Today’s Headlines

  • Less Than 3 Week Before School Starts, Safe Passages Routes Haven’t Been Announced (Tribune)
  • Driver at LSD Meeting: “Our needs are not met at all.” Uh, Right. (Tribune)
  • After Today, All CTA Train cars Will Be Bike-Accessible (Tribune)
  • Chicago Heights Holds Its First Open Streets Event (Active Trans)
  • Several Edgewater Streets Are Being Torn Up for Repaving (DNA)
  • What If You Could Get From Evanston to Blue Island on a Single Train Ride (Transitized)
  • Chicago’s Got the Red Divvy, Why Not a Have Gold Capitol Bikeshare Cycle? (GGW)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • Katja

    I know it’s not local or national, but I found this article on the BBC to be really interesting. It’s about why cycling is so common in Holland:

  • LOL at the driver who feels they’re not being considered in the design! They ARE the design!!!

    I was commenting with some of my neighbors on the fact that the Belmont exit is always so congested. We all wondered why so many people are exiting at Belmont. If you live in Lakeview/Lincoln Park, why are you even driving there?! I understand there are some people who *have* to drive for one reason or another, but it seems like there are *too* many people making that decision. You’re literally minutes from downtown on any train line and you’re driving. That’s why the road should be priced.

  • Fred

    You are incorrectly assuming that everyone living in LP and Lakeview works downtown. Many of the recent college grads living the Wrigleyville dream work in the suburbs. There are tons of people who “reverse commute” from those neighborhoods.

  • If that is the case, they’re not getting to suburbs on Lake Shore drive. The traffic is going northbound from downtown at PM rush.

    If they’re going to the suburbs, why aren’t they taking 94?

  • CL

    94 will take you to Morton Grove, but I imagine it’s far more common to work in Evanston because of the university — and it’s faster to take Lake Shore and then Ridge into Evanston. 94 is too far west to be convenient.

    Some of the people you’re seeing might be coming from south of the loop — they’re not necessarily commuting from the loop to Belmont. But if they are, I agree that it’s ridiculous — and it would be weird because it has to be more of a hassle than taking the red line. If they do get on LSD downtown, maybe they work west of the loop.

  • Fred

    Because if you work in the western ‘burbs and live near the lake on the North Side you take the Ike to Lower Wacker to LSD to get home. The Kennedy is 3.5mi of surface street Belmont from LSD.

  • There’s a lot of assumptions going on here about where those residents are working and I think looking at actual data would be a lot more helpful here. I doubt so many people from those neighborhoods are really commuting out to the suburbs that it actually causes the backups at Belmont.

    I think it’s more that it’s free to drive downtown, on the Ike, on the Kennedy, on the Lake Shore, and this is inducing a lot of trips that otherwise wouldn’t be taken if drivers were actually paying what it costs to drive there.

  • Anonymous

    Cubs games maybe? There are 60-something games, plus a handful of concerts, right? That equates to traffic jams once every five days.

    I could actually support extending the off-ramp at Belmont, and or doubling the exit over the entire length of said exit. Provided that there is enough space of course for all the other things I want: improved pedestrian acces to the lake, improvements to the lakefront path, bus only exit lanes in the median, etc. All those requirements together might make it a tight squeeze.

  • Honestly though if you’re going to make the exit wider you’re going to have to make Belmont wider, and that’s not going to happen, it’s only one lane in each direction now. I guess some people are going further north/south, but why wouldn’t they just get off at another exit in that case?

    The few times I’ve exited the drive at Belmont I’ve been stuck in traffic. Not even at rush hours. That experience every day would be enough of a disincentive for me.

  • Anonymous

    This post must be ironic, no?
    You complain about a lot of assumptions being made, and you promptly resort to filling the rest of your post with assumptions ;)

  • Aha, you got me. Yes, I’ve got my assumptions about it. I just know the exit traffic there is very high compared to the surrounding exits – saw that on a board at the public open house – and am curious. I don’t feel like there are so many people there going out to the burbs every day and night. Just a hunch.

  • CL

    Wouldn’t parking downtown cost a crazy amount, though? Parking all day in the loop has to be far more expensive than the L.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think it’s Cubs games. Until I switched to a bike commute 3-4 years ago, my bus commute route exited at Belmont from the Drive and the traffic back-up is the same at the exit regardless of whether there is a game. Starting at midday, any day, it gets bad.

    Basically, there are just too many cars using Belmont as a major East-West route and the two short blocks from the Northbound offramp until you’re west of Sheridan means everything stacks. It’s a horrible, nasty intersection. When you consider that the 151, 146, 135, 156, 77, 134 and 143 all stop within 1/4ish mile of that offramp (and the 36, 8, and 22 are within 1/2ish mile of that offramp), there’s really no excuse for that much auto traffic through the intersection, unless it’s mostly through traffic or people are just too reluctant to use those buses.

    I wish the traffic were enough of a disencentive that people stopped using Belmont as a through route because there have been days I have walked from Broadway to the red line at Sheffield (or from Broadway to the lakefront) faster than cars trying to drive along Belmont. The congestion is epic some days and only marginally better on most days. Widening Belmont or attempting to make that offramp accommodate even more traffic sounds horrifying to me.

    Belmont between the Drive and the L stop at Sheffield is so unpleasant already. Drivers don’t yield to pedestrians with the right of way–even with the leading interval at Belmont & Broadway–and they don’t stop at all for people in the marked–but not signaled–crosswalks at Cambridge and Orchard. Both the pedestrians and the drivers pay little attention to who has the signal at Sheridan, where there are both signaled right and left turns, especially pedestrians trying to catch or disembarking from the buses.

    Given how much transit serves this neighborhood, I wonder if it isn’t mostly through traffic causing the problems? Widening the offramp at Belmont won’t alleviate that–it will exacerbate it by attracting more through traffic to the route.

  • Anonymous

    I live in Andersonville. On the rare occasion that I drive and plan to take either the Ike, the I-55 or the Dan Ryan, I will definitely take LSD thru or past downtown.
    Only if I take the Kennedy or the Stevens out of town will I take Peterson west.
    So I can agree with the assumptions other posters make.

  • Adam Herstein

    Why do people keep suggesting burying the highway? That sure worked for Boston…

  • Adam Herstein

    Belmont likely gets congested because of the two traffic lights immediately following the exit and the fact that it is a two-lane road. Perhaps this exit should be closed to cars and only allow buses to enter/exit the highway.

  • Cameron Puetz

    Gridlock inducing light timing is a big problem there. Often times only a few cars pass through each light cycle because of gridlock.

  • Cameron Puetz

    The Belmont exit serves a large dense area and traffic flows poorly away from the exit so the ramp backs up. North of Irving Park the exits are closer together so fewer people use each one. South of Belmont there are no intersections on the cross street close enough to the ramp to produce gridlock through the ramp intersection and back up the ramp.

  • BlueFairlane

    Anybody living in Wrigleyville and working from Oak Park on around into Indiana would have reason to drive north from downtown during the PM rush. You can come in on the Eisenhower, Stevenson, Ryan, or south end of LSD and connect through the intersection with 55 by McCormick. It makes a lot more sense than taking the Kennedy.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe it’s congested simply because a lot of working, active people live there? Is that too simple of an answer?

    Your gut feel is meaningless here, it’s just bias against cars. You say it “seems” like there are too many people driving who dont “need” to? Are you standing on the street interviewing every driver or something? How exactly have you divined that too many people are driving who dont meet YOUR definition of need, exactly?

  • That’s it, it is a dense neighborhood with lots of people AND transportation options. No, I’m not interviewing anyone, and neither are you, so nobody really knows how many people are making “essential” trips or not.

  • Anonymous

    I agree, I have no idea what people are doing in their cars as I cruise by on my bike. Frankly I dont really care – if they want to sit in mind-numbing traffic that’s their business. If it gets bad enough, folks on the margin will increasingly throw in the towel and find another mode of transportation.

    What we should stop doing though is trying to define for other people what you think constitutes a need or not. Let people make up their own minds without vilifying them.

  • I don’t have a definition for this, it is subjective, but it is a fact that a significant amount of car traffic is not necessary simply because there are alternatives and trips by car are sometimes only made because there are certain incentives in place to enable it. That is the issue, and it needs to be looked at comprehensively. I’m not just calling people out for making unnecessary trips.

    It stops being “their business” when “their” actions impact everyone else, like sitting in idling cars does with pollution (and accidents, because a lot of people said they’ve seen accidents when cars back up at that exit and spill into the drive).

  • Anonymous

    NO ONE needs to drive anywhere ever in a city such as Chicago. One could get pretty much anywhere via a combination of bus/train/bike/walking if the truly wanted to. What you define as need is not the same as what someone else does, and you even admit this. It’s not about need, it’s about preference.

    What if I dont think someone “needed” to live in an 8,000 square foot house, because it “wastes” space and energy? Does my belief that it’s wasting resources and adversely affecting others give me the moral authority to kick them out and tear down their house?? No. So stop telling me that car exhaust somehow gives you the moral authority to dictate to others when and how they can drive.

  • Think you’re missing the point about individual actions and “moral authority”, but with internet comments the point rarely gets across after this many tries, so I’ll give up.

  • Anonymous

    No I get what you’re saying (your argument is quite common), I just disagree. I dont believe spillovers such as car exhaust give you or anyone else the moral authority to start defining what constitutes “need” for someone you know nothing about.

  • Anonymous

    many recent college grads, or people who move to the city for the first time, live in lakeview/wrigleyville. probably because that’s the only place they’ve ever visited in the city because the people they knew who moved before them did the same thing.
    for 7 years i did a reverse commute to the western suburbs (off of i-88) from either the depaul or belmont/clark area. it certainly depends on how close you are to the lake, but LSD to grant park/congress to the Ike is the easiest way out in the mornings. there is no easy way home, but lower wacker to lsd to belmont is as good as anything else.
    the reverse commute is heavier than anyone who’s never done it thinks it is, although still nowhere near the # of people heading into the loop. i certainly can’t speak for the people who live off of belmont & drive downtown, but a large number of people using that exit are likely coming from a starting point that isn’t the loop.