In May 2012, CDOT released its two-year action plan, Chicago Forward. It established the goal of making Chicago the best big city in America for bicycling and walking and also incorporated the action items of installing 100 miles of protected bike lanes, launching bike share, and installing 10 miles of neighborhood greenways by 2015.

The goal of Neighborhood Greenways is to create slow, safe streets that will provide low stress bikeways and improved pedestrian safety.  Each Neighborhood Bike Route will require a unique design, and what is appropriate in one neighborhood may not work in another.

In addition to improving conditions for cyclists and pedestrians, the elements of Neighborhood Greenways slow traffic, reducing car-on-car accidents and cut-through traffic. They reduce crime through more “eyes on the street” (AKA Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design or CPTED) and tend to increase property value as well.

In an effort to bring safer streets to the 47th Ward, we have been examining opportunities.

Berteau Neighborhood Greenway

In the summer of 2011 our office received several complaints from residents on Berteau and from the immediate neighborhood between Lincoln and Clark Street.  Some of these concerns included cars speeding, heavy traffic from cuts through the neighborhood and unsafe pedestrian crossings.  Also we were noticing high numbers of bicycle related accidents within these limits on Montrose and Irving Park road. While bicycling is not prohibited on these streets they are not recommended by the Department of Transportation.

Meanwhile the Streets for Cycling 2020 plan was under development identifying ways we can provide better bicycling accommodations to residents of Chicago, and introducing the concept of Neighborhood Greenways.

This seemed like a perfect chance to connect 3 existing arterial bike routes and provide an east-west route alternative to Montrose or Irving Park (as Berteau is the only street between that crosses the Metra Tracks at Ravenswood.

We held several rounds of public meetings starting in early 2012 and worked with the community to develop a plan that would address some of these issues.  While it does not completely cut off through traffic, the features are designed to slow traffic, making it safer and less desirable to take as a “shortcut”. The preferred Berteau Neighborhood Greenway design was presented in August of 2012 and once funding was approved and it was vetted by CDOT engineers and constructed over late summer and fall of.  This is a summary of the complete project history.

Our office and CDOT will continue to monitor the different features installed to determine if any changes or other improvements would be necessary.  This is the first Neighborhood Greenway completed in Chicago and we are very happy with the result.  We prioritized the community and pedestrians to make a safer place to walk, ride a bike, or drive.

Neighboring Projects

Leland Neighborhood Greenway

Our office met with Alderman Cappleman and the staff of his 46th Ward office as well as Bike Uptown to give our insight from Berteau to preliminary planning for a Neighborhood Greenway on Leland from Clark to Clarendon.  We will be working with our own residents on Leland and in Lincoln Square in general to discuss the possibility of extending their greenway all the way to Lincoln however we plan to wait until their project takes shape.

Greenway Project History

Berteau Neighborhood Greenway

11/1/2013: Completion

The Berteau Neighborhood Greenway construction was delayed slightly awaiting water main completion on the middle segment.  All work was completed by mid-October 2013.  The roadway markings between Damen and Lincoln were completed with standard paint rather than thermoplastic because this block will be getting a new water main in spring of 2014. After that is completed they will put down the thermoplastic markings.

7/31/2013:

We have confirmed the construction schedule! While there have been delays due to a water main project, the Berteau Neighborhood Greenway will be moving forward this August.

A water main will be installed on the north half of Berteau between Damen and Lincoln (and west of the Greenway to Bell St). The north half of the street will be resurfaced but this should not impact any of the Neighborhood Greenway improvements.

First, traffic calming measures will be installed between August 15st and September 1st including:

  • Curb extensions with stormwater infiltrating planters at Hermitage, Paulina, Ashland, and Clark
  • Pedestrian island on Clark
  • A traffic circle at Greenview
  • Contraflow bike-traffic Light eastbound at Damen

Resurfacing on Berteau between Ravenswood and Ashland will begin September 1st. Landscaping, and other finishing features will be implemented after the resurfacing, starting September 15th with an October 1st projected completion date including:

  • Contraflow lane between Lincoln and Damen as well as Ashland and Clark
  • Shared lane markings throughout
  • Wayfinding signage

Update 5-19-13:

After over a year of gathering community input, and revising designs and engineering drawings, the Chicago transportation department (CDOT) is preparing to construct the Berteau Greenway. The project addresses traffic concerns and by implementing traffic calming techniques to make the street safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists. After reaching out and listening to neighbors at several community meetings, Alderman Pawar and his staff worked with the CDOT project team to finalize a plan that will be effective. Coordinating with Department of Water Management to avoid unnecessary and redundant work, the construction will begin in June, after the century-old water main between Ravenswood and Ashland is replaced.

The Greenway project will include:

  • Contraflow bike lane for eastbound bicyclists in one-way sections
  • Shared lane markings for bicyclists and motorists in two-way sections
  • Signage and signalization to improve awareness and traffic flow
  • Highly visible, enhanced crosswalks for pedestrians
  • Curb extensions to narrow the crossing distance and infiltrate stormwater
  • A reduced 20 MPH posted speed limit
  • A pedestrian island will be included on Clark Street

CDOT has provided these design drawings to show you what will be built following water main installation and resurfacing.

To clarify, there will be NO CHANGE in direction of traffic or number of lanes. In the two-way sections there will NOT be separate bike lanes. Also there will be NO turn restrictions or impaired access of any kind. A design for a chicane was proposed that would have reduced Berteau to a one-lane pass in the two-way section between Honore and Wolcott but was rejected by Alderman Pawar; we believe this was too restrictive. The section of Berteau from Damen to Ravenswood WILL get shared lane markings, improved crosswalks and other signage, though this section is not detailed in the design drawings. We will monitor the effectiveness of these infrastructure elements after they are installed.

Background

The CDOT Streets for Cycles 2020 program identified Neighborhood Greenways as a possible way Chicago can calm traffic while connecting and expanding the existing bicycle infrastructure. Neighborhood greenways are routes that are quiet streets with low traffic volumes that are made even more bike-friendly by using methods to minimize the number of cars, reduce their speed and make bicyclists and pedestrians more visible. Different cities have different names for this concept – bike boulevards, community corridors, and the like. No matter what you call it, the goal is to make the street safer for everyone. See CDOT Presentation on Neighborhood Greenways.

In the 47th Ward, Alderman Pawar brought the Neighborhood Greenway concept to the community as an opportunity to address traffic concerns on a broader scale and in a way that will improve the quality-of-life for a neighborhood rather than just a single block. Greenways have added benefits of improving property values, connecting the existing bicycle network and decreasing crime by having more neighbors out on the streets.

Streets for Cycles 2020 plan moved forward through late 2011 Berteau was identified as a potential location for a greenway among several other streets in the ward. Having had numerous reports over the previous year including speeding, cut-through traffic, and other traffic dangers as well as request for speed humps on Berteau, it seemed like the perfect candidate. While we want this project to move quickly and solve some of these problems as soon as possible, we are not holding back on public involvement. In fact we have planned much more public involvement input and involvement than is typical of projects in Chicago.

Early February 2012 our office reached out to the area block clubs to set up some preliminary meetings but found that our lines of communication can still use improvement. We scheduled one meeting with Center47 first and word spread to the residents of Southeast Ravenswood and Graceland West. Combined with CDOT preemptively announcing the project and the lack of communication lots of misinformation was spread.

Despite this, the project is public-input focused and we wanted to bring the concept to the neighborhood residents early. The project is meant to improve the quality of life for all residents and we are going to take all comments and concerns into consideration. Extensive public outreach will continue.

Proposal presented on August 16, 2012:

STATUS AS OF:

April 15, 2013

In May, the Greenway construction project will begin with the replacement of the water main between Ravenswood and Ashland on Berteau which is over 110 years old. The street resurfacing and additional of Greenway features should begin in mid-June. Note after the engineering plans were vetted by various bodies within the City departments over the last few months there have been some design changes, specifically to the Ashland to Damen portion. Because the addition of the chicane would have resulted in a more restrictive one-lane street, the alderman took it out of the project. The design of the curb extensions on Hermitage and Paulina were changed slightly from what was pictured in their presentation.

August 8, 2012

CDOT has held a number of begun to analyze some of the alternatives, incorporating the input received thus far, to influence the ultimate design.

PROJECT SCHEDULE

At present our [flexible] timeline is:

  • August 2012 – plan presented (8/16) and input will be collected through 8/28
  • September 2012 – final adjustments based on input made, project approval request to be made. CDOT engineering to review plan details along with other departments (Utilities, Fire Department, etc.)
  • October 2012 – final review and earliest possible installation (if additional departmental review is required construction will be postponed until spring.)

August 20, 2012

CDOT presented a proposed design for the Berteau Neighborhood Greenway at a meeting on 8/16/12 at Welles Park. Over 60 people were in attendance. Public input will still be collected.

April 5, 2012

The Graceland West community organization held a meeting with a focus on the project at The Rizal Center. The Alderman, staff, and CDOT was in attendance to present the Neighborhood Greenway concept in more detail, discuss the project, and identify transportation and traffic issues throughout the project area. This included any issues or concerns between Montrose and Irving Park Road from Lincoln to Clark.

CDOT Presentation on Neighborhood Greenways

March 27, 2012

Alderman Pawar and staff member met with the Southeast Ravenswood Neighbors at Bethany United Church of Christ to discuss the project. There still was much misconception about the project status; to date CDOT does not have a plan finalized and nothing has been confirmed. Alderman Pawar reiterated that we have already taken public input into consideration in further planning efforts, such as taking the turn restrictions on Ashland off the table. CDOT was not able to attend this meeting.

March 2, 2012

The Ward newsletter sent on 03/02/2012 included the following letter from Alderman Pawar:

Dear Neighbor –

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.

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!

February 28, 2012

At the Center 47 meeting, the Active Transportation Alliance presented some general information on neighborhood greenways and Bill Higgins from our office presented some of the preliminary concepts for Berteau. Berteau Greenway Presentation (2-28-12 by ward staff).

**Please note that the project is NOT only about the City’s citywide bike 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.