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Petition Launched for a Neighborhood Greenway on Leland Avenue in Lincoln Square

Leland Avenue east of the Chicago River. Image: Google Street View

I included Leland Avenue (4700 North) east of the Chicago River on the Mellow Chicago Bike Map because it's a super-chill eastbound route with stoplights on the major street crossings with Western and Ashland. East of Clark it's designated as a neighborhood greenway -- earlier this year the Chicago Department of Transportation installed wayfinding signage and pavement markings. The greenway route winds through a new eco-friendly plaza at Uplift Community High School before heading south to Wilson and the (controversial) sidewalk bike lanes under Lake Shore Drive to connect with the Lakefront Trail. However, Leland doesn't work as a continuous westbound route between the river and Clark because most of that stretch is one-way eastbound.

Bike advocates Aaron Greicius and Nate Hutcheson hope to make Leland an even better bike route. They've launched an online petition proposing a neighborhood greenway with contraflow bike lanes heading west on Leland from Western to Virginia (the north-south street just east of the river), and then north along Virginia to Lawrence, near the southern terminus of the North Shore Channel Trail. They note that CDOT has already successfully installed contraflow lanes on several neighborhood greenway streets, like Berteau, Glenwood, Wood, and Albion.

While Lawrence has bike lanes and Wilson has shared-lane markings, they also have plenty of traffic (Wilson is a popular cut-through route for drivers), and Greicius and Hutcheson note that many cyclists already prefer Leland. "The preference is strong enough that a large number of cyclists already choose to travel westward (against traffic) along Leland Ave," they write. "A contraflow lane would simply legalize this behavior, transforming the existing 'desire path' into a safe, sanctioned route."

I asked why they're not also proposing a contraflow lane on the other one-way eastbound stretch of Leland east of the river, the segment between Damen and Clark. "Our focus on this smaller portion of Leland is simply a result of our not wanting to get too ambitious," Greicius responded. "Also, we originally were considering creating a pop-up contraflow lane, and so we wanted to keep its extent limited." Eventually they'd also like to see a contraflow lane on the short southbound segment of Francisco north of Lawrence, creating a direct connect from Leland/Virginia to the North Shore Channel Trail.

The proposed greenway zone.
The proposed contraflow bike lane zone.

Greicius and Hutcheson have already discussed their proposal with bike-friendly 47th Ward alderman Ameya Pawar, and they say he's enthusiastic. Racking up dozens of signatures signatures in support of the idea would make it even more likely the new greenway will become a reality.

Show your support for the new contraflow lane on Leland by signing up here.

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