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'Leland Greenway Project' Aims to Make Street Safer for Cyclists

By Adeshina Emmanuel | December 3, 2013 7:41am
Cars Ignoring Stop Signs on Leland
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UPTOWN — Leland Avenue in Uptown is slated for a makeover next year to transform the street into a "greenway" and make it "a more enjoyable passage" for cyclists and pedestrians traveling between Clark Street and the lakefront, according to the office of Ald. James Cappleman (46th).

In May, residents of the 46th Ward, which includes most of Uptown and part of Lakeview, voted for the "Leland Greenway Project," as one of six proposals to be funded with more than $1 million in aldermanic infrastructure funds via the participatory budgeting process.

Cappleman's office said the project will kick off by late spring or early summer. Shared bike lanes and traffic-calming measures such as bumpouts to slow vehicle traffic and lessen crossing distances was part of the proposal for the one-mile span.

Uptown residents have accused motorists of speeding down the street while ignoring stop signs.

At least 23 cars were captured on video over a 1-1/2-hour span on April 27 "failing to stop at stop signs at the intersection of Leland and Beacon," according to a video shared on YouTube.

Uptown community group Bike Uptown helped spearhead the Leland proposal, as well as other proposals aimed at making the neighborhood safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Bike Uptown member Gene Tenner said his group wanted to make the community safer, for kids to play and walk to school, and safer for pedestrians hoping to cross the street as well as bicyclists.

"It's one more piece of a giant puzzle the city is working on to make the streets friendly for bicyclists, pedestrians and automobiles," Tenner said. "When you get people speeding down a street that's full of pedestrians, bicyclists and whatever — it just creates an unsafe situation."

He noted that both Clark and the lakefront paths are common routes for cyclists headed south toward Downtown, and that Leland is a "fairly common" passage for cyclists headed toward those "travel spots."

The Leland project "takes what's already a fairly common bike route and converts it to a bicycle-friendly street that goes through Broadway almost to the lakefront," Tenner said.

Cappleman aide Chris Jessup wrote in an email that the project's main priority "is not necessarily traffic calming, but to create a safe, efficient and enjoyable passage for bicycles and pedestrians between Clark Street and lakefront green and recreation spaces."

The project, with an estimated cost of about $142,000, will also address "flooding, puddling, and storm water drainage concerns along this particular stretch," Jessup said.

In coming weeks, Jessup said, Cappleman and representatives from the Chicago Department of Transportation, the city agency charged with installing the greenway, will meet with members of Bike Uptown and area block clubs "to discuss the elements that will ultimately go into the project."

The possibility for additional money for the project via the Environmental Protection Agency will also be discussed, Jessup said.