Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Our narrow, beloved Lakefront Trail takes a beating and gets TLC

by Michelle Stenzel

I've taken a lot of pictures of the Lakefront Trail in the last few weeks. It started one day in October, when I found myself on the 70th floor of Lake Point Tower for the first time, and I looked down and saw that famous landmark, beloved recreational and commuting route, and enormous point of pride for all of Chicago, the mighty Lakefront Trail:


What, you can't see it? It's right there! Okay, let me zoom in a little for you:


It's not that 16-lane wide mass of concrete taking up most of the right side of the photo -- it's that thin ribbon of asphalt to its left!
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Small improvements for people walking in Lincoln Park

by Michelle Stenzel

We're eagerly waiting for the re-paved Lincoln Avenue to materialize, and when it does, I'll be sure to post "after" pictures. In the mean time, I noticed a few small improvements made lately in the neighborhood.

There are new "Stop for Pedestrian" signs installed on Armitage, at Mohawk Street and at Cleveland Avenue:
New "Stop for Pedestrian"signs on Armitage at Cleveland. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
The signs are on both crosswalks, alongside the zebra-stripe markings. These intersections are "uncontrolled", which means that there is no stop sign or red light for drivers. 

I also noticed new faux-brick stamped crosswalks at the intersection of Clark and Webster:
New crosswalks on Webster at Clark Street. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
This is a very busy intersection, especially before school starts at neighboring Francis Parker School. It's nice to see the fresh striping, paint and stamped asphalt. Families with kids at the school and all the neighborhood people likely appreciate the increased visibility of the crosswalks.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Lincoln Avenue bike lane improvements are coming

by Michelle Stenzel

Lincoln Avenue has long been a popular bicycling route within Lincoln Park because it provides a direct southeast path toward the city center, leads to DePaul University, and it has bustling commercial areas along much of its length. Unfortunately, the asphalt has been in terrible disrepair for years, with enormous cracks and potholes that often made the bike lanes virtually useless. 
Lincoln Avenue bike lane and crosswalk near Montana Street. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
Fortunately, Alderman Michele Smith announced this week that the long wait is coming to an end: Most of Lincoln will be resurfaced over the next few weeks.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Clybourn Avenue would benefit from protected bike lanes

by Michelle Stenzel

Last week, the public was given its first glimpse of the changes being proposed to Clybourn Avenue from Division Street to North Avenue. You can read media coverage of the meeting on DNA Info Chicago and on Streetsblog Chicago.

As you know from our prior post, Clybourn north of North Avenue received buffered bike lanes last year; however, the southern section still has no bike lanes at all. 

Here's a map that shows in red the section of Clybourn that's in the current project area (it also includes one block of Division):
Red shows the parts of Clybourn and Division that are in the project area. Purple lines are existing buffered bike lanes. This screen shot was taken from the Active Transportation Alliance's Bikeways Tracker.
This project is not in Lincoln Park, but we're writing about it because every improvement for bicycling on nearby streets is important for the entire bicycling network, and in this case, it could greatly benefit Lincoln Parkers who ride on Clybourn to get to Larrabee or Halsted to head northbound. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Thinking big for a better Lake Shore Drive

by Michelle Stenzel

Readers of this blog know that the North Lake Shore Drive re-design process is well underway. (Links for background reading are provided at the end of this post.) The process of identifying problems with the current state is now concluded, and the next step is submitting specific ideas for how to solve the problems.

John Krause, an architect and long-time supporter of Bike Walk Lincoln Park, has laid out his vision for how we can make this important part of our city work better for all users, and he's looking for feedback. You can see his entire proposal for North Lake Shore Drive at this link to a PDF. (John is the  Executive Director of Chicago Streetcar Renaissance, and he'll be presenting his plan for streetcars in Chicago at the Transport Chicago conference at UIC on June 6th.)
Redefine The Drive vision for North Lake Shore Drive by John Krause of Chicago Streetcar Renaissance.
John doesn't think small. And why should he? If we do it right, this project has the real potential to transform the way Chicago residents interact with our lakeside parks, to enhance the natural beauty of the shoreline, and at the same time to improve the way we transport ourselves to and through the corridor.

I've posted screen shots of the four North Lake Shore Drive segments below from John's proposal. Some of the highlights of the plan include:

  • LSD dips downward at most junctions to allow the cross street to cross at grade;
  • New junctions at Division, Diversey and Addison to relieve motor vehicle backups at the existing junctions;
  • Lakefront light rail runs through the middle of the corridor from Michigan Avenue and Oak Street all the way to Hollywood;
  • East-west buses connect to the lakefront and the light rail stations;
  • LSD is re-routed north of LaSalle Drive onto Cannon Drive and then onto "inner North Lake Shore Drive", all the way to Belmont.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Walking and biking to work is increasing in Chicago

by Michelle Stenzel

The U.S. Census Bureau released a report this week on how many Americans bike or walk to work. The strongest "take away" of their news release was that bike commuting is up 60% nationwide in 2012 compared to 2000, and that is the largest increase in commuting mode (including public transit, walking, driving alone, carpooling, and more). 

You can read the full report but here's one chunk of the table I find to be most interesting and important:


In Chicago in 2000, 5.7% of workers walked to work, but by 2012, the percent had increased to 6.4%. (I would guess that's a function of the greater number of people living in Streeterville, River North, West Loop, and South Loop who can walk to their central business district jobs.) That may seem like a modest increase, but it's actually bucking the nationwide trend of fewer people walking to work during that time period. Even on the table of the biggest 20 cities above, you can see that only Chicago and San Jose, CA showed increased rates of walk commuting. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Our suggestions for a better Lake Shore Drive Need Statement

by Michelle Stenzel

Last week, a number of citizens concerned about the future of North Lake Shore Drive met to discuss the Purpose and Need Statement draft released recently by the North Lake Shore Drive project team. We found much to like in the draft statement, but also many opportunities for improvement to better frame the current problems and futures needs of people walking, bicycling and using public transit through this corridor. As we said in this prior post, the Purpose and Need Statement is very important because if a problem is not well-described in the P&N statement, then no solutions that are proposed later on can be considered. 
The Chicago Avenue pedestrian underpass on the Lakefront Trail. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
You can read the Draft Purpose and Need Statement here.

The full letter we've submitted as feedback to the project team is reprinted below (and viewable at this link as well). Some of the suggestions we made:

  • We request that the Problem Statement in the draft be replaced with the more precise and all-encompassing Problem Statement that the seven task forces worked to produce.
  • We ask that the final Purpose and Need Statement provide more data and detail about problems facing people walking, bicycling and using public transit.
  • We ask the team to explicitly recognize that there is a need to move an increased number of people through the North Lake Shore Drive corridor through more efficient methods of traveling.
  • We ask that the focus remain on Lake Shore Drive's status as a boulevard and not a freeway.