Traffic lanes may be removed from Stony Island for bike lanes - New York News

Traffic lanes may be removed from Stony Island for bike lanes

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Chicago Department of Transportation is discussing whether to remove traffic lanes out of Stony Island Avenue to make room for bicycle lanes.

On Tuesday at a 5th Ward meeting, CDOT unveiled plans for a three-million dollar remodeling project that will stretch from 67th to 79th streets on the South Side.

Among many options weighed by project managers, one proposal is to remove one lane from the northbound side of the street to make way for two-way bike lanes. It will be separated by a thin median that will be landscaped.

"This option makes a lot of sense because it mimics the lakefront trail," said Dave Smith, a project manager for CDOT.

Another option is removing one lane from both sides of the street.

Residents of South Shore are unconvinced that increasing bike lanes would increase cycling on the street. Also, many feel that removing a car lane would only increase congestion during rush-hour.

Stony Island handles around 35,000 vehicles a day, half of the 70,000 that travel Lake Shore Drive every day, according to Smith.

Studies show bike riders use Stony Island to get to 71st Street, and then they head to the lakefront. Currently, Stony Island is not safe for bike riders. There have been around 45 cycling accidents in the past five years.

Ald. Leslie Hairston of the 5th Ward said that she was not convinced bike lanes would be a good idea.

"I have not been a big proponent of it, but I will defer to the community," Hairston said.

Federal grants would pay for around 80% of the project. State grants and money from Chicago's yearly budget would pay for the rest.

According to the city, construction would begin next summer. The project would ultimately improve access for bikers to the lake.

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