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

 


Logan Square Blue Line Placemaking Audit

BWLS, Community Members, and MPC

On May 28 Bike Walk Logan Square and the Metropolitan Planning Council conducted a Placemaking Audit at the Logan Square Blue Line Station.  What’s a placemaking audit? It’s a survey of the existing conditions of a place.  The survey is comprised of a series of questions about:

The People

The People

Are there people around?

Are they in groups?

What are they doing?

Are they smiling, making eye contact, do they know each other?

How old are they?

Is there evidence of volunteerism?

The Place

A-20130528_170953

Is it clear what to do there?

Is it easy to get to?

Is it accessible to those with disabilities?

Is there seating?

Is it clean, does it feel safe?

Weather protection?

Ideas for Improvement

What’s good about the place now?

What would you add or change in the short, mid, and long term?

And the winner is . . .

So the members of BikeWalk Logan Square, MPC, and the volunteers in attendance discussed these questions, problems they saw, and potential lying there the whole time.

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Short term ideas to make the space:

Improve the planting

Allow food trucks to use the 2nd bus lane

Invite people to bring their own chairs for meals, knitting, or a drum circle

Try pop up retail

Chalk drawings / Wayfinding

Mid Term:

Improve wayfinding (which way is north, which street is Milwaukee, and which is Kedzie)

Program a performance series, farmers’ market, craft fair, business incubator

Improve pedestrian experience and safety through crosswalk striping, signage and signal timing

Install a Chamber of Commerce merchant map, include contact information for those organizing the space so future ideas may be coordinated including art, sidewalk chaulking, planting

Increase bike rack capacity, install bike lockers, add Divvy

Partner with Chase to shovel snow from alley

Long Term: 

Increase green space through better design. This could include utilizing the bus lane for seating, installing a water feature, using planting to muffle road noise

Reduce speed limit on Milwaukee and Kedzie

Alter the curb radius to slow cars turning from Milwaukee to Kedzie

The group was able to gather some great ideas and is looking for your help. What do you want the Blue Line Station to be? Let us know below!

Thanks to the Metropolitan Planning Council for leading the audit and providing pictures from the event.