Milwaukee Ave. needs a change
The Active Transportation Alliance has launched an online petition to encourage city officials to consider “low cost, near term improvements” on Milwaukee Avenue, including a dedicated bike lane, according to the Tribune.
“Bold actions are needed to immediately improve the safety of Milwaukee Avenue and begin the street’s long overdue transition to a walking, biking, and transit oriented corridor,” reads the petition.
“This public process is a unique opportunity to advance a shared vision for truly transforming one of Chicago’s most iconic streets and one of the busiest streets for biking in the whole country. We are heartened by many of the exciting ideas already floated by local leaders and city officials, including reducing vehicle speeds and closing off unnecessary slip lanes.”
Among the proposals included in the petition are:
- New bikeways that eliminate risk of doorings and other common crashes
- Vehicle speeds of 20 mph or lower
- Easy and accessible access to transit
- More space for people walking and biking at intersections, including closed slip lanes, curb bump outs, and bike boxes
A few weeks ago, we made a few speculations about what the city might do with regard to the reconfiguration of North/Milwaukee/Damen. As it relates to Milwaukee Ave., the Active Transportation Alliance seems bent on forcing the issue by soliciting public support to make it more likely that one of Wicker Park’s busiest intersections and roads is made safer.
As we’ve said, a dedicated bike lane on Milwaukee Avenue would significantly improve the safety and security of cyclists who ride in the neighborhood. On one recent trip to Wicker Park, I noticed a throng of traffic that posed severe risks to two Divvy riders, who had just ventured into the left-turn lane of North/Milwaukee/Damen. No one seemed to care that they were not wearing helmets and that they were vulnerable because of a lack of adequate lanes directing cyclists to safer areas. Worse, the cyclists seemed to assume that drivers would accommodate them by virtue of the fact that they were on bikes.
It doesn’t stop there. Once the couple turned on Milwaukee, they were nearly clipped by a parked car that had opened its passenger door from the driver’s side, all while cars behind them dodged between lanes.
The problem here is two-fold: Cyclists need a designated bike lane on Milwaukee Ave, but the city needs to find a way to account for traffic that is consistent and unrelenting. One proposal from the neighborhood meeting I mentioned above suggested eliminating parking on one side if Milwaukee Ave., opening the possibility for cyclists to ride on safer, wider streets, though it’ll cost the city parking in a premium shopping and dining district. There’s a compromise somewhere, but based on the petition from Active Transportation Alliance, it seems people are tired of waiting.
Click here to read the petition and voice your support.