LAKEVIEW — A stretch of Belmont Avenue in Lakeview is getting painted bike lanes as part of a resurfacing project, but some cyclists said the effort doesn’t do enough to make the route safer.
Cycling advocate Jeremy Frisch launched a petition, which has received more than 1,000 signatures, calling for the Chicago Department of Transportation to rethink its resurfacing project to make the full route safer for cyclists and pedestrians.
The Belmont Avenue resurfacing project spans Southport Avenue to DuSable Lake Shore Drive, said Erica Schroeder, a CDOT spokesperson. It includes adding ADA curb ramps, pavement markings, curb extensions and painted bike lanes. StreetsBlog Chicago was the first to report on the project.
The bike lanes will span Southport Avenue to Halsted Street, leaving Belmont Avenue east of Halsted without bike lanes, Schroeder said.
“Belmont Avenue narrows significantly east of Clark Street, so a low-stress option for people accessing the Lakefront Trail is to use existing bike routes on Southport or Halsted to connect from Belmont to the School/Aldine neighborhood greenway to the DuSable Lake Shore Drive underpass,” Schroeder said.
The Belmont bike lanes are designed to complement the existing neighborhood greenway bike routes on School/Aldine and Roscoe Street, which connect the Lakefront Trail to Roscoe Village and the existing protected bike lanes on Campbell near Clark Park and the 312 River Run Trail, Schroeder said.
Painted bike lanes will also be installed along Belmont west of Southport to Ashland Avenue as part of the Lincoln/Ashland/Belmont streetscape project, which broke ground in June.
Schroeder said CDOT is also evaluating whether to create an additional bike connection on Belmont between Ashland and Campbell as part of another resurfacing project next year.
“Belmont Avenue and its surrounding streets are a critical part of CDOT’s goals to build a connected network of low-stress bike routes stretching from the Lakefront to the west side,” Schroeder said.
Work on the resurfacing project is expected to begin by September and last through November, according to Ald. Tom Tunney’s office (44th).
Frisch, who lives near the stretch of Belmont primed for bike lanes, said he was initially excited to hear of CDOT’s plans to add the cycling route — but he was disappointed when he learned its full details.
“They have this opportunity to really make Belmont a complete street that’s safe for all users, and instead they are not even putting painted bike lanes on the entire stretch,” Frisch said.
In Frisch’s petition, he calls for the city to expand the bike lanes all the way to DuSable Lake Shore Drive, change the bike lanes from being painted to protected and add bus lanes.
“They said there wasn’t enough room for bike lanes east of Clark, but there is plenty of room for bike lanes, only if you de-prioritize car storage on the street,” Frisch said. “What we’re calling for is to prioritize safety and mobility over a driver’s convenience or parking.”
Additionally, Frisch said changing the bike lanes to being protected — separated by some kind of physical barrier — instead of painted would make the route even safer.
“Adding protected bike lanes here could really go a long way to creating a network from the Lakefront Trail all the way out to at least Kimball and beyond,” Frisch said.
Belmont Avenue from Ashland to DuSable Lake Shore Drive has seen drivers hit 59 pedestrians and cyclists since 2017, according to city data.
Frisch said incorporating protected bike lanes into the resurfacing project and extending the bike lanes all the way to the lakefront could improve the route’s safety for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers.
“We shouldn’t have to be petitioning for our lives and safety,” Frisch said. “It should just be the standard that when we rebuild any road, we are prioritizing safety and mobility as opposed to the fast movement of private vehicles and car storage.”
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