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Eyes on the Street: The Argyle Shared Street Project Is Nearing Completion

5:31 PM CDT on July 20, 2016

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Paving is completed on the eastern half of the business district, which brought the street up to sidewalk level. Photo: John Greenfield

It’s official: Argyle Street in Uptown is now a thoroughfare that prioritizes walking. Today City Council passed an ordinance that designates the three-block-long stretch of Argyle between Broadway and Sheridan Road a “Shared Street,” where the line between space for vehicles and pedestrians is blurred.

People on foot are permitted to cross the street wherever they choose, not just at intersections. A streetscaping project on this stretch is nearing completion, creating a plaza-like environment that will likely make this bustling strip of Southeast Asian-owned restaurants and shops even more vibrant.

New branded bike racks have been installed. Photo: John Greenfield

The Chicago Department of Transportation has been spearheading the project, which involves raising the level of the street, eliminating curbs, and adding decorative pavers with a design that encourages shopper to freely travel across the street. The ordinance states that pedestrians have the right of way over all other traffic on the street. The roadway will also become fully wheelchair accessible.

As part of the project, the sidewalks have been widened, making it possible for the restaurants to offer outdoor café seating.

The new wider sidewalks provide space for cafe seating. Photo: John Greenfield

As part of the ordinance, the speed limit will be lowered to 15 mph. Chicanes – slight curves in the roadway – will also encourage drivers to hit the breaks. Since the shared street level is higher than the surrounding roadways, cross traffic will go up a slight ramp when traversing the street, which will also calm traffic.

Green elements of the design include the use of permeable pavers and the addition of infiltration planters that will help manage stormwater. CDOT expects the shared street to be completed by the end of the summer.

The eastern half of the project area, where the Argyle Night Market takes place on Thursday evenings in late summer, is already largely finished. A great opportunity to check out the progress of the project is the first of the Lawrence Jaunt series of bike rides, which meets at Bikes N’ Roses community bike shop, 4747 North Sawyer, this Thursday, July 21, at 5:30 p.m., departing at 6:00.

This infiltration planter will soon be full of attractive greenery. Photo: John Greenfield

The ride will pedal east a few miles on Lawrence to the night market, arriving at the summer pop-up location of Uptown Bikes (a Streetsblog Sponsor) at 1124 W. Argyle, where valet bike parking will be available. The night market includes food stands from the local restaurants, produce, merchandise, and live music.

The Lawrence Jaunt series is designed to connect the diverse neighborhoods of Albany Park and Uptown, as well a promote biking as a great way to explore the city. The rides are organized by the North River Commission, the Albany Park Chamber of Commerce, Uptown United, Business Partners – The Chamber for Uptown, as well as Uptown Bikes and Bikes N' Roses.

The next Uptown Jaunt ride takes place on Saturday, August 20, meeting at Uptown Bikes and heading to the Albany Park World Fest.

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