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Bloomingdale Bike Trail

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shymen

I've lived all over the country and world, my background is in International Affairs, Political Science, and Economics, and I'm a Chicago boy born and bred.

Has anyone heard of the City's proposed Bloomingdale Bike Trail?  Didn't think so.  The Bloomingdale trail is a planned 2.65 mile (and potentially 3 mile) bike trail on top of former Canada-Pacific train tracks in the Logan Square area.  The path would start at Ashland Ave. and Bloomingdale Ave., continuing west along Bloomingdale Ave. to Ridgeway Ave.  I love this idea.  It's about time the city figures out what to do with the old tracks.  These idle tracks serve not only as eyesores to pedestrians, but as hotbeds for graffiti.  Using them for good is essential, but using them for a bike path is outstanding.


Even though the path will probably end up being less than three miles long and will only have around three main access points, there is nothing wrong with a bike path for plain riding, not only for commuting.  In addition, if the path is made well, it will be a source of fun.  Yes, some people like to ride bikes for fun and not only for transportation.  The more fun places to ride one's bike throughout Chicago, besides our beautiful, yet overcrowded lakefront path, the better.  I believe that "fun" paths encourage more family riding.  With more families and children in the Chicago bike community, the more likely the city will listen to the bike community's demands (i.e. more bike lanes, repaving the bike paths, etc.).


City planners and the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) have worked on plans for the Bloomingdale trail for decades, but still few Chicagoans have any idea of what it is, and nobody knows if or when it will be built (Bloomingdale Trail FAQs).  It's true that the city still doesn't own the tracks (they're privately owned by Canada-Pacific), and that the renovation could cost billions, but that hasn't stopped the City in the past.  My qualms with this plan are not that the plan itself has many faults, but with the fact that nothing has come of it.


As much as it pains me to say, Chicago officials need to look at New York City as a model for similar bike paths.  The New York High Line, which is a bike path that runs on old train tracks 30 feet above the streets of Manhattan, opened last June, with more improvements coming this fall.  If a project like this is manageable in Manhattan, then Logan Square should be able to handle it too.  Chicago's government has many (not all) brilliant minds, and it's time to use these minds and not merely put their ideas on to-do lists.  Let's finalize a solid plan for the Bloomingdale trail by the end of 2010, and get our build on.  

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