Wednesday, March 5, 2008

On the Pavement: Flow is a Good Thing

posted by Elizabeth Fama

Late Notice: there's a meeting tonight at Ray School at 7 PM to allow neighbors a chance to talk about a darned good proposal to open up 57th Street to a westward flow from Stony Island (along with aesthetic improvements). The meeting promises to be full of cranky neighbors, so, dear Reader, why don't you go and be a voice of reason?

57th and Stony Island. NIMBYs like fortification.

The businesses on 57th Street would benefit a whole lot from making this street two-way, instead of one-way. Heck, the parking lot of the Museum of Science and Industry pours out directly onto this road. Think of all those customers.

Besides, this sort of fortification sends the wrong message. It says, "We want to make it as difficult as possible to get into our neighborhood, because we like living on a deserted island." It says, "NIMBY."

(There's another meeting on March 12, at 8 AM, at Ray School. The material will be the same, namely CDOT information on traffic counts, and a presentation of the proposal, with a chance for discussion. These meetings are the beginning of the process to consider this change.)

43 comments:

Jennifer said...

I don't know--I think half of Istria's charm is that there isn't a stream of traffic whizzing mere inches from their little outdoor seating area, and because the Metra/South Shore passengers scatter in all directions I fear that someone might get creamed before they learn to watch for westbound traffic first. Plus that's one heck of a blind spot if you're coming south on Lake Park.

It was only somewhat recently (or maybe I've just been here too darn long) that westbound auto traffic was prohibited along that stretch, right? What was the reasoning back then?

Will someone post a follow-up of the meeting(s) here? I'd like to know what CDOT has to say; I'm sure they have more hard data than fretful guessing.

chicago pop said...

Yes, let's see the CDOT data on traffic flow, etc. Clearly, if that lane were opened up -- as I believe it should be -- there would need to be some tinkering with vehicular sightlines, traffic calming, etc. But I think it is entirely do-able. It might in fact actually, as urban traffic tends to do, slow things down at that intersection, in which traffic southbound on Lake Park sort of rolls through.

And of course there's the symbolism of the thing. Stay out.

Elizabeth hit the nail on the head. NIMBYs like fortification. Cities, as Jane Jacobs made clear, need connectivity.

Elizabeth Fama said...

Jennifer, Istria is in favor of the change, if that affects your gut feelings at all.

I'll try to find out how long it has been one-way, but it has been ages, old woman, so you might not like the answer. ;-)

As for safety, I think the meeting is going to show the physical changes that will address that.

EdJ said...

Make sure you ask how many bus stops need to be eliminated to open up free parking spaces to accomodate all of the extra cars entering the neighborhood ;-).

Jennifer said...

Re: Istria, good for them. I was wondering more about the customers, who sometimes give cyclists the evil eye for rolling westbound down 57th anyway. (Not that I'd know anything about that, of course.) I guess that's not so much NIMBYism as disapproval of our shameless, lawless ways. Ergo I guess I should support any measure that brings more bike traffic legally into Hyde Park.

Re: ages, it can't have been more than ten years. Somewhere I swear I still have a whole bunch of UofC prospie lit from 98-99 directing visitors to the campus from Lake Shore Drive via 57th. I still very clearly remember coming for a visit with my mother and driving that way, and she began freaking out because the directions took us *gasp* THROUGH THE NEIGHBORHOOD! But by Woodlawn she'd decided that maybe it wasn't so bad.

Famac said...

I think the sign is ugly, but the idea is sound. Sometimes there's a reason for things that gets lost in time.

I've always assumed 57th became one-way to prevent "the wrong traffic" from getting into Hyde Park.

Now I live in a high rise overlooking the S&I Museum, so I not only watch the traffic - I wade through it.

S&I's main parking exits at the intersection in question.

Imagine hundreds of out-of-towners heading home at closing, but driving straight into Cafe Asphixia instead.

It would happen.

And S&I closes when traffic is heavist along all routes in this area.

Closing 57th diverts traffic from a frustrating dead-end to the two places tourists want to go: the Ryan and LSD.

It's a good thing.

chicago pop said...

Imagine hundreds of out-of-towners heading home at closing, but driving straight into Cafe Asphixia instead.

It would happen.


Dude, you should write the copy for disaster movie trailers.

EdJ said...

I think that some of the potential problems can be dealt with through better signage showing the way to both the Ryan and LSD.

We can also advocate that the "DO NOT ENTER" sign be replaced with a WELCOME TO HYDE PARK" sign instead. Beter signs t the expressways move people out more efficiently and the welcome sign would show that they are entering a residential neighborhood. There are ways to deal with potential traffic problems.

I say let's see how that's dealt with. We also have to be aware of the proximity of Bixler, but, again, there are ways to deal with that.

erith1 said...

This brings up a good point though.

What does everyone always talk about on this blog? Bringing in outsiders to make this a safer, better (denser) neighborhood.

So if 57th isn't the right way to get these "hundreds of out-of-towners", this veritable flood of vacationers with dough to spend into our neighborhood, what is the right way? Because I want a piece of that action!

Raymond said...

I've been here since 1996 and it's been closed Westbound ever since I remember.

I support this change...which means it'll never happen.

Richard Gill said...

I was there. The meeting was moderated by the U of C, which officially has no position on the proposed change.

I guess about 25 to 30 people attended. Based on the sign-in sheet, it appeared about 70-75 percent of the people were from an area bounded by 56th, Harper, Kimbark and 58th Street. Most, but not all of these (surprise!) spoke against opening up westbound 57th at Stony Island. Then there were other people (like me) from elsewhere in the neighborhood, some of whom (like me) think it sounds like a good idea.

CDOT had two traffic engineers there, who made a presentation on expected traffic impacts of the change. They said that based on their findings, the change is quite workable. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the weaker speaker of the two did most of the talking and allowed himself to be constantly interrupted by those who had already made up their minds that the proposal is a bad BAD idea.

According to CDOT, the additional westbound traffic on 57th, west of Lake Park, would be 60 to 90 vehicles in the peak hour. Presently, between 135 and 160 vehicles turn right onto westbound 57th from southbound Lake Park at the peak of each rush hour. Total 24-hour traffic on 57th Street, including both directions, would increase about 500 from about 4000 vehicles at present. CDOT says this is right in the normal range for streets like 57th.

The (unsubstantiated) objections were - congestion, parking, safety, pollution, quality of life, etc. Arguments about the need to make Hyde Park more accessible and navigable fell on deaf ears of the "against" people. It became clear that they don't want Hyde Park to be more accessible and navigable. At least they don't want it to be accessible; maybe once you've found your way in, it's ok to be able to find your way around.

The owner of Powell's Books spoke in favor of the change. He thought it would be good for more people (particularly museum visitors) to be able to easily enter the neighborhood and patronize local businesses. Then there arose a criticism from the gallery that this whole thing is only about helping business (BAD). It seems that some residents don't want to see local business improve, if the additional customers come from Council Bluffs, Bolingbrook, or Winnipeg. Maybe they object to me, coming all the way from East Hyde Park.

A few others, myself included, spoke in favor. My points were (1) that the additional cars on 57th would not be a net increase in the neighborhood and that some streets would have reduced traffic; (2) that, as stated by CDOT, traffic in front of Bret Harte School would be reduced; and (3) that connections between campus buses and Metra would be more convenient and safer because buses would be able to pull up to the north curb at the 57th Street station with the bus doors right at the station entrance.

As the meeting ended, some guy more or less commandeered the floor and got away with taking a straw poll, pro and con. Watch next week's Herald to see if they do anything with it.

Yes, as Elizabeth says, come to the March 12 meeting, listen to the presentation (even if you have to listen over the outbursts), and make yourself heard, whatever your opinion is. It is early enough in the process to make a difference. I think a decision has a way to go yet.

Finally, it was asked when and why the barrier at 57th & Stony was installed. Nobody, including CDOT, knew the when, other than it was presumably some time after the Big Bang. The guesses as to why were all over the place.

Zig & Lou said...

Another interesting factor in this debate is that Metra (on its website) considers parking on the east and west sides of Lake Park between 56th and 57th to be parking for their riders (the lack of meters would seem to confirm this) and by comparison has no parking noted for the commuters at the nearby 51st or 53rd street stations (or even 47th Street, where there is a bus interchange). I will not mention the Metra suggested parking at the 59th Street station, as that is a much different can of worms.

chicago pop said...

Thanks to Richard Gill, who once again was our man in Havanah and provided a comprehensive report.

So let's tally the advantages here: traffic on westbound 57th would increase only incrementally, which means (following the logic of the grid street pattern, as opposed to the "arterial" system) that pressure would be taken off side streets, including 56th in front of AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL; (hey, I'm stealing the "save the little kids argument" from the NIMBYs -- I love it!); and a a prominent local businessperson that people associate with the heart and soul of Hyde Park wants it (and he's not a chain! er, wait...).

I suppose I could have predicted that whoever did the talking on behalf of CDOT would be the traffic engineering equivalent of Michael Dukakis or whoever did the talking on behalf of the City on the Point, etc. etc. When will these people ever learn. They need to get their fa-shizzle and put it up front.

Elizabeth Fama said...

Thank goodness for Richard Gill, Man on the Street, Patient Participant, Force Against NIMBYs.

The HPK-CC web site confirms my suspicions about when that street became one-way:

The decision to make 57th one-way eastbound has been one of the most contentious leftovers from Urban Renewal. Some say the Artists Colony on the stretch died (deliberately?) when the street was made one way, with at least active consent of the University.

chicago pop said...

If that passage from the HP-K CC website above is at all accurate, then that lane of 57th has been closed for some 40 odd years. And not to keep outflow from the S&I from swamping the street.

Getting back to phobias about more traffic/congestion/danger along 57th if that lane is opened up: it's all phooey, but here's why. As we've said with regards to possible development on 53rd St., even if it were correct to assume that traffic volume would increase significantly, the effect this has on a grid street pattern with stop signs at every block, is in fact to slow things down.

Slower cars are better cars.

To paraphrase Gordon Gekko, "Congestion is good." It's what you want for walkability.

Even if the incremental increase in traffic flow that would result from opening that lane were greater than what CDOT is estimating, this would still benefit all non-armored moving objects which share the roadway with automobiles (children, dogs, adults, cyclists, skateboarders) and yes, even other drivers too.

LPB said...

Richard,

Thanks for your synopsis of the meeting. The floor's anti-business reaction to the owner of Powell's Books makes me wonder if the NIMBYs who want to populate Hyde Park exclusively with local businesses are the same NIMBYs who don't want to allow westbound traffic on 57th from Stony Island.

Are there two different segments of NIMBYs? Or, are the NIMBYs just schizophrenic?

EdJ said...

Do we have the technology to start an internet petition in support of the proposal?

Stephen said...

I do think it is important to look a little deeper than the estimated increase in traffic. It is also important to consider the source of that increase.

Undoubtedly, some of the increase (perhaps most?) will be from people who either live or work in the Hyde Park neighborhood. The remaining increase will be from those who live outside of Hyde Park. In my mind, the concern is really going to be about those who are from outside Hyde Park, who may not be aware of pedestrian patterns on 57th, and those who are using the street as a thoroughfare (but, this would also apply to those who live in work in Hyde Park). People using the street as a thoroughfare or who are not aware of pedestrian patterns are presumably the most likely group to be a problem - the problem being driving too fast or carelessly. This is the element we should investigate.

So, how do we make it safe? One good idea used extensively in other neighborhoods - speed bumps. Speed bumps work wonders to slow traffic and make an area safer. It would seem one or two speed bumps (especially near Bixler) would solve a large percentage of the problem. 57th already has enough stop signs to slow traffic effectively (even cabs go slow) - although something would need to protect pedestrians from cars emerging from the underpass.

Really, the discussion should start by assuming 57th is opened up, and then examine the problems. Next, solve the problems. Solve the problems and it's a winning situation for those who live and work in Hyde Park, and for those who want to enjoy Hyde Park from without. Starting the discussion at "should we open 57th street" is starting at the wrong place (and walking into the hands of the obstructionist MINORITY). As much as I hate the automobile culture (and believe me, I hate it), the 57th street situation as it is really makes very little sense.

While we are at it, we should have speed bumps on Dorchester. Believe me, traffic patterns on Dorchester (speeding is rampant) are more of a problem than any likely traffic increase on 57th.

chicago pop said...

Well put.

Really, the discussion should start by assuming 57th is opened up, and then examine the problems. Next, solve the problems. Solve the problems and it's a winning situation for those who live and work in Hyde Park, and for those who want to enjoy Hyde Park from without.

Bingo.

Tom said...

Stephen: your last point is spot on. This discussion shouldn't be started at whether this should happen or not. Its clear that for the sake of the 57th St. businesses (who all seem to be in favor of opening it up) and how the neighborhood should present itself to the outside world, that the discussion should start with "we are opening this up and now what minor problems might we have to deal with."

As someone who walks from East Hyde Park down 57th St. to get to work each day I really don't see too many people speeding. Usually the only problem I have is people rolling through stop signs.

I don't really see speed bumps slowing things down anymore than increased traffic already will. Plus, if this increased traffic is from out of Hyde Park, they are probably less likely to speed considering how narrow 57th is and how many stop signs are there. Of course I'm also biased against speed bumps because I bike down there sometimes and hate speed bumps when I bike.

I guess we all have our own little personal biases though...

Zig & Lou said...

"57th already has enough stop signs to slow traffic effectively (even cabs go slow) - although something would need to protect pedestrians from cars emerging from the underpass. "

I believe that "something" would be the Darwin effect manifesting itself. There is not a crosswalk North and South at 57th and Lake Park. Look both ways, look again, then cross.

chicago pop said...

Edj mentioned setting up an online petition to show support for opening up 57th St.

If someone wants to look into it and set it up, I'm happy to link to in on the blog (hey, I plugged for the HPKCC's survey, I can plug for this).

I do hope that folks are equally interested in keeping some pressure on Hairston to review her rationale for rerouting bus lines for parking spots as well; it seems that this issue most directly affects students, who because they are generally stateless individuals and therefore without any pull, may get shafted -- their resident neighbors need to take this up for them (as some already have.)

Stephen said...

tom: I bike as well, and I know speed bumps are annoying. It was really more of an illustration than a hard and fast policy position (although, I do think the Dorchester speeding is a little out of control at times). I agree the "problems" are minor, if not imagined.

zig & lou: oh yes, the Darwin effect. I forgot that. :)

cjb said...

I love this blog.

Two things -- is the next meeting really at 8:00 AM? Or is it PM?

I agree speed bumps on 57th are necessary -- based on the stop signs and narrowness. If people are looking for a throughfare, then its easy enough to go down the Midway or 55th.

I've long hated that 57th closure. I usually shop at the Dominick's on Jeffrey (even before the Co-Op closed). Trying to get to Kimbark from South Shore is frustratingly circuitous. Add in the boon to local businesses and it's really a no brainer.

Michael said...

I don't drive, but occasionally when I am directing non-HPer's from the passenger side, I nearly direct them onto turning the wrong way onto 57th street. It just seems like the logical thing to do, as it's a fairly major, odd-numbered street. Barring some particular reason why this block should be blocked off to traffic, I don't see why something that makes navigating needlessly complicated should prevail. Is any other block in Chicago one-way just for the hell of it?

As a tangent, there's a sign pointing cyclists up the wrong way on Hyde Park at this intersection with 57th. Does this make sense to anyone at all?

catuca48 said...

Yes, the meeting is at 8 am on March 12th in Ray School, room 306

Elizabeth Fama said...

Michael, I think all the bike signs are official bike-lane routes, as published in a City pamphlet. That's why there's a bike sign at Harper and 56th that tells you to go north on Harper to get to the lake, even though it seems to make more sense to go east on 56th once you're standing under the sign. If J/Tati is reading, he can confirm...

SR said...

I don't see why something that makes navigating needlessly complicated should prevail. Is any other block in Chicago one-way just for the hell of it?

I don’t know about the rest of Chicago, but in Hyde Park, oh my yes. Note that only one north-south street, Woodlawn, continues uninterrupted through the entire neighborhood, there are 4 southbound exits from LSD but only 2 northbound ones, and there are numerous spots in the neighborhood where 2-way streets suddenly turn into one-ways. All of this was engineered during the urban renewal period specifically for the purpose of making the neighborhood hostile to through-traffic.

One development, the toaster building on 55th St (which interrupts the flow of Dorchester, Blackstone, and Harper) was reputedly targeted at breaking up the main drag of a local street gang (known as the Blackstone Rangers at the time, you can read more about them here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_P._Stones.) I don’t know if it had the impact it was supposed to or not; there was still plenty of El Rukn (a successor group) graffitti all over the neighborhood in the mid-80s when I first moved here. It seems to be all gone now though, haven’t seen any in years.

A lot of this is difficult or impossible to undo now, though to the extent it can be, it should be. If the U of C is serious about trying to make Hyde Park a “destination” neighborhood in order to improve retail options, it should be pushing pretty hard for changes like the one being discussed here.

Richard Gill said...

"Slower cars are better cars."

"Congestion is good."

Or, in the words of one of the CDOT engineers at Wednesday's meeting, "On a street like 57th, congestion is your friend." He went on to say that congestions makes traffic slower and therefore safer for both cars and pedestrians.

As a nonsequitur, have you seen what's happening at the Treasure Island this week? Delivery trucks galore; shelves being stocked; technicians all around; vendors working in the cafe area with delivery lists, computers, cellphones; racks being steam cleaned. Outstanding!

Jennifer said...

Something like that.

Richard Gill said...

Some follow-up thoughts and responses to various comments:

(1) The idea of an on-line petition is a good one, as it can reach a lot of people. However, it's not a substitute for attendance at meetings and direct communication with elected officials.

(2) The March 5 meeting at Ray School saw the standard approach of Hyde park residents who are against a proposal: Try to stop the conversation before it starts; keep interrupting; attempt intimidation; change the subject; question motives; discredit the professionals; demonize. It didn't reach the pitch of the Co-op or Point confrontations, but the elements were all there.

At various meetings, I have found it is NOT necessary nor advisable to fight the disruptive tactics by using those tactics. My experience is that eventually those who want to speak and act like adults get called on by raising their hands. The moderators get weary of being bombarded with NIMBYisms and are glad to hear from the other side (in a forceful yet civilized tone).

Next meeting: Wednesday morning, 8AM, March 12, Ray School.

(3) The decision about opening up 57th Street at Stony Island could go either way. But the decision needs to visibly engage and consider the whole neighborhood; don't allow it to be scuttled by a relatively small number of people who think they own the street and won't look beyond the curb line.

Gosh, if more people come along 57th Street and stop to eat at Medici, the NIMBYs might not always get their favorite table. (Nobody said that, but I could hear the wheels turning). Yes, life is a bitch.

(4) Some man at the March 5 meeting complained that the CDOT analysis was all about the "motorcar." Well, duh, it was a traffic study.

(5) No, the NIMBYs do not constitute a monolith. The "M" stands for "My." The common thread may be opposition to change, but it would be interesting to put them all in a room and tell them, "Ok, the items on the table are the hotel, McMobil, 53rd & Cornell, Harper Court, and 57th Street. Were going to do three of them. You tell us which three it should be."

(6) I've got to get my wife to read this blog. She won't believe someone wrote, "Thank goodness for Richard Gill."

Pskosey said...

Beth:
When I was in graduate school for planning at UIC in 1992, I did a traffic analysis of Hyde Park and identified opening this segment as recommendation to increase flow. So, its been at least since then that it has been closed. Personally, I support the decision to re-open the street. Chcago's grid system works best when traffic has the most options for flow.

Many comments focus on traffic calming measures, to be sure they are important and can be emplyed here. Also, floks who are looking for quick access to the Ryan will travel west through the midway to 55th. Bottom line, it makes sense.

I also love the suggestion to replace the "do not enter" sign with a "welcome to hyde park" one instead.

Elizabeth Fama said...

Pskosey, if only you had presented your findings to the alderman back in 1992! Maybe, just maybe we'd be a decade and a half further along in the glacial pace of Hyde Park Change...

Jennifer said...

Well, the glaciers are all melting pretty rapidly, so that must be a sign that change is coming!

catuca48 said...

CDOT clocked the travel times between 57th & Cornell to Washington Park via, 55th, 57th and 59th. …The midway is 2 minutes faster – which to most people will make a significant difference, when youo are talking about 5 - 7 minute drive total.

Via 57th St = 7 3/4 minutes

Via 55th st = 6 ½ minutes

Via Midway = 5 ½ minutes

People may try 57th St once but, most likely that will be it.

SR said...

Via Midway = 5 ½ minutes

Eh-oh, before coming in and reading this this morning I was, yet again, mentally composing an email to the Alderman begging for speed bumps or more lights or something along the Midway. I almost got mowed down this morning by a driver on a cell phone who blew through a stop sign (and had a child passenger in the car too, NICE). I have a near-death experience like this crossing the Midway about once or twice a year on average, my coworkers report the same. The problem seems to be that it's just too easy to for drivers to get up to a nice cruising speed along there because of the light traffic.

It's debatable whether additional congestion will solve that problem by slowing down traffic, or if we need speed bumps or lights or whatever (I don't see this problem as an argument for keeping that entrance closed off at all, since having it closed now doesn't seem to be helping), but currently it is a very bad thing for pedestrians that traffic blows through the Midway so quickly. There are going to be hundreds more of them to worry about when that new dorm gets completed, too.

Claire said...

I am a high school student at Lab, live on 57th street, and I'm against this idea. No one stops at stop signs in the neighborhood, and it's kind of hard to dodge minivans with 30lbs of homework on your back. I may be exaggerating a little, but I'm a lot more careful about crossing streets then most of the people I know. I actually cross at crosswalks and look for cars. Once I was walking to potbelly's with a group of friends who decided to cross right in front of the (currently) one-way street. I ran like heck, and was sure we were all going to die. If that street had been two-way, we probably would have died.

I'm not sure how people driving past the stores will increase profits for the stores on 57th. You're mostly going to get people using the street as a shortcut. I don't blame the local stores for wanting more customers, but this is not the way to get them.

Personally, I am very loyal to the 57th street shops, and always go there first. But I won't be able to buy anything if I've been hit by a driver speeding off Stony Island.

chicago pop said...

You're not going to eliminate bad drivers by eliminating traffic.

You're less likely to have congestion if you have more alternative routes (the magic of the grid system) instead of multiple blockages.

You're more likely to have slower traffic if you have an incremental increase of traffic (and this only at certain times) in the grid.

57th Street is not a hazardous street. It's probably one of the safest in Hyde Park. I'd be willing to put money on it.

chicago pop said...

OK, here's my personal experience:

I walk a baby in a stroller and 1-2 dogs every day down 57th St. I cross multiple times back and forth.

I am the epitome of a vulnerable target.

The traffic on 57th is very well behaved. It is much more dangerous, for obvious reasons, on the Midway, 55th, north Cornell, and Lake Park.

The arguments against opening up 57th are not based on any data or facts; it is all phobias, fears, and nostalgia (for dead neighborhoods where you don't have to deal with other people).

Stephen said...

I agree, 57th is probably one of the safest streets in Hyde Park. That being said, there really are not many streets in Hyde Park that AREN'T safe, per se. I mean, no one in their right mind would cross Lake Park, 55th or the Midway without looking both ways, a couple of times. I do sympathize with the Midway traffic complaints, but only because it is supposedly a pedestrian park.

While I have seen people run stop signs on 57th and elsewhere, it is a minority of people, and it happens everywhere.

Elizabeth Fama said...

Stephen, one crossing that's a chronic problem for me in Hyde Park is the intersection of 55th and Kenwood Ave. There is a crosswalk there, but even when I try hard not to, I sometimes wind up stranded on the 55th Street median, waiting for the traffic to clear in the other direction. I feel vulnerable standing on medians...

Claire, thanks for writing in. Young voices are welcome! I want to point out that there is no crosswalk currently at 57th and Lake Park, so the example of your near-miss is actually an argument in favor of the two-way proposal: the stop signs and pedestrian markings will all be improved, making your crossing choices safer (and, ahem, legal, speaking as a mother).

As for how opening that section up will improve business on 57th Street, well, you're thinking like a pedestrian who lives on 57th Street. Of course your shopping patterns -- and those of other walking residents -- won't change. But you have to think of how else a car can get from, let's say the Museum parking lot to the Medici, without knowing that there's a restaurant there. It would have to go to 59th Street and happen to turn right (why would it?) and then happen to turn right again on Harper or Blackstone (both purely residential streets, with no indication of businesses). Or they would have to go to 56th Street, and turn left on Lake Park (again, why?). Now imagine the underpass is two-way, with a sign that says, "Welcome to Hyde Park." Lunch after their museum trip is secured. Maybe they'll stop and support my favorite local bookstore, 57th Street Books, while they're at it.

Otto said...

There is a crosswalk there, but even when I try hard not to, I sometimes wind up stranded on the 55th Street median

This is certainly consonant with my experience, but the problem with a crosswalk in this two-lane location is that there's almost always a car right behind, even if a driver slows or stops, so nominally correct behavior (625 ILCS 5/11-1002, it appears) by one driver is nothing but an invitation to getting run over by a lane-changer or to be stranded in the middle of the street rather than on the median.

When a driver pulls this stop-in-the-middle-of-55th routine, my general reaction is that their judgment is so poor that I'd really rather not set foot in front of the vehicle in the first place.

Naturally, it's worst in the southern lanes to the east of Monoxide and in the northern ones to the west.

EdJ said...

When I drive down 57th on campus between Woodlawn and Ellis, I fear for the pedestrians, not because of the drivers but because many of the walkers do not pay attention to cars. I've seen pedestrians jump out in front of my car in the middle of the intersection, or cut across the intersection diagonally without any thought to how cars are moving. Of course, when I was a student, I thought that pedestrians had run of everything on campus, so not much has changed. Anyway, it's important that both drivers and pedestrians pay attention and follow the rules of the road.

On a related issue, the intersection at 57th and Ellis is a real problem at some times during the day because of the contest between pedestrians and cars to get where they are going to. Did the traffic analysis get into the need for traffic lights at this or other intersecions to help flow?