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A Bird’s-Eye View of the North/Damen/Milwaukee Makeover

Photo: Steven Vance

Streetsblog Chicago's resident urban planning wiz Steven Vance is anything but a boring conversationalist, but he keeps droning on. Check out these awesome aerial photos he took this evening of the complete streets makeover of Wicker Park's North/Damen/Milwaukee intersection. If you ask him, Steven will tell you he took them during a ride in his personal hot air balloon. Note that the photo at the top of the post was taken a moment before the one below.

In these images you can clearly see the changes that the Chicago Department of Transportation made to organize the hectic intersection and make it friendlier to pedestrians and cyclists. "Dashed bike lanes" have been added to Milwaukee, the diagonal street, since the 42-foot-wide roadway is too narrow for installing conventional lanes without large-scale car parking removals. Note that the lanes are striped through the intersection.

Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 10.25.03 PM
Before and after aerial views of the intersection. Images: Google Maps, Steven Vance
Before and after aerial views of the intersection. Images: Google Maps, Steven Vance

Green bike boxes were added to four of the intersection's six legs to give cyclists a place to wait for their signal in front of motorized traffic. The bike symbols were just installed today, which should encourage drivers to stop behind the stop bar and not block the boxes. Tan paint and flexible plastic posts were used to shorten pedestrian crossing distances, eliminate the slip lane, and create more space for people on foot and possible features like planters in the future. Several other post-and-paint bumpouts along Milwaukee in Wicker Park were completed today.

The stop bar at the south leg of the intersection was moved further from the junction to make room for a giant, triangular crossing area, which readers have said resembles volume bars or cell phone reception bars. The rest of the crosswalks have been upgraded with high-visibility zebra stripes. CDOT also plans to add two new crossings later this year or in 2018, between the east corner (the Flat Iron Building) and southwest corner (Flash Taco), and between the north corner (Walgreens) and the southwest corner (Starbucks).

At today's Mayor's Bike Advisory Council Meeting, feedback from cyclists about the intersection makeover and the Milwaukee dashed bike lanes was overwhelmingly positive. One resident said he used to tense up while biking the stretch of Milwaukee between North and Division during his work commute. "Now that section is a pleasure to go through," he said.

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