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Neighborhood Greenway

47th Ward confirms Leland Greenway west of Clark isn’t happening this year, promises it will get built in 2024

5:54 PM CST on December 28, 2023

The current layout of Leland Avenue between Western and Lincoln avenues, and the proposed one, including a two-way protected bike lane that may be concrete-protected and/or raised. Images: Google Maps, CDOT

This post is sponsored by The Bike Lane.

There's no question that Ald. Matt Martin (47th) is one of the City Counci's most outspoken advocates for safe bicycling infrastructure. Heck, the man's Twitter bio literally says "Build Protected Bike Lanes."

And Martin's 2023 record backs up that motto. He's worked with the Chicago Department of Transportation to get protected lanes installed on Clark Street next to Graceland Cemetery this year, and a short stretch of raised bike lane put in on Broadway near Winona Avenue. That's not to mention the Neighborhood Greenway side street bike routes that were installed in 2023 on Leavitt Street and Berteau Avenue within his district, plus another couple of short bikeway upgrades in the ward.

Bikeways installed or upgraded in the 47th Ward in 2023. Image: John Greenfield via Google Maps

And I've discussed before, this has generally been a banner year for CDOT in terms of installing PBLs and greenways at faster rates, for longer distances than previously.

While I hate to be the bringer of bad news, today I heard from the 47th Ward that the extension of the Leland Avenue Greenway, from Clark west to the Chicago River, is once again not happening this year. The plan, which includes a two-way raised bike lane on Leland between Western and Lincoln avenues, got a thumbs-up from neighbors almost three years ago. And the project was supposed to get done this year.

So bike riders would certainly be justified for being grumpy about yet another delay. But given Martin and CDOT's generally good record for 2023 bikeway installation, maybe we should grant them a mulligan for this one disappointment.

Martin speaks at the opening of the temporary Leland shared Street in May 2021, a few months after the Leland Greenway extension was approved by neighbors. Photo: John Greenfield

"Construction of the Leland Greenway has been delayed until 2024," Martin's chief of staff Josh Mark wrote Streetsblog. "This delay is frustrating for a project that is already several years in the making, But we understand and appreciate CDOT priorities for this past year as they focused their workforce on completing the [half-mile] protected bike lanes on Clark Street, the longest protected bike lane today in the 47th Ward, and on significantly improving pedestrian safety at Broadway and Winona. Work at that intersection, where [pedestrian Soyfa Athamanah, 69] was killed by a driver earlier this year, was prioritized to benefit Red Line riders with the temporary relocation of the Argyle station." Access to the 'L' stop has been moved north near Winona while the old station is being rehabbed.

"It is also worth noting that the Leland Greenway could not be completed in its entirety today, due to the temporary narrowing of traffic lanes on Western as part of the construction of the affordable development at 4715 N. Western," Mark added. "We look forward to working with CDOT to ensure that work does take place on Leland this coming year, which will coincide with larger improvements to come at the Western Brown line station and the adjacent plaza and parking lot. Stay tuned for a community meeting on those improvements in January."

Looking southeast at Leland and Western around the time of Clark Alave's crash in 2019. The pothole is in the center of the image, and the Divvy station is visible at the top of the image. Photo provided by Erron Fisher.

It's worth noting that the delay of Leland Greenway construction is particularly ironic because of a recent Illinois Supreme Court decision. The court ruled that the city of Chicago isn't liable for injuries bike rider Clark Alave suffered after hitting a pothole on Leland near Western because there are no bikeways there yet. Therefore Leland was not deemed to be a street where people on bikes are "intended" road users.

"That's true," Mark acknowledged. "It will be."

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