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Bicyclists take a beating at Lake Shore Drive revamp meeting

Lake View resident Neil Peck 67 expresses his opiniabout plans overhaul Lake Shore Drive Tuesday. He said he walks his

Lake View resident Neil Peck, 67, expresses his opinion about plans to overhaul Lake Shore Drive on Tuesday. He said he walks his dog on the lakefront every night. "The problem is the traffic laws are not enforced on Lake Shore Drive at night. Motorcycles hit 80 to 100 mph," he said. "I can hear them and see them." | Chandler West~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 8, 2013 6:35AM

Anti-bicyclist sentiment surfaced Tuesday night during a meeting on plans for North Lake Shore Drive and the surrounding lakefront amid calls for a distinct high-speed biking path.

“Bicyclists think they have priority in sidewalks and other places, not the bike path,” wrote one commentator on Post-it notes provided by hearing organizers. “Cyclists do not yield.”

One note-writer triggered a flurry of “ditto” comments when he wrote: “Ideally bikers and pedestrians should have separate paths.”

State and city transportation officials used the notes and a suggestion box to gather input Tuesday night on how to improve North Lake Shore Drive, from Grand to Hollywood, during the first of three public meetings about the drive’s 7-mile northern leg.

An informational movie chronicling the area’s problems, including the three crashes a day on north Lake Shore Drive, played on a loop in one section of a third-floor room at Gill Park, while poster boards offered participants snippets of additional information, such as condition reports on the area’s 22 bridges and viaducts.

Visitors were encouraged to write comments on Post-it notes and stick them on maps of different sections of the drive. Almost every map seemed to include a Post-it calling for “light rail” near the drive.

However, not everyone was convinced that Lake Shore Drive North needs to be rebuilt, as Illinois Department of Transportation officials are contending, based only at this point on its age of 60 to 80 years.

“Just resurface it,” said Penny Schrepfer, 59, of Lake Vew. “Save the taxpayers money.”

Several visitors disagreed with a proposal by a coalition of 15 civic groups to reduce the speed limit from 40 to 35 mph to maintain the original vision of the drive as a “boulevard.” They said the current speed limit merely needs to be enforced.

Neil Peck, 67, of Lake View, said he walks his dog every night along the lakefront and “the problem is the traffic laws are not enforced on Lake Shore Drive at night. Motorcycles hit 80 to 100 mph. I can hear them and see them.”

Ald. James Cappleman (46th) said he had no opinion yet on a speed limit for the drive but was sure that any future plans should be bike-friendly.

“I don’t own a car,” Cappleman said. “I bicycle everywhere. I want to make sure whatever we do, we are friendly to bike riders. I want to do everything I can to encourage more mass transit and bikes.”

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