I recently found out Chicago’s new SlowStreets grassroots organization At the Pedestrian and Bicyclist Infrastructure Summit held by social media and summit founder Zach Patterson in Ald. Matt Martin (47th) Slow Streets, not to be confused with Slow Streets, are traffic-calmed streets that are restricted to motorized traffic so people can safely walk, bike and play on the streets, the Chicago Department of Transportation said on a handful of roads around the city during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Instead, SlowStreets envisions walking, biking, and other low-speed sustainable modes of travel safely and comfortably with completely car-free roadways. In Andersonville, they launched the “Open Clark Street for car-free use from Foster to Catalpa Plaza.”
Last Saturday I attended the group’s weekly outing in the North Side neighborhood. PatErson said he started the company after a scary encounter with a dangerous driver on Clark in Andersonville. He was riding his bike with his two children in a trailer behind the bike when a violent driver revved their engine and came horribly close to hitting the trailer and the children inside.
While SlowStreets is advocating for Clark to lead the way between Foster Street (5200 N.) and Catalapa Street (5500 N.), where the new car-free plaza is planned, I’d like to see the car-free stretch go a little further south. and the north. Either way, Andersonville is one of several Chicago retail districts where it’s clear that full pedestrianization works. Clark is bustling with people visiting various restaurants and shops. Given the amount of foot traffic in the area, narrow sidewalk widths are inadequate, especially because of the many sidewalk cafes on the sidewalks.
The 22 Clark bus can run along Ashland Avenue, the length of the pedestrian area, half a block west. Residents of Aome in North Ashland (4000 N.), which is served by the 9th Ashland bus, have opposed adding buses to the corridor, citing noise, fumes and, ironically, the damage from building bus bases. Vibrations. Another possible reason for the opposition is that motorists hate to see curbside parking spaces replaced by bus stops. But they probably won’t face strong opposition to running buses on a few blocks of Ashland.
About 30 people gathered at the corner of Clark and Catalpa at 11 a.m. Saturday. The crowd was mostly adults but a few children accompanied their parents. After a few pep talks from Patterson about the groups origins, we headed from Clark/Catalpa to Clark/Farragut Street (5230 N.) and back a few times at a very slow 6-8 mph, catching the mix. – Traffic lane but make sure to keep the bike lane as unobstructed as possible.
As we make our first lap, I notice Zach playing an ad on the loudspeaker announcing that the speed limit on Andersonville Clark has recently been lowered from 25 to 20 mph, but they argue that full pedestrianization is needed to create a truly safe shopping district. For people on foot and by bike. A few drivers handed out information leaflets to drivers and pedestrians alike. I was surprised to see a few drivers taking flyers. At one round I heard someone say, somewhat alarmingly, “Yeah, they do this every weekend.” It’s good that some people are catching on.
Today’s Clark Street jam was a huge success!! Thanks to everyone who came out. People in front of us were merrily crossing the road from shop to shop, and many of them, including drivers, were fans. thank you @andrefor40th For coming to chat with us! pic.twitter.com/tqfiXvrTgg
– Open Clark Street to the People (@slowstreetsorg) October 9, 2022
I enjoyed the slow pace of the ride. Walking with a friend at an easy pace, I was able to get a good look at a mural I had recently seen. I shared with my colleague that my commute on Clark often involves being alert for drivers entering the parking lot, riding on the border of the congested “advisory” bike lanes, or opening a car door. Street pedestrians. That makes it difficult to see murals or storefronts. Surprisingly, the drivers who experienced the slow ride were well behaved. Only one is expressive in the group. “We’re giving cyclists a bad name,” I overheard from one of the riders muttering that a man on a bicycle was obstructing motorists.
At the end of our trip, we met up with local Alder Andre Vasquez (40th). Zach invites Clark to tell Vasquez what needs to be done to start the pedestrian process. Vasquez discussed the process of acquiring Catalpa Plaza. When the outbreak first started, Clark said he wanted to try the walkers. Many business owners are wary and the idea fails. One of the keys to getting pedestrian support from merchants is to show evidence that there has been no negative impact on their business.
In fact, the current arrangement prioritizes curbside parking, at least to the detriment of Andersonville businesses that have wide pedestrian-friendly sidewalks and sidewalk dining. Moreover, if walking, biking, cycling and driving become safer and more convenient in the area, people will change their transportation habits without worrying too much about continuing to drive in the most convenient way. Like cities Seattle They have shown that investments in transit and safe cycling infrastructure lead to greater transit and cycling use.
SlowStreets is currently seeking volunteers to survey visitors to Clark Street, how they got there, and what it takes to convert drivers from driving to walking/biking/transit, as well as delivering merchants. If you would like to participate, contact SlowStreets at TwitterBy email (in Twitter bio) or through them website.