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Safety upgrades have been made to Winona/Broadway intersection after a driver fatally struck Soyfa Athamanah, 69, there in July

Hopefully her family will take comfort in knowing that her case spurred changes that could save lives in the future.

A driver stops for a man walking west across Broadway from the new pedestrian island in the north leg of the Winona/Broadway intersection towards a new curb extension, looking north. Photo: John Greenfield

This post is sponsored by the Active Transportation Alliance.

Tragically, the intersection of Winona Avenue (5100 N.) with Broadway (1200 W.) in Uptown didn't receive full safety improvements before a hit-and-run driver fatally struck Soyfa Athamanah, 69, in an east-west crosswalk on July 25. Today Police News Affairs said no one is in custody for the crime, and the Major Accidents Investigation Unit is still investigating the case.

Winona jogs at busy Broadway, and it's a complex, unsignalized intersection. At the time of Athamanah's death, it had a pedestrian island for the crosswalk at the south leg of the junction, but not for the one at the north leg, due to the presence of an unnecessary turn lane.

The non-protected crosswalk at the north leg of Winona/Broadway as it appeared last month, looking north. Photo: John Greenfield

Two days later after Athamanah's passing, a #ChiCrosswalkAction protest was held at the intersection, marching to "demand safety improvements at the crosswalk."

The protest, looking south on Broadway, on July . Photo: Cameron Bolton

On August 13 local Ald. Matt Martin (47th) announced in his newsletter that the Broadway/Winona Pedestrian and Cyclist Safety Improvements would start construction later that week. The project was in partnership with Ald. Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth (48th), whose district also borders the intersection, and designed by the Chicago Department of Transportation.

Rendering of the new design shared by Ald. Martin. Image: CDOT

"The improvements will include a new refuge island in Broadway on the north leg of the intersection, curb extensions on the west side of the street, and a raised crosswalk across Winona west of Broadway," Martin stated at the time. That indicated that the superfluous turn lane in the north leg would be removed. "The bike lane on the west side will be raised up to sidewalk level for a stretch as well,"

On Tuesday, Manaa-Hoppenworth tweeted that the construction had been largely completed. (Some work still needs to be done, such as painting the raised bike lane.)

Streetsblog checked out the new layout this afternoon. The new pedestrian island seems to make the north crosswalk much safer. Drivers actually tended to stop for people waiting on the island, allowing them to cross the second lane.

A driver stops for girls crossing east from a new curb extension on the west side of Broadway to the pedestrian island on the north leg of the Winona/Broadway intersection, looking south. Photo: John Greenfield

The curb extensions on the west side of the street greatly shorten crossing distances, and the raised crosswalk makes it more pleasant to cross Winona.

Riding a biking south on the raised bike lane on the west side of Broadway, towards the new raised area across Winona, looking west. Photo: John Greenfield

Of course, if a raised crosswalk was built on Broadway for walking east-west across the main street, that would be much more beneficial for safety. But that would be slightly inconvenient for drivers, so it would be a heavier political lift.

Riding south on the raised bike lane, looking southeast. Photo: John Greenfield

The short stretch of raised bike lane is there so that a chunk of the curb extensions wouldn't need to be omitted to make way for the existing southbound on-street bike lane. Raised bike lanes are becoming more common in Chicago. Similar projects are currently happening on Clark Street between Montrose Avenue (4400 N.) and Irving Park Road (4000 N.) on the border of Uptown and Lakeview, and Milwaukee Avenue between Western (2400 W.) and Damen (2000 W.) avenues in Bucktown.

The raised bike lane on Broadway is a fun ride. But it seems like most cyclists on Broadway still aren't realizing it's there and are remaining at street level instead, detouring around the curb extensions. Adding green paint would make the new bike lane more obvious, and help prevent conflicts between bike riders and pedestrians.

One snafu I witnessed today was a long semi-truck blocking the east side of the north leg's crosswalk for several minutes while workers were making a delivery to Old World Market, on the east side of Broadway. As the video below shows, it was possible for an able-bodied adult to walk further north on the long pedestrian island, cross the northbound mixed-traffic lane, and then walk around the front of the truck.

But that detour would be a non-starter for seniors, people with disabilities, and parents with small children. So the authorities need to find a solution to that issue.

Soyfa Amanya. Photo via GoFundMe

Still, the project represents a generally effective change to the intersection that will make it safer. Hopefully Soyfa Athamanah's family will take some comfort in knowing that her case spurred demands for changes to Winona/Broadway that could save lives in the future.

"We can’t bring back Soyfa Athamanah," Ald. Manaa-Hoppenworth tweeted. "But we have to try to prevent more deaths."

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