Don’t lube the bike chain just yet, but it may be possible someday to cycle from the north side of Dempster Street to the south side without worrying about getting hit by a car.

City planners say a bicycle path underpass at Dempster is a probable choice as part of a long-desired bike corridor, from Beck Park north of Church Street to Harbert Park south of Dempster.

An example of a bike underpass on the North Shore Channel trail at Bryn Mawr Avenue in Chicago. (Google Maps image)

City Engineer Lara Biggs and Senior Projectr Manager Chris Venatta outlined bike path options to a School District 65 committee on Monday.

A study has been under way for a couple of years, but the city now needs school district buy-in. That’s because part of the preferred alignment, parallel to the North Shore Channel, would go through district property, behind the Joseph E. Hill Education Center and also near the King Arts school building.

“We do consider this a partnership,” Biggs told the board members, “and we don’t want to spend this amount of time and resources on a bike lane that nobody is going to use.”

The south end of the proposed north-south path on either side of Dempster Street, highlighted in yellow.

Actually, the bike path plan includes two new routes, north-south as just described, and east-west along Church Street, from Dodge Avenue (at ETHS) to McCormick Boulevard.

The east-west path would be carved out of Church Street, resembling the current two-way bike lanes near Northwestern University.

A rendering of a segment of the proposed east-west path at Church Street’s intersection with Hartrey Avenue.

Getting the lanes approved by the State of Illinois, funded, and then built is a lengthy process.

More plans have to be submitted to the Illinois Department of Transportation, which could lead to changes. The city also has to apply for state and federal grants, as the combined paths could cost more than $4 million, which right now is just an estimate.

Assuming all the potential financial and logistical roadblocks (bike path blocks?) are eliminated, the paths could be ready in 2024 or 2025.

Choosing the safest routes is critical, with schools along the both the north-south and east-west corridors.

“There are going to be a lot of kids using the property,” Venatta told Evanston Now.

While District 65 board members did not vote on a bike path plan, reviews were favorable.

“This is great,” said board member Joey Hailpern. “My child will follow the path to the high school every day.”

Board members do want to make sure that there would be easy access from the path to schools along the way, as well as perhaps options such as bike racks or even Divvy bike stations.

There will be a public input session some time later this year, date and location TBA.

Plan to bike on over.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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1 Comment

  1. Why not just let biked use the sidewalks? Post signs saying pedestrians have right of way. Spend the money fixing the broken sidewalks instead of more green painted strips that fade after a couple years and inconvenience drivers. Most of these routes have minimal pedestrians anyway.

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