Eyes on the Street: CDOT Restores Removed Crosswalk to Millennium Park

New crosswalk markings on the north side of Washington Street at Michigan Avenue. Photo: Michelle Stenzel

During the Daley administration, many marked crosswalks at busy downtown intersections disappeared in an attempt to speed up auto traffic. These missing crosswalks confused pedestrians, led to overcrowding at remaining crossings, and often doubled the time it took to get from one corner to the other. Previous transportation commissioner Gabe Klein restored the most high-profile of these missing crosswalks, the Queen’s Landing crosswalk over Lake Shore Drive between Buckingham Fountain and Lake Michigan.

CDOT has nearly finished restoration of another removed crosswalk, across Michigan Avenue at the north side of Washington Street. Work began in October of last year, while Klein was still in office, with the creation of curb ramps on either side of Michigan, then paused during the winter before resuming this month with a new zebra-striped crosswalk.

Michelle Stenzel sent these photos, showing that people are already using the crosswalk even though the signals haven’t been turned on. The walkway is rather narrow, given the large summertime crowds who cross here to reach Millennium Park and northbound Michigan Avenue buses.

We anxiously await whether CDOT will decide to restore the removed crosswalk on the south side of Randolph Street, one block north of here.

People walk across Michigan Avenue, even though the pedestrian signal hasn’t been turned on. Photo: Michelle Stenzel
  • What is the standard on how wide the “ladders” on a crosswalk has to be? Seems it should be proportional to street width, so as to increase driver’s perception of it.

  • Pat

    Yah, looks like there is plenty of space between the stop line and the crosswalk (and even on the other side) to at least widen it by a foot or so.

  • “We anxiously await whether CDOT will decide to restore the removed crosswalk on the south side of Randolph Street, one block north of here.”

    Probably not. The ramps at that intersection were also rebuilt last fall and no provisions were made to restore that crosswalk.

  • Here’s what the city’s Complete Street Design Guidelines say:

    “In general the width of a crosswalk should be equal to or greater than the width of the sidewalk. This will accommodate the two platoons of pedestrians that meet in the crosswalk from opposite sides of the
    intersection. Pedestrian ramps should be equal to the size of the crosswalk so that all may benefit from a flush transition.”

  • What Kevin said. It appears that this new crosswalk is narrower than the one on the south side of Washington Street.

  • Pete

    I always assumed these crosswalks were removed because they were blatantly unsafe. Now that they are being put back, will we be surprised when there are pedestrian accidents?

    Chicago has always been bad about crosswalks that are poorly marked and/or placed in dangerous locations.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    What the complete streets guidelines leave out is this city no longer has a policy of restriping crosswalks even in heavy pedestrian areas. Lincoln/Belmont/Ashland (School and Ashland)? Nearby schools. Broadway and Winona (Goudy school). Broadway and Berwyn (Nearby EL). Just to name a few examples. Sure you can paint bike lanes with Federal money the first time around, but afterwards one must wonder if the CDOT money for paint is not fairly allocated to the pedestrian experience.

  • Jack

    Regardless of the design of the ramps @ Randolph & Michigan, the crosswalk needs to be restored at the south. It’s not just convenience, it’s safety as well. It is one of the most pedestrian/tourist heavy intersections in the entire city and there will always be pedestrians trying to cross.

  • Anne A

    Extra time to cross and pushing all the pedestrians to the north side of the intersection to cross causes overcrowding for significant periods of time and motivates a lot of folks to cross against the light and wait in the middle of the street. Many of them will cross both side of Michigan Ave. against the light whenever there’s a little break in traffic. How about that as a cause of crashes and near misses?

    Jack’s right. Between the huge office and condo buildings on either side of Michigan and all the traffic to/from Millennium Park, it IS one of the most ped/tourist heavy intersections in the city. Also, the pedway is *not* fully ADA accessible in this section and it does not give access to Millennium Park, so there will be significant ped demand at the intersection for the foreseeable future. Peds SHOULD be better accommodated at a location like this.

  • The city has no habitual paint budget for streets at all (regardless of what the paint is outlining). IMHO this is a shock and a scandal; there should be a citywide budget line-item in every year’s budget for ‘replacing pavement markings worn to illegibility,’ but instead it’s left to aldermanic menu funds and being redone when the street is cut into for some reason.

  • An intersection with heavy pedestrian use should never have a crosswalk taken away “because it’s unsafe.” The intersection needs instead to be reengineered and car behavior changed until the intersection is safe again.

    Pedestrian use is legitimate and deserves defending. Even at rush hour, I’d make you a $50 bet that more people cross that intersection on foot (all directions, all sides) than in cars (all four directions, turning or straight).

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    Leave it to menu money and you get a few done in every ward every year.

    My statement that the so called “complete streets” plan has no plan for pedestrians. Pretty soon many of the bike lanes will need restriping too, and no federal funds for that. So who gets to duke out, the pedestrians vs the bikers. While the bikers have a strong ear to the CDOT folks and their own mayors advisory council what do pedestrians have?

  • No, they were removed to give turning cars more time, and to direct more cars into the Millennium Park garage. That was on the assumption that pedestrians have all the time in the world (to cross three streets instead of one, for instance, at Randolph/Michigan) whereas car drivers must be able to turn immediately.

    At least now these “accidents” will be treated like the careless crashes they really are.

  • The so called ‘complete streets’ plan has a lot of improvements for pedestrians in almost every project it proposes.

    All of that is a separate issue from the horrific fact that CDOT has no ongoing budget item for restriping as-needed (on ANY of the street markings, for cars, bikes, pedestrians, or anyone else), which leads to a lot of ongoing unsafe situations across the city. That desperately needs changing, though I doubt we’ll be able to convince the aldermen to vote for it.

  • Pedestrians have the Chicago Pedestrian Plan. http://chicagocompletestreets.org/pedestrianplan/

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