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Lincoln Park residents divided on Dickens Avenue greenway

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The route would provide a safe bike path between Clybourn Avenue and the Lincoln Park Zoo

On an asphalt trail next to a lake bikers race by in both directions. In the distance there are tall downtown skyscrapers. A lake is on one side, while green grass and trees are on the other. Photo by Carmen Troesser

A proposed greenway and bike route in Lincoln Park along Dickens Avenue hasn’t been a slam dunk so far.

The Dickens Avenue Greenway project aims to create a “contra-flow” bike lane on the one-way westbound street to establish an east/west bike route between Clybourn Avenue and the Lincoln Park Zoo. It would also lower the speed limit to 20 miles per hour, add speed bumps, raised crosswalks, and sidewalk extensions.

Advocates say it’s goal is to make the street safer and more comfortable for all.

“It’s designed to calm traffic to a safe speed and make it better for people to walk, bike, and drive,” said Kyle Whitehead, spokesperson for transit advocacy group Active Transportation Alliance. “The location of this greenway in particular is key because it provides a safe route between the Lakefront Trail and the protected bike lane on Clybourn, which is one of the busiest bike routes in the city.”

Not everyone agrees. A group calling themselves “Friends of Dickens” say the Greenway is “a dangerous plan” because it would significantly increase bike traffic—which in turn “threatens the safety [of] children who live along the planned route,” according to the Friends of Dickens website. The group also says that the city should instead invest in the bike paths on Armitage Avenue instead—the street one block south of Dickens.

Some members of the opposition to the Greenway spoke out both at the first public meeting on May 30th and the second August 22nd hearing at Lincoln Park High auditorium, including those who said they were concerned that bicyclists posed a threat to pedestrians, reported Streetsblog.

But the majority of the speakers at the latest meeting spoke out in favor of the greenway, said Whitehead.

“From our perspective, about three-fourths of the crowd were in favor. It was compelling because many were parents in the neighborhood and sometimes kids speaking out for it,” he said.

The engineering design for the project is scheduled to be finalized this fall, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation. Construction is scheduled to start in the fall of 2020 or early 2021. There is no final cost yet, but CDOT estimates $700,000—with 80 percent from federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement funds, with the city covering the final 20 percent.

A map of Chicago zoomed in on Lincoln Park shows a pink highlighted route from Clybourn to Lincoln Park.
A map of the proposed location of the bike path.