NORTH CENTER — Riding the wrong way on a one-way street has just become a major no-no for cyclists, but there's at least one street in the city where the practice will be encouraged.
Part of the Chicago Department of Transportation's final design for the Berteau Greenway — which will stretch along Berteau Avenue from Clark Street to Lincoln Avenue — includes a "contra-flow" bike lane for eastbound cyclists that runs counter to auto traffic in one-way sections of the greenway.
In addition to creating a comfortable east-west cycling route for bike commuters, the contra-flow lane also serves to narrow the width of Berteau Avenue, just one of the greenway's various components aimed at slowing auto traffic on the street to 20 miles per hour.
Greenways are used by urban planners to create environments that balance the needs of cyclists, pedestrians and drivers.
On Berteau, that concept translates into features that include the contra-flow bike lane; curb extensions, which cut down on the crossing distance for pedestrians; and a pedestrian refuge island at Clark Street.
A stop sign is being removed at the intersection of the greenway with Greenview Avenue, giving drivers on Berteau priority over those from the side street, though a traffic circle is being added.
Earlier versions of the plan would have diverted traffic off of Berteau between Damen and Ashland avenues. That idea, along with inclusion of a "chicane" — staggered curb extensions on opposite sides of the street that create an S-curve for cars to navigate — were ultimately rejected as too restrictive.
Construction of the greenway is expected to begin in June, following the replacement of a 100-year-old water main under Berteau between Ravenswood and Ashland avenues.