In the northwestern suburb of Park Ridge, hometown of Hillary Clinton and Harrison Ford, politicians and traders push back against the Illinois Department of Transportation’s proposal to remove some parking lots from part of the Busse Freeway , a north-west-south-east diagonal which is under the jurisdiction of the IDOT, to make way for cycle paths. The section in question is a segment of approximately 1000 feet between Parkwood Avenue and Potter Road, shown in red on the map below. The south side of this segment is lined with businesses, while the north side is residential.
Red: disputed area at Park Ridge; Green: proposal for four-to-three conversion road regimes with cycle lanes; Rose: Des Plaines River trail and planned side trail on the north side of Oakton Avenue.
On the other hand, if Park Ridge executives don’t want the parking lot removed, IDOT is asking the city to spend $ 300,000 to widen this stretch to make room for bike lanes and four-lane mixed traffic. existing sources, and officials are naturally reluctant to spend that money.
Further, it is not clear why IDOT is not content with just doing a four-to-three conversion road scheme with cycle lanes on this segment, as is planned for the rest of the Busse Highway north of the road. ‘avenue Touhy. This involves converting the four-lane “express lane” to one lane of traffic in each direction, plus a turning lane.
Putting bike lanes on Busse makes a lot of sense. As a diagonal street, this would be a useful route for cycling, and it would make it safer and easier to access the Des Plaines River Trail, which exists as a popular crushed limestone path north of the Devon Avenue. (South Devon it’s a dirt road, which gets quite sloppy after a rain.)
The town of Des Plaines, located just northwest of Park Ridge, explained in a planning document why it is supporting the road regime on its section of Busse, not only for cyclists, but to improve safety for all riders. of the road :
Under current and projected conditions, a four-lane cross section is not required to accommodate the low volumes of motor vehicles along the Busse Expressway. The wide cross section and low volumes on roads like this can contribute to higher speeds. These higher speeds, combined with the turning movements occurring from the crossing lanes, can contribute to higher accident rates. The current movement, when four-lane roads like this need to be resurfaced or rebuilt, is to reallocate road space to improve safety and better meet the needs of the community.
As Jennifer Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reported, in a meeting on October 12, Park Ridge officials said they were opposed to IDOT’s current request to eliminate approximately 18 street parking spaces. on the Busse section between Potter and Parkwood, or to widen the road. .
Originally, IDOT proposed to keep the four lanes on the Potter-to-Parkwood segment, as well as all parking lots, and simply install shared lane markings, aka “sharrows”. Roadway for bicycles and rafters encouraging cyclists and drivers to use the same traffic lane. This would have little or no positive effect on bicycle safety.
However, a 10-foot-wide bike and pedestrian path is currently planned for the north side of Oakton Avenue between the Busse and Northwest highways, with design plans likely to be completed by June 2022, the Tribune reported. The new trail would essentially connect Busse to Parkwood, so IDOT now wants real bike paths, probably the buffer style shown in the road scheme image above, on the Potter-to-Parkwood stretch. If Park Ridge doesn’t remove the parking spots or widen the street, the department threatens to scrapped Busse’s entire bike path project.
“I cannot support the removal of parking which is already limited in this area,” Park Ridge Mayor Marty Maloney said during the discussion, according to the Tribune. “And I certainly couldn’t bear to spend an extra $ 300,000 [to widen] a little bit of a road.
Local business owners have also argued that removing parking spaces will hurt them. “Each of these small businesses, including my own flooring business, have multiple employees and customers who come and go daily, so street parking is crucial,” said Ani Ursache, who owns a building at 1024- 1034 Busse with several storefronts. , reported the Tribune.
Brian Beaugureau, who owns a commercial and advertising photography and videography studio just south of the Urasche building, argued that if the spaces are converted to cycle paths “there will be no more parking space for customers. Without customers, you cannot have a business, ”according to the Tribune.
It is questionable whether there would really be a shortage of parking if these on-street spaces were removed, as literally every commercial and residential property on this stretch has off-street parking. Judging by this aerial view of the Strip, the Ursache building has around 28 spaces in total. The Beaugureau Studios building appears to have around 14 spaces in total.
But in the unlikely event that parking becomes restricted, despite the dozens of spaces that exist, possible strategies could include sharing spaces between different properties or allowing public parking on Parkwood at any time. Currently, it is only allowed from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on weekdays.
But a better solution than removing parking on this part of Busse would be to implement the road regime, as that would calm traffic down, so it’s not clear why this alternative is not on the table. An IDOT spokesperson has yet to answer my question on this, but I will update this post if I have any news.
Either way, IDOT shouldn’t be allowed to cancel the entire Busse cycle path project if the department doesn’t do the right thing on the matter. A short stretch of sharrows on the Potter-to-Parkway stretch, with a road regime on the rest of Busse north of Touhy, would be better than no cycle paths at all. Thankfully, Mayor Maloney said he plans to pressure state politicians to pressure IDOT if he does not follow through with the construction of the Busse bike lanes.
Read the Tribune article here.