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What’s going on with the Bucktown stretch of the Leavitt Neighborhood Greenway?

Unfortunately the contraflow lanes and shared-lane markings got prematurely sketched, but the real thing is on the way.

5:57 PM CDT on August 28, 2023

A prematurely painted contraflow greenway and shared lane marking on Leavitt last month, which later washed away. Photo: @babski

This post is sponsored by Boulevard Bikes.

Update 8/29/23, 11:15 AM: CDOT spokesperson Erica Schroeder said of the two portions of the Leavitt Greenway, south and north of the north branch of the Chicago River, "Both are scheduled to get started in September to be completed this fall."

Last month Streetsblog reported that Leavitt Street (2200 W.) north of the north branch of the Chicago River, which is already a good northbound side-street bike route, is getting upgraded to a Neighborhood Greenway. On the roughly three-mile stretch between Diversey Parkway (2800 N.) and Berwyn Avenue (5300 N.), it's getting a contraflow bike lane to allow southbound riding on northbound-only stretches. There will also be northbound shared-lane markings and speed humps to calm car traffic. According to the Chicago Department of Transportation, this project will cost $428,000, largely funded through the Chicago Works infrastructure fund, plus some menu money from the 47th Ward, represented by Ald. Matt Martin.

The route of the future two-way Neighborhood Greenway bike route on Leavitt between Diversey and Berwyn. Image: Google Maps

Recently I heard the good news that this is also happening south of the river between Milwaukee Avenue (about 1730 N.) and Lyndale (2230 N.) in Bucktown in the 32nd Ward, led by Ald. Scott Waguespack. It's getting northbound contraflow lanes on a southbound-only stretch, plus bike-friendly "sinusoidal" speed humps, and the speed limit will be lowered to 20 mph, according to 32nd Ward chief of staff Paul Sajovec. Per CDOT, it's costing $143,000 in Chicago Works funding.

The new stretch of Leavitt Neighborhood Greenway in Bucktown. Image: Google Maps

That's only five-eighths of a mile, but it will come in handy. There's an entrance to the Bloomingdale Trail, aka The 606, elevated greenway at Milwaukee/Leavitt. Just south of Leavitt is Webster Avenue (2200 N.), which you can take eastbound to get under the Kennedy Expressway and the Chicago River and into Lincoln Park. Or you can take Webster east to Damen Avenue (2000 W.), and head north under the expressway and over the river to Diversey, where you can roll west to the Leavitt Greenway again and ride north into into the North Center neighborhood.

How people on bikes might use the new Bucktown Neighborhood Greenway on Leavitt (green) to get to or from Lincoln Square (orange), North Center (blue) or Logan Square (purple, has contraflow lane on one-way stretch.) Image: John Greenfield via Google Maps.

To head west towards Logan Square use Lyndale, which has a stoplight two blocks west of Leavitt at busy Western Avenue (2400 W.) The Chicago Department of Transportation recently installed a westbound contraflow lane on the eastbound-only stretch of Lyndale west of Western.

The funny thing is, I heard about the plan for the Bucktown section of the Leavitt Greenway because some bike advocates were annoyed about it. One person Twitter user posted photos of spraypaint sketches of the contraflow lanes and shared-lane markings back in June. But two months later someone else pointed out that the permanent lanes hadn't been striped yet, but the sketches were gone.

Sajovec told me this snafu was due to a contractor error. The speed humps were actually supposed to go in first, and then the sketches, and then the permanent thermoplastic markings, so the premature sketches got washed out by rain. "We got some calls from calls about neighbors about that. But to my knowledge that didn't add any cost to the project."

Sajovec indicated that the permanent greenway markings will be coming in any day now. "We're trying to help stitch the bike network together, and residents are generally supportive of lower speed limits," he said.

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