Props to 4th Ward Alderman Will Burns. This is one of the best ideas I've heard about in a while. It's all about slowing things down. And when it comes to crazy traffic on the South Side's underutilized roadways, that's how it should be.
Substantial stretches of King Drive, 31st Street, and 55th/Garfield would be altered to incorporate protected bike lanes, and improved pedestrian safety and crosswalks. This would be done at the expense of lane space currently devoted to vehicular traffic. As a CDOT rep put it on the GRID Chicago blog:
CDOT traffic counts show that all of these roadways currently have more travel lanes and/or lane width than needed to accommodate their traffic volume, and this encourages motorists to drive dangerously. While studies show that road diets work well on streets that serve under 20,000 cars a day, actually improving traffic flow in many cases, 55th Street currently serves only 13,500 cars a day and King Drive only carries 9,000 to 11,500 cars per day. Due to the lack of congestion on these roadways, the agency found that 54% of cars on King are speeding, and 15% or motorists are driving over 40 MPH.
I'm sure lots of cyclists will agree with this traffic analysis based on their personal experience. Here again we see the pathological effects of the South Side's loss of density relative to historic levels: streets like King, Cottage, Indiana, 55th and others are far wider than their current levels of traffic would demand.
The North Side can only dream of having the kind of capacity we have down here. King Drive has 8 lanes! 55th is likewise quite broad as it passes through western Hyde Park and so encourages speeding and disregard for pedestrians.
So why not make room for bikes?
Details on the meeting:
Thanks to HPP reader PM for the update.The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) is presenting on the 55th Street safety improvement project this Wednesday, April 25, from 6:30 – 8pm. This project, between Cottage Grove and Lake Park, seeks to create a safe and comfortable roadway for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit users accessing Washington Park, the University of Chicago, Hyde Park, and the Lakefront. The main features include enhanced pedestrian crosswalks and signage, protected and buffered bike lanes, and a ‘Road Diet’ between Cottage Grove and Kenwood.The meeting is open to the public.Time:
6:30 – 8:00 p.m.Reception: 6:30 – 7:00 p.m.Presentation: 7:00 – 7:30 p.m.Q & A: 7:30 – 8:00 p.m.Location: Alumni House in the Klowden LibraryPresentation by CDOT Project Development Staff: Deputy Commissioner Luann Hamilton and Project Manager Mike Amsden