Details on the Chill New Way to Bike to Evanston

Rendering of the contraflow bike lane on the southbound stretch of Glenwood north of Pratt. Image: CDOT
Rendering of the contraflow bike lane on the southbound stretch of Glenwood north of Pratt. Image: CDOT

Among the 20 new miles of bikeways the Chicago Department of Transportation has planned for 2018, one of the most useful new routes will be the Rogers Park Greenway. It will extend the popular Glenwood Greenway in Uptown and Edgewater by a couple of miles miles and create a low-stress way to visit Evanston, our neighbor to the north.

Currently there are two basic ways to bike to Evanston from the Lakefront Trail. There’s a mellow, but very circuitous, signed route from the northern terminus of the trail at Ardmore via Kenmore, Devon, Glenwood, Arthur, Greenview, Pratt, Ashland, and Rogers — got all that? The itinerary is somewhat different heading south from Evanston. The northbound route drops you off on busy Sheridan Road, at which point you have to ride around the east side of Calvary Cemetery (just north of the border), a maneuver best done via the lakeside sidewalk.

The more direct option is to take Ardmore/Kenmore/Glenwood to Clark Street and ride it all the way north to the west side of the cemetery, at which point there’s a bike lane. Clark in Rogers Park is a bikeable, but somewhat hectic, two-lane street (although it’s lined with many good Mexican restaurants – I recommend the massive chile relleno burrito at El Famous.)

Current routes between the Lakefront Trail and Evanston and the Rogers Park Greenway Route (gold). Maps: CDOT
Current routes between the Lakefront Trail and Evanston and the Rogers Park Greenway Route (gold). Maps: CDOT

The Rogers Park Greenway will offer the best of both worlds, a relaxing, but relatively direct, route to the home of Northwestern University. During a participatory budgeting election a few years ago, 49th Ward residents chose to spend menu money to pay for the required 20 percent local share of the federally funded project. The ward recently passed along the details of how the new route will work.

Earlier this year CDOT extended the Glenwood Greenway from Ridge to Devon, installing new bikeway markings and signs. The Rogers Park Greenway (officially called the 49th Ward Greenway, but I expect nobody but Alderman Joe Moore is going to call it that) continues on Glenwood north to Pratt. A green-painted bike box will be added at Devon, four-way stops at minor cross streets will be removed to help cyclists keep their momentum, and motorized traffic will be calmed with curb extensions, a raised crosswalk at North Shore Avenue, and a bike-friendly sinusoidal speed hump. North Shore and Albion will serve as connector routes to the lakefront. A new sidewalk will also be built on the east side of Glenwood south of Pratt.

North of Pratt, the route jogs west on Farwell, then continues north on Greenview to Howard. The southbound stretch of Glenwood on the west side of the Red Line embankment, the eastbound block of Farwell, and northbound Greenview will all get contraflow bike lanes to allow for two-way bike traffic. This segment of the route will also get curb extensions, stop sign removals, and speed humps, and a new traffic circle will be built in the Genview/Greenleaf intersection.

The route will use a contraflow bike lane, and a park crossing, to make its way from Greenview to the Evanston border. Map: CDOT
The route will use a contraflow bike lane, and a park crossing, to make its way from Greenview to the Evanston border. Map: CDOT

North of Touhy there be more traffic calming, including three new traffic circles. The route heads west on Jonquil Terrace (a block north of Howard) for a couple blocks, then jogs north on Paulina to Juneway Terrace, which will get a westbound contraflow bike lane. Cyclists will cross tiny Triangle Park via a sidewalk, then continue on Juneway to Clark, at which point they can head north to Evanston.

The Rogers Park Greenway design cleverly uses contraflow bikeways and traffic calming to design to create what should be a handy and popular new bikeway. All Chicago neighborhoods should have such facilities, so it would be great if neighborhood greenways didn’t require ward funding, so that they could also be implemented in parts of town where there might be less support for spending ward money on bike infrastructure. So far all of Chicago’s completed or planned greenways are on the North Side.

  • Austin Busch

    I mean, I love this bikeway. If only the north end deposited you somewhere with more than half a block of bike lane. I have no idea why Evanston built bike lanes from a cemetery to a gas station with no destinations between.

    But please, the Sheridan Road sidewalk around Calvary sees plenty of pedestrians. It is the pedestrian connection for both cities’ lakefronts, and sees plenty of runners and dog-walkers. The city could easily justify a wider recreational trail to accommodate this connection between two parks.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    I’ve never seen many people on foot on that stretch during the many times I’ve biked on it, but assuming there are no pedestrian counts available, I’ll take your word for it. I’ve edited that sentence. Thanks.

  • rwy

    Chicago Ave kind of an odd street south of South Boulevard. It has three lanes, 2 sb, 1 nb. Are there so many people fleeing Evanston that an extra lane is needed?

    Going northbound, the only way for a car to pass a cyclist with the legally required 3 feet is to cross the centerline. Many drivers instead choose to illegally pass cyclists with less than 3 feet in this section. One of the southbound lanes should be eliminated to make room for both cyclists and cars. Chicago Ave is in bad shape, so the reconfiguration could easily be done as part of resurfacing.

  • Anne A

    The lakefront sidewalk opposite the cemetery also has some very rough sections. It’s not the most rideable, even without ped traffic.

  • Anne A

    In many years of biking, driving or walking along that stretch of Chicago Ave., I’ve never seen many people walking there. I’ve always thought the lane configuration there was rather ridiculous.

  • Well, there’s also the weird viaduct under the tracks that drops you into south Evanston about a block west of Custer, which then takes you leafily north between Chicago and Ridge. This path ends almost exactly across Chicago from there. I used to ride a variation on this route, staying on Haskins south of the park, and that worked pretty well.

  • Don Gordon

    Been taking this route to Evanston for years from our home on Lunt near Sheridan. Greenview is a relatively quiet traffic street and the lake shifts west the further north you go in Chicago.

    So Greenview, which is literally 2 miles from the lake by the DePaul campus in Lincoln Park, is only a few hundred yards from the lake at Juneway in Rogers Park where it ends. Even where we live on Lunt, Greenview is a long 3 blocks from the lake.

    Now, what would make this route even better is to return Sheridan Road to two lanes east of the cemetery – a project that is in the hopper in the Evanston Lakefront Plan – and create a lakefront path east of Calvary!


Rogers Parkers Discuss Plans for Divvy Stations, Greenway

The city is gearing up to add 175 more Divvy bike-share stations this year, bringing the total to 475. On Thursday, 49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore hosted a community meeting at Eugene Field elementary to discuss potential Divvy station locations within Rogers Park. The meeting also covered the proposed north-south neighborhood greenway that’s a ballot item […]