Big support for protected bike lanes at Clark Street Crossroad planning workshop

Bike riders on the 4500 block of North Clark Street Monday afternoon. Photo: John Greenfield
Bike riders on the 4500 block of North Clark Street Monday afternoon. Photo: John Greenfield

Last week close to a hundred residents of the 46th and 47th wards showed up to provide input on changes to Clark Street between Montrose Avenue (4400 North) and Foster Avenue (5200 North) during the second workshop for the Clark Street Crossroads study. Attendees were invited to give feedback on roadway improvements, public and private development opportunities and approaches, and design guidelines for the corridor.

Chicago Plan Commission chief Maurice Cox said the goal of this study is to settle on a unified vision for the corridor which would be adopted by the planning commission. Future proposals submitted to the commission regarding this corridor would be evaluated based on the goals the community settles on. Ald. James Cappleman (46th) shared that he moved to Chicago from Houston, a famously car-centric city, because he was interested in living car-free and said he’s excited by the prospect of pedestrian and cyclist safety upgrades along Clark

The visioning session was held in an open house format in which attendees were encouraged to leave their feedback, suggestions, and ideas on Post-it notes at various stations focusing on things like safety for vulnerable road users and local sites that can be redeveloped. The project team provided a summary of key feedback gleaned from online feedback submitted:

  • Support mixed-use development with active storefronts and residential above
  • Advanced diversity in housing opportunities and equitable price points
  • Promote Pedestrian Streets, on which new auto-centric land uses are banned
  • Establish safe and consistent protected bike lanes
  • Improve crossings for bikes, pedestrians, and ride-share users
  • Preserve historic architecture
  • Encourage murals, local art, tactical urbanism, outdoor patios and placemaking

The research team stated that they have received “strong feedback” from an online survey that the community wants to prioritize biking. Ald. Matt Martin (47th) had encouraged residents who bike to fill out the survey, complaining that the Clark Streets Crossroads planning team had previously ignored his request to include protected bike lanes in the plan.

At Tuesday’s meeting there was also lots of support for protected bike lanes over paint-only lanes, which do little to encourage cycling, and nothing to stop reckless or negligent drivers from striking people on bikes. Protected bike lanes already planned for construction this year on Clark from Irving Park Road (4000 North) and Montrose (4400 North). So continuing the protection from Montrose to Foster Avenue is a no-brainer. There were also a few post-it notes that wanted to see full pedestrianization in some segments and one post-it note urging “my parking” not to be touched.

Bus infrastructure improvements are also being considered. In the online survey, participants were asked to rank the importance of improvements like transit signal priority, bus bulbs, bus shelters, pre-paid fare collection, level or near-level boarding, and changes in curbside use that would result in a relocation of parking and loading zones.

Attendees were asked to vote on the sort of built environmental typologies they would like to see allong Clark St.
Attendees were asked to vote on the sort of built environmental typologies they would like to see along Clark St.

Attendees were asked their preferences for future development such as sustainable design; building height and scale; building setbacks, storefront activations, and more. In addition, similar to the Broadway community visioning session in nearby Edgewater, attendees were asked to weigh in on their preferences for street activation and “People Places,” on-street seating areas and mini parks.

If you were unable to make the meeting, an online survey is currently available. An implementation strategy will be released next month and a final community survey will take place in September.

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