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Dickens Greenway

“No one bikes in Chicago during the winter!” Nice turnout for the Churros and Chill Ride on the Dickens Greenway

Here's a quick "Eyes on the Street"-style gallery of today's event, which celebrated the completion of the controversial low-stress bike-ped route.

The business end of the ride: Eating churros and drinking hot cider in the Dickens/Lincoln Park West traffic divider plaza, looking east. On the right: former Streetsblog Network editor-in-chief Ben Fried, who was visiting Chicago from NYC. Photo: John Greenfield

This post is sponsored by the Active Transportation Alliance

Streetsblog Chicago readers have heard a lot about the new Dickens Avenue Neighborhood Greenway in Lincoln Park, currently Chicago's most controversial bike and pedestrian safety project. If you're not already up to speed, check out our recent "A Tale of Two News Outlets" series, Part One and Part Two, critiquing recent coverage of the bikeway brouhaha by NBC Chicago and the Chicago Tribune.

But I wanted to provide a quick "Eyes on the Street"-style gallery of today's very fun Churros and Chill bike ride, which celebrated the completion of the low-stress bike-ped routes. The first half of the title of this post, "No one bikes in Chicago during the winter!," is tongue-in-cheek, since around 20 people pedaled in the ride altogether.

The Dickens Greenway route. Image: Chicago Department of Transportation

But that's a common, easily disproven, refrain from anti-bicycle commenters on Streetsblog Chicago Facebook posts about new bikeways, who argue our city shouldn't be investing in these facilities. And in the case of the Dickens Greenway, cyclists are literally paying for the bicycle lanes that serve them, since the $910,000, 1.4-mile project was funded by revenue from the Divvy bike-share system.

I hope you enjoy the following photos I took.

The ride gets started this morning on Magnolia Avenue north of Clybourn Avenue before heading east on Dickens. Photo is looking south.
Left: Snow-filled eastbound contraflow ("wrong-way") bike lane on Dickens east of Seminary, looking east today. Compare it to the well-plowed northbound raised bike lane on Clark Street near Irving Park Road in Lakeview/Uptown, looking north. Since many neighbors argue that the Dickens Greenway project is worthless, the city should help demonstrate that the greenway has value by keeping it in good shape for bike riders. Sure, it's the dead of winter right now, but Clark shows it's not that hard for the city to keep bikeways rideable. Moreover, a significant number of bike riders, including delivery cyclists and others head heading to workplaces, ride all year and will use well maintained bike routes.
Riding east on Dickens east of Oz Park. While opponents have argued that having more people riding bikes on the avenue is dangerous, cycling routes with relatively little car traffic are safer and more appealing to families with young chlldren, like the kid in this trailer. The greenway project has also improved safety for other modes, thanks to a lower speed limit, speed bumps, sidewalk extensions, and raised crosswalks.
Although Lincoln Park is one of Chicago's very wealthiest neighborhoods, the cyclists were greeted at the traffic diverter plaza by these protesters holding signs denouncing "privileged bikers" and "elitist" bike lanes. Apparently, no irony was intended. And here's an explanation on of why requiring bicycle licenses makes zero sense.
Unfazed by the greenway haters, the riders enjoy churros and hot cider at the new traffic diverter plaza, looking west.
Group shot of remaining ride participants in the plaza near the end of the hangout session (a few people, such as the parent and young child with the bike trailer, had left by then), 13 people plus the photographer, looking east.

Kudos to the organizers for putting together this event. It showcased the fact that, if you dress for the weather and have fenders, getting around Chicago by bicycle can be a lot of fun, even on a cold late January day.

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