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Edgewater Improves Bike Lanes And Cracks Down On Sidewalk Bicyclists

The Edgewater neighborhood is one that serves as an entry point to the lake path, Lake Shore Drive, and the north neighborhoods of the city. While our city has been listed as number 5 of America’s best bike cities, it doesn’t mean biking around the city is accessible and safe for all and we still have some work ahead of us in order to make biking safer for riders, drivers, and pedestrians.  The need for more bicycle lanes is immanent, even more so in Edgewater due to traffic and our unique location. As public transportation continues to underwhelm and traffic congestion builds, the city has to make quite an effort to encourage city-dwellers to ride bikes as a way of commuting to their destinations.

bikepath2 Alderman Harry Osterman and his staff at the 48th Ward have spent the last few years working in collaboration with CDOT to improve the bike lanes and make specific areas safer for people biking, driving, or walking to get to their destination. “Getting new signage, new pavement markings and finding funding to repaint have been a huge priority for our office. We are using positive reinforcement with the new bike systems in place to encourage people to ride in the designated lanes. So far, we have heard less complaints this summer than in summers past from pedestrians walking along Sheridan,” comments Sara Dinges Assistant to the Aldmeran, Economic Development and Communications.

In the last few weeks they have…

  • Repainted the north and south bike lanes on Kenmore and Winthrop all the way from Ardmore to Devon.
  • Added visible stencils on Sheridan’s sidewalks encouraging riders to ride on bike lanes that are parallel to Sheridan, rather than riding on the sidewalk.
  • Adopted a system found in Portland and Seattle implementing new green rectangular markings that show bike friendly areas and the path direction (Devon/Winthrop and Ardmore/Sheridan).

Both CDOT and the Alderman hope that with these newly defined paths, bikers will be encouraged to ride on the designated bike paths rather than riding on the sidewalks, which is dangerous for all. While there aren’t ‘bike police’, CDOT has ‘bike ambassadors’ that come out every couple of weeks to to do positive community outreach with bikers on how to ride safely.

The Alderman’s office is warning that police will be cracking down on those bikes riding on the sidewalk (especially along Sheridan Ave). Between Hollywood and Devon on Sheridan, “No Bicycles On Sidewalk” signs have been painted on the cement. In addition, last year Alderman Harry Osterman introduced a bill to increase fines for those riders who choose to ignore the bicycle ban. That billed passed and raised the fines from $50 to $200. CDOT ambassadors have handed out a few warnings since the beginning of summer but in the following weeks they will be accompanied by police to issue tickets. The good news is that the number of bikers on the sidewalks has dropped drastically.

 


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