Walk, bike, or drive down Broadway today, what do you find? An intimidating, frustrating speedway as difficult to cross on foot as it is to navigate by car. Wednesday’s public meeting at Weiss Memorial Hospital marked the big first step toward transforming Broadway into the bustling, lively, and safe commercial corridor it should be. As the meeting made clear, this is a street people currently avoid whenever possible. This situation has to change to bring life to the El stations, storefronts, restaurants, and historic theaters that run along it.
Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) staff and representatives from Alderman Cappleman’s office introduced an informed and enthusiastic crowd of 40+ to the Complete Streets redesign of Broadway between Montrose and Foster.
CDOT Project Manager Mike Amsden presented a two-section redesign that considers the needs of all roadway users and discourages speeding. The proposed Complete Street is broken down into two sections, Montrose to Wilson, and Wilson to Foster. The new Broadway would knit together neighborhoods and destinations, bringing visitors and residents out to enjoy the street.
Both sections will undergo a Road Diet. CDOT has successfully implemented Road Diets on streets with average daily traffic of 25,000 with no meaningful increase in congestion, according to Amsden. The proposed changes would result in the net loss of only 4 parking spaces along the project’s 1.05 miles.
Why A Road Diet?
At 60-70 feet across, Broadway is excessively wide for the roughly 11,000 cars that travel down it on an average day. The current 4-5 lane configuration encourages speeding and weaving as drivers try to get past left-turning cars and large buses.
The crossing distances for Uptown’s pedestrians, many of whom are elderly or disabled, are too great. As overall crash data shows, at 909 crashes over a 5-year periods with disproportionate injuries to pedestrians, the status quo is a real safety problem.
A Road Diet will eliminate two travel lanes, replacing these lanes with dedicated bike lanes–buffered and barrier protected–and a center left turn lane, making turns easier, crossing distances shorter, and the rules of the road more apparent for everyone. Amsden emphasized that Road Diets improve the safety of the most vulnerable users–pedestrians and cyclists–as well as motorists.
Montrose to Wilson (photo by Steven Vance)
- Barrier-protected Bike Lanes. At 70 feet wide this section of Broadway provides lots of possibilities. In this case floating parking lanes protect cyclists from traffic and shorten crossing distances.
Wilson to Foster (photo by Steven Vance)
- Buffered bike lanes. With less width and more driveways, CDOT is proposing buffered bike lanes to give cyclists more separation from doorings. While this treatment still puts cyclists in traffic, it’s a big improvement over the current roadway.
Leland viaduct. Left turns will be banned and the right lane will be bikes/right-turn-only in order to cut down on accidents caused by poor visibility.
Curve at Racine and Lawrence. Better markings and longer turn lanes to help drivers and cyclists better anticipate turns and oncoming traffic.
From the enthusiastic response of all those at the meeting, this redesign is an impressive fix to a problem long bemoaned by Uptown residents. It stands alongside and links up exciting local developments such as the Argyle Shared Street, Participatory Budgeting projects to install protected bike lane on Leland, and to fix the dreaded intersection at Broadway, Monstrose, and Sheridan.
Bike Uptown urges CDOT and the City of Chicago Bike Program to stay bold in their vision, and to implement clear infrastructure to help cyclists navigate Uptown’s tricky intersections. The Broadway Complete Streets redesign is Uptown’s first look at a truly innovative, place-making public way and represents a big step forward towards a bikeways network that serves all of Uptown’s residents and our surrounding neighbors, no matter their mode of travel.
The full presentation from August’s public meeting can be found here.
posted by Eric Hanss