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Leland bump-outs are coming in, family member of fallen cyclist Lily Shambrook, 3, addresses neighbors’ concerns

Predictably, some neighbors are confused about the bump-outs, and worried that they will make the street less safe, and less convenient for drivers.

A curb bump-out under construction at the southwest corner of Leland/Winthrop, where Lily Shambrook was fatally struck last year due to a ComEd trucker illegally parking here. Photo: John Greenfield

This post is sponsored by the Active Transportation Alliance.

Update Thursday 10/12/23, 10:30 PM: I assumed this would go without saying, but responses to this post from readers indicate that this article should have been explicit. It's obnoxious for neighbors to complain that street safety infrastructure will make driving less convenient, particularly when a small child recently lost their life on that street. I'll keep this principal in mind in future for future articles. -JG

Good news: The Chicago Department of Transportation recently started installing detached curb bump-outs on Leland Avenue (4700 N.) at almost all of the intersections between Clark Street (1430 W.) and Sheridan Road (1000 W.) According to CDOT, detached bump-outs differ from attached ones (aka sidewalk extensions) because they "float" one foot from the existing curb line for better drainage. But they shorten the crossing distance for pedestrians, stop drivers from illegally parking too close to a crosswalk (which blocks sight lines), reduce turning speeds, and calm traffic by making the road seem narrower.

Example of a detached curb bump-out. Image: CDOT

This stretch of Leland is in the Uptown neighborhood and the 46th Ward. Here's the list of locations provided to Streetsblog by recently elected local alderperson Angela Clay's staff, who said CDOT was unable to share renderings with the public at the time. (A Twitter user posted a rendering of the layout, likely obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request.)

  • Leland & Clark, one detached bump-out (NE corner)
  • Leland & Dover, two detached bump-outs (SW & NE corner)
  • Leland & Malden, two detached bump-outs (SW & NE corner)
  • Leland & Magnolia, two detached bump-outs (SW & NE corner)
  • Leland & Racine, two detached bump-outs (SW & NE corner)
  • Leland & Winthrop, three detached bump-outs (SW, NW, and NE corner)
  • Leland & Kenmore, two detached bump-outs (SW & NE corner)

As Streetsblog readers are aware, the bump-outs are a response to the tragic bike crash death of Lily Shambrook, 3 in June 2022. That collision was partially caused by a ComEd truck illegally parked at the southwest corner of Leland/Winthrop, blocking the bike lane.

A sticker celebrating Lily Shambrook, 3, who loved to ride bikes, distributed at last month's Bike Lane Uprising anniversary fundraiser.

Clearly, the goal of making Leland safer for bike riders would be best served by more robust bikeways on the street, ideally physically protected ones. Former 46th Ward alder James Cappleman, who asked for the curb bump-outs from CDOT after Lily's death, told Streetsblog the transportation department said Leland is too narrow for protected bike lanes.

The Shambrook family indicated to Streetsblog that, while PBLs would be preferable, they are happy that the curb bump-outs are being added as a safety measure.

But, predictably, some neighbors are confused about the purpose and function of the bump-outs, and worried that they will make the street less safe, and less convenient for drivers. They voiced concerns about how the street changes will affect first responders, movers, parking, making turns, and more on local Facebook groups Magnolia Malden Neighbors Block Club and Dover Street Neighbors Association.

"Yesterday, while I was driving down Leland, each time I stopped for a stop sign, it was impossible for a car to turn onto Leland while my car was there," one person posted.

"Narrowing a busy street is what kind of improvement?" said another person. "And there is a constant problem with parking spaces in this area."

A bump-out under construction at the northwest corner of Leland/Winthrop. Photo: John Greenfield

One resident said the bump-outs "take up some valuable curb space that could have been used for parking (which is becoming increasingly challenging.)"

"Fire trucks and EMS vehicles also will not be able to negotiate the turns easily, thus jeopardizing public safety due to bottlenecks," said another. "There are already speed bumps on Leland east of Clark to slow traffic. Again, there is no need for these bump-outs to go forward. Please contact the [alderperson's] office to halt this waste and safety hazard."

"Why is the city wasting money on this?" asked another neighbor.

To their credit, one of Lily's family member responded to the comments in both Facebook groups without taking offense, but instead patiently explained how the bump-outs will work, and why these concerns are unwarranted. "Hey neighbors, I wanted to jump in again to alleviate some worries about this new infrastructure," they said.

They noted that the bump-outs are a minimal street change that doesn't remove legal parking, because they are located near the intersection, where parked cars are susceptible to towing by the city. "[They] do not extend beyond the cross walk allowing for the full ability for Fire/EMS and the occasional moving truck to navigate through the neighborhood. CDOT is not about to put something in that will prevent the travel of emergency vehicles."

The family member noted that, rather than making biking and driving more dangerous, as some neighbors had predicted, the bump-outs will improve safety. "During the morning rush lately [Leland has] become a popular alternative increasing traffic during those hours when we have the most pedestrian/dog/bike traffic," they said. "These bump outs create a shorter crossing for pedestrians and prevent the blocking of stop signs... by bigger vehicles like USPS trucks, keeping visual lines open between vehicle and Pedestrian. They also narrow the intersection visually for a driver... calming speeds."

A bump-out under construction at the southwest corner of Leland/Magnolia. Dog traffic is heavy on Leland during the morning rush. Photo: John Greenfield

"I disagree with this being 'a waste of taxpayer money,' as it improves safety in our neighborhood," the family member concluded. "Please give these a chance to be fully implemented and see how it affects our area. I was personally involved with pushing this for reasons that I am sure are not unknown on this street/forum." They said they are happy to discuss the benefits of the bump-outs and address any concerns in person with neighbors.

That's certainly a gracious attitude from a person who has lost a loved one to traffic violence.

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