Friday, August 19, 2011

Let's hear your ideas for pedestrians!

Walking around Chicago is both a pleasure and a hazard. 

In Lincoln Park alone, we have scores of destinations that are easily reached on foot, and our sidewalks are crowded with people walking. Our neighborhood is rated among the most walkable in the city! And indeed, we’re fortunate to already have a lot of infrastructure in place, like sidewalks along every street, and marked crosswalks at intersections, many with countdown timers.

But crosswalks are too often faded and set too far apart. Turning cars and speeding taxis menace those on foot.  In the neighborhoods, refuge islands on wide streets are rare. Pedestrians are the most vulnerable users of the street, and it still feels very dangerous out there, way too often.

Lincoln Park pedestrians crossing Clark Street at Menomonee/1700 North. (Photo: BikeWalkLincolnPark)

The Chicago Department of Transportation recently released this study of pedestrian accidents in the city, and it contained sad bits of data, like there are an average of 8 pedestrian-vehicle crashes in the city every day. You can read full coverage of the CDOT study in the Chicago Tribune’s “Getting Around” column by Jon Hilkevitch.

Someone should do something about it, you say? Well, the problem is being worked on as we speak, and you still have time to participate. CDOT is putting together Chicago's first Pedestrian Plan, which will be a comprehensive analysis of the pedestrian experience in our city, and a plan for improving it.

The organizers have already held listening sessions in the neighborhoods, and next week on August 24, there will be a workshop open to the public at the Harold Washington Library, from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm.

This won’t be a boring slideshow that you can snooze through. According to a confirmation e-mail from the consulting firm that will run the meeting, it will begin with remarks by Gabe Klein, CDOT’s new commissioner and wunderkind from DC. Then, participants will be briefly trained, assigned to a team, sent out into the Loop to assess a specified location from the view of a pedestrian, and asked to report back their findings. (Mental note:  Wear comfortable shoes.)

Busy pedestrian crosswalk in the Loop at Clark and Madison. (Photo: BikeWalkLincolPark)

We’re told there's still plenty of room for you to attend. Email to register, and you’ll receive an email response confirming your participation (although it may take a day or two, so send your RSVP now).

If you can’t make it in person, you can still submit an online comment card with your suggestions for improving Chicago’s walkability. Check out some of the ideas already submitted here.

We see there are comments from many neighborhoods, but NONE from Lincoln Park yet! Let’s step it up and represent! Some of the suggestions are to add more signage, lighting and benches. Someone from Jefferson Park suggested replacing portions of curbside parking with space for a planted tree, especially when sidewalks are very narrow. A person in Albany Park asked for more pedestrian bridges across the river.

We’ll be at the workshop – will we see you there?

1 comment:

  1. I think security for those crossing the street should improve. There should be a CCTV near on traffic posts to monitor traffic.