West aspect stretch of Chicago Avenue might get street food plan, bus and bike lanes – Streetsblog Chicago
The Chicago Division of Transportation is asking for suggestions from residents on its plan to enhance the stretch of Chicago Avenue between Kedzie and Latrope avenues in Humboldt Park and Austin.
Throughout a digital assembly Thursday, CDOT officers emphasised again and again that the hall presently isn’t protected for any street customers. On a number of sections of the avenue, motorists are sometimes driving at near-highway speeds. They staffers stated the dearth of left-turn lanes in lots of areas endangers each drivers and pedestrians. Pedestrian islands are wanted to make crossing safer, and bike lanes are wanted to offer devoted area for biking.
Town can be seeking to redesign the hall to encourage financial improvement. As a part of that, CDOT is contemplating including rush-hour bus lanes. Town expects that enhancing bus speeds, including bike lanes and calming visitors by narrowing journey lanes, make folks passing via the hall extra prone to discover Chicago Avenue storefronts, slightly than simply dashing by them.
For the subsequent few months, CDOT shall be gathering enter that can assist it fine-tune the plan. The division hopes to have the plan finalized in 2021, with the aim of doing the streetscape mission in 2022.
Throughout the presentation, CDOT officers famous that Chicago Avenue is a significant east-west industrial and transit hall. The #66 Chicago Avenue bus is the third busiest route within the metropolis, and it will likely be a web site of the town’s electrical bus pilot. Many riders switch to and between the #66 and main north-south routes that cross it. And the Chicago bus is one in every of only some West Facet transit strains that operates at evening.
Whereas there have been streetscape enhancements additional west on Chicago Avenue, between Central Avenue and Austin Boulevard, in addition to east of Kedzie, the Latrobe to Kedzie part has been uncared for. However the hall has seen some improvement. The controversial Joint Public Security Coaching Academy (higher often called the “cop academy”) is being constructed at 4301 W. Chicago Ave. In 2017, Westside Well being Authority, a significant Austin nonprofit, established the West Facet’s very first Particular Service Space, SSA 72 Austin Chicago Avenue Cultural Hall, on and across the intersection of Chicago and Cicero avenues.
Extra just lately, beneath Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Make investments South/West initiative, the Austin and Humboldt Park neighborhood areas are among the many 10 neighborhood areas which can be being prioritized for improvement, and the Chicago Avenue hall specifically has been designated as one of many 12 precedence industrial corridors. As a part of that, the town just lately despatched out a request for proposals to redevelop the historic Laramie State Financial institution constructing, which is positioned on the west finish of Kedzie-to-Latrobe phase.
Throughout the presentation, Ald. Emma Mitts (thirty seventh), whose ward consists of many of the phase west of Avers Avenue, and Ald. Walter Burnett (twenty seventh), whose ward consists of the portion east of Avers, each touted the road enhancements as key elements of encouraging financial improvement in areas that haven’t seen a lot funding in many years.
“, the factor about Chicago Avenue [is], whenever you drive down on Chicago Avenue [though the neighborhoods], that’s the impression you might have of this entire neighborhood,” Burnett stated. “We have to ensure that Chicago Avenue going west of Kedzie has the identical impression of vitality, financial improvement and security that we’ve got east of Kedzie.”
David Smith, CDOT’s bike/ped program supervisor, defined that, as a part of the Vision Zero West Side study, his division seemed on the phase and located a number of main points. The parts of Chicago Avenue between Pulaski Highway and Kedzie Avenue, and between Cicero and Austin avenues, had been discovered to be high-crash corridors.
“Solely about 27.4 p.c [of the drivers] drive under authorized velocity limits,” Smith stated. “31.1 [percent] drive much less then three miles over the velocity restrict. 16.9 p.c are approaching freeway velocity. And that isn’t acceptable, that isn’t appropriate to constructing a industrial hall.”
Chicago Avenue has two lanes of visitors in every course. West of Kostner Avenue, there’s a heart median to offer separation, however between Kostner and Kedzie, there may be solely a line. That, Smith stated, turns into a problem when pedestrians, particularly seniors and households with youngsters, attempt to cross the road and may’t fairly make it right through. With no median, they’ll’t arrange a pedestrian island the place folks strolling can safely wait till they’ll end the crossing.
The dearth of left-turn lanes at many intersections additional compounds the issue, Smith stated. CDOT research and conversations with native residents present that it’s commonplace for a driver to cease whereas a pedestrian is crossing the road, and have the motorist behind them not understand why the primary driver stopped and attempt to get round them, putting the pedestrian. This is named a “a number of menace” crash.
Smith famous that, whereas pedestrians who’re struck by a driver going at 20 miles per hour have 90 p.c likelihood of surviving, the chances drop exponentially the sooner the automobile goes. At 40 miles per hour, the prospect of survival drops to twenty p.c. “In order that’s a very massive focus of this mission, to decelerate visitors and ensuring persons are driving at acceptable velocity.” Smith stated.
CDOT seemed on the crash information between 2014 and 2018 and located that 1,487 crashes within the phase resulted in somebody being injured. That included 29 folks being severely injured and 5 deaths. The phase additionally noticed 24 bicycle crashes.
In one pedestrian case on May 23, 2020, a person was crossing the road within the 3800 block of West Chicago Avenue, when a motorist struck him and fled the scene. As he was mendacity on the street, one other driver ran over him once more.
“44 p.c of all critical crashes consists of somebody strolling or biking,” Smith stated. “So, whenever you’re strolling or biking, you’re rather more weak.”
Whereas the plans haven’t been finalized, Smith defined that CDOT officers do have normal concepts for what they wish to do. They’s like so as to add pedestrian crossing indicators on the streetlights that don’t have already got them, and set up curb bump-outs at intersections to shorten crossing distances. In some areas they might do a street food plan, changing two of the 4 journey lanes to parking lanes and bike lanes. West of Kostner, they wish to add pedestrian islands on the intersections. East of Kostner, they might put in a center lane that may act as a steady a left-turn lane in each instructions.
“By doing that, we open up extra choices and variables of area, to offer extra space for folks to stroll and bike,” Smith stated, including that decreasing the variety of lanes would assist calm visitors.
The bike lanes might doubtlessly be curbside, parking-protected lanes, Smith stated. West of Kostner, Smith stated, it will be doable to create buffered bike lanes, however it will change into trickier additional east, the place there can be much less room.
CDOT can be contemplating creating rush-hour bus lanes by banning parking throughout these hours. The draw back, Smith stated, is that it wouldn’t be sensible to place in pedestrian bump-outs at these areas, as a result of they might hinder buses working within the curb lane.
The funding for the mission will come from the federal Freeway Security Enchancment Program grant. Whereas this cash can solely be used for visitors enhancements, Smith argued these enhancements would not directly assist financial improvement as nicely. “A protected and accessible Chicago Avenue is essential to supporting native companies.”
To go away suggestions and options on the Chicago Avenue plan, e-mail CDOT at email@example.com
Fllow Igor Studenkov on Twitter at @istudenkov.