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City Mulling New Tree-Lined, Protected Bike Path for Roosevelt Road

By Lizzie Schiffman Tufano | June 26, 2013 4:24pm | Updated on June 26, 2013 5:45pm
 A stretch of protected bike lanes on Milwaukee Avenue features bike traffic signals and the first bike passing lane. (File Photo)
A stretch of protected bike lanes on Milwaukee Avenue features bike traffic signals and the first bike passing lane. (File Photo)
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DNAinfo/Quinn Ford

SOUTH LOOP — The Chicago Department of Transportation is considering building a two-way bike lane on Roosevelt Road that would be protected not by plastic poles or parking spaces, but a line of trees.

Construction of a skate park in Grant Park could coincide with construction to build a bike lane that would connect the Roosevelt Road CTA station to Soldier Field, Museum Campus and Northerly Island, said Bob O'Neill, head of the nonprofit Grant Park Conservancy.

The concept calls for a protected two-way bike lane stretching from State Street to Columbus Drive, O'Neill told DNAinfo.com Chicago.

"The idea is to get as many people walking, biking, and out of their cars for environmental and health reasons, and to lower congestion," he said. "In this case, [the lanes] will be divided by trees, too, making it much a more attractive to separate bikers from cars. It's a great idea."

O'Neill isn't affiliated with CDOT, but said he was briefed on the proposal so the skate park construction could coordinate with possible activity on Roosevelt Road.

Dolan McMillan, a manager with URS Corporation who is involved in the project, confirmed that the idea was proposed at a site meeting Monday, and said that if plans move forward, a public meeting would be held sometime in July.

"We're still going through some last [Illinois Department of Transportation] approvals," McMillan said. "We want to make sure everybody's kind of in lockstep with what we're doing before we roll out what the project entails."

Roosevelt Road splits right down the middle of the 3rd and 27th Wards, so Alds. Pat Dowell and Walter Burnett would both be involved in the planning stages, McMillan said.

Pete Scales, a spokesman for the Chicago Department of Transportation, emphasized Wednesday that the proposal is in its most preliminary stages.

"It's a little more than a thought," he said, "but it's not fully baked."

Roosevelt Road currently has marked bike lanes that extend west from Wabash Avenue past Ashland Street, but cyclists say the lanes are often not respected by drivers and pedestrians.

"I will do almost anything to avoid riding on Roosevelt," one user posted on the cycling forum The Chainlink, in a post about the Roosevelt Bike Lane.

One user called it among "the most disrespected bike lanes" in Chicago, and another compared the experience of biking the street to the arcade game Frogger.

The team behind the proposal hopes to get plans finalized this year and construction underway by early 2014, O'Neill said.