The route for the First Avenue bike path is evolving, and that has slowed things down a bit with respect to final plans and so forth. Frankly, that’s fine and it might be a good time for a reminder that while officials said they’d like to have the path completed by the fall, no one should be rushing this project to completion.
As it stands right now, the route is slated to follow the west side of First Avenue between 26th Street and 31st Street. Since that route was announced, there’s been some concern voiced, some privately and some publicly, that alternatives ought to be considered.
That’s not a bad idea.
Look, everyone wants the path completed. But we’ve been waiting for something to happen since a path was first proposed in the 1960s. If we have to wait another year, everyone could probably live with that.
First off, we can’t say we blame the Chicago Zoological Society for balking at the route that would have sent the path down the west side of Golfview Avenue. On weekends, zoo traffic going into the north lot is heavy and recreational bicyclists are more prevalent on the area’s paths.
With cars backing up onto Golfview and crossing the bike path as they file into the Brookfield Zoo’s north parking lot, it’s an accident (or road rage incident) waiting to happen.
But there’s also some concern that placing a path along that curving stretch of First Avenue, 5 feet or so from cars that routinely travel 40 mph or more, could pose a safety hazard. Some have suggested relocating the path, heading west along the north side of 31st Street and then north along the east side of Golfview Avenue.
It’s even been suggested that the path cut more directly through the triangle separating First Avenue and Golfview. And it’s been suggested, if the path is going to follow First Avenue, that it be set back much farther than the 5-foot minimum.
What any of those alternatives would mean in terms of cost or tree clearance is unclear, and they may not work out, but it can’t hurt to find out and then inform citizens what the issues are.
Everyone wants there to be a bike path, and everyone wants it to be safe. There’s no need to hurry through the design process to get it done by fall. Would it be nice? Sure, but who can complain if the delay is to make sure we end up with the best alternative possible?
We think the Cook County Forest Preserve District, which generously is reimbursing the villages for the cost of building the path, will again pledge funding next year if the timeline for path construction is pushed back a bit more. They’ve supported it so far; why would they pull support now?
There’s no deadline, so let’s do it right.