Sunday, November 10, 2013

Much to celebrate for biking and walking in Lincoln Park!

by Michelle Stenzel

In the last few weeks, there have been much work done that helps make biking and walking in Lincoln Park safer and more pleasant; that's our mission, and so we're thrilled to see it happening. In case you haven't spotted these new changes, we'll provide you with some photos for an overview.

HALSTED BIKE LANES

There are new buffered bike lanes on Halsted Street, from Fullerton to Diversey! Previously, there was only an old-style bike lane, which paint was so faded as to be pretty much invisible most of the time.
The new buffered lane on Halsted north of Fullerton has an outside buffer. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
Buffered lanes are not as comfortable to ride in as separated lanes, in which the bike lane is separated from moving traffic; this is still not a lane that I would take my daughter on, or a senior citizen relative. However, for experienced current bike riders, the buffered lane is an upgrade from what we had before. --->

WRIGHTWOOD AND HALSTED INTERSECTION IMPROVEMENTS

Next, Bike Walk Lincoln Park had made suggestions to improve the intersection of Halsted and Wrightwood during an "Intersection Evaluation" event in April, and two of those suggestions have already been instituted! One is that the crosswalks have been upgraded from the old-style two-skinny-lines-only, to the international ladder style, and they look great.
People crossing Halsted at Wrightwood. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
Also, extensive work was also done at this intersection to make the ramps at the corners less steep, to add a tactile surface for people with vision impairments, to improve drainage along the curb and resurface the asphalt. (Unfortunately, none of the pictures I took of those changes turned out well, so you'll have to take my word for it, or check it out yourself.)

NEW CROSSWALKS AT FULLERTON/HALSTED/LINCOLN

The crosswalks on all legs of the massive Fullerton/Halsted/Lincoln intersection have been re-striped to help increase their visibility. You can see from the picture that the new style requires thicker stripes. The stop bars were also restriped, and the importance of keeping those visible for drivers can't be understated. This intersection could still use lots of help to become more bike- and walker-friendly, but all the crosswalk re-striping is still very nice to see.
Upgraded crosswalk markings on Lincoln Avenue where it crosses Fullerton. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
NEW DIVVY STATIONS PREVIEW

We'll have an entirely separate post soon on all the new Divvy stations, but just to whet your appetite, here's a picture of the new station on Lincoln Avenue, just north of Fullerton, next to Porter Park. Ain't she a beauty? And, this station holds the honor of being the 300th and last Divvy station installed in 2013. There will be at least 100 more stations added to the entire network in 2014, maybe more.
Divvy bike share station on Lincoln Avenue. (Photo: BikeWalkLincolnPark)
STOCKTON AND BELDEN CROSSWALK

We already provided pictures of the improved Stockton Drive crosswalk back in this post in July, but we noticed that since then, a little more has been done to improve visibility by adding two different types of signage on the edges of the crosswalk. I'm not sure why the old-style sign telling drivers to stop for pedestrians was used instead of the in-street version, although it may be because the signs would suffer too much abuse by drivers hitting it now that the roadway is narrowed.
Crosswalk over Stockton at 2300 North, by the Lincoln Park Conservatory. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
The improvements were much needed and appreciated; however, when I look at this picture, I can't help but feel sad that this much effort and resources are needed to protect people from drivers who are on a 25-mph speed limit street that runs through the middle of a park and alongside bus stops, baseball fields, playgrounds, a zoo, museum and farmer's market. If everyone would drive cautiously on Stockton instead of treating it like a highway, perhaps we wouldn't need all this expensive "stuff". It's all part of the price we're paying for designing Chicago's streets in a way that made the private automobile the dominant mode of transportation for the last 60 years.

IMPROVEMENTS ON WELLS

There are now buffered bike lanes on both sides of Wells, from North Avenue to Lincoln Avenue! This is an important bike route for many people, and with this addition, you can ride on buffered lanes for 1.8 miles on Wells, all the way from Lincoln to Kinzie, when you're traveling southbound.
The new buffered bike lane on Wells between North and Lincoln has an inside buffer. The orange bollards are there because there's a Divvy station along the curb. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
Also on Wells, many of the crosswalks have been repainted and upgraded to the high-visibility international style, like this one at Menomonee:
Repainted crosswalk on Wells Street at Menomonee. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
Many of the crosswalks are at "uncontrolled" intersections, meaning there is no stop sign or stop light for drivers. From my observation, it seems that the high-viz crosswalk makes drivers slightly more likely to stop for a person trying to cross the street; however, an in-street "Stop for Pedestrian" sign at each of these would dramatically increase the chances.
This cab driver didn't feel it was necessary to obey the law and stop for the woman in the crosswalk.
(Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
PEDESTRIAN REFUGE ISLAND

And finally, the new pedestrian refuge island on Clark Street at Menomonee is being built! Right now it's just a construction zone that looks like this:
The early stages of a new pedestrian island on Clark Street, at Menomonee/1700 North. (Photo: Bike Walk Lincoln Park)
However, we'll follow that development and certainly post again after it's done. It's our understanding that when bike lanes are added to Clark Street on this stretch as has been requested via community input, the new design of the street can accommodate this refuge island, with no need to rebuild.

So, there are many great developments happening in the neighborhood. Thank you to Alderman Michele Smith and her staff for their role in getting all these improvements underway, as well as thanks to the Chicago Department of Transportation staff for designing all the improvements, and of course to CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein, for implementing his vision of safer streets for people using all modes of transportation. We're sad that Commissioner Klein will be leaving Chicago at the end of the month, and wish him the very best.

Did we miss any other improvements? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @BikeWalkLP

12 comments:

  1. It’s nice to see that Wells now has been upgraded from the river all the way North to Lincoln/Clark. It’s too bad that Lincoln is still such a bad road to ride on (specially from Wells to Webster). It is mostly too narrow, and the pavement is in comically bad shape.
    And even with the improvements in the works for Clark, once you go north of Armitage, Clark does get very narrow.

    I think I will still use Sedgwick, especially when riding northbound, to avoid that part of Lincoln.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, Lincoln remains in poor condition, both in terms of narrowness and the potholes. We've been bringing up the issue to IDOT people whenever we have a chance (in person at the open houses, in written suggestions, on any survey they put out) and are hoping for some responsive action. Thank you for your comments. -- MS

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    2. And if any of you are reading this before midnight, Monday November 11, you can provide your own comments to IDOT via this survey linked below, if you haven't already, in which they seek input on their upcoming statewide bike lane. There's always a way to make comments about how we need better upkeep of IDOT streets, protected bike lanes for bicyclists, etc. Remember,IDOT streets in Lincoln Park are Lincoln Avenue, North Avenue, LaSalle Drive, Fullerton west of Halsted, and Clybourn Street. Other streets nearby include most of Elston, Addison, Irving Park Road, Michigan Avenue, Ohio and Ontario streets in River North.
      http://illinoisbikeplan.org/illinois-bike-transportation-plan/provide-your-input/

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  2. Is there any way to get some information on what is going on at Fullerton/Greenview. There was a notice on Lincoln Park Patch (http://lincolnpark.patch.com/groups/around-town/p/construction-season-marching-through-november-in-lincoln-park) that they were eliminating the stop sign and adding stop lights. The link on their post doesn't lead to any other insight or information on the activity from the city as they allude to. Fullerton is often backed up so this should be a good thing, but I'm curious if this is a start of something bigger for that stretch of the street. I recall last year they were talking about doing a revamping of the streetscape from Racine to Ashland. Do you think this has anything to do with it? The sidewalks over there are narrow and in an atrocious condition.

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    Replies
    1. I would think it must be part of the streetscape project that is planned from Racine to Ashland, although I haven't heard or read much about it lately. Alderman Waguespack and his staff are very diligent about reporting infrastructure news in their weekly e-mail newsletters, so keep your eye open for that. For those who don't know about the project, the best overview is this article in Lincoln Park Patch from November 2012, as well as the CDOT slide show that is embedded within the article:

      http://lincolnpark.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/fullerton-facelift-will-cater-to-pedestrians-officials-say

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    2. I would be THRILLED with a stoplight at Fullerton/Greenview instead of the four-way stop signs. This is a very personal location for me, as last December I was struck while riding my bike by a driver who blew his stop sign (and never stopped). I never use that route anymore, but would feel safe again with a stop light to better control road users.

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    3. Dottie, I remember that, and I think of you when I go through this intersection! Greenview is such a nice quiet alternate route to Ashland, and maybe with time, and if there are improvements there, you'll be able to make use of it again. Thanks for reading and commenting! -- Michelle

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  3. the Lincoln park bike path and jogging and walking path is anxiety provoking because the folks on foot should be walking/jogging on the other side facing wheeled traffic. all it would take is a bunch of signs.
    - Jeff wegerson, Edgewater

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    Replies
    1. Hi Jeff, thanks for your comment. Do you mean the Lakefront Trail alongside Lincoln Park? It is indeed very busy and crowded. I remember learning when I was a kid in the 1970s that people who are walking or biking should face traffic; however, the current instructions are that we face away, and walk/bike on the same side. Of course, slower traffic should stay as far right as possible, and better signage in general is definitely needed. -- MS

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