Eyes on the Street: New Pedestrian Islands on Lawrence Avenue

Lawrence Avenue streetscape and road diet construction
The sharrows between Western and Ashland will be replaced with painted bike lanes.

Three years after the Chicago Department of Transportation presented renderings and details about a proposal to narrow Lawrence Avenue between Clark Street and Western Avenue in Lincoln Square, construction began in June despite late opposition from business owners.

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CDOT's 2010 rendering of the road diet, showing a bike lane, expanded sidewalk, and crossing island.

The project will put Lawrence on a road diet from four travel lanes to two, with a center turn lane at some intersections and pedestrian crossing islands at others. Some sidewalks will be widened, and painted bike lanes will be installed in both directions.

Lawrence Avenue Streetscape Pedestrian Island
Pedestrian island (and future crosswalk location) at Bell Avenue. Photo: Josh Kalov

Lawrence Avenue, before the road diet
Current bicycling conditions on Lawrence, just east of Western, are not comfortable for any crowd.
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The existing bike lanes west of the project area need restriping.
  • Was it 4 lanes? In the eastern portion I always thought it was more like 1.5 lanes in each direction. Technically 2 lanes, but parked cars made it narrower.

    I really avoid that street, walking on quieter Leland instead, so I could be wrong.

  • Christopher Murphy

    Now hopefully they can extended it to Harlem. Portage Park is a bike lane desert.

  • Anonymous

    I am so excited about this. My partner and I like to take walks from our apartment south of Lawrence to Winnemac Park and having to go out of our way to cross safely at the light at Damen was frustrating. Now we can cross at any point of the road and it feels much more safe and hospitable.

    Also, I grew up a couple blocks north of Lawrence between Damen and Western and it’s always been a total dead zone business wise. If this has any sort of positive impact on business development in the area, Pawar will get my vote for president.

  • In the project section, between Western and Ashland, it was marked as 4 lanes.

  • Anonymous

    I’m moving out there soon, and having done some biking in the NW side more, I agree. I hope to really try and see if we can get more people working to fix that.

  • The bike lanes from Pulaski to Cicero on Lawrence are only theoretical at this point — they’re entirely worn off, and cars routinely use them as travel lanes.

  • MLKendricks

    Its nice to see the road diet. But biking down it, I’ve noticed that so far, its only a single lane going Eastbound between Western and Damen. Going Westbound its still the old “Sharrow” configuration and its a single lane technically but people still treat it as 2 lanes sometimes and its pretty tough for bikers.

    I wish the city would have immediately striped the road to be a obvious single lane in each direction. It’d make it much better for bikers immediately.

  • CL

    YES. People think that space is their special place to pass everyone on the right. It’s so annoying.

  • Megan

    Yes, they are terrible. I hope that the work east of Western will encourage the city to simultaneously repaint the lanes west of Western to make a little more cohesive whole that they can tout when the new part is complete. Of course, the bike lane paint will just continue to wear off again and again if no other changes are made to Lawrence Ave (particularly between Sacramento and Pulaski) where the street is less wide because cars will continue to ride over the paint frequently.

  • The Kostner intersection — right by the Alderman’s office — just got repaved (water main work) and they painted on nice new zebra-style ‘international’ crosswalks … and didn’t repaint the bike lanes. Even AT THE CROSSWALKS. The old faded worn-off paint gets eaten by a straight line of new black asphalt.

  • Anonymous

    Your vote for president should then go to Gene Shulter, Pawars predecessor. He first introduced the plans back in 2009. Pawar just took the ball and ran with it.

  • Anonymous

    Lawrence doesn’t go through to Harlem; Gunnison, from Nagle (6434 west) to Harlem is in suburban Harwood Heights. (Chicago City limit is about 150′ north of Gunnison.)

  • Anonymous

    Agreed, but this is just the first phase. I expect that the entire stretch will be repaved. Laying down permanent striping at this point is just throwing money away.

  • Jeremy Joslin

    This stretch is right in front of my building and I love that it’s happening, but walking down it last Saturday night with the family terrified me. Cars were still forcing their way through as if it was two lanes not one; we saw two different bikers nearly run over by drivers refusing to merge into one lane. I hope widening the sidewalks and repainting the bike lanes are enough to get everyone to realize it’s one lane in each direction now but I have my doubts.

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