Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Make Clark a Liveable Street!

Members of Bike Walk Lincoln Park are starting to advocate for improvements in the 43rd ward to help make walking and biking safer and more pleasant! Alderman Michele Smith is also very concerned about safety issues, and shares our enthusiasm for making improvements. 

One of the first projects we'll focus on is one that we used to kick off this blog: improving Clark Street from North Avenue to Armitage. In another post, we compared crossing Clark Street to playing the game of Frogger.

Four wide lanes of auto traffic on Clark Street at the Lincoln Avenue intersection.
(Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
Why make any changes? The southeast corner of the Lincoln Park neighborhood is one of the most walkable areas of the city, and yet this half-mile section of Clark Street is not friendly to anything but motorized traffic.

If you've ever walked or biked this stretch, you know already that some of the current problems include:
  • Wide lanes of car traffic moving at speeds in excess of the speed limit
  • Poorly marked pedestrian crossings that span six lanes of street with no safe haven
  • Long distances between safe crosswalks
  • Absence of bike lanes means bicyclists are squeezed between fast-moving cars and parked cars
  • Excessive noise from fast-moving cars is unpleasant and makes it hard to enjoy parks and restaurants
  • Lack of wayfinding or historic signage and nowhere to sit in the park
Pedestrians at Clark and Wisconsin crossing six lanes of street with no safe haven.
(Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
What can be done to improve?
  • Reduce moving lanes for motorized traffic from four lanes to two
  • Install protected bike lanes
  • Widen the east sidewalk
  • Install well-marked pedestrian crossings and new crosswalks where needed
  • Add signage, landscaping and benches

What will the result be?
  • Traffic calmed to safer speeds
  • Less traffic noise
  • Easier and safer for pedestrians to cross the street along the entire half-mile stretch
  • Safe bike route for bicyclists of all abilities
  • Easier for neighbors and visitors to enjoy existing parks, plazas, and restaurants
  • Clark Street from North Avenue to Armitage Avene becomes a pleasure, not a hazard!
This lovely park at Clark and Wisconsin will be more enjoyable when traffic noise is reduced.
(Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
The points listed above are only excerpts from our full list of ideas.

You can read the full details on our information sheet about the project here.

And take a look at our visual presentation of Clark Street as it is currently, and our ideas for changes.

We'll be holding a public meeting in the near future open to all to share ideas and discuss the proposal. Keep checking this blog for more information, or e-mail us at bikewalklincolnpark@gmail.com to join our mailing list. Feel free to leave your comments and suggestions below! We welcome your input.


  1. Great post. Have you talked with Ald. Smith explicitly about a protected bike lane on this stretch? It would be perfect, calming traffic and providing safe passage through the area to the highly utilized Wells, Lincoln and Clark bike lanes nearby.

  2. Thanks, Aaron. We agree that it's a natural "link" in the city's expanding and improving network of bike lanes. Yes, we've spoken with Alderman Smith and she's supportive of the concepts we presented, but of course we need to make sure the community supports it, and that all the details are carefully thought out. -- Michelle Stenzel

  3. I've never had problems biking on that stretch of Clark St...it is wide enough for everyone. My fear about slowing and "calming" traffic on Clark Street is that cars would just move over to zoom through the Park on Stockton.

    Stockton Drive is much narrower, with parked cars on both sides. But cars and buses now zoom up and down Stockton (and Cannon) all the way north to Diversey and Sheridan. We should be looking to "calm" traffic on these park roads first, before worrying about the 4-lanes of Clark St.

  4. CiW, we agree that cars should not be zooming anywhere through our neighborhood, whether on Clark or on Stockton! Anyone who wishes to drive 40 mph should be using Lake Shore Drive, just yards away. We definitely would like to make sure there are design improvements on Stockton to make it safer for pedestrians, and we posted initial thoughts on that in July. We welcome you to add your suggestions for improving Stockton on that post. -- Michelle Stenzel

  5. Why not improve more of Clark? I bike on Clark from Diversey to Lincoln, and aside from the stretch with the shared bus/bike lane it's pretty awful. I say extend the protected bike lane all the way to Fullerton or even Diversey.

  6. Sorry, I just saw this comment, Adam. Yes, we'd love to see the entire length of Clark improved for people on bikes (and on foot!). We're working on this first stretch and then will set our sights further north. -- Michelle Stenzel