Divvy bike stations could be coming to 6 Corners in 2015; building a ‘safety’ culture for all transportation users eyed


News that three Divvy bike-sharing stations are expected to be installed by this fall in the Portage Park area was announced at an April 22 meeting on transportation safety hosted by the Six Corners Association and the Active Transportation Alliance.

The alliance is working with the business association on the creation of a pedestrian safety study that will benefit all transportation users, including bicyclists and motorists. The number of shoppers coming to the business district is expected to rise over the next few years as the former Bank of America properties, 4747 and 4901 W. Irving Park Road, are redeveloped for new retail and cultural uses, said association executive director Kelli Wefenstette.

Alderman John Arena (45th) said that discussions on how to improve safety for all types of roadway users should not be an "us versus them conversation" because of the shared factor of being pedestrian for at least part of their shopping visit to Six Corners. "It doesn’t matter how you get here, but once you get here, everyone becomes a pedestrian," Arena told the 50 people who attended the meeting, which was held at the Filament Theater, 4041 N. Milwaukee Ave.

It previously was announced that the installation of Divvy stations west of Pulaski Road had been delayed, but due in part to the allocation of tax increment financing funds for the project, the city this year is now planning to install three stations in and near Six Corners, Arena said.

Those stations, which cost about $45,000 each, will be located at Schurz High School, 3601 N. Milwaukee Ave., at an undetermined location in the shopping district and on Irving Park at the halfway point between Six Corners and the Blue Line Irving Park Station, Arena said. Typically stations are located one-half mile apart to accommodate the 30-minute rental period for the bikes.

In addition, bike lanes could be coming Milwaukee Avenue in the Portage Park and Jefferson Park commercial areas now that the rush-hour parking ban on Milwaukee is being lifted, Arena said. The creation of a permanent parking lane on both sides of Milwaukee between Lawrence Avenue and Addison Street will allow enough space for bike lanes, he said.

The bike lanes would be approximately 4-foot wide with on-street markings, but in a few areas "where the road pinches" there may only be enough space for a bike-car shared lane, Arena said. One of the funding requests on the ward’s participatory budget ballot, which will be voted on next month, is for the bike lanes.

Participants at the meeting were asked to provide suggestions for community events and programming which would increase bicycle and pedestrian awareness in the community. "It is not just about building infrastructure, but about building a culture through events," said Heather Schady, a senior transportation planner for the alliance.

Schady said that in some neighborhoods businesses have offered discounts to customers who walk or bike to their store, and bike safety seminars have been incorporated into community events. It was reported at the meeting that Filament is planning a mystery show which will require audience members to walk or bike to certain parts of the ward in search of clues.

Some residents said that there already are several successful bike activities, including an annual "Father’s Day Bike Ride," in the community. One resident said that he would like to see the designation of on-street bike routes linking some of the area parks.

The association has been working with a group of volunteers to raise funds for several bike corrals, which will allow visitors to park their bicycle on the street in a designated area.