An Honest Evaluation of Berteau Greenway

Background Reading


We have visited the Berteau Greenway several times since its initial installation. Usually we ride the distance along the street from Damen on the west end to Clark at the eastern terminus. I would classify this neighborhood as solidly Middle Class. The street itself begin on the eastern end as a One Way affair heading west.

At the midway point you reach a ‘round about‘ that is small (owing to the narrowness of the street) and has been losing much of its initial signage as the years go by. About the only really ‘cool thing‘ about the street is the special bicycle traffic signal that faces Damen. A street sign lets cyclists know that despite it being one way for cars they can enter the street.

There are two ‘sharrow‘ lanes (one on either side of the street). By the time you reach the section near the roundabout the ‘sharrow‘ lanes have been replaced with bike lanes whose surface has been painted green.




Have bike lanes on both sides of this narrow street is silly. Any car attempting to pass a cyclist is going to have to squeeze by. And since cyclists can use both sides of the street a pair of cyclists could effectively block a motorist approaching from the rear.

Any cyclist trying to overtake a car along this stretch would be in danger of getting ‘doored‘. The street is really too narrow for what has been installed. The illustration above shows the street a bit wider than it really is. And since we visited this time in winter we could see how very poorly these lanes are being maintained.

On our way to luncheon after the visit to Berteau Greenway we traveled along Milwaukee Avenue. The stretch that has a protected bike lane (PBL) was cleared of snow. But for the most part even Clark Street out front of Native Foods Cafe was a mess in the parking lane.

Vehicular Cyclists Fare Best In Chicago

If you have not yet learned to take a lane and ride where the pavement is clear and drier you probably have a terrible time with ‘chain freeze‘ and the dreaded deterioration of your aluminum rims from all the salt. Frankly winter riding in Chicago is not so much an heroic thing to do as it is silly. If I were to ride a bike back and forth along those muddy, salty streets I cannot imagine my hubs, wheels, brake pads and chain lasting very long unless I was fastidious about keeping the bike wiped down and clean.

But who has time for that in winter. Heck I can rarely find the time to get the salt off of my car in the car wash. There are simply too many days when a car wash would be inviting frozen door locks. The situation is pointless. After all that is why the Good Lord gave us Mass Transit!

The really interesting thing is that for all of the criticism leveled at Milwaukee Avenue it is far more rideable than even the Berteau Greenway. Really! If you  take the lane and keep a good pace you can make great time. If you must ride close to the cars then slow down and be mindful of opening doors!

The 606 Is Progressing

Riding along Milwaukee Avenue the archway over the 606 looks impressive. But it keeps reminding me that on street riding in Chicago is pretty dismal. I much prefer the Chicago Lakefront Trail to fighting with traffic. Chicago really needs a network of routes which are largely ‘car-free’ and have useful destinations. That is doubly true in the dead of winter.

I felt sorry for the guys and gals riding along in the slush. And the one guy I follow on a fixed-gear who had managed to blow out his left knee made me wince. I have knee problems myself. Why on earth would anyone in their right mind choose to ride a ‘fixed-gear‘ bike that is clearly damaging their knees? I guess like women in high heels, men on fixies are clearly more into fashion than good sense.

Slideshow Video

Berteau Greenway – Feb 2015 2-HD (1080p) from Beezodog's Place on Vimeo.