Alderman Pawar’s newsletter addresses Berteau Avenue neighborhood greenway concerns

[flickr]photo:6813989663[/flickr]

In Alderman Pawar’s weekly newsletter, the subject of neighborhood greenways, including the City’s first on Berteau Avenue, is addressed. The entire email is quoted here, except for the single photo that was embedded. You can also view the original email here, but it won’t be archived forever.

Many of you have been contacting our office regarding speeding cars, cut-through traffic and community safety. We have been working with the Mayor’s office and CDOT to identify innovative ways to increase pedestrian safety in our neighborhoods. Mayor Emanuel and CDOT recently released the Bike 2020 plan – simultaneously, our office has been looking at ways to increase safety, keep traffic moving effectively and make our ward more bicycle and pedestrian friendly. The result: we are studying the possibility of installing a Neighborhood Greenway on Berteau Ave from Clark Street to Damen Avenue. This stretch of Berteau has a high volume of traffic safety complaints and intersects four existing recommended bike routes. What’s a Neighborhood Greenway? It is a residential street where pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers can all share the road safely.

If we move forward, the 47th Ward will be home to the City of Chicago’s first Neighborhood Greenway and help address multiple issues while enhancing our quality of life. Here are some of the benefits of Neighborhood Greenways:

  1. Neighborhood Greenways can INCREASE property values. How? Residential streets with slower traffic have more pedestrian and bike traffic. This creates a more family friendly atmosphere. Other cities that have implemented traffic calming Greenways have seen increases in property values.
  2. Neighborhood Greenways can REDUCE crime. Again, data from pedestrian and bike friendly areas have lower crime rates because more neighbors are out in the community.
  3. Neighborhood Greenways will only SLOW traffic on Berteau. It will not eliminate vehicular traffic.
  4. Neighborhood Greenways can INCREASE quality of life for the community.

The goal of this proposed project is to slow traffic and positively impact Berteau and surrounding streets by slowing cars down. By slowing cars down, the entire area will experience less cut-through traffic, reduce speeding and make it possible for you and your neighbors to safely walk and cycle. The proposed Neighborhood Greenway is not a plan to eliminate vehicle traffic on Berteau.

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The contraflow bike lane design on Ardmore Avenue that could be used on Berteau Avenue for the majority of blocks that are one-way.

Here is the process for this proposed Neighborhood Greenway:

  • We will hold meetings with block clubs, community groups and interested neighbors and solicit feedback on various design and traffic calming elements.
  • After receiving feedback, plans will be adapted and/or changed to reflect community input.
  • Design changes will be reviewed by transportation planners and our office.
  • Final design will be presented to the community in the form of community meetings and our website.
  • Alderman Pawar will make a decision based on the community input.

We have already held our first block club meeting and are in the process of scheduling more. We are also in the process of getting a webpage set up on our site to hold all of the project materials for public review. The new plans will incorporate the first round of public input.

I am looking forward to working with the community to install the City of Chicago’s first Neighborhood Greenway!

**Please note that the project is NOT only about the City’s citywide bike plan [Streets for Cycling 2020 Plan]; the primary goal is to improve safety and quality of life for the residents of our community. Creating a comfortable route for cyclists and connecting existing bike routes is a positive side effect of reducing the cut-through traffic and vehicle speeds to make the neighborhood safer for residents. For most of the proposed route, (specifically the 2-way sections between Ashland and Damen) bikes and cars would interact no differently than they do now.

10 thoughts on “Alderman Pawar’s newsletter addresses Berteau Avenue neighborhood greenway concerns”

  1. Great post. I like it how Pawar takes the focus away from those pesky cyclists and instead focuses on the increased public safety and increased property values that a greenway might bring. This line of reasoning is worth remembering.

    1. This is the same focus shift that Commissioner Klein and staff at Active Transportation Alliance have been making: street redesigns that seem mainly intended for safe cycling often extend their benefits to increasing safety of other modes. 

  2. Interesting focus on speed instead of volume.  I have no idea what the design will look like for Berteau, but typically there are some volume reduction measures (e.g., diverters, median barriers, cul-de-sacs) included with a bike boulevard…er, neighborhood greenway

  3. The Alderman’s approach to this concerns me.  What does he mean by “cut through traffic”?  Berteau was DESIGNED as a secondary arterial street through East Ravenswood.  It has traffic lights; it goes under the Ravenswood tracks.  What are we trying to create here?  A suburban cul-de-sac system where no one can go get in an out of their neighborhoods and the big streets like Ashland and Montrose are horribly, horribly conjested.  I am sure that this would make people on Berteau really happy, but how about those of us who are just trying to travel from the CVS on Lincoln to Graceland West?  This may come as a surprise to some people on Berteau, but I have as much of a right to be on Berteau as they do.  City streets are not your private alleys.  City kids have to be trained to be street savy.  And the Alderman needs to stop appeasing every neighbor who complains about a few cars on their street. 

    1. Just as the city AS A WHOLE has evolved from the days of the stockyards, the designs of the streets must evolve too.  Berteau is being used as a primary street and I invite you to stand on the side walk and watch cars tear down the street at 50+ mph, blowing through multiple stop signs.  That is not an exaggeration.  Of course, if you are using Berteau to get from CVS on Lincoln to Graceland West as you indicate, I anticipate your inability to understand the benefits of this plan as Berteau is East-West from Clark to Ashland.  You do have a right on Berteau, I suggest you just fill up your bicycle tires and peddle away. Don’t worry, I’m sure the alderman will provide classes to “train” you on how to ride a bike.

  4. A contraflow bike lane would also be useful for the two-block length of Carmen Ave, between Kedzie and Albany.  This would join the path along the river on the east with the routes and paths through Eugene Field Park and Gomper Park on the west.  Carmen Avenue would fit this in very easily.  West from Kedzie, Carmen is a two way street so this wouldn’t need to be extended any further.
     

  5. I live on Montrose off of Berteau. I agree with Resident…I’m looking forward to the next community meeting to voice my strong objection.

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