Eyes on the Street: The Roscoe and School/Aldine Greenways Are Ready to Ride
One of Chicago’s best low-stress, east-west bike routes just got a little safer and easier to navigate. This morning city officials officially opened a couplet of “Neighborhood Greenways” on Roscoe Street (westbound), and School Street and Aldine Avenue (eastbound), along with heralding other infrastructure upgrades in the area.
Alderman Tom Tunney (44th Ward), Chicago Department of Transportation commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld, Department of Water Management commissioner Randy Conner and Commissioner Karen Tamley of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities gathered at Roscoe and Inner Lake Shore Drive to highlight the following improvements:
- The greenway, which runs a total of 1.5 miles, connecting to the Lakefront Trail.
- The repaving of Inner LSD from Belmont Avenue to Stratford Place.
- Five major water main repairs between Aldine and Hawthorne Place.
- Installation of accessible pedestrian signals at Roscoe and Inner LSD.
The ribbon-cutting occurred a few days after CDOT reopened all lanes on North Lake Shore Drive at LaSalle Drive near North Avenue after work was completed on a bridge repair project, as well as the repaving of the drive from Grand Avenue to Monroe Street.
Despite their appearance, the accessible pedestrian signals are not the much-hated “beg buttons” that pedestrians are sometimes required to press in order to permission to cross the street. According to CDOT spokesman Mike Claffey, the walk signal to cross the Inner Drive comes up every signal cycle, and the signal cycle is 65 seconds long. (The walk signal to cross Roscoe is always on.)
The only purpose of the push buttons, which constantly emit a “tock” sound to alert people with visual impairments of their locations, is to indicate the status of the walk signal via an audible alert when pressed. Since the button doesn’t actually activate the walk signal, you don’t have to push it if you don’t need the audible cue.
Roscoe and the Inner Drive is the eleventh intersection at which CDOT has installed such audible signals. CDOT is working with the office of people with disabilities and other stakeholders to pick sites for additional APS signals.
That explanation out of the way, let’s take a look at the finished greenways. On a bicycle heading west from the Lakefront Trail, after you pass through the Roscoe underpass you take a ramp to the right, which leads up to Roscoe and a bus stop that has been improved a bit with a new high metal fence separating it from Lake Shore Drive.
After crossing the Inner Drive, you’re on the Roscoe greenway, with wayfinding signs and a bike lane to the left side of the street.
When you come to Roscoe and Broadway you encounter the most dramatic change. Roscoe jogs north here, so to facilitate the move for cyclists, they’ve putting in a green bike crosswalk across Broadway and a raised contraflow bike lane on the west side of Broadway, which curves left to meet up with an on-street bike lane on the south side of Roscoe. A bus stop and several parking spots have been relocated or removed to make room for the bike lane.
While the raised bike lane is an interesting feature, as I sat at a café next to the lane writing this post, I noticed a possible drawback of the design. The north end of the raised bike lane bends west, which discourages southbound cyclists on Broadway from entering it, and some “shark teeth” are marked there (although I doubt many lay people will interpret these as meaning “Do not enter.”) However, while I was typing up this post at a cafe next to the raised lane, I saw at least two southbound riders maneuver around the lane’s curb and ride down it the wrong way. That could be somewhat hazardous if a north- and westbound cyclist was approaching in the contraflow lane, since it’s not designed for two-way bike traffic.
The westbound greenway ends at the six-way Roscoe/Paulina/Lincoln intersection, which was recently improved with curb extensions that narrow pedestrian crossing distances. In addition, a slip lane was removed at the south corner, creating a triangular plaza-like space.
On the return trip from Lincoln to the lake on eastbound School and Aldine, the bike lane switches to the right side of the street. According to CDOT’s Claffey, the Roscoe lane was put on the left side of the street to better line up with the access point from the Lakefront Trail, and to connect better with the raised bike lane on Broadway. But CDOT is interested to hear which configuration cyclists prefer, left side or right side, so let us know in the comments and we’ll pass along the intel.
And while the Roscoe project only included signs and markings, School and Aldine feature a total of ten speed humps, and six of the intersections are got curb extensions.
These shorten crossings and “neck-down” the street, which will encourage drivers to maintain a safe speed and prevent them from parking too close to the intersections, improving sightlines. A raised crosswalk was built at Clifton Street, by Hawthorne Academy elementary school.
At Aldine/Broadway, two bus stops have been removed to make room for curb extensions on both sides of Broadway, plus a short stretch of bike lane on Broadway to facilitate a northbound jog for cyclists.
From there it’s a block east back to Inner Lake Shore Drive, where the sidewalk on the east side of the drive has been significantly widened. That makes it safer to bike on the sidewalk to access the Roscoe underpass to the lakefront, although I didn’t notice any signs stating that it’s officially legal to ride there.
Have you taken a spin on the finished greenway yet? If so, let us know what you think.
This post is made possible by a grant from the Illinois Bicycle Lawyers at Keating Law Offices, P.C., a Chicago, Illinois law firm committed to representing pedestrians and cyclists. The content is Streetsblog Chicago’s own, and Keating Law Offices neither endorses the content nor exercises any editorial control.