Children bike on Leland Avenue as some streets begin to open in Chicago to let pedestrians and cyclists social distance more easily in the Ravenswood neighborhood on Friday, May 29, 2020. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

LINCOLN SQUARE — A stretch of North Leavitt Street on the North Side already popular with cyclists is getting additional improvements to calm traffic and make the route even more bike-friendly.

The Leavitt Street Greenway will create a continuous, low-stress bicycle connection between Leavitt and Bowmanville Avenue, near Rosehill Cemetery, and Leavitt and Diversey Parkway, near the North Branch of the Chicago River.

“We are designing and building our streets to accommodate people of all ages, all abilities, all backgrounds no matter where they live or how they’re getting around,” said Brad Huff, a planning manager with the Chicago Department of Transportation’s complete streets team. “Making sure our streets are working for everyone.” 

A map of the Leavitt Street Greenway presented during a July 20, 2023 virtual meeting. Credit: Provided.

Crews are currently resurfacing and patching potholes along the Leavitt Street Greenway route. Once that work is done, they will install speed humps, pavement markings and new signage. By the fall, curb extensions should also be installed, officials said.

The project will include a redesign of the Montrose, Lincoln and Leavitt intersection to make it safer for cyclists and pedestrians, but that component still needs to undergo a design phase later this year, officials said. 

“That’s a distance of just under three and a half miles. And first off, before we get into the details, I do want to make clear that there are no changes to any street parking as part of this project,” Huff said. 

Greenways incorporate a variety of design tools like pedestrian median islands, raised crosswalks, contra-flow bike lanes and bike-friendly speed humps as an alternative to nearby streets that have higher volumes of vehicle traffic, officials said. 

“Often what [greenways] do is formalize already popular bike routes that you know people are already taking,” Huff said. “They can include a variety of traffic calming to further encourage appropriate vehicle speeds, increase the visibility of people walking and people biking. And often they provide really important connections for families to things like schools, parks and other community assets.”

Once the Leavitt Street Greenway is built, it will serve as a connection to a growing network of already existing protected bike lanes and other neighborhood greenways on the North Side like the Leland Avenue Greenway and Rockwell Street Greenway, Huff said. 

“Again, this is really about a family-friendly connection for people riding to the park or riding to the school. … There’s about eight different schools along this corridor that this route is serving. And that’s really the point of this project,” Huff said.

The network of bike paths on the city’s North Side presented presented during a July 10, 2023 virtual meeting. Credit: Provided.

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Lincoln Square, North Center, Irving Park reporterrnrnalex@blockclubchi.orgnnLincoln Square, North Center, Irving Park Twitter @avhndz