Although it’s hard to see, there’s a button-activated, signalized crosswalk located between the first planter median and the jersey wall.
[This piece also runs in Time Out Chicago magazine.]
Q: There’s a working stoplight on Clark south of Roosevelt, that doesn’t seem to have any purpose or function. What’s the deal with this vestigial traffic light?
A: The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) installed this signal during the 2004 rehab of the Clark/Roosevelt intersection, when the Clark underpass was built, says spokesman Pete Scales. The stoplight was included for a future access road to a housing development planned for the vacant land southwest of the intersection. “That massive redevelopment project never got off the ground,” Scales says. “At this point it might take more money to remove the stoplight than leave it in.”
The crosswalk viewed from the west.
The red light actually does serve a purpose, however. It only goes on when pedestrians push a walk signal button for a mid-block crosswalk at that location, Scales says, although it’s hard to see the crosswalk from the north because the lines have faded. The Clark/Roosevelt intersection, only about 200’ north, also has crosswalks and ped signals in all directions.
The mid-block crosswalk viewed from the south.
But the mid-block crossing is a safer option for folks hoofing it from nearby housing developments to the Target store and Showplace Icon movie theater at the northwest corner, since they don’t have to watch for right-turning cars, and a planter median creates a pedestrian refuge, Scales says. Also [in this writer’s opinion], wide curb radii at Clark/Roosevelt decrease pedestrian safety because the rounded corners make it easy for cars to whip around them at high speeds.
Here’s an aerial view of Clark Roosevelt showing wide curb radii.
Active Transportation Alliance spokesman Ethan Spotts applauds CDOT’s decision to keep the stoplight active as part of one of Chicago’s few signalized, mid-block crosswalks. “We’re big fans of crosswalks and making sure that people of all abilities can cross safely,” says . “In this situation the crosswalk seems very thoughtful and helpful.” Keep that in mind next time you’re stuck in your car waiting for the traffic signal crooning à la Sting, “You don’t have to put up the red light.”
A couple blocks south on Clark from the signalized, mid-block crossing is another unsignalized, mid-block crossing that leads from a housing development to a tree strip with no sidewalk. Someday we’ll get to the bottom of this mysterious crosswalk to nowhere, but that’s a tale for another time.