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Protected Bike Lanes

47th Ward Touts Bike/Ped Infra and New Projects at Community Meeting

Ward celebrates improvements on Irving Park and around schools. Next up: Leland Greenway.

The 47th Ward presented infrastructure improvements and new projects at Martyrs’.

This post is sponsored by The Bike Lane.

On Wednesday, a meeting about traffic safety improvements in the 47th Ward was held at Martyrs’. Speakers included Alderman Matt Martin and chief of staff Joshua Mark. The Chicago Department of Transportation, Chicago SAFE Ambassadors, Better Streets Chicago, and Chicago, Bike Grid Now! also had info tables for attendees to pursue at the event.

“We really want to make sure that as we're making decisions, we're prioritizing the safety of our most vulnerable users at vulnerable locations and aim to improve pedestrian comfort throughout our community spaces,” said Martin. “Part of how we do that is through meaningful conversations to see what your experiences are in our Ward. We also taking a data informed approach in terms of the intersections that are most problematic for residents. We want to make sure we're engaging our community and focusing on our youth to help form and prioritize our projects.”

A big safety priority for the Ward has been improving pedestrian infrastructure on Irving Park following the death of volunteer Peter Paquette, who fatally struck by a distracted driver while trying to cross the street at Hoyne Avenue. Safety improvements installed on Irving Park west of Ravenswood Avenue include pedestrian islands, curb extensions, new crosswalks and Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFB). New infrastructure will continue to be built eastward: the crosswalk at Hermitage Avenue will get a new a refuge island, RRFB, and a pedestrian bump out will be added to the east side of Greenview Avenue.

A list of improvements that have recently come to Clark Street between Irving Park Road and Montrose Avenue include protected bike lanes, shortened pedestrian crossings, bus boarding islands, and a lowered, 20mph speed limit. The bike lanes are be curb-protected on the east side of the street and parking-protected on the west. Some parking has been removed from the east side of Clark Street to accommodate these changes, but CDOT parking counts found only about half the spots were occupied on a regular basis.

Another priority for the 47th was adding safety measures around schools. Improvements made to streets and sidewalks around several schools in the Ward include bump outs, bus bulbs, and a new traffic signal. The Ward’s first concrete protected bike lanes were installed near Lane Tech and DePaul College Prep High Schools.

“We wanted to say ‘okay, where are the most vulnerable pedestrians and residents?’” Martin said. “It's typically our senior centers and around our schools.” Martin said his staff worked with these community members to get feedback and prioritize projects. “I think we are working along with CDOT and were able to make some really meaningful improvements here.”

47th Ward chief of staff Joshua Mark and Alderman Matt Martin address the room.

CDOT is planning to resurface Damen Avenue between Belmont and Addison and several bike and pedestrian improvements are part of the project. This includes replacing non-compliant ADA ramps, adding curb extensions, and a paint-only dashed bike lane. CDOT also plans to repave Ainslie Street between Wolcott Avenue and Western Avenue, and Cornelia Avenue between Paulina Street and Western Avenue.

Mark then took the mic to discuss bike projects coming to the Ward. The long-promised Leland Greenway is finally coming, confirmed by CDOT last week. The installation of this greenway will provide a calm and connected bike route from the west end of the Ward all the way to the lake. The project includes raised crosswalks, contraflow bike lanes, and a protected bike lane from Lincoln to Western Avenue.

Mark also covered transit improvements, including the $20 million Western Brown Line CTA station renovation. Martin and Alderman Andre Vasquez (40th) are pushing for dedicated bus lanes on Western Avenue—part of a Bus Rapid Transit strategy enthusiastically supported by advocates and recently re-embraced by the CTA. While that’s not going to happen this year, Mark said the Ward is pushing the city, CDOT, and CTA to apply for federal funding for BRT measures.

“They just announced [BRT] funding for Indianapolis,” said Mark. “We shouldn't be falling behind. Even in the Midwest. There are plenty of cities in the country—let alone the world—that have realized that you need to give dedicated space to buses, so they are much more efficient and don't have to get stuck in traffic. That's something that we're pushing for on Western Avenue and we hope to be able to share more.”

Attendees at the 47th Ward traffic safety meeting.

When asked by Streetsblog, Martin said he was pleased with turnout at the event, that they were able to get through a lot of content, and had “terrific engagement” during the Q&A portion afterwards.

“There are lots of overlapping improvements to our public roads taking into account safety involving pedestrians, bikers, transit, and drivers,” Martin said. “And we’re working on a lot of things simultaneously. Some things may take many, many years, but I just want [residents] to know that this has been a real focus of my office. That it’s an important collection of issues for our community. That anytime people have questions, concerns, frustrations, with how our streets are operating, they should reach out to our office. That input helps us to decide what to focus on and, at the end of the day, what safety improvements are community needs.”

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