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.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Another chance to speak up for Lake Shore Drive improvements

by Michelle Stenzel

North Avenue Beach pedestrian bridge at peak usage.
(Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)

The North Lake Shore Drive project team has released its Draft “Purpose and Need” statement. (I know this already sounds very wonky and bureaucratic -- just stay with me for another two sentences.) A "P&N" statement should describe the current situation and the problems that are in existence, so that solutions to those problems can be addressed during the course of the project. It's an important document because if a problem is not well-described in the P&N statement, then no solutions that are proposed later on can be considered. 

When the North LSD Purpose and Need draft was released April 8th to members of the task forces and published on the project website, many of us were surprised to see included only some of the issues that had been brought up during the course of the public meetings and task force meetings of the prior eight months. Supporters of Bike Walk Lincoln Park met a few weeks ago and submitted a list of 47 specific problems that we believe exist just on the Grand Avenue-to-Diversey stretch of the project. (We received a general response letter from Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider, encouraging us to continue providing feedback to the project.)  -->

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Forty-seven ways to improve Lake Shore Drive and the Lakefront Trail

by Michelle Stenzel

In our last blog post, we invited you to attend a grassroots meeting to discuss North Lake Shore Drive, the Lakefront Trail, and surrounding areas. Thank you to those who joined us! 

Grassroots action at its best! Discussing the North Lake Shore Drive project at CityGrounds coffee bar.
(Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
We met in order to generate a list of issues facing people from Grand Avenue to Diversey Avenue, and came up with a total of 47 opportunities for improving Lake Shore Drive and the Lakefront Trail for people walking, biking and using public transit.  (More -->)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Come help document problems with Lake Shore Drive and the Lakefront Trail!

by Michelle Stenzel

The Lakefront Trail and Lake Shore Drive are famous routes in Chicago, known for providing walkers, bicyclists and drivers good transportation and great views of Lake Michigan and the downtown skyline. 

However, the Lakefront Trail is far too narrow at many points to serve the huge number of users, and its proximity to the lake means that waves often effectively shut it down. It's lacking greenery and natural elements from Grand to North. Many of the access points are grimy, dark, and inaccessible to people with mobility issues.
The Lakefront Trail near Ohio Street Beach on a typical summer evening. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
Because of its broad lanes and highway-like design, Lake Shore Drive acts as a barrier between the Lakefront Trail and the residents living west of the Drive. The street's design encourages speeding, leading to a high rate of crashes and injuries: 1,100 crashes per year, just on the northern section. Although it's very wide and 69,000 riders per day ride on 9 total bus routes, Lake Shore Drive has no dedicated space for public transportation. 
In this picture, I see 74 cars carrying an estimated 93 people in the northbound lanes and on ramp. All these people would   fit into one articulated CTA bus. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
Fortunately, the opportunity to improve Lake Shore Drive and surrounding areas for all users is now at hand. 

In August 2013, the first public meetings were held for the "Redefine the Drive" project, which is being undertaken jointly by the Illinois and Chicago departments of transportation. The project seeks to address problems with North Lake Shore Drive and surrounding areas, and the public is invited to provide input. This is an eight-year long project, so there's much more to come.  (More -->)