The Chainlink

Bryn Mawr Bike Lanes - 39th Ward residents can vote until February 12, 2021

This item is on the City of Chicago's 39th Ward Participatory Budgeting, supported by the North Branch Trail Alliance (NBTA) of Greater Chicago:  

Bryn Mawr is a designated bike route, but it has minimal signage and suffers from chokepoints where cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians compete for space. Marked, protected bike lanes would increase overall safety for all. Bryn Mawr is critical to the Chicago Streets for Cycling Plan as it serves as the main link between the North Shore Channel Trail (5500 N, 3100 W) and the Sauganash/Valley Line Trail (5600 N, 4300 W).

These improvements would not just benefit bicyclists, they would also make our streets safer by clearly indicating to drivers and pedestrians where to expect to see cyclists.

This project would connect the neighborhoods of North Mayfair, North Park, Brynford Park, Sauganash, Sauganash Park, Peterson Park, and Albany Park.

Additionally, you can bike through the North Park business district. To promote greater public safety for bikers and pedestrians alike, this proposal also includes traffic calming measures, such as pavement markings and stop signs.

Since early September, the 39th Ward’s Participatory Budgeting Committee has been thoughtfully reviewing the project ideas residents submitted in the summer and fall of 2020.

A community ballot has been created, and it is now time for residents to decide how to spend $500,000 of the 39th Ward’s public budget for infrastructure improvements.

39th Ward residents 14 years and older will have the opportunity to virtually vote from February 1 – 12.

To pre-register, visit

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The proposal doesn't say "Marked, protected bike lanes", it says "Marked, buffered bike lanes" - there's an important difference.

Paint on the road surface doesn't really make a protected bike lane.

I understand there’s a difference and regret this error.  There’s not consistent markings for the road currently end to end and that’s a problem, Bob.  There needs to be a lane on the surface. Bicyclists need space in the lane to ride their bikes to share with other vehicles.

Foster Avenue would be a much better choice than Bryn Mawr.

Recently a bike lane was added on Foster Avenue in the 45th Ward – between Milwaukee and Elston Avenue. This ties into the existing bike lanes on Milwaukee and Elston.

Foster Avenue extends east all the way to Lake Michigan. Bryn Mawr is blocked by the cemetery at Western Avenue.

Eastbound Foster at Elston enters into the 39th Ward and very few have businesses who might oppose the bike lane. Foster connects to or is adjacent to LaBagh Woods, the Irene C. Hernandez Picnic Area, Gompers Park (on the north and south sides of Foster), Eugene Field Park, Winnemac Park, and River Park.

Foster Avenue ties into two important off-street paths: the North Branch Trail (next to Gompers Park) and the North Shore Channel Trail (Part of River Park). Foster has close ties to adjacent schools: Northeastern Illinois University and North Park University.

Foster Avenue has rush-hour restrictions (4 pm-6 pm) only on the north side, east of the Edens Expressway entrance. The south side of Foster has no parking restrictions other than the usual restrictions on bus stops and bridges. There is very little parking along Foster because of the surrounding parks. The only significant businesses along Foster are between Kimball and Kedzie Avenues.

Foster Avenue is a mini-expressway now. It is two-lane with little restrictive parking and lots of “right-lane-passing” during certain times of the day. A bike lane would make the street safer for bicyclists, motorists, and pedestrians.

Bryn Mawr allows for a nice ride all the way to Western. The section that is addressed was from the Valley Line trail / Weber Spur - down to Kedzie (connecting with the North Shore Channel trail).   

A lot more work would need to be done to address Foster Avenue for bike lanes.  There's two lane traffic with parking on both sides.  The actual width for the lanes is not full two for vehicles in all sections.  Parking on Foster becomes a serious issue during either winter (due to sledding) or spring, summer and fall (due to baseball and softball among other activities) on the western edge of Gompers Park (Big Gomps).  

And, since it's a state (and sections are county or city on either side) road - state, city and county would need to agree with these changes.  

I would love to work with you, Bob, to address the speed and the ability to manage traffic on Foster.  

Currently, Brwyn Mawr is an  excellent choice for  cycling as long  as you know that  you  have  to slow down as you pass the point where you  meet the trail from Skokie/Lincolnwood and then proceed through neighborhoods to  the  North Branch.  Foster  is  not a good route  for cycling at this time.  Frankly, I do not  see much value in  adding  lanes to  Bryn Mawr as it  is  already a cycling  paradise.  I guess a lane would  help cement that status.  I  am not sure  how  a lane would work through  the choke point I  assume neighbors will want  to keep that  point as it  does not  allow drivers to come past. It does allow cyclists and  pedestrians.  Frankly,  that choke point is what  makes Bryn Mawr a poor  choice for drivers and a great one for  cyclists. It also  forces the peleton  minded cyclists to ride more  carefully. That is also why Bryn Mawr is a great place for a young cyclist to start to get a taste of safe city street riding. 

If  a  lane would  allow cycling  on  Foster that  would be great.  I  am  sure  that  there are  some who would say that  Foster needs to be two lane as there is not  much available  for  East-West  driving in that area other  than Peterson. 

Overall, I am for the lane but do not see it as a big deal.

There will be another opportunity in a future year, this came just a few votes short of approval for the 39th Ward participatory budgeting process.  It would be nice to hear more about the benefits of marking the lanes, even with just buffering it.  Down the line, this might be a perfect place to put in a full protected lane.  



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