Confusing intersection of Milwaukee-Wood-Wolcott to be redesigned and reconstructed in Spring 2013 (was September)

Update September 7, 2012: From the Wicker Park-Bucktown SSA, we get news that this project has been pushed back to spring 2013. It seems IDOT is responsible for this delay. 

The skewed intersection of Milwaukee Avenue, Wood Street, and Wolcott Avenue in Wicker Park will be redesigned and reconstructed this year as part of a project to upgrade the signals. The original project only called for upgrading the traffic signals, which are decades old and very hard to see. Their timing is also awkward, providing no “all red” phase between the red phase of one direction and the following green phase of the cross direction. Construction should begin in September, according to the 1st Ward office.

Confusion is compounded with the addition of a rare slip lane on Wood Street at Milwaukee Avenue, which is created by a small island of concrete that only holds a light signal pole for southbound traffic. More often, islands are used to help protect pedestrians from traffic.

Bird's eye view of Milwaukee Wood Wolcott

View the intersection in a larger map on Bing Maps.

Continue reading Confusing intersection of Milwaukee-Wood-Wolcott to be redesigned and reconstructed in Spring 2013 (was September)

Can I just cross the street safely for a burger?


Two guys trying to cross Belmont Avenue towards Kuma’s Corner in 2008. 

My mom, sister, and I were walking to Kuma’s Corner in Avondale tonight (2900 W Belmont Ave). We were starting to cross Belmont Avenue along Francisco Avenue. Eastbound traffic was backed up at the Elston Avenue/California Avenue light so we easily slipped through stopped traffic. Then we looked to the east at fast moving westbound traffic.

Westbound Belmont Avenue has two lanes at this time of day because of rush hour parking controls (RHPC). You probably know what this is but never knew what it’s called. It’s when you can’t park a car on one side of the street during a morning or afternoon two-hour stretch, and you can’t park on the opposite side of the street during the opposite period. It’s to facilitate faster moving traffic and I believe to relieve congestion. Whether it does that is a good question.

Anyway, there were two lanes of fast moving traffic and there were no gaps so we couldn’t cross. Don’t pedestrians have the right of way when crossing streets? Or do they need permission? I understatedly mentioned something about this to my mother, saying “The law requires that drivers stop for people in crosswalks”.

My mother took this as a cue to throw up her hands in disgust and shout, “Can we cross? Let’s go!”

I don’t know if the two drivers in the two lanes heard her, but they obviously saw her gesture and stopped their vehicles. I told her, “No one does that”, referring to the gesture and shout.

Maybe that’s the key to demanding our right to safely cross.

Right after this happened, I tweeted, “@ChicagoDOT what are you doing to increase compliance w/ ‘stop for peds in crosswalk’ law? Does the CPD pull over drivers anymore? #walkCHI”

Safer roadway designs: How Danes make right turns

I went to Copenhagen, Denmark, in January 2011, and I was there for about 48 hours. I met Mikael of Copenhagenize, who lent me his Velorbis bike. I biked as much as possible, at all hours of the day, and I encountered a lot of the cycling infrastructure that makes it easy to bike and encourages the hundreds of thousands of trips by bike a day – even in winter!

This photo essay shows one of the ways you can design an intersection to facilitate safe right turns and through-maneuevers, for both people driving and cycling, as seen in Copenhagen. I’m posting this to show an alternative to the centered bike lane design common in Chicago that leads to many unsafe merge maneuvers that I mentioned yesterday in A tale of five bridges (first photo).


The driver of the white taxi on the left yielded to bicyclists going straight before making a right turn from the left lane to the right lane and enter the Kennedy Expressway ramp. Not everyone yields.  Continue reading Safer roadway designs: How Danes make right turns

Building Chicago’s first pedestrian scramble

Last week in his interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, new commissioner of the Department of Transportation (CDOT), Gabe Klein, indicated he wanted to explore installing a pedestrian scramble at some intersections in the city. This would mean that vehicle traffic is stopped in all directions (an “all red” phase) and people walking can cross in any direction from any corner to any other corner.

“It’s something we would be interested in piloting at the busiest intersections,” Klein said.


Continue reading Building Chicago’s first pedestrian scramble