Cycling advocate Jeremy Frisch is petitioning the Chicago Department of Transportation to rethink its resurfacing project on a route he says is unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians. The petition, which has received more than 1,000 signatures, calls for the department to make the full route safer for everyone who uses it.
The resurfacing project is planned for a route that runs from downtown Chicago to the city’s northwest side. But Frisch says the narrow lanes and lack of bike lanes make it dangerous for cyclists, and the sidewalks are too narrow for pedestrians. He’s calling on the department to widen the lanes, add bike lanes, and make the sidewalks wider.
So far, the department has shown no indication that it plans to make any changes to the project. But Frisch is hoping that with enough signatures on his petition, they will reconsider.
The Belmont Avenue resurfacing project is set to begin this month and will span from Southport Avenue to DuSable Lake Shore Drive. The project includes the addition of ADA curb ramps, pavement markings, curb extensions, and painted bike lanes. StreetsBlog Chicago was the first to report on the project.
Schroeder said that the bike lanes would span Southport Avenue to Halsted Street, leaving Belmont Avenue east of Halsted without bike lanes. This leaves a section of Belmont Avenue without any bike lanes in order to achieve the city’s vision zero goal of eliminating all traffic fatalities and serious injuries. Vision Zero has helped reduce bike accidents in cities such as San Francisco.
The best way for people to access the Lakefront Trail from the Belmont Avenue area is to use bike routes on Southport or Halsted to connect to the School/Aldine neighborhood greenway, which will take them to the DuSable Lake Shore Drive underpass.
The Belmont bike lanes are designed to complement the existing neighborhood greenway bike routes on School/Aldine and Roscoe Street. These routes connect the Lakefront Trail to Roscoe Village and the existing protected bike lanes on Campbell near Clark Park and the 312 River Run Trail.
Installation of painted bike lanes along Belmont west of Southport to Ashland Avenue is scheduled to begin in June as part of the Lincoln/Ashland/Belmont streetscape project. The new bike lanes will provide cyclists with a designated route through the busy commercial district, which is also home to several schools.
CDOT is also evaluating whether to create an additional bike connection on Belmont between Ashland and Campbell as part of another resurfacing project next year. This would create a safer, more convenient bike connection for people traveling between the two neighborhoods.
Belmont Avenue and its surrounding streets are critical to CDOT’s goals to build a connected network of low-stress bike routes stretching from the Lakefront to the west side. In order to achieve this goal, CDOT is planning to improve Belmont Avenue and its surrounding streets by adding bike lanes and better signage. This will make it easier for people to bike between these areas, which will help reduce traffic congestion and promote healthy transportation options.
In his petition, Frisch calls for the city to expand the bike lanes all the way to DuSable Lake Shore Drive, change the bike lanes from being painted to protected, and add bus lanes. He argues that there is plenty of room on Clark for bike lanes but that they need to be prioritized over car storage in order to be safe. Additionally, he believes that changing the bike lanes to being protected would make them even safer.
According to city data, Belmont Avenue from Ashland to DuSable Lake Shore Drive has seen drivers hit 59 pedestrians and cyclists since 2017. This is dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists, as drivers do not always pay attention to those using the road. To make this area safer for everyone, we need to ensure that drivers are more aware of their surroundings and obey the rules of the road.
Frisch said that including protected bike lanes in the resurfacing project and extending the bike lanes all the way to the lakefront could improve the route’s safety for cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers.
According to Frisch, it is inexcusable that we must petition for our safety when rebuilding roads. It should be a given that safety is prioritized over the fast movement of cars. We need to rethink our priorities when it comes to transportation.