or four-way stop signs, which makes crossings safe and easy.
As recently announced on Lakeview alderman Tom Tunney’s website, the city is planning to designate these streets as Neighborhood Greenways between Ashland and the Lakefront Trail. Details are sketchy right now, but presumably the improvements will at least include shared-lane markings (bike-and-chevron symbols) and route signs. Tunney describes the greenways as “bike lanes,” so perhaps there will be full-fledged bike lanes on the streets, and hopefully CDOT will install traffic-calming infrastructure, such as traffic circles, sidewalk bumpouts, or speed humps.
The alderman writes that “Neighbors on School/Aldine and Roscoe have contacted my office to voice concerns about speeding vehicles that use School/Aldine and Roscoe to bypass traffic on Belmont.” That’s a good argument for including traffic diverters, infrastructure that prevents drivers from using the streets as a continuous cut-through route but allows cyclists to travel nonstop. That would be a first in Chicago, and it would make these streets even nicer for residents, as well as cyclists and pedestrians.
Tunney notes that the greenways would be be the 44th Ward’s first east-west bike lanes, connecting with five major north-south bike routes: Lincoln, Southport, Clark, Halsted and the shoreline path. He adds that the project is currently wrapping up the planning and study phase. A ward task force and CDOT staffers have been reviewing traffic studies and have reached an agreement on the types of traffic calming measure they will recommend for community review. There will be a public meeting on the proposal in the next month or two.
One interesting element of the plan is the possibility of adding a short stretch of raised bike lane (similar to what was recently installed on Roosevelt between Wabash and Grant Park) on Broadway to facilitate the northbound jog of about half a block that westbound riders on Roscoe need to make. CDOT spokesman Mike Claffey says the design is still being worked out, but it will be revealed at the community meeting.