EDGEWATER — A mile-long bike path would include stretches of green pavement, "bike-friendly speed humps," high-visibility crosswalks and updated signs and would allow cyclists to travel against the flow of traffic on an Edgewater side street, city officials said.
The stretch of Glenwood Avenue between Carmen and Ridge avenues where the path is proposed is now a one-way street going north. A bike lane going in the opposite direction would help keep those who already use the route safer, Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) said at a community meeting last week.
Many cyclists use the side street because it runs parallel to high-traffic routes like Clark Street and Sheridan Road and connects to bike lanes on Broadway. It also covers area north of where the lakefront path ends. Other nearby side streets don't provide as direct of a route.
The street already has some speed bumps, slowing traffic down, and because it's one-way there are less cars to worry about, cyclists say.
Osterman said most people who bike Glenwood are less experienced riders, like seniors, kids and families. The lane would not be for "people who are flying down Clark Street or those that want to go down Broadway or use the lakefront path," Osterman said.
Chicago Department of Transportation planner Michael Amsden added, "If you're riding fast you don't want to be on Glenwood anyway."
Osterman said Glenwood was too narrow to open it up to two-way car traffic.
Some residents, like Annie Adams, who lives in the 1400 block of West Catalpa Avenue, said she's lived in the neighborhood for nine years and only began feeling safe as a cyclist once she joined other cyclists who rode the wrong way on Glenwood.
"I kept thinking, 'Why are these cyclists driving backwards down Catalpa?' It was driving me crazy," she said. "But really, it was the safest way. It's the only way to go safely without dying on Clark."
A new bike lane might soon pop up along Glenwood Avenue in Edgewater, and will connect to Ridge and Foster Avenues. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]
Another supporter was Jack Casey, 13, who said he and his friends ride along the sidewalk at Ridge Avenue on their way to school. He added that cars sometimes take sharp turns in front of him as he turns onto adjacent streets.
Not all were on board with the plan, however.
Doug Whitmer, who has lived in the neighborhood a little less than a year, said he can't support a plan that allows bikes to travel the wrong way down one-way streets, among other issues.
"I have a problem paying $75,000 catering to someone breaking the law," Whitmer said to applause.
Officials said the project would make it legal for bikes to ride both ways on the street.
Neighbor Helen Fogarty asked who would be liable if she were to hit a rider zipping by while turning from her alley onto the street, even if she takes all necessary precautions before pulling out.
Amsden said once the road became marked for cyclists, it would become the fault of the driver if an accident were to occur.
According to the city, 4 to 7 percent of residents in the area currently ride their bike to work three to five times more often than the average city biker. From 2009-2013, there were 152 reported crashes along the one-mile route on Glenwood and a few blocks of Carmen — half of which resulted in an injured cyclist or pedestrian, officials said.
Some residents worried about an increase in tickets once the bike lane is rolled out.
Osterman said although he can't promise people won't be ticketed, he didn't think it would become a problem, saying, "The police in the community, we have them doing other things. They're very busy out there catching bad guys."
For cyclists who don't obey the rules, Osterman said there will be a warning system: First offenses get a warning from a bike ambassador, second warnings are given by an ambassador and police officer and third offenses will result in a ticket.
"It's true that cyclists are going to do what they want to do, but that's not to say we shouldn't have to make a safe environment for everyone," he said. "Everything is designed to come through our neighborhood to be respectful and slow down."
Osterman said his office will plan a follow-up meeting at a later date.
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