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Edgewater Residents Divided Over Proposed Bike Greenway

By Rachel Cromidas in News on Jun 11, 2015 6:30PM

There goes the neighborhood—right down a new bike greenway in Edgewater.

A proposed bike path on a Far North Side stretch of Glenwood Avenue has ignited community tensions from Edgewater to Andersonville, with some residents fearing the one-mile lane will bring traffic to a standstill, endanger cyclists and blight the community with ugly signs.

As City Hall forges ahead with its goal of making Chicago America's most "bike-friendly" city, Department of Transportation officials have turned their attention to creating more "neighborhood greenways"—residential streets with low speed-limits where cyclists will have the right-of-way over cars and their own lane designated in solid green. Parts of Wood Street in Wicker Park and Berteau Avenue in Lakeview are prime examples of early neighborhood greenways.

A stretch of Glenwood Avenue is now slated to become one of the next neighborhood greenways, with designated green bike lanes that will allow cyclists to ride with or against the flow of traffic, according to a presentation transportation officials gave Wednesday night. The new lane, stretching from Foster to Ridge avenues, would cost the city about $75,000.

Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) told community members at the lively meeting that the bike lane will keep families who use Glenwood to get to school and other slow or less-experienced cyclists safer, according to DNAinfo. The lane is not meant to serve "people who are flying down Clark Street, or those that want to go down Broadway or use the lakefront path," he said.

But even as families and some children turned out to the meeting to voice support for the greenway proposal, some community members said they couldn't stomach the idea of another bike lane—particularly one that would require drivers to watch where they're going more or be held liable in a collision.

Some community members found fliers around their neighborhood this week, warning residents that the proposed bike lane could be a detriment to property values, quality of life and traffic—not exactly what I'm worried about when I'm trying to ride from Uptown to Rogers Park without getting mowed down by the #22 Clark Bus.

Navigating Edgewater's tangle of one-way streets can be a challenge for any cyclist, particularly when it comes time to cut across the neighborhood to get to or from the top of the lakefront path. This one-mile bike greenway could become the safest choice for those traveling north-south through the neighborhood and free up other main arterial streets from motorists, without bringing about the downfall of civilization in the process.

Among the seven alarmist bullet points in opposition of the bike lane on the flier is this gem: "Added signs all over Glenwood. This is a residential neighborhood that is minimalistic. Signs everywhere will take away from the beauty of it."

We can only assume a decapitated cyclist would detract from Glenwood Avenue's beauty a bit more.