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Leland Slow Street in 47th Ward ends Sunday, permanent greenway coming next year

The Leland Slow Street. Photo: John Greenfield

Let's raise a toast to the Leland Slow Street, which has helped make the COVID-19 lockdown a little more bearable for local residents and families by providing space for safer, socially-distanced walking, biking, skating, and scooting. On Slow Streets (the city of Chicago calls them "Shared Streets"), through traffic is banned and local traffic is calmed with barricades and traffic barrels.

47th Ward alderman Matt Martin announced that his portion of the Leland Slow Street -- located between Clark Street and the river, and the first and perhaps most popular of these treatments in the city -- will be dismantled this Sunday, November 29. So I suggest you take advantage of the lovely weather today to take one last spin on it.

The area got a slight dusting of snow last week, so Martin's office said in a statement that the Chicago Department of Transportation is taking down the Slow Street to make sure there won't be conflicts with snow plows when the first real snowstorm hits. "Alderman Martin is proud to have introduced Leland -- the first shared street in Chicago and the first of three in the 47th Ward -- as a means for ward residents to safely exercise outdoors in the age of social distancing."

The Leland Slow Street. Photo: John Greenfield
The Leland Slow Street. Photo: John Greenfield
The Leland Slow Street. Photo: John Greenfield

"The Shared Street program in Chicago was a pilot," the statement continued. "As with all pilots, there have been kinks to work out; Nevertheless Alderman Martin is pleased that CDOT's traffic survey results show that Leland has consistently been one of the most traveled and best-received Shared Streets in the city."

While it's a mild bummer that the Leland Slow Street in the 47th Ward will be disappearing tomorrow, we can look forward to the permanent Leland Greenway bike/ped-priority street treatment, which will debut next year with contraflow ("wrong-way") bike lanes and concrete traffic calming infrastructure. Read more about that project here.

No word yet from the 46th Ward as to when the portion of the Leland Slow Street east of Clark in Uptown will be coming down, but I expect it will be well before the first serious snowfall appears.

If you go for a stroll, bike ride, skate, or scoot on Leland today, be sure to snap some picks and post them in the comments section or tag @StreetsblogCHI on Twitter for inclusion in a possible Eyes on the Street post in the near future.

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