Eyes on the Street: A Miniature Complete Streets Overhaul on Clarendon

Looking south on Clarendon, south of Irving Park. This stretch was formerly two-way for motor vehicles but now has a parking-protected contraflow bike lane. Photo: John Greenfield

Here’s a nice little livable streets makeover in Lakeview. The city recently converted the short stretch of Clarendon between Irving Park and Broadway, changing it from a two-way roadway for motorized traffic to a one-way northbound street for cars with a northbound conventional bike lane and a southbound, contraflow protected lane.

“CDOT received a request from [46th Ward alderman James] Cappleman to evaluate the intersection of North Broadway and Clarendon Avenue,” explained Chicago Department of Transportation spokesman Mike Claffey. “Residents had expressed interest in redesigning the intersection in order to reduce conflicts between vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians, and to improve overall safety and accessibility.”

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The previous layout on Clarendon, looking south from Irving Park. The crossing distance for pedestrians has been significantly shortened. Image: Google Street View

CDOT performed a traffic study and evaluated several options before deciding on the new configuration, Claffey said. “This conversion removed the conflict between vehicles on southbound Clarendon at the Broadway and Clarendon intersection and vehicles and bicyclists on Broadway,” he said.

As a bonus, the protected lane and the concrete cap at the north end of the adjacent parking lane significantly shortens the crossing distance for pedestrians at the south leg of Irving Park and Clarendon. Construction was finished in November 2015 in conjunction with the repaving of this block of Clarendon.

Looking north on Clarendon after the street redesign. Photo: John Greenfield

The second stage of this project will involve improving pedestrian access at Broadway and Clarendon intersection in conjunction with an upcoming repaving project on Broadway.  This stage of is currently in the design/approval phase with construction tentatively slated for late 2016 / early 2017.

It would be great to see CDOT apply similarly creative solutions for improving safety at other tricky intersections around the city in the future.

  • Vic

    Did they realize how much traffic actually goes southbound on that street? Now that cars can’t cintinue southbound they are forced to make a right, go one block and make s left on Broadway. That resulting trainwreck screws up traffic on Irving Park all the way to lake shore drive. Couple that with the school having kids dropped off and picked up on Irving park has done nothing but bottleneck everything. Nice city planning

  • **

    This section of Clarendon was part of the 46th ward participatory budgeting project that won the most votes in 2013. A poster of Clarendon Corridor here: http://transitized.com/2013/04/06/first-participatory-budgeting-expo-in-chicagos-46th-ward/

    A number of issues along Clarendon haven’t been addressed (people run the red light at Buena all the time). The new proposal for Montrose & Clarendon is going to add new hazards for children walking to the schools on Clarendon and to Clarendon Park and definitely make traffic on Montrose worse.

    Adding a 30,000 sq. ft. grocery store visible from the Drive to that intersection doesn’t make sense when there’s a Jewel a block & a half away. It’s all the worse that there will be a one-story fast food place (the developer suggested Panera or Shake Shack) at the base of Clarendon Park.

    Nowhere on Lincoln Park is there commercial visible from the Drive. Issues of trashing the public lakefront aside, in traffic terms it’d be a little like putting a grocery store in 2400 N. Lakeview on Fullerton, with all trucks and cars going in and out on Lakeview. The Shake Shack will be the grand entrance to Uptown’s lakefront and its parking lot will be the view from historic Clarendon Park.

  • If you read it, part of CDOT’s desire to do this project was to prevent people proceeding south on Clarendon and then attempting to make a left onto Broadway, because it clogged up the system. Irving Park & Broadway is far better able to handle that volume (in CDOT’s view).

  • Brianbobcat

    Really the city needs a lot more turn arrows. Irving is plenty wide enough to accommodate turn lanes for both Clarendon and Broadway. Couple with arrows at both lights, that would alleviate a lot of the stuck cars at the intersections.

  • Hammering Hank

    No question the entire triangle corridor there is a cluster fck. Irving/Broadway/Clarendon needs a complete redesign with TURN arrows and wider access to both sides of the street. But don’t worry; it will happen. Because one of Capplemans back pocketed developers in going to build ridiculously too big & tall mid rises right there! That’s right. Look it up. People NEED to fight these behemoths ASAP before the entire triangle is torn down for “progress”. Now you know why he is pushing this through. Nothing to do with benefiting the residents~

  • Toddster

    Almost everywhere in Lincoln Park and on Lake Shore Drive one can see commercial buildings…you know a good chunk of the high rises visible downtown are commercial. The North Avenue Boat/Beach House will all its shops and cafes, pretty commercial. As long as it’s not in the park, taking away park land, why should it be limited to residential? Commercial activity on the park’s edges could enliven that section of the park with new visitors brought in by the commercial activity on the perimeter.

  • Chicagoan

    A lot of car-centric whiners in here. Great job, CDOT. Keep it up.

  • Jason

    Right- and I’m sure noting was done to adjust the timing of the lights to help with that? I’m sure not. CDOT is bunch of bribe taking idiots. Let’s hope the Feds Coke after Gabe Klein next. I’m sure DIVVY was built on a bribe.

  • OK so I only know that area because I drive through it (or pass by on the el). But for the record, because it is so close to the el, then high/mid-rises are appropriate. Not crony capitalist ones, of course.

    As for “wider access” well congestion is good for bikes and walkers as it slows down cars. But sure turn lanes are fine as long as the sidewalks can be expanded not narrowed.

    So that means eliminate all parking there now and devote it to travel spaces for walkers, bikers and sure car turners.

  • **

    The North Ave beach house is owned by the Chicago Park District. There is no privately held commercial along Lincoln Park. I haven’t had time to re-check but I believe the closest thing to commercial signage fronting the park is the angled sign for Mon Ami Gabi at the Belden Stratford.

    The Maryville Guidelines outlined in a community process said that if Cuneo Hospital was torn down on the east side of Clarendon, the preference was for the land to go to the Park District. That seems in keeping with the 1957 ordinance about the hospital, which was built on privately owned land. The full council restricted use in a unanimously supported ordinance that specifies that the building there was to be used for charitable and religious purposes only. At that time there wasn’t even parkland next to the building but a huge pumping station.

    It’s a whole discussion why they aren’t simply reusing the Cuneo building as some kind of multicultural center or museum, which would be preferable to the strip-mall type fast-food building they are proposing. It’d be easy to put an appropriate cafe at the base if that was desired—rather like at the Chicago History Museum—and have revenue from that directly benefit a contributing nonprofit or the park district.

    My understanding is that historically grocery stores haven’t been sited along the lakefront because the walkable density isn’t there in full radius.

  • Kinda car-centric in your mindset, aren’t you? There is a place for nice people like you. The Suburbs.

  • One question – how wide is the northbound lane on Clarendon in the third picture? Looks like they could narrow the lane by a foot or so to provide a little extra buffer for the bike lane.

  • Scott Sanderson

    Wow what an improvement.

  • Steve

    Vic is exactly right, I live just off that intersection, and the re-route has made that corner (and the corner of Irving and Broadway) a nightmare during rush hour traffic. What needed to be done on that short stretch of road was some decent re-paving, not a re-route. There was no notice made to residents of the neighborhood of the plans. Trainwreck, indeed. The intersection that needed attention is at the other end of the block at the merge of Clarendon and Broadway. This fixed absolutely nothing.