While some consider the cancellation of the No. 11 bus to be a crippling blow to Lincoln Avenue businesses, one local organization is already focusing on another way to get shoppers on the street.
Heather Way, the executive director at the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce, says her team is working on making Lincoln Avenue the best pedestrian and biker-friendly corridor in the area. She says its something they’ve always wanted to do, but it was lower on the list – until now.
“Every smart business owner opens where there’s transit,” Way said. “Independent, small businesses rely on public transportation to get people to them… We were advocating for the No. 11 bus, but now that the bus is gone, we’re going to shift gears and make Lincoln Avenue the most walkable, bikeable commercial corridor that it can possibly be… It’s bumped toward the top (of our list).”
Way says she’s already meeting with an urban planner educated in creating bikeable corridors. It wasn’t long after the No. 11 bus’ cancellation that the consultant reached out with a proposal.
Now the Lakeview Chamber is looking to potentially put together a two-year plan that will work to brand the area, calling it something like the Lincoln Biking District.
“She reached out to us because she knew about Heritage Bikes, she knew about our master plan for the area, and she was a fan of our new People’s Spot,” Way said. “She just came back from a conference in Long Beach, California that was all about building bikeable communities. She reached out and said, ‘I have these great ideas,’ and I just said, ‘I would love to hear them!’”
“It’s going to take some effort, but I think we have the resources, the passion and the drive to make something happen.”
Along with simply restriping the current bike lanes on Lincoln Avenue, Way says the group is looking into bigger infrastructure improvements like protected bike lanes. In addition, she said there might soon be bike-based promotions for shoppers who can prove that they biked to the store. Way said they’re currently fleshing out what the top priorities will be.
The bulk of the funding for the project will come from taxes from the neighborhood’s Special Service Area (SSA) program, Way explained, with additional funds coming from private and public donations.
And the project might soon be getting a big help from the City of Chicago. The Chicago Department of Transportation announced details for its multi-million dollar bike-sharing program on Tuesday, asking residents to choose where they’d like to see bike kiosks in the city.
So far, one of the most popular locations in Lake View – and one of the most popular thus far in Chicago – is at the corner of West Wellington and North Lincoln avenues with nearly 20 residents voting to support the choice.
“(This location) connects to a growing business district on Lincoln that now has poor transit access at this corner since the #11 bus is being cut,” writes Lake View resident Lee Crandell of the suggestion.
With obvious support from the residents, Way says she’s happy everyone, including the City of Chicago, is thinking along the same lines.
“It’s going to take some effort,” said Way, “but I think we have the resources, the passion and the drive to make something happen.”