Friday, December 30, 2011

A holiday gift from the federal government

Earlier this month, the Active Transportation Alliance reported that various Chicago projects important to bicyclists and pedestrians received substantial awards from two federal transportation funds. This is great news for Lincoln Park residents, since many of the programs and projects are relevant to our neighborhood.

It doesn't look like much right now, but the Bloomingdale Trail will run on the top of this old railroad line and be a fantastic new trail for Chicagoans to use for bicycling and walking. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
First, the Bloomingdale Trail project was awarded $36.5 million. This trail will be an almost-three-mile- long elevated bike- and pedestrian trail stretching from Bucktown to Humboldt Park. It has been discussed for many years but it’s finally in the design stages currently, and Mayor Emanuel has committed to completing it within his first term. The nearest access point for Lincoln Parkers will be near Cortland and Elston, easily reached by bicycle.


This picture makes the lower Lake Shore Drive experience look pleasant, but believe us, it's not. There are points where hordes of bicyclists and pedestrians are squeezed into spots a mere six feet wide. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
Next, the Navy Pier Flyover project was awarded $11.3 million. You’ve probably walked or ridden your bike on the Lake Front Trail south of Ohio Street Beach, and you know what a terrible choke point it is, with bicyclists and pedestrians fighting for space on a narrow strip of sidewalk or bridge space. The Navy Pier Flyover will be a safer and wider route that will not only relieve congestion, but make traversing the area more pleasant.

The city’s developing Streets for Cycling Plan 2020 was awarded $32 million over four years. You know from our prior post that the S4C2020 will lay out a network of 150 to 250 of new bikeways for the city of Chicago over the next eight years. This network of bikeways will provide a way for Chicagoans to use their bicycles to reach destinations like schools, colleges, grocery stores, and restaurants. Your Bike Walk Lincoln Park co-leaders Michelle and Michael are participating in the S4C2020 North Side Community Group, and if you live anywhere on the north side from North Avenue to Evanston, the lake to the river, and would like to join the community input activities, please e-mail Michelle@KairiesStenzel.com to be added to the distribution list for notices of future meetings.
Streets for Cycling Plan 2020: Because you shouldn't have to be brave to ride your bicycle in the city.
(Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
And finally, Chicago’s bike sharing program will be rolled out this coming spring or summer, and it was awarded a total of $22 million in federal funds. We wrote about the program in this prior blog post and we can’t wait to see this new means of transportation installed in the city.

Receiving an infusion of funds like this is a vote of confidence in Chicago’s plans to make sustainable transportation methods of walking and bicycling safer and more pleasant for us all. This is a great way to end the year and makes us look forward to all the developments in store for Chicago for 2012.

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