Today’s Headlines

  • Active Trans Proposes Pedestrianizing Parts of 20 Streets (Tribune)
  • Former Independent Alderman Oberman Elected Metra Board Chair (Tribune, Sun-Times)
  • Trucker Who Killed Tollway Worker Declared an “Imminent Hazard” by Feds (Tribune)
  • Divvy Ridership Is 80% Male, Company Plans to Do Outreach to Women (DNA)
  • Glen Ellyn Seeking Input on Bike Plan (Tribune)
  • Emanuel Teases Christie, Welcoming Him to “A City That’s on the Move” (DNA)
  • Keeping CTA Buses Clean Is a Sisyphean Task (Sun-Times)
  • Gallery: Snow-Encrusted Bicycles (Ding Ding)
  • Photos of Shirley Temple on the ‘L’ in 1938 (Gapers Block)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • duppie

    Pedstrianizing those streets is a big and bold concept. I like the out of the box thinking aspect of it. I can see some of those streets as bus/bike traffic only and being transformed as a result.

    The example of Andersonville is an interesting one. You could divert traffic to nearby Ashland, so there shouldn’t too much of a concern there. One item I am concerned about is parking. Not just the meter deal making it hard to work around, but also the fact that a lot of out-of-towners visit the neighborhood. (It has become a popular destination for dinner and weekend shopping). Most of them do come by car. If you lose too many parking spots, will you end up driving customers away? The small retailers that make up the majority of this ‘hood are already squeezed by quickly increasing rents. If you drive too many potential customers away, you might end up with businesses folding.

  • Matt F

    I’m pleasantly surprised that the Trib took such a neutral approach to the streets idea. Give it a couple days and the Kasshole will come out of his hiding place in the editorials…

    I have a dream they should shut down North/Milwaukee/Damen for a summer and turn it into a ped plaza. It would be wonderful for the neighborhood.

  • Anne A

    People from other Chicago ‘hoods that don’t have easy transit access to Andersonville may also come by car. It’s a tough balance between being ped/bike friendly and still having enough accommodation for car traffic to support businesses.

  • Anne A

    I was just talking to a friend who drives more than she bikes – someone who is a potential convert. She’s a fan of north Michigan Avenue and I’m not. She questioned the wisdom of the Michigan Avenue idea. I’d like to see wider sidewalks there (or just more walkable space/narrower planters), because the sidewalks are nearly always jammed.

    We agreed that Wabash would be better for bike traffic, because Michigan is too clogged with ped traffic. Even if Michigan was rideable, it would be difficult to lock up a bike among all the moving peds.

  • cjlane

    Diverting all of the traffic from Mich to State bt the river and Oak is a non-starter. Mich is 6 lanes, State is *barely* 2 and already very congested. Using both Wabash/Rush and State as opposite one-ways has some potential, except for the upper/lower issue south of Ohio.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    Regarding Andersonville:
    Many of the east/west streets are one way. Probably not possible to turn into two way streets and retain parking on both sides. (Also remember you have to be able to get fire/police/ambulance down those streets). Get rid of parking on Clark and then on one side of the side streets and you will cause great harm to small businesses. Also, people will start using the alleys for cut-throughs. How’s Alamo Shoes, one of the last independent shoe stores in the city supposed to survive?

    Regarding Michigan Avenue:
    What do you want to do? Turn Michigan Avenue into the world’s largest suburban cul de sac? These merchants who pay the highest retail sq footage in the city (and collect the sales taxes that fund mass transit) are not going to let it happen. Next thing you know you’ll be advocating people bringing their lawn chairs out and the BBQ.

    Maybe the Tribune didn’t have to say much against these project because they know they won’t go anywhere, anyway.

  • Matt F

    “Maybe the Tribune didn’t have to say much against these project because they know they won’t go anywhere, anyway.”

    That’s never stopped them from running their mouths in the past…

    case in point: LSD Redesign

    Regarding Michigan Avenue, here is some reading material on how other cities did a similar concept:
    http://transitized.com/2013/12/24/pedestrianize-michigan-avenue/

  • Thanks for linking to my post. I don’t really understand why people think big streets like Michigan would turn into a “cul de sac”… people aren’t driving on Michigan and parking on it to go into the stores. People are arriving downtown and parking elsewhere, or taking the train in, to go to Michigan Ave, and you could put in even more retail/cafes/restaurants in the middle of the street (like the Zeil in Frankfurt) and generate even more money.

  • This is an example of why we could actually build a central parking garage for that area. Put most of the street parking in there and maybe you can remove the meters, make more room for those restaurants that want patio space, and bicyclists. I don’t know what is in the contract for the meters about this, but I like parking garages if they can remove street spaces, and even more if you can use existing, underused parking garages.

  • CL

    I actually like this idea. Andersonville is so crammed with cars that when I drive there, I often end up parking a few blocks from my destination anyway. A garage would allow people to park quickly instead of circling and searching — which is difficult and annoying because that area is a maze of one-way streets, plus crowded with pedestrians.

  • duppie

    It appears that you have seen the detailed plans of how Clark would be pedestrianized? Berwyn/Balmoral become 2 way streets? Where did you get that?

    AFAIK, it was just an idea, with the goal to generate discussion about how this could improve our city in the long term.

    Wholesale dismissal before you know any of the details is a rather typical response of you.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    My point exactly. These grandiose plans are put forth with very little detail. If you pedestrianize Clark in Andersonville, I would have to assume you will close the east/west streets at the intersections on Clark or what would be the purpose of doing this? How are people who live there (and shop there) supposed to access the streets? Would you make them dead ends? These streets are narrow and are a warren of one-ways.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    If you’ve put your restaurant on Michigan Avenue or surrounding areas on the side streets and are paying some of the highest rents in the city, why would you as a businessperson want cafes and restaurants in the middle of Michigan Avenue? And where are people supposed to go to the restrooms? I can’t see having port-a-potties ala Taste of Chicago endearing people for the long term.

  • Jared Kachelmeyer

    They seem to manage providing public bathrooms in Europe, though sometimes you have to pay.

  • You are bothering yourself with minute details like restrooms while the point of them releasing these locations is just to put the idea out there and hope to work with real stakeholders to see results.

    But just so you know, they have public restrooms in Paris that are free, self-cleaning. They have some in London too that are something like 50p a visit.

  • duppie

    Why would they need to be dead end? You can just continue to run Berwyn one-way west, crossing Clark. Make the pavement on Clark different, so that traffic going west on Berwyn sees that they are intruding on someone. A raised roadway bed on Clark or other visual signs may help as well.

    You could allow deliveries on Clark on the morning hours before pedestrian traffic picks up. Let’s say from 5-11. So delivery truck don’t have to block the alleys anymore than they do today. Control it with automatic barriers. These are a common sight in Europe, so the technology is there.

    Maybe build a parking garage to offset the loss of parking spaces as Shaun suggests (That parking garage should be entered/exited on Ashland). I know an incredibly ugly building that would make a good candidate for a multi-story parking garage (the US Bank building)

    Anyway lots of options, lots of design possibilities. Lots of further discussion with involved parties, and studying is needed.
    Like Shaun says, you get hung up in the details, while this plan was developed to generate discussion.

  • Lizzyisi

    I don’t recall ever seeing this in Chicago, but I have lived in and traveled to places where parking garages have metered spaces. I would think there would be a way to accommodate the parking meter debacle/deal with a parking garage in place of street parking.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    Only problem is, who’s going to pay for it? Are you going to use taxpayer dollars to buy the land and build a garage that will basically send most of the money to the owners of the Chicago parking meters? Are you going to have to charge more than the current and future parking street parking rates, plus a management fee to cover insurance and other operating costs? To get a private developer to do this are you going to triple the rates?

    I certainly would suggest that groups like Active Trans go out and survey business owners and neighbors to find out what they have to say about a plan like this.

    These are all wonderful plans. However, I don’t see any consideration for the downsides.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    Automatic barriers. Sounds like the old crossings between east and west Germany.

  • cjlane

    “This is an example of why we could actually build a central parking garage for that area.”

    Uh-oh. A positive note for ‘too much parking’? But seriously, I think it’s a good idea, in most ways–just need to find the right dirt to build it on, and make the alternatives non-viable.

    As to the meter deal, it includes (most? all?) the city owned, off-street lots around the city–the examples I am most familiar with are the lot across from the Old Town School in Lincoln Square, the lot on Melrose, just west of Lincoln, the lot on Ashland, just south of Belmont, and the lot on Kedzie, across from Longman & Eagle.

  • cjlane

    Yep, definitely workable. Issue is making the available, non-garage, parking as expensive–including the ‘free’ spots in the nearby neighborhoods. Basically, Wrigley game day parking is an example–there are a lot of people who park wherever is free, instead of paying, and that exacerbates conflict bt the merchants and the nearby (but not immediately adjacent) neighbors who consider the given street spots “theirs”.

  • cjlane

    ” How’s Alamo Shoes, one of the last independent shoe stores in the city supposed to survive?”

    Alamo Shoes has an off-street lot, already. It has 33 spots. Which is almost as many spot as are on Clark within a block of Alamo.

    Were I designing it, I’d fully block off from Foster to Berwyn (cds on Farragut), Have Clark open to cars, but with no on-street parking (maybe a couple of loading zone bays) bt Berwyn and Balmoral, and fully block off from Balmoral to Catalpa (cds on Rascher.

    The block with Jewel is a gigundo waste of space, and with buy-in from the involved folks, would be good spot for a pay parking garage.

  • Matt F

    If I had a restaurant on car-less Michigan Avenue I would step in line to be the first with an on-street seating area. think of how great it is to have a meal outside with the people-watching on a nice spring afternoon.

    Didn’t they do something similar on/near Broadway in NYC? I passed by it last time I was in NYC, a block was closed to traffic and painted green and it looked like a great spot to enjoy a coffee.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    Other than Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts, retail space is so expensive that there are virtually no ground floor restaurants on Michigan Avenue. They’re on higher floors or down the side streets.

    Do you think the high end retailers (hey they’re aren’t the junky tourist establishments in Times Square) want the equivalent of street food sold on their doorsteps?

    Do you think Neiman Marcus wants a public toilet on its block?