Eyes on the Street: Deteriorating Safety Infrastructure in Humboldt Park

Division Street faded pavement markings
The bike lane markings on eastbound Division are deteriorating rapidly, while the westbound markings, which were installed earlier, are not.

Pavement markings installed in 2012 in the Humboldt Park neighborhood to designate bike lanes and “Children’s Safety Zones” are quickly disappearing, less than six months after installation.

The buffered bike lane on Division Street was installed in two phases. The first phase striped four westbound blocks and two eastbound blocks in May. Those are holding up well. But the remaining two eastbound blocks, installed several months later between California Avenue and Rockwell Avenue, are fading at an alarmingly fast rate. Bicycle symbols have nearly disappeared, as well as substantial segments of the buffer. The second bike lane segment replaced an earlier, “fake” bike lane installed in 2011 as part of a research project examining the effects of different bike lane widths.

Additionally, two “SAFETY ZONE” stencils on California Avenue are rapidly disappearing (at North Avenue and Division Street). They are part of the speed camera program that will go into effect later this year. Nearby stencils on Sacramento Boulevard and on the park’s circular Luis Munoz Marin Drive are in excellent condition. The Chicago Department of Transportation was unaware of the marking problems with the bike lane and the stencils when we contacted them. One possible explanation is that they were put down on a day that was too cold for the markings to adhere properly.

Safety zone around Humboldt Park
SAFETY ZONE stencil on California Avenue at North Avenue in October 2012 in good condition.
Faded SAFETY ZONE marking on California Avenue just south of North Avenue
The same SAFETY ZONE stencil, in its deteriorated condition, last week.

Lastly, one of CDOT’s new speed indicator signs, which is supposed to show drivers at Kedzie and Division how fast they’re going, is already broken. CDOT said it’s aware of this issue and is working with the vendor on the new signs. Meanwhile, the department also has a dozen speed indicator signs installed several years ago that have stopped working and are sitting on the sidelines. CDOT says it is still working out a plan for them.

Updated 19:00: The speed indicator sign is working as of Friday, according to CDOT. It flashes the speed when people exceed the speed limit.

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