Dickens Greenway, A Controversial Bike Lane Running By way of Oz Park, Authorised

LINCOLN PARK — A controversial program to include a bike lane on the mainly one particular-way Dickens Avenue in the vicinity of Oz Park will be authorized in spite of blended suggestions from neighbors — quite a few of whom argued the system would generate a sort of bicyclist highway that would be perilous for families and little ones.

The Dickens Greenway, a federally funded project, will add a contraflow bicycle lane to the 1-way portions of Dickens Avenue among Magnolia Avenue and Lincoln Park West so cyclists heading east on the street won’t have any interruptions. It also brings a selection of other safety improvements to the street, this sort of as decreasing the speed restrict, putting in crosswalks and making suppress extensions so pedestrians are much more visible.

Ald. Michele Smith (43rd), whose ward features the Dickens Greenway’s space, announced Wednesday the $750,000 task will be authorized. She has acquired mixed suggestions from neighbors because the challenge was offered in 2019.

“Thanks to all the neighbors for your enter, whether for or towards it,” Smith wrote in her newsletter. “All the opinions offered formed the job for the much better.”

Through the most latest group assembly for the job — a almost four-hour webinar held Might 18 — a consultant for Chicago’s Section of Transportation explained the project’s principal objectives are to strengthen pedestrian security, superior organize the street so it’s clearer how folks should really use it based on their manner of transportation and build regularity to make Dickens Avenue far more predictable.

At present, Dickens is a vast, one particular-way road heading west with some exceptions the place the street is two-way, which has created basic safety concerns, mentioned David Smith, bicycle and pedestrian plan supervisor for CDOT.

Moreover, bicyclists presently use Dickens to journey in both of those instructions because “it’s a really nice relationship to a range of destinations and is an crucial, minimal-tension connection for people today biking in the neighborhood,” David Smith stated.

The contraflow bike lane would formalize two-way bike targeted visitors, making the street a lot more predictable for everyone utilizing it, Smith stated. It would also make the avenue narrower so drivers no lengthier blunder it for a two-lane avenue, he mentioned.

A handful of neighbors praised the project for its safety enhancements, like one particular neighbor who’s lived on Dickens Avenue for 17 several years and claimed the greenway would supply an substitute biking route to Armitage Avenue, which is a lot busier and congested because of enterprises together the street.

“I help the Dickens Greenway as it will produce a way for my young children to [bike] securely from Lincoln Park to Oz Park, which is not a little something we truly feel cozy undertaking on the current infrastructure,” a different neighbor said all through the virtual meeting.

Credit rating: Offered/CDOT
A map of the Dickens Greenway (in eco-friendly) reveals exactly where contraflow bicycle lanes will be additional (in purple) so cyclists can travel eastbound with no interruptions.

But the venture has been opposed by a variety of local community teams, like the Oz Park Advisory Council, which voted in 2019 to oppose portion of the greenway that runs as a result of Oz Park, explained Judy Johanson, president of the council.

The greenway’s programs incorporate introducing a bike lane to the east-west going for walks path that runs as a result of Oz Park just north of Lincoln Park Superior School. But Johanson said that route now is employed by learners at the community school, older people from the nearby Chicago Housing Authority setting up and hundreds of children who use the park just about every working day.

Also, there is a significant hill just south of the route that is applied by dozens of kids for sledding in the winter season.

“They use that sidewalk to trip their bikes and scooters and operate back and forth to get to other components of the park,” Johanson claimed. “So to have bicyclists all of a sudden rolling via Oz Park is an accident waiting to come about. Somebody is likely to get strike.”

Johanson reported users of the Oz Park Advisory Council had been “shocked” to hear of the project’s acceptance since it arrived so quickly immediately after the most recent neighborhood assembly.

Brian Comer, president of the Sheffield Community Association, explained the group voted Tuesday to oppose the greenway’s proposal, and the team was “disappointed” neither CDOT nor Ald. Smith reached out to them involving the most recent assembly and the project’s approval.

“There are specific aspects of the greenway that I assume most persons could get driving and assist,” these kinds of as the raised crosswalks that make pedestrians much more noticeable or the decreased velocity restrict all-around the park, Comer stated. “But we, in basic, see this as a resolution to a challenge that does not exist.”

Comer explained bicyclists could get too cozy on the bike lane and halt paying awareness to motorists coming out of the close by alleys and garages that empty on to the street.

“We all exist in the town, so we all know how bikers deal with the policies of the highway,” Comer explained. “I worry about Dickens essentially getting more unsafe for autos and bikes mainly because of this.”

Smith tackled these concerns in her newsletter announcement, saying the greenway will not develop a “bike highway” because most cyclists still will use the nearby bike lanes on Armitage Avenue to go east and west.

Moreover, Smith said, “the several safety measures, including pace bumps, will discourage both quickly driving and cycling.”

“Support for the greenway has been combined, that is why we held many conferences and took all your opinions to be certain that this system is responsive to the safety demands in our neighborhood,” Smith said.

Far more information on the proposal, including back links to CDOT’s earlier shows on the challenge, can be identified on Smith’s web-site.

Jake Wittich is a Report for The usa corps member masking Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities throughout the town for Block Club Chicago.

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