The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) began construction Thursday, November 10, 2011, to restore a lighted signal and crosswalk at 500 S Lake Shore Drive.
I went on a four-hour bike ride today to gather photos of interesting things, including people walking and cycling in the 65°F warm and windy weather. I came across several places where pedestrian access had become an issue. These issues were manufactured by construction projects, clashing with the City of Chicago’s Complete Streets policy.
But I’ll start off with good news: After six years of being closed, the crosswalk across Lake Shore Drive connecting Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park to Queen’s Landing on the lakeshore will open November 25, 2011:
The crosswalk was originally installed in 1988 after a 13-year-old girl was run over and killed, only to have then-Mayor Richard M. Daley order it removed in 2005 to speed traffic flow. (Chicago Sun-Times)
Our fingers are crossed that transportation commissioner Gabe Klein will restore the missing crosswalk at Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street. On to the bad news.
At the recently opened intermodal transfer center at 130 W Congress Parkway there’re two open pits with pipes sticking out of the middle. The photographed one lacks any kind of fence, barrier, or other notification. The second one has a construction sign covering the pipes but not the pit.
What used to be a well-constructed and designed detour for people moving west on the sidewalk at 150 W Adams Street (in front of the McDonald’s on the corner with Wells) is now a dead end with conflicting signage. I witnessed six people encounter the dead end and then cross to the south side of Adams Street, or just run in the street. The information is not provided until halfway down the block so sidewalk users cannot modify their trip before encountering the blockade. As people are like water and seek the lowest resistance path, they cross the street at the dead end and not in a marked or signalized crosswalk.
A fence blocks the sidewalk and disconnects two crosswalks for people moving south on the sidewalk at 1400 S Racine Avenue. The fence is part of construction for the new 12th District police station. The map below shows what’s going on. The situation is completely unknown to someone who is blind.
This map shows the walking conditions at 1400 S Racine. The green zone represents still-operational crosswalks. The red zone represents the part of the sidewalk connecting the two crosswalks that’s been made impassible because of the sense. The yellow zone represents the area where people who want to cross Blue Island Avenue and 14th Street will have to move.
This is completely unacceptable. If you cannot see the photo, here’s what’s happening: Several hundred feet west of Belmont and Broadway is a construction project to rebuild a curb, parkway, and driveways. To rebuild the driveways, two distinct segments of sidewalk were removed leaving behind a dirt pit. There is one, slightly hidden “sidewalk closed” sign at the eastern approach. There is no notification at the western approach. There are no barriers, tape, barricades, or anything of the sort to prevent people from walking or rolling into the pits. No detour for sidewalk users was provided. Several people were observed walking through the pits.
It should go without saying that none of these situations are friendly to pedestrians, especially those who are blind or have vision impairments. See the rest of my photos in this set. Submit your photos of pedestrian problem areas to our group on Flickr.
Chicago’s Complete Streets policy
“The safety and convenience of all users of the transportation system including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, freight, and motor vehicle drivers shall be accommodated and balanced in all types of transportation and development projects and through all phases of a project so that even the most vulnerable – children, elderly, and persons with disabilities – can travel safely within the public right of way” – from the City of Chicago website.