Saturday, September 15, 2012

Come scout locations for potential People Spots in Lincoln Park!

by Michelle Stenzel

The Chicago Department of Transportation recently launched a new initiative aimed at making more room on our streets and sidewalks for people to sit, relax and play. The "Make Way for People" program is partnering with aldermen and neighborhood groups to transform streets, parking spots, plazas and alleys into active public spaces.
Taken from Chicago Department of Transportation's "Make Way for People" site.
We at Bike Walk Lincoln Park are very excited about this initiative and are beginning to work with Alderman Michele Smith's office to help bring these to the 43rd ward. We're planning to ride our bikes around the ward with a member of Ald. Smith's staff to scope out potential spots on Saturday, September 22, details below, and you're welcome to join us. (Details below.)

There are four initiatives in the program: People Spots, People Streets, People Plazas and People Alleys, and we're planning to look for opportunities for all of them. However, for this post, we'll just use People Spots as an illustration, since there are already two of these up and running on the north side, in Andersonville and in Lakeview. The Chicago Tribune's Blair Kamin wrote a nice article about the north side People Spots.

Somebody's husband is enjoying the People Spot on
Lincoln Avenue at Wellington, in Lakeview.
(Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
 A People Spot is a small, seasonal park that is built between the sidewalk and the street, in a former parking spot or two. (Metered parking spots are relocated nearby.) Street furniture like benches and tables, as well as landscaping, is added, and then it's opened for public use. CDOT partners with neighborhood chambers of commerce/Special Service Areas to fund and install them.

People Spots have been called "parklets" in other cities, and this is an apt term, because first and foremost, they are miniature parks. Importantly, although they may sort of look like outdoor cafes and can be located near coffee shops, ice cream shops or restaurants, they are public parks and are not "owned" by any retail establishment. Eating and (nonalcoholic) drinking is allowed, but no purchase is necessary to simply sit and enjoy.

We think we need at least one of these in Lincoln Park! Maybe one in each of our major commercial corridors.

Join us on our Make Way for People scoping bike ride. We'll start at 8:30 am to meet, greet, and get an overview of our mission. (Yes, it's kind of early, but car traffic will be slightly lighter then.) Then we'll get on our bikes and ride slowly to and through each of the commercial areas in our ward, stopping often when we see a potential spot. Afterward, if time permits, maybe we can head up Lincoln Avenue to check out the Lakeview parklet for inspiration.

Please let us know if you're planning to join so we know to expect you! E-mail me and co-chair Michael Reynolds at BikeWalkLincolnPark at gmail dot com 

Saturday, September 22, 2012
Meet at 8:30 am (Will last about two hours)
City Grounds coffee bar
507 W. Dickens (on Dickens just west of Lincoln)
Bring your bike and lock. Come as you are -- no Lycra required.

Follow all the Bike Walk Lincoln Park news on Twitter @BikeWalkLP !

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