With “overwhelming support” from residents, Rosa approves Palmer Slow Street

A family bikes on a Slow Street on Wabansia Avenue in West Town. Photo: John Greenfield
A family bikes on a Slow Street on Wabansia Avenue in West Town. Photo: John Greenfield

Update 7/1/20, 3:30 PM: According to CDOT, the western portion of the Palmer Slow Street, from Cicero Avenue to Long Avenue, by Hanson Park, was installed yesterday. This stretch lies in the 36th Ward, where Alderman Gilbert Villegas apparently opted for a much swifter approval process that Alderman Rosa did in the neighboring 35th Ward.

Slow Streets — side streets where through traffic is banned to enable safe socially distanced waking, running, and biking during the pandemic — have started popping up around the city, from Lincoln Square to South Shore. The proposed Slow Street (the Chicago Department of Transportation is calling them “Shared Streets”) on Palmer Street between Hanson Park and Palmer Square has been on the drawing board for more than a month.

However, 35th Ward alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa took a cautious approach towards implementing the plan, arguing that because the corridor runs through a section of his district that is heavily Latino and hard-hit by COVID-19, a particularly robust public input process was needed. The alderman posted a page about the project on his website and invited residents to call, text, or email his office with their thoughts over a period of two weeks. He distributed a bilingual handout to all properties along Palmer within between Spaulding and Kostner. Rosa also held a conference call to discuss the project with constituents and CDOT planners.

Rosa announced today that during the fortnight-long public input period, his office heard from 94 local residents who weighed in on whether or not Palmer should become a Slow Street for a month-long trial period. “Residents who reached out to our office — particularly those who provided 35th Ward addresses and addresses on Palmer — overwhelmingly supported the Palmer Shared Street proposal,” Rosa wrote.

Here’s a map of how the public input went. Green runner icons show the addresses of supporters; red exes depict the addresses of opponents; green pins represent people who support the project with conditions; yellow pins indicate undecided residents.and

Out of 35th Ward residents who responded, 46 people, or 67.6 percent, supported the project, while only 18 constituents opposed it.

Out of the 22 Palmer neighbors who provided input, 18, or 81.2 percent, were in favor of the Slow Street, with only a single person voicing opposition.

55 of the 94 total respondents , or 58.5 percent, supported the project, while 33 opposed it.

Rosa said that some small businesses in the Pulaski Industrial Corridor were worried about the their large trucks sharing the street with cyclists and pedestrians. To accommodate their concerns, the Slow Street will exclude the intersection of Palmer and Pulaski and the Palmer loading docks of businesses in the Pulaski Industrial Corridor.

That means there will be a roughly two-block gap in the Palmer Slow Street corridor, in which drivers won’t be warned to look out for pedestrians and cyclists in the roadway. That’s unfortunate, because it will make the corridor less safe and useful for families with kids. But perhaps that concession was necessary in order to avoid a backlash from the business owners.

The gap in the proposed Palmer Slow Street.
The gap in the proposed Palmer Slow Street.

But the good news is that, thanks to the strong support from residents, Rosa has given CDOT his blessing to install the Slow Street in his ward. Aldermen Roberto Maldonado (26th), Scott Waguespack (32nd), Gilbert Villegas (36th) also need to sign off on shorter sections, but Rosa said installation will probably happen in mid-July. Here’s looking forward to the next major Slow Street route!


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