Sunday, March 31, 2013

Observations on the way to Chicago's SoNo district

by Michelle Stenzel

I decided to walk to the SoNo area today to pick up some items at Whole Foods. What? You've never heard of the SoNo neighborhood? Well, it's that "no name" area that's SOuth of NOrth Avenue, and west of Halsted. You know, where the giant Whole Foods is. When I first saw a billboard years ago for a developer trying to tout that new moniker, I wondered whether they had thought through the negative connotations of the phrase "So No". The name doesn't seem to have caught on, as the Whole Foods itself claims to be in Lincoln Park, when the border of Lincoln Park is actually more than a block away.

In any case, I walked mostly along North Avenue starting at Sedgwick, snapping pictures along the way, and thought that I'd share my observations about the state of walking, bicycling and generally the  feel of the area. There's not much to celebrate.
North Avenue is a state route that was designed for high-speed, noisy motorized vehicle traffic.
To begin with, North Avenue west of Sedgwick is a wide, car-oriented highway with a design that encourages high speeds. Drivers regularly exceed the 30 mph speed limit, induced by the wide open lanes and long distances between signallized intersections. There are no bike lanes of any kind. There are sidewalks, but not much to look at but the sides of townhouse developments and mini-mall parking lots. (More -->)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Clark and Fullerton: Busy, crowded, and in need of TLC

by Michelle Stenzel

On a recent cold and overcast Saturday morning, Michael, Andrew, John and I converged at the intersection of Clark and Fullerton to observe, document and make recommendations for improvements. We evaluated that intersection as well as nearby Fullerton and Lakeview. Although our focus was on making the intersections better for pedestrians, in the spirit of applying a "Complete Streets" philosophy, we kept in mind all all users, including bicyclists, transit riders, and drivers.

The crosswalks at Clark and Fullerton in Lincoln Park are always busy.  (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
We began with noting that this is a very busy intersection for all modes of transport. The housing stock is dense, with many high rise condos close by along both streets. To the north and south on Clark, there are dozens of commercial establishments. Two well-used bus lines, the 22 Clark and 36 Broadway, go through the intersection on Clark. (There is no Fullerton bus line here because the service ends at Halsted.) Clark Street is also a very popular bicycling route, and is in fact a designated Spoke Route on the Streets for Cycling 2020 Plan. Fullerton is a main access route to get to DePaul university and other points to the west, as well as the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Lakefront Trail and other points to the east.

We evaluated the intersections of Clark and Fullerton, and Lakeview and Fullerton.
All of this "busyness" is a positive for the intersection: We noticed that all users seemed to be aware that this is a place where it's necessary to be alert and careful. Vehicle speeds did not seem to be excessive, and this may be partly due to the presence of the red light cameras here, but the sheer number of vehicles and people in the space itself keeps speeds down, and that's good.
Much more ---->

Sunday, March 10, 2013

I'm walking here! Improving the Halsted and Armitage intersection

by Michelle Stenzel

One of our goals this year for Bike Walk Lincoln Park is to continue to encourage Alderman Michele Smith to use a portion of our ward's $1.2 million in annual menu funds to improve conditions for people walking, and we decided the best way to do that is to evaluate one important intersection or stretch of street at a time. The plan for each location is to observe and document current conditions, and produce written recommendations for Alderman Smith to use when planning infrastructure upgrades for the year. The changes we'll be suggesting are all tools included in Chicago's Pedestrian Plan (download the plan from the official website here).
We evaluated the sidewalks and crosswalks at the intersection of Armitage and Halsted.
(Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
In gray and damp weather this past weekend, BWLP Co-Chair Michael Reynolds and I tackled the first intersection: Halsted and Armitage. This is an important intersection for pedestrians at all times of day, on weekday and weekends, largely due to the CTA Brown line stop three blocks to the west, two active bus lines, nearby shopping and dining destinations, density of residences in the area, and the location of Lincoln Park High School two blocks to the east. 

More ---->

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Think spring! Three upcoming bike events

by Michelle Stenzel

Sure, it snowed six inches yesterday, but it’s March, so spring can’t be far away, and that means more time riding our bikes!  There are a few local upcoming bike-related events that you should know about.
Early January on the Lake Michigan shoreline. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
Chicago Bike Swap

The Chicago Bike Swap will be held on Saturday, March 9 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm on the UIC campus. Although you can indeed go there to try to sell your ride or look for a new one, there’s a lot more to this event than swapping bikes.

(More -->)