The Chainlink

So today I rode the Sheridan ravine between Tower and Scott as I often do. Probably one of the best bit of climbing we have in cook county. It always peeves me though that there are those no cyclist signs and I've been honked at and have seen cops waiting by Tower presumably to discourage cyclists though I've never tested them. 

There's a couple other places on the north shore I've seen these signs (Ridge south of Emerson comes to mind) and I always wonder what the legality of them is or if they're just hoping people comply. The "ride single file" signs in Winnetka actually have a city ordinance code under them but I haven't noticed anything on the 'no bikes' signs. 

I guess I want to prepare myself for the inevitability of being hassled by some north shore cop. Or am I being a bad ambassador by not following these questionable and frankly discriminatory rules?

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The section of Sheridan North of Tower is prohibited for safety reasons (the downhill is steep). I can't confirm this but I believe I heard a motorcyclist died on that stretch so they bad cyclists. 

I've seen the signs on a portion of Ridge in Evanston as well.

It's not just the downhill, but the succession of sharp curves with lots of blind spots. That ban has been in place for MANY years.

The ban exists on a portion of Ridge (in Evanston) from Howard to Emerson for safety reasons due to narrow lane width and heavy traffic for much of the day.

There are suitable parallel routes for both Sheridan north of Tower and the narrow section of Ridge. It's not worth risking your life or a ticket by riding there.

I agree that it's not the best route if you just want to get from point A to B but many cyclists like it because of those sharp curves and steep descent. However, if this stretch of road was anywhere with mountains it would be considered nothing special. I'd say it's considerably less dangerous than just about any four lane road in the suburbs with a 40mph speed limit. 

I think the real reason has more to do with motorists not wanting to be delayed for a few seconds behind a cyclist even though the speed LIMIT is 20. If safety was the main concern it would make more sense to discourage thru car and motorcycle traffic. If anything cyclists would make everyone go slower there and it would be good for us flatlanders to get a little climbing in!

THIS.

The ravines section N of Tower road was a very popular route for many riders before being closed in the early 90's. When the village a held public hearing about closing the road to bikes, many cyclists -myself included- showed up to dispute the "safety experts' " reasoning for the closing.

Among the incidents cited was of a young boy who was struck (on a sidewalk, BTW,) by a car. In fact, the boy was NOT riding, but standing with his bike when the car swung off the road and struck him. The incident was reported as a "bike accident" but if the boy had been holding an umbrella would it have been reported as an "umbrella accident?"

The Ravines section are no more or less dangerous to cycle than any other section of Sheridan road. i'm thinking specifically of the long straight section N of Wilmette that is treated as a speedway by too many drivers. The biggest danger on N suburban Sheridan rd has been and continues to be bad drivers.

Another section of Sheridan that is closed is the stretch in Lake Bluff. The road there is straight and wide. i see no reason for this section to be closed to cycling. The reason for this closing is to have riders use the parallel McClory trail, which IMHO, is often busy with peds, narrow, and in poorly maintained condition in some sections. It's a fine recreational path, but again, there is no good reason for Sheridan to be closed to bikes.

Now, banning bikes from Ridge in Evanston, Howard to Green Bay rd. makes good sense. That street is 'way too narrow (even for autos in 4 lanes) and is also a major speedway that is under-enforced for speeding.

Evanston used to have many streets that banned bikes: Main and Central streets and Chicago Avenue among  them. Those bans were lifted in the late 70's. i'm not sure, but i think Dempster was one of the banned streets, and still may have a ban in some sections which might make sense due to it being a narrow speedway in western Evanston.

Wow Mike, thanks for the background. Didn't know all of this. Since it's forbidden, I've not attempted to ride that portion of Sheridan on a bike so I am not familiar but I do agree, there are other roads in other parts of the country that are probably far worse than that stretch.

It's true that there are equally tricky (or trickier) stretches of road elsewhere in the country, but roads like that Sheridan Rd. stretch are relatively rare here. In New England or Appalachia, people know how to drive roads like that. Here - not so much. Just my $0.02.... Your mileage may vary.

Another section of Sheridan that is closed is the stretch in Lake Bluff. The road there is straight and wide. i see no reason for this section to be closed to cycling. The reason for this closing is to have riders use the parallel McClory trail, which IMHO, is often busy with peds, narrow, and in poorly maintained condition in some sections. It's a fine recreational path, but again, there is no good reason for Sheridan to be closed to bikes.

I agree. The ban in Lake Bluff has always seemed ridiculous to me.

Does anyone have info on Hill Rd., which turns into Winnetka Rd. west of Hibbard?

I rode it a few times before noticing the "bikes prohibited" signs. It's otherwise a pretty quiet stretch of road which would be ideal for my commute, as there's few decent east-west routes. I'm looking at you, Glenview Rd.

My hometown won't acknowledge that folks might want to ride their bikes to the North Branch Trail or destinations beyond Glenview (gasp!).

last time i rode that way, i found the road narrow and pretty broken up. It would've been a good route with a little repaving. i haven't been on that road for a couple of years, so it may have been improved. (Most recent images on Google street view  are from 2011)

Winnetka road once sported no bikes signage west of the Edens (in Northfield), and a friend was once told by a Northfield cop to ride against traffic (!)

Another example of a road that doesn't need to be closed to bikes. i don't know how strict the enforcement is there. Would it be worth inquiring the reasoning behind the ban with the Winnetka (and Northfield) village council(s)?

One might notice a trend in the more affluent North Shore (and NW) suburbs to restrict cycle traffic wherever possible and restrict bikes to the recreational paths.

There are few good roads that cross the Edens in that part of the world (IIRC, Lake Avenue bans bikes from the road East of Laramie.)

Have you tried Glenview road as an E/W route?

Glenview Road is my default route, but it gets nasty as you get closer to downtown Glenview. Lake Ave. is a nightmare for drivers during the evening rush, so Glenview Rd. is being used as an alternative, which fills it with either speeders or frustrated commuters.

There's been talk of some sort of accommodation for bikes (I've told in the past that the sidewalk is a bike path!) especially around the entrance to the North Branch Trail, but I haven't heard more than speculation.

The sidewalk along Glenview Road is a bike path in that it is on the Bike Glenview map. Both Lake and Golf are not realistic alternatives for bicyclists. I think that there is enough room along Golf for a full sidewalk to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians. Otherwise there is no active transportation route between Waukegan Road all the way to Harms. 

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