The New Planters Along Milwaukee Avenue Are Blooming Fantastic!

Planters beef up the bump-outs at Milwaukee and Honore. Photo: Steven Vance
Planters beef up the bump-outs at Milwaukee and Honore. Photo: Steven Vance

Last summer the Chicago Department of Transportation did a quick-and-cheap makeover of the Milwaukee Avenue corridor in Wicker Park, using paint and plastic posts to close slip lanes, create curb extensions, and mark dashed bike lanes, jumbo crosswalks and green bike boxes. (Granted, motorists aren’t being particularly respectful of the new crosswalks and bike boxes.)

Planters add real protection to the slip lane closure at the southern corner of Milwaukee/North/Damen. Photo: Steven Vance
Planters add real protection to the slip lane closure at the southern corner of Milwaukee/North/Damen. Photo: Steven Vance

Today Streetsblog’s Steven Vance noticed that the new features have been upgraded, in terms of both safety and aesthetics. The Wicker Park Bucktown Special Service Area has added heavy terra cotta planters with greenery virtually everywhere there are flexible posts. Not only will the planters add real physical protection from cars (a plastic pole isn’t going to save you if a reckless driver veers towards the painted sidewalk bump-out you’re standing on) but they also make the street look nicer.

Steven says the planters at this location take away space that cyclists have been using for queueing. Photo: Steven Vance
Steven says the planters at this location take away space that cyclists have been using for queueing. Photo: Steven Vance

Steven says he’s a fan of the new flower pots, except for the ones on Milwaukee at the southeast corner of the six-way intersection with North and Damen. “They reduce the lateral space in the beige are where cyclists queue when the bike traffic volume is high,” he explains.” Well, maybe if drivers can be persuaded to stay out of the adjacent bike box, cyclists can use it for its intended purpose!

How the bike box is supposed to be used (except for the stray motor scooter.) Photo: John Greenfield
The bike box at the southeast corner of North/Damen/Milwaukee as seen last summer, with a car and a scooter in it. Photo: John Greenfield

Despite that relatively minor criticism, this strategy should be considered anywhere that flexible posts are currently serving as “protection” from cars. Planter-protected bike lanes, anyone?

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG