Star-Crossed Crosswalks: Peds Will Have to Wait for Safe Passage in Lakeview

Looking east at Newport and Southport. Photo: John Greenfield

Yesterday there was some good news about the intersection of Newport Avenue and Southport Avenue, located half a block north of the Brown Line’s Southport stop:

However, it didn’t turn out to be accurate news. When I called the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce this morning, executive director Lee Crandell, he said that the installation of planned crosswalks on the north and south legs of the T-shaped intersection have been delayed until next year.

“The crosswalks were supposed to rolled into a project to make other improvements at the intersection,” he explained. A water main on Newport was recently replaced, and the crosswalks were supposed to be striped after the water main on Southport was replaced and the street was repaved.

“I had heard earlier that this was moving forward and tweeted it out, but it didn’t work out,” Crandell said. That was certainly an honest mistake — I’ve made far worse fumbles on social media myself.

Still it’s unfortunate that the crosswalks aren’t going in this year, because they’re sorely needed. As Crandell pointed out, Newport is the first crossing opportunity north of the station, and new businesses like LUSH Cosmetics and the Mint Julep boutique are located nearby.

Despite the lack of marked crosswalks, it’s legal to cross Southport at Newport. The east-west pedestrian routes are what’s called “unmarked crosswalks,” and there are wheelchair ramps on the east side of Southport, although not on the west.

The lack of marked crosswalks does seem to make crossing more dangerous here. Photo: John Greenfield

Moreover, when I staked out the crosswalk here late this afternoon, I saw plenty of people crossing. However, doing so in heavy traffic, in which drivers had no visual cues to look out for pedestrians (there are no stop signs for north-south traffic here) is akin to a game of “Frogger.”

It’s a similar situation as the intersection of Surf Street and Broadway in East Lakeview, which has heavily used unmarked crosswalks. Due to city regulations about sight lines, the Chicago Department of Transportation deemed it was unsafe to stripe crossings at that location. However, a senior was fatality struck in one of those unmarked crosswalks last February.

CDOT spokesman Mike Claffey was unable to provide an update on Newport/Southport this afternoon and local alderman Tom Tunney’s office didn’t return a message.

“We’d still like to see crosswalks striped here eventually,” Crandall said.

It’s enough to make you want to show up in the middle of the night with some paint rollers and a bucket of Sherwin Williams.

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  • david vartanoff

    I mean, how complex is it to paint 6 lines??? Maybe the Chamber should quietly do guerrilla stripes some late night.

  • I wonder if CDOT has seen these:

    They’d be great in some areas where we CAN NOT convince drivers to quit speeding, even with speed humps, like the part of Keeler between Belle Plaine and Montrose.

  • R

    Do you know when Southport will ever have bike lanes restriped? Completely nonexistent in while sections

  • If someone did a decent job with even cheap paint would CDOT suddenly find the where-with-all to remove them?

  • Honestly feel like this would only work the first few times drivers see them. After that they know they’re just paint.

    Drivers are terrified of hurting their cars more than other people. The only way to slow them down is concrete. What Pawar’s done on Lawrence in Ravenswood is great. Concrete medians with trees and such and the drivers almost always stop for people crossing and go slower in general. Put in obstacles and they’ll be more careful.

  • That stretch of Keeler is narrow enough that you can’t have medians unless you deep-six parking — and it’s a deeply residential area, with a school on the other side of the block, so that’ll never happen.

    It already has circular islands in every intersection AND two speed humps per block, and we still get 45mph+ nutsos trying to barrel through, ignoring crossing pedestrians, etc. We get at least three near-miss car-vs-pedestrian incidents (and a few car-vs-car) every week just during school drop-off and pick-up times.

    There are lots of semis getting on and off the highway and using that stretch of street, which is ALSO nutso, and means we have to leave it passable for them, which also limits the possibiilty of things like bumped-out corner curbs and the like.

    But a lot of people coming up the stretch don’t LIVE in the area, they’re just leaving the highway and going north or west and trying to cut through high-speed. So there’d be a lot of naive eyeballs.

    They did find that repainting the lines on the North Avenue curve on LSD did drop speeds, so optical illusions can help.

  • Bernard Finucane

    Someone needs to get out there with a bucket of paint in the middle of the night.

    This intersection actually needs polders (red stars) and curb extensions (black boxes) as illustrated below. I think I got Newport a bit too narrow, but you get the idea.

  • Bernard Finucane
  • What are polders? Here in the Netherlands it means land built from water. :)

  • Bernard Finucane

    I meant bollards, not polders :-) Sorry.


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