Sunday, March 11, 2012

Pedestrians first! and other news

by Michelle Stenzel

We've been slacking off lately on the blog, and don't even have a cold winter as an excuse. Hopefully the warm weather and longer evening daylight hours will provide us all with inspiration to get out there to enjoy Lincoln Park on foot and on bike. 


If you've been stopped at a red light in Lake View or the Loop recently, you may have noticed a new traffic signal configuration: While the light remains red for car traffic, the pedestrians waiting to cross in the same direction are exclusively given the "Walk" signal for a few seconds. This is called "Leading Pedestrian Intervals" or "Pedestrian Head Start" because it allows the people walking time to enter the crosswalk first to improve their visibility, and to discourage turning car drivers from cutting them off. 
A busy crosswalk at Michigan and Randolph. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
We love these for many reasons, not the least of which is that it sends the message that people who walk are valued, and given a little extra time to get where they need to go. It's a small gesture, but it encourages walking. You can read a little more about them and see a Streets Film on the subject at this link.

We've seen this configuration in the Loop up and down Madison Street and LaSalle Street, all the way into River North. In Lake View, it's installed on Belmont at Broadway and Clark. I'm sure it's on many other streets, as well. However, we haven't seen them in Lincoln Park yet, have you? This must change! It seems to be a pretty inexpensive pedestrian "perk" to provide, given that it just requires changing the signal timing. We're encouraging CDOT and Alderman Smith to bring this pedestrian safety measure to Lincoln Park whenever possible.


Thank you to everyone who participated in providing opinions and input to the North Side Community Advisory Group of the Streets for Cycling 2020 Plan. The initial phase of community input is now over, but the best parts of the process are yet to come! 
The "floating" bike lane on Madison Street in the Loop. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
Currently, the city's team of engineers and bikeway planners are working to process through all the input received and make decisions about proposed bikeways and design, based on many factors like street width, parking considerations and proximity and connectivity to other bikeways or paths. They will come up with a draft of the proposed citywide network of new and upgraded bikeways and release it to the public around the end of May. At that time, there will be more public meetings to get more input. There may be further alterations, and then the final plan will be adopted and released during the summer. We'll keep you informed of events as they are announced.


While you're waiting for the draft S4C plan to come out, you can help CDOT staff by volunteering for an upcoming bicycle count. Full information is on the flier below.

The volunteer activity consists of standing at a designated spot for two hours in or near the Loop and keeping track of the number of people who pass on bicycles. It's an easy task, but it's very important! We've learned from other cities that are far ahead of us in providing safe bicycle infrastructure that it's very crucial to document current numbers of bicyclists and then the (hopefully) increase in numbers once safer paths are provided. CDOT relies in part on volunteers to provide this vital service. (More information about the CDOT program and stats from past bike counts can be seen here.)
Yours truly last year, counting evening bicyclists on the Kinzie Street protected bike lane.
(Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
Consider volunteering your time for this! It's easy and fun. I'll be out there whenever I can again this year. Ring your bell if you see me!

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