Excessive Road Width Encourages Speeding into School Zones

The southbound lane of traffic is currently 40' wide.

The southbound lane of traffic is currently 40′ wide. The target lane width for a main street is 10′.

Much has been said about Chicago’s desire to raise revenue and increase safety on City roads by installing speed cameras at parks and schools around Chicago. Though this maybe a short term fix, I argue here that poor roadway design encourages speeding and gives drivers the opportunity to take risks to pursue the fastest route.

The street in question here is Kedzie, beginning north of the intersection at Belmont.  I live about a block away from here and from Logandale Middle School.  The location is a short walk or bike ride to Jewel, Revolution Brewery, the Belmont Blue Line station, and the Belmont bus.  That walk or bike ride, however, can be unsafe, unhealthy, and even dangerous.  The video below shows vehicles traveling south on Kedzie where drivers are given the opportunity to pass each other on the right in an effort to beat the traffic light at Kedzie and Wellington; the northwest corner of Logandale Middle School. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUdgmBgGsPw

The roadway should be designed so drivers naturally arrive at a speed that is safe for them and pedestrians. Narrowing lane widths as part of what CDOT describes as a road diet will encourage this behavior.  BWLS has a series of recommendations that would increase pedestrian, bicyclist, and driver safety:

  • Striping a bike lane on southbound Kedzie, 50′ north of Belmont and connecting it to the existing bike lane south of Barry.
  • Constructing a planted median on Kedzie south of the Expressway to reduce the road width, slow traffic, and make it easier to cross the street at Barry.
  • Pigeon proofing the viaducts above the sidewalk and regularly cleaning the sidewalks.  No one should have to walk here in its current condition.
  • Fixing the potholes! It’s dangerous for bicyclists and annoying for drivers.
Sidewalk is covered in pigeon excrement and is not ADA compliant.

Sidewalk is covered in pigeon excrement and is not ADA compliant.

 

Potential Lane Striping north of Belmont on Kedzie

 

Below is a concept for a new median on Kedzie, which would calm traffic and make it easier to cross Kedzie at Barry by creating a protected refuge in the middle of the street.

Potential Planted Median and Bike Lane along Kedzie; Increases safety and beautifies this gateway to Logan Square.

Recently, concrete forms have been added underneath the bridge along Belmont which eliminate the space where the homeless people camped.  These ‘anti-homless’ barriers prevent people from sleeping there, but they also create a sidewalk which is not visible to the street.  Because it is now a secluded space, it may increase the risk of attacks along this sidewalk.  See this article in DNAinfo.

Alderman Mell has recently indicated that TIF funds will be used to create buffered bike lanes along this stretch of Kedzie which BWLS greatly supports.  We recommend making the street safer for pedestrians as well.

 

Kedzie between Belmont and Barry – Potential Improvements

 

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Accessing The 606/Bloomingdale Trail: Drake Ave

Drake Ave Rendering

Image courtesy of The Trust for Public Land

Construction continues at a rapid pace on The 606 and its Bloomingdale Trail. The trail is expected to open sometime this fall. In anticipation, we’re evaluating whether Logan Square residents will have a safe way of getting there by bicycle. Today, we take a quick look at the trail access point at Drake Ave (3550 West).

The trail will have one access point on the west side of Drake Ave. Where it crosses the trail, Drake is a one-way street pointing north. However, two blocks north of the trail, at Armitage Ave, it becomes a one-way street pointing in the opposite direction. So, whether cyclists are headed away from or toward the trail, Drake will force them to turn at Armitage or before.

Bloomingdale Drake Map- updated

The map above shows the area around the access point at Drake. The access points at Lawndale to the west and Kimball to the east are also visible. The routes in yellow are bike routes that have been proposed by the city in its Streets for Cycling 2020 Plan (pdf). Drake sits in an area between proposed bike routes — routes that will be better connected to the Bloomingdale Trail via other access points. This fact, in combination with the fact that Drake is a flip-flopping one-way street, means it likely won’t serve many cyclists.

If Drake were to become a dedicated bike route, one option would be to make it a contraflow neighborhood greenaway, similar to what is being planned for Wood St. in Wicker Park. A connection to Palmer St — which is an important proposed east/west bike route half a mile north of the trail — would be valuable. However, it may make more sense to focus on the bike routes to the west and east (Lawndale Ave, Spaulding Ave, and Sawyer Ave) that are part of the Streets for Cycling 2020 Plan.

Contact your alderman and tell him/her that you’re excited about The 606, and want to be able to access it safely. Ask him/her to ensure that Lawndale, Spaudling, Sawyer, and Palmer become dedicated bike routes in keeping with the Streets for Cycling 2020 Plan.

Here is a map of Logan Square wards, including the 1st Ward (Joe Moreno), 26th Ward (Roberto Maldonado), 30th Ward (Ariel Reboyras), 31st Ward (Ray Suarez), 32nd Ward (Scott Waguespack), 33rd Ward (Deb Mell), and 35th Ward (Rey Colón).