How far does your expressway avoidance take you?


Showing undesirable pedestrian and sidewalk conditions under the Kennedy Expressway on Belmont Avenue at Kedzie Avenue. There is a bus stop here, on a portion of the sidewalk that narrows to about 2 feet. It wasn’t until I wrote this post that I realized that there is no bus route on Kedzie Avenue making this bus stop’s location quite ridiculous. There are bus stops in both directions on Belmont Avenue that are actually near businesses and residences. Explore on Google Street View.

I shop for groceries mostly at Aldi. The one nearest my house is 3,725 feet by walking (about 0.71 miles), the Avondale Aldi. The next closest store is 11,102 feet away (about 2.1 miles), the Lincoln Square Aldi, and the third closest is 11,599 feet away (about 2.2 miles), the Wicker Park Aldi. I live at Belmont and California, in Avondale.

I shop at the third closest one the most often. The Wicker Park Aldi is at Milwaukee Avenue and Leavitt Street. The reasons I shop here instead of the other two, considering that it’s two-thirds closer to home, are based on two travel factors: trip chaining (the practice of attaching multiple trips into the same one so one leaves the house less often), and trip quality (the characteristics that make the trip interesting, not interesting, safe, and unsafe). A trip, as counted by transportation planners like myself, is movement from one address to another.

For example, the Chicago Transit Authority counts trips taken on its buses and trains as “boardings”, each time a passenger pays for the bus or passes an ‘L’ station turnstile. When people change routes on the same platform or station, this additional trip isn’t counted because there’s no mechanism to do so. A person who takes a bus to an ‘L’ station is counted twice in CTA’s reports (note 1).

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Strategies in the Pedestrian Plan: Remove all channelized right turns in 3 years


A right-turn channelization from southbound Kedzie Avenue to northbound Milwaukee Avenue. From 2005-2011 there were 7 pedestrian crashes (including a fatal hit-and-run crash in 2009) and 4 bicycle crashes. The crash data do not allow me to relate any of them to a specific hazard at this location. 

The groundbreaking Chicago Pedestrian Plan says goodbye to this pedestrian safety hazard. I can’t wait to say goodbye to the right-turn channelization on northbound Elston Avenue at Ashland Avenue (why? one, two, three).

Goal: Improve non-standard intersections

You’ll find the right-turn channelization (characterized by the presence of an additional crosswalk and often a concrete island) most often at intersections with diagonal streets. The Chicago Pedestrian Plan, in Goal 8 of the “Connectivity” chapter, will “remove all channelized right turn lanes by 2015”. This is an excellent idea because it reduces crossing distance, reduces car travel speeds (which is the determining factor of an injurious or fatal crash), and reduces the likelihood of a right-angle (t-bone) crash. Download the Chicago Pedestrian Plan.

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Strategies in the Pedestrian Plan: Skinny streets


This rough drawing shows what could be done with the extra space if Haddon Avenue was narrowed and remained one-way. It doesn’t show what the street would look like if it were two-way. The drawing shows two scenarios with features that use the land reclaimed from asphalt: the first shows a cycle track. A speed limit sign says “neighborhood speed limit” (a number is left off so residents decide what speed is appropriate for their street). The second scenario has a rain garden in the land reclaimed from asphalt, to help with stormwater management. Both scenarios have permeable pavers in the parking lanes. 

The first-ever Chicago Pedestrian Plan will be introducing a lot of new concepts and ideas to Chicagoans (and even this transportation planner) about how to make the pedestrian experience safer, more comfortable, as well as more enjoyable. This post will be one of the occasional articles on strategies in the Pedestrian Plan.

Tool: Skinny streets, page 29

What it says: “After the severe winters of 1978 and 1979, many of Chicago’s streets were converted from two-way to one-way to improve mobility during the winter and to allow plows to go through. However, two-way streets have many advantages over one-way streets. These ‘skinny streets’ reduce vehicle speeds and can also increase connectivity for all users by providing more ways to traverse the city’s grid. Skinny streets should be considered on all one-way streets that are wider than 30 feet.”

Download the Chicago Pedestrian Plan in .pdf format: 15 MB or 100 MB. No web version available.

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