Eyes on the Street: Half-Finished “Lincoln Hub” Is Already Improving Safety

The partially completed Lincoln Hub, as seen from St. Alphonsus Church. Photo: John Greenfield

Last week, construction started on the “Lincoln Hub,” a traffic calming and placemaking project at Lincoln/Wellington/Southport, and the intersection has already been transformed for the better. The makeover is part of a larger $175K streetscape project that Special Service Area #27 and the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce are doing on Lincoln from Diversey to Belmont, slated for completion around May 22.

the lincoln crossing
Lincoln Hub, inspired by Oriental rug designs. St. Alphonsus is on left side.

The Lincoln Hub will feature Chicago’s first painted curb extensions, with planters and flexible posts to keep cars out of the pedestrian space and shorten crossing distances. There will also be small seating plazas at the northwest and southeast corners of the six-way intersection. Patterns of blue and green dots will be painted on the sidewalks in a pattern reminiscent of an Oriental rug, which will help visually unify the intersection.

Looking southeast on Lincoln. Photo: John Greenfield

The plastic posts have already been installed, and a number of round, concrete seating units have already been delivered, although most of them have not been unwrapped yet. These changes have already affected how people use the intersection. When I visited during the evening rush yesterday, car traffic was moving slowly, but steadily, and the neckdowns didn’t seem to be creating congestion issues.

View from the northwest corner of the intersection. Photo: John Greenfield

The elimination of three slip lanes was slowing down turning drivers, creating a safer situation for pedestrians. People on foot, including many seniors and families with young children I observed, seemed to appreciate shorter crossing distances, although I didn’t see many people lingering on the car-free asphalt surfaces. This will change after the curb extensions are painted and the planters and seating are in place. It will be exciting to see how residents take advantage of their new, people-friendly space once it’s completed.

One of the new seating elements at the northwest corner. Photo: John Greenfield

 View more photos of the Lincoln Hub here. 

  • nbioaenboinbio

    Its sad that they are putting up those plastic poles instead of actually extending the curb. This is a cheap, and cheap looking, alternative from the right way to do it.

  • DrMedicine

    What will this look like in a year? None of it looks durable enough to last through a winter.

  • If they honestly can’t get the money for real construction, this is a way to pilot urbanist redesigns. If it lasts it can be made permanent.

  • CDOT will be doing a full streetscape in a few years. Perhaps that will include concrete curb extensions. In the meantime, this is a quick, affordable way to improve pedestrian safety.

  • BillD

    From my observations over the past 2 weeks this project may improve the safety of pedestrians at the intersection but not likely for car drivers or bike riders. This new configuration takes out the ability for drivers and bikers to safely get around left turners. This is the only intersection on Lincoln between Diversey and Belmont where there is not adequate space to get around left turners. Bikers better be aware of impatient drivers who get stuck and try to slide by on the right. I’ve already seen bikers ride in the blocked off areas to keep away from the cars, not sure if that will be possible when all the furniture is added. Also, this configuration encourages drivers to divert to Lakewood or Greenview, both of which are smaller and more residential than Southport. The slip lanes could have been removed without creating these other issues.

  • Jeff H

    One plus I’ve seen for bikers is that now they can safely wait out further in the intersection at red lights, giving them a more than adequate head start on the cars which have to wait further back. Hopefully most will get through the intersection before any left turners are blocking the way.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    From the drawings previously presented, I thought there would be actual curb extensions instead of plastic poles. Yikes, this is going to be a funky intersection.

  • Any news on how the “corking all traffic behind waiting left-turners” problem is developing?

  • That didn’t seem to be much of an issue during the half hour I was there during the evening rush.

  • Douglas Smith

    If it doesn’t work, at least it won’t have cost too much. But kill the dots.

  • what_eva

    I often drive through this intersection on Southport going southbound. There are a lot of drivers (sometimes including me) who turn left onto Lincoln. I’ve only been through there once and my estimate is that two left turners would back it up southbound (ie you can get past one, but two backs you up into the bollards).

    Today (Saturday), I was going southbound and the traffic was backed up past Nelson almost to Barry. I went down Barry to Greenview instead. That may be the unintended consequence of this, people will divert around this intersection and make others (Greenview or Lakewood) busier.

  • what_eva

    That’s been suggested as a possible future thing. The SSA doesn’t have the money for that.

  • jaguar717

    “exciting” to see how people “use the intersection”? It’s an intersection. I walk through it all the time.

    Only difference now is we’ve spent 6 figures to remove the right turn merges and permanently clog traffic so a handful of bikes can have half the road.

  • People use intersections differently. Some cars use them as speedways, which walkers and bicyclists find to be a problem.

  • Ben

    I work in the area and have watched the bottleneck that is caused by cars turning left. As a result I saw 2-3 cars run a red light every time the light changes simply so they can get thru the intersection.

    I’m not sure how that helps pedestrian safety. But if the city installs a red light camera there we would solve our budget problems and could bail out Detroit in just a few weeks.

  • Jeff H

    I support putting a red light camera at this intersection.


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