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Bryn Mawr protected bike lanes on ballot in 39th Ward participatory budgeting election

3:35 PM CST on January 26, 2022

The 4000 block of West Bryn Mawr Avenue, looking east. While Bryn Mawr is relatively quiet near the Valley Line trailhead, it becomes highway-like east of Pulaski Road. Image: google Maps

Correction 1/27/22, 9:30 AM: Streetsblog previously reported that the proposed Bryn Mawr bikeways would be non-protected. We have since been informed that they would be protected.

Participatory budgeting elections in districts like Chicago's 1st Ward, 40th Ward, and 47th Ward have recently funded sustainable transportation projects. Now the 39th Ward, represented by Alder Samantha Nugent and containing parts of Albany Park,  Edgebrook, Sauganash, Forest Glen, North Mayfair, and Peterson Park, is gearing up for its own PB election to decide how to allocate $500,000 of the district's $1.5 million in discretionary "menu" infrastructure dollars. The vote will be held from January 31 to February 11.

One of the items on the ballot is protected bike lanes on the 1.5-mile stretch of Bryn Mawr Avenue (5600 N.) between Kedzie Avenue (3200 W.) and the southern terminus of the Sauganash/Valley Line Trail near Kostner Avenue (4400 W.) Currently there are non-protected bike lanes on Bryn Mawr between Maplewood Avenue (2530 W.) and Kedzie, and shared-lane markings (bike-and-chevron symbols) between Kedzie and Bernard Street (3430 W.)

Map of the proposed Bryn Mawr bike lanes project area. Maximize the image by clicking the rectangle at the upper-righthand corner to view additional map features.

"Bryn Mawr is a designated bike route, but it has minimal signage and suffers from chokepoints where cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians compete for space," the proposal for the bike lane proposal states. "Marked, protected bike lanes would increase overall safety for all. Bryn Mawr is critical to the Chicago Streets for Cycling Plan as it serves as the main link between the North Shore Channel Trail [located just east of Kedzie] and the Sauganash/Valley Line Trail."

As mentioned in a previous Streetsblog article about the 1st Ward PB election, I believe many of the pedestrian, transit, and cycling projects currently paid for with menu money should instead be bankrolled via a well-funded citywide transportation budget. Since the Chicago Department of Transportation’s funding isn’t as robust as many sustainable transportation advocates would like, incremental improvements to Chicago’s bike network are happening on the ward level. The proposed Bryn Mawr project is estimated to cost about $400,000 for protected bike lanes, pavement markings, wayfinding signs and new stop signs.

There's also a proposal to create a multi-use path from Forest Glen Woods Parking Lot and North Branch Trailhead to the trail connection at Forest Glen Avenue and the North Branch Chicago River. This would allow people walking and biking  to safely travel along Forest Glen Avenue and connect to trails and Metra. The estimated cost of this project is $100,000.

39th Ward residents ages 14 and up are invited to preregister before voting in the election via Nugent’s website or by calling the ward office at 773-736-5594.

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