Dickens Avenue Greenway Project Stirs Controversy

Residents in Lincoln Park are facing off over a proposed greenway and bike route, which would run along Dickens Avenue and the 606 trail to the Lakefront trail.

Advocates say it will make the east-west course safer and more accessible for bikers and pedestrians, but opponents say it will increase bike traffic without addressing congestion at its endpoint. 

“We’re hoping that that becomes a pleasant bike ride that lots of people are willing to do every day,” said supporter Eric Landahl.

Sarah Rice and Eric Landahl have lived on Dickens for 16 years.

“A lot of families like to come to this area, especially on the weekends and we welcome them, and we would do a better job of welcoming them if we did have a greenway that could accommodate more pedestrian and bike traffic,” expressed Rice.

The Dickens Avenue Greenway project would lower the speed limit to 20 miles per hour, add speed bumps and raised crosswalks with an aim to create an east/west bike route between Clybourn Avenue and Lincoln Park Zoo—essentially providing a low-traffic connection between the 606 and the lakefront trail.

“This facility will make it a little bit safer for them and hopefully encourage people to ride who might be too nervous to ride on the street as it’s currently built," said an Active Transportation Alliance member Kyle Whitehead.

Another area resident however, Tammy Mittelstaedt says although she is in favor of clean transportation, little thought has been given to end-point traffic.

“The plan does not include any consideration of how that thoroughfare—which would create a lot of volume of cyclists--how that volume of cycling is handled,” Mittelstaedt said.

Some opponents assert that the increased bike traffic would threaten the safety of children, be wasteful and duplicative of the two-way bike path one block south of Dickens Avenue on Armitage Avenue-–something proponents disagree with.

Michelle Smith, 43rd Ward Alderman, is a vocal proponent and issued a statement saying "CDOT approached us about the greenway concept. Constituents have been asking for solutions to increase traffic safety. This is our second meeting to gather community input to determine whether this can be a benefit for everyone."

Both sides will have another opportunity to raise their voices in support or opposition this week at a public hearing scheduled for Thursday evening at the Lincoln Park Cultural Center.

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