Are the upcoming Streets for Cycling projects in good locations?

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The Garfield Park fieldhouse, along the upcoming West Side Boulevards bike route

After attending the West Side and South Side meetings for the Streets for Cycling plan to install hundreds of miles of protected bike lanes and other innovative bikeways, I confess I was a little concerned about the city’s initial plans.

At the meetings, Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) staffers announced that a 4.1-mile network of protected bike lanes (PBLs) will be built along the West Side segment of the Boulevard System. Another 1.5-mile segment will be built along Garfield Boulevard (5500 S.) from King to Halsted. CDOT also announced that the city’s first neighborhood greenway (AKA bike boulevard), a traffic-calmed, bike-and-ped-prioritized side street, will be created on a .9-mile stretch of Berteau Avenue (4200 N.) from Lincoln to Clark.

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CDOT handout outlining the West Side Boulevard PBL route

I became more nervous about these locations after I learned that the West Side route and the Berteau greenway were first proposed by aldermen, and that one of the main motivations for putting PBLs on the boulevards is traffic calming. It reminded me of how, when I used to work for the city getting bike racks installed, aldermen would sometimes ask us to install racks at the end of a cul-de-sac to keep cars from driving over the curb, not because anyone would actually want to park a bike there.

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