New Bike Lanes, Path Extensions Planned For North Shore Suburbs

SKOKIE, IL — The Chicago area’s season for cycling — and construction — is in full swing. And in Skokie, Evanston and Wilmette, some of that construction include bicycle-related infrastructure improvements.

The three North Shore municipalities have adopted multi-year plans to upgrade bike routes, with work set to begin this month on portions of Gross Point Road and Oakton Street.

Evanston’s Oakton Street improvement project includes a shared pedestrian-bicycle path from Dodge Avenue all the way to the border with Skokie, where the Illinois Department of Transportation will be adding bike lanes to either side of the road.

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In Skokie, village and county officials have extended the Old Orchard multi-use path, connecting it at Harms Road to the North Branch Trail and east from Beverly Avenue to Skokie Boulevard.

And over the next two years, village officials plan to add more than a mile to the Skokie Valley Trail. Village staff expect to extend the path from Dempster Street to Golf Road in 2024 and from Old Orchard Road to the north village limits in 2025. The project is currently in the design and land acquisition phase.

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Skokie village officials also plan to add on-street bike lanes to Church Street from McCormick to Linder avenues next year. A Cook County road resurfacing project planned for the following year on Oakton Street will also include new bike lanes, according to village staff.

In Evanston, work on the Church Street Pedestrian and Bike Improvement Project is currently in the preliminary environmental and design study stage, with design engineering expected to begin later this year.

Last month, staff announced the city had received a $3 million grant for the project from IDOT’s Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program.

The project will include bike lanes between Dodge Avenue and city limits at the North Shore Channel. It could also include a bike path along the east side of the channel between Church and Dempster streets. That plan, which would connect Beck and Harbert parks, is also being studied, according to city staff.

The Chicago Avenue Multimodal Corridor Improvement Project is also in the design phase in Evanston.

That project calls for two-way projected bike lanes along Chicago Avenue from Howard Street to Davis Street. In order to make room to separate cyclists from pedestrians and traffic, the lanes for cars will be reduced from up to 17 feet wide to 10-feet wide.

In Wilmette, village trustees approved the Master Bike and Active Transportation Plan in 2021. And last year, officials gave the green light to a five-year implementation schedule for the new cycling master plan.

By the end of 2023, village officials aim for intersection improvements on Sheridan Road and the establishment of “bike boulevards” on Park Avenue from Gregory to Central, on Poplar Avenue from Isabella to Wilmette and on Washington Avenue from Hunter to Ridge.

The boulevards do not include bike lanes, but rather feature “sharrows” — painted marking indicating cyclists and cars should share the same lane.

Next year, village staff aim to award a construction contract to built a new multi-use path along Skokie Boulevard from Lake to Illinois, with work scheduled to begin in 2025.

Construction on the intersection of Skokie Boulevard and Lake Avenue is due to begin this summer and be complete in the fall, according to village staff. The project has received federal grant funding.

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