Brent Norsman, owner of Copenhagen Cyclery, relaxes in front of the store before riding with his daughter on the street.
Call Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park and Bucktown the right blend of commercial and residential density to support a livelier, possibly better attended instance of Open Streets. Not to mention it was 1.5 miles long with only one crossing for cars and buses.
The longer distance allowed the programming (which there seemed to be an equal or lesser amount than on State Street) to be more spread out, providing more room to ride a bicycle with your crew. And unlike the event on State Street, it seemed that most people were intentionally choosing to be here, rather than finding themselves at Open Streets when shopping on State Street.
A man carried people on his “walking powered” rickshaw.
I especially enjoyed the slackline demonstration and competition sponsored by REI and Gibbon Slacklines. Think of a slackline as a loose tight rope or a 2-inches wide trampoline. Even transportation commissioner Gabe Klein gave it a try.
Josh Greenwood performs a trick on the slackline in the Aldi parking lot.
I’d like to point out two opportunities to improve the experience:
1. I think the police and workers from the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) could have been more pleasant in how they “shut down” the event. One OEMC worker drove a car and used the car’s megaphone to say “Get off the street, we’re opening it up soon to traffic” (or was it closing the street, because this was “open streets”?). When he said this, I was enjoying a late lunch at Antique Taco, reveling in the absence of automobile pollution and noise. I was sitting in the same restaurant after the State Street Open Streets one week earlier watching backed up car traffic on Milwaukee Avenue, in both directions, as people on bikes slipped past. A friendlier way to do this would be to say, “Please walk on the sidewalk and bicycle on the side”.
Half an hour later, I watched the police threaten a cyclist with a citation, seemingly for riding in the street.
2. Traffic Management Aides from OEMC were letting drivers make left turns against the red light at the sole car crossing: North Avenue and Damen Avenue. Open Streets attendees had the green light on Milwaukee Avenue but the TMAs would instruct drivers to make their left turns during that green phase. This shouldn’t happen.
Everyday reality: Milwaukee Avenue with cars. Photo by Christiaan_25.
Yesterday’s reality: Milwaukee Avenue with people. Photo by John.
Grid Chicago is a blog about sustainable transportation matters, projects and culture in Chicago and Illinois, by John Greenfield and Steven Vance since June 2011. We switched to writing at Streetsblog Chicago in January 2013.
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