Eyes on the street: A perfectly good bump-out is rendered useless by lack of signs

Drivers parked against the bump-out last year.
Drivers parked against the bump-out last year.

Update 2/19/21, 3:30 PM: A Chicago Department of Transportation spokesperson contacted Streetsblog to say that No Parking signs have been installed and re-installed at this site, but it appears that a resident has repeatedly stolen the signs in order to create the illusion that parking is legal there. The CDOT rep said the signs will be installed once more in the near future.

As we’ve pointed out before, when the Chicago Department of Transportation redesigns a street, but fails to put in the necessary signs to tell drivers where and where not to park, the result can be dangerous chaos.

The latest example of that, which a reader alerted us to, is by the Lincoln Commons development, which replaced the old Children’s Memorial Hospital site in Lincoln Park. As part of the project, CDOT put in a large bump-out on the west side of the T-shaped intersection of Orchard Street and Kemper Place, located on the east side of the triangular development.

Image: Google Maps
Image: Google Maps

The bump-out is supposed shorten the pedestrian crossing distance and  “daylight” the intersection, preventing drivers from parking too close to the crosswalk at the north leg of the junction so that northbound motorists on Orchard, a one-way street, can see people walking across the street.

Orchard Street, looking south. A driver is parked against the bump-out, making it difficult for other motorists to see a person stepping off the curb.
Orchard Street, looking south. Drivers are parked against the bump-out last year, making it difficult for other motorists to see a person stepping off the curb.

However, CDOT failed to install “No Parking” signs next to the bump-out. You might assume it’s common sense not to park next to a curb extension, but this practice is apparently the rule rather than the exception at this spot.

The parked cars eliminating the daylighting benefit, making it difficult for northbound drivers to see eastbound pedestrians stepping off the curb. As you might guess, the situation is even more of a mess now that the street is snowbound.

Orchard looking south, as it appeared today.
Orchard looking south, as it appeared today.
The takeaways:
  • Expensive physical infrastructure can still be rendered useless if the city fails to spend a little more money to put in the proper signs.
  • Drivers will park anywhere unless it’s obvious that it’s illegal.
  • There’s still plenty of room for other drivers to pass the parked cars, which means that an even larger bump-out should have been installed here.

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