Eyes on the street: No pedestrian access at intersections


At the southeast corner of Madison and Green Streets. Fortunately, only 1 corner was impassable. The same isn’t true for some of the other intersections under construction. 

Does your neighborhood look like this?

Across the northwest side, including Logan Square, Avondale and West Loop, many intersections and alleys are having their curb cuts rebuilt to be compliant with transportation standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). At all of the construction sites I’ve passed by, none have alternate access or signage for pedestrians, forcing people’s paths to divert into the street and into traffic.


At the southeast corner of Diversey and Kedzie Avenues. This corner was completely non-barricaded at the time of the photo. 

Continue reading Eyes on the street: No pedestrian access at intersections

Infrastructure updates: 18th Street bike lane and inaccessible sidewalk ramp to be modified


A person drives their car in the 18th Street separated bike lane. 

Grid Chicago gathered photos, videos, and reports from neighbors in April and May about parking and driving in the 18th Street separated bike lane (from Clark Street to Canal Street) and discussed the situation with 25th Ward Alderman Solis’s office in June. Lauren Pacheco tells us that the bike lane design will be modified and that police will pay more attention to the street:

A series of CDOT and Aldermanic driven initiatives will be launched in ensuring bicycle lane safety along this route inculding bike ambassadors educational outreach at the site for drivers, moving the bollards closer to the sidewalk thereby narrowing the bike lane preventing automobile use, and increased police district enforcement requests by Alderman Solis.

How much closer to the sidewalk the bollards will be moved is not known; we are waiting for a response. The bike lane is currently 7 or 8 feet wide and there is a 2 or 3-feet-wide buffer between the bike lane and 10-feet-wide travel lane. The bollards are currently closer to the travel lane, on the left side of the buffer (in the direction of travel). Continue reading Infrastructure updates: 18th Street bike lane and inaccessible sidewalk ramp to be modified

Calling 311 to make service requests about infrastructure is an onerous task


Reporting street issues to 311 was an arduous process that absorbed 24 minutes and 37 seconds of my Monday. I called to follow up on the issue of accessibility I reported in February for the southwest corner of Kinzie Street and Clark Street. After 14 minutes and 09 seconds, the 311 operator found three calls for service – all were marked closed – for that stepped curb! She asked if the problem still existed (it does) and made a new record (the fourth one). The other two records, neither of which were mine, both indicated that it was inaccessible to wheelchairs. She told me that on one of the existing records there was confirmation that it was a vaulted sidewalk (meaning there’s a hollow space underneath). This may be part of the reason this corner wasn’t fixed after the ADA lawsuit.

My original request for this curb problem is 12-00337103, made on February 22, 2012. Today’s request is 12-01060656. Continue reading Calling 311 to make service requests about infrastructure is an onerous task

How LaSalle Street Metra station maintains hard-to-find reputation


A new intermodal link at Congress Parkway and Financial Place, leading passengers up to Metra platforms, as viewed from the northwest.

If there were a contest for “best hidden train station in the Loop,” the dubious winner would be Metra’s LaSalle Street station. Have you ever tried and failed to find this station, or had to give extremely detailed directions to help someone else find it? If your answer is “yes,” you’ve got lots of company.

So why is it such a mystery?

Much of the signage directing “potential” passengers is small, placed in mid-block locations far out of visual range from adjacent intersections, and doesn’t follow the design standards of Metra signs. The station itself is tucked and hidden behind the Chicago Board Options Exchange; the platforms are also above ground with a single point of entry. This aerial view gives you a point of reference. Continue reading How LaSalle Street Metra station maintains hard-to-find reputation

Tackling the hard stuff


Ever hear the phrase, “low hanging fruit“? It is the most annoying phrase in planning circles, and it abounds in all industries. It means to accomplish the easy stuff first. And I think it presumes that when the easy stuff is accomplished, then the hard stuff will be attempted next. Right?

That. Rarely. Happens.

The City of Chicago settled a lawsuit in 2007 that required it to spend a $50 million over 5 years (2007-2011) in “new money” (not previously budgeted to repair sidewalks) to fix curb ramps at crosswalks to make them compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It turns out that what’s accessible to people with disabilities really makes things accessible to everyone. In each construction season, Loop workers saw many curb ramps change in a matter of days. And it happened all around the city. Continue reading Tackling the hard stuff