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Eyes on the Street: The Lincoln Hub Continues to Take Shape

The view from St. Alphonsus Church. Photo: John Greenfield

Twister anyone? As you can see, workers recently filled in most of the dots decorating the Lincoln/Wellington/Southport intersection as part of the "Lincoln Hub" traffic calming  and placemaking project. This makes it even more obvious that the painted curb extensions are intended as space for pedestrians to walk and hang out. They also installed a few additional round seating units.

Looking south on Lincoln. Photo: John Greenfield

The street redesign 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. Due to an unusually rainy May, the hub is already a few days past its projected May 22 completion date. However, weather permitting, the remainder of the dots on the north and northwest sides of the six-way will be painted tomorrow, according to SSA manager Lee Crandell. The rest of the planters, seating units, and cafe tables should be in by the weekend, wrapping up the project.

Kids walk home from a nearby school. Photo: John Greenfield

Some local residents have complained that the neckdowns cause delays because drivers can no longer pass left-turning vehicles on the right. Of course, part of the point of the project is to slow down cars to safe speeds. Moreover, passing on the right may actually be illegal at this location -- I've put in an inquiry with the Chicago Department of Transportation to find out.

Meanwhile, people on foot seem to appreciate the shorter crossing distances and additional public space provided by the street remix. "It's better than before," said Dave Millet, who was walking his young daughter home from school with his wife Pam when I stopped by today. "It helps guide traffic a little more safely. I'd rather see space taken away from cars and given to people to do other things."

See more photos of the intersection taken today.

Updated May 27, 2015

Per Chicago Department of Transportation spokesman Mike Claffey, it is, in fact legal to pass a left-turning vehicle on the right on a two-lane street, if there is sufficient space to do so safely. Here's the relevant portion of the Chicago City Code:

9-36-020  Overtaking vehicle on the right.

   (a)   The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass upon the right of another vehicle only under the following conditions:

      (1)   When the vehicle overtaken is making or about to make a left turn and there is sufficient safe clearance distance between the turning vehicle and the right edge of the roadway;

      (2)   Upon any roadway with unobstructed pavement of sufficient width for two or more lanes of moving vehicles in each direction; or

      (3)   Upon any roadway on which traffic is restricted to one direction of movement, where the unobstructed pavement is of sufficient width for two or more lanes of moving vehicles.

   (b)   The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass another vehicle upon the right only under conditions permitting such movement in safety. In no event shall such movement be made by driving off the pavement or main-traveled portion of the roadway.

(Added Coun. J. 7-12-90, p. 18634)

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