CategoryLandscaping

Talking about a pedestrian street for Peoria Street on Vocalo

Click on the rendering to enlarge and learn about the main features. 

Ryan Lakes and I took our Peoria Street pedestrian street proposal to the masses by speaking to Molly Adams and Brian Babylon on Tuesday morning’s Morning AMp show on Vocalo, FM89.5

Listen (or download) to the 15 minute interview on SoundCloud

What is the Peoria Street pedestrian street?

We propose creating a gateway connection between the University of Illinois at Chicago’s east campus and the West Loop neighborhood over the Peoria Street bridge by nearly eliminating car traffic, completely eliminating parking, removing curbs, and adding amenities to make this a place to go to instead of through.

The Peoria Street bridge over I-290/Eisenhower expressway, between Van Buren and Harrison Streets, was closed to car traffic in 1965 when a new entrance for the CTA station opened. This entrance of the UIC-Halsted Blue Line station is by far the most used access point to the busy station, as it’s the closest to campus buildings. In fact, according to a CTA letter to IDOT, “weekday passenger volumes at this station entrance exceed 11 of the other 12 total station passenger volumes at the other stops on the Forest Park Blue Line branch”.

The UIC Campus Master Plan of 2010 calls for creating a gateway at this place, and the Illinois Department of Transportation is proposing to rebuild this bridge as part of its Circle Interchange project. The bridge should rebuilt to accommodate a pedestrian street. However, rebuilding isn’t necessary and our proposal can be implemented in situ.

Ryan Lakes with Vocalo producer and cohost Molly Adams at the Vocalo studio in the WBEZ studio. 

Updated March 20 to bring the chronology of events up-to-date. 

Beautiful renderings of what Bloomingdale Trail will look like in a decade

The easiest place to get on the Bloomingdale Trail now will remain the easiest place. This access point will have three entry points, two of them are ramps. 

I say a decade because that’s how long it will take for all the plants and landscaping on the Bloomingdale Trail elevated park to look like how it appears in these fancy renderings by Michael Van Walkenburg & Associates.

Western Trailhead at Ridgeway Avenue pops up 10 feet above the trail level, over 20 feet above ground level. 

See all the photos from the meeting last Monday. Read my high praise for the project and the planning process on Grid Chicago.

Park beauty

My friend and her son cross the lagoon on their bike in Humboldt Park, Chicago.

Other views of the park:

“Angry geese in Humboldt Park. They were really hissing.” Photo by Joshua Koonce.

“A lovely gravel path by a lagoon in Humboldt Park.” Photo by Eric Rogers.

Chicago is the First City when it comes to permeable paving

The New York Times wrote on Sunday about the Pilsen pollution fighting bike lanes I’m really gung-ho about. They didn’t provide any new information, failing to even mention their location. But they did publish an excellent 3D graphic showing how it works! (The article’s main focus is how Chicago is predicted to become hotter and wetter, “more like Baton Rouge”, and how city planners, geniuses all, are working on this problem.)

First, here’s a photo of what the bike and parking lanes look like now, both made with a topper created by Italcementi that removes nitrous oxides from the air:

Then take a look at this diagram showing the streetscape design on Blue Island between Wood and Ashland (still under construction).

Hat tip to The Car Whisperer – “Chicago may stop paving streets altogether in ten years”.

Livable cities in Russia

When you blog, you “meet” a lot of interesting people around the world. Russian blogger Vladimir Zlokazov writes LiveStreets in both Russian and English. Although he doesn’t translate everything into English, what he does is high quality and methodically written.

His latest English article is a critique of a developer’s plan for a neighborhood in Yekaterinburg, population 1,293,537.

Academichesky – is promoted by the developer (Renova Stroygroup) as a project that utilizes the most innovative practices in architecture and urban planning. However the first built blocks clearly show that advertisment promises are not always consistent with the reality.

He offers suggestions for curb radius, intersection design, bicycle paths through intersections, appropriate locations for parking spaces (stay off the sidewalk!) and curb cuts. The draw for his particular critique are the beautiful 3D architectural renderings to show the suggested solutions in place.

“In places where pedestrian and bicycle crossings are located afar from the intersections additional measures should be taken to make them clearly visible for motorists. Such as using coloured asphalt for instance.”

Readers Ask: Recommending bioswales

The second post in “Readers Ask,” from a planning student in Chicago.

I want to recommend bioswales for my Complete Streets project area which consists of a part of Grand in Chicago, Illinois  There are a lot of surface parking lots over there, and a big shopping mall which is built on a weird arrangement of slopes (Brickyard).  Since I know nothing about bioswales, I’m wondering what you could tell me about how I could go about recommending this. I have no idea what the rainwater runoff issue is over there, but I could only imagine that there would be one, with all the surface parking and weird slopage.

Bioswales are just one of many solutions to water runoff and stormwater collection. Another option is using permeable pavers in the parking lot. The real experts on this are Janet Attarian and David Leopold at CDOT. As a project manager at the Streetscape and Sustainable Design Program, he’s dealt with and implemented bioswales, permeable parking lots, and pollution fighting bike lanes – the works. There’s a parking lot, designed by CDOT, built with a bioswale AND permeable pavement on Desplaines between Polk and Taylor in Chicago (photo below)/

Parking lot has permeable pavement and a bioswale. The site is monitored by CDOT to see how it performs in the winter. Photo by Bryce.

EVERY parking lot has runoff – every parking lot should do a better job managing it. By not better managing our stormwater, we all pay the costs, be it through flood insurance, recovering from floods, or having to build bigger pumps and sewers.

Permeable pavement at Benito Juarez High School in Chicago, Illinois.

Perhaps you shouldn’t recommend a bioswale, but a parking lot that “captures 80% of its runoff” or something through a “variety of methods.”

Bioswale in Portland, Oregon, as part of a green street transformation.

The EPA lists additional Best Management Practices. The Cities of  Seattle and Portland are experts in this. Portland was even able to get parts of its bikeway built by rolling them into the Department of Environment’s Green Streets program, their efforts to reduce stormwater runoff and thus reduce the costs they pass on to their customers that pay for sewer service (like, everyone). I recommend this blog article about Portland’s sustainable design, written by a fellow planning student.

Introducing Grocery Store Bike Parking Ratings

This article is part of a series (it seems) of grocery stores with poor bike parking – it first started with my local Dominick’s. I started an inventory and rating system for Chicago. I welcome your contribution. If you want to start a page for your town, I can help you with that.

After seeing the photos of the wacky bike parking situation at the Lincoln Park Whole Foods on Ding Ding Let’s Ride, I had to take a trip there myself!

By my count, I find that with 3 wave racks (of 2 sizes) and 3 grill racks, there are 27 bike parking spaces. You can debate me and possibly find 4 more.

Surely you can fit more, just like you can fit 4 bikes on a 2-space Chicago u-rack.However, the racks are installed so closer together to make this area quite a pain to find a space. And if you have a long wheelbase cargo bike (bakfiets, Madsen, or Yuba Mundo), GOOD LUCK!

The only space available for a longtail cargo bike like my Yuba Mundo is in a car parking space next to a hybrid Chevy Tahoe illegally parked in a handicapped parking space.

Photo showing too-close placement of the two kinds of racks. Notice that some bikes hang into the curb – it was the only way to use that bike rack. Other spaces might not have been opened when these people arrived.

But officially, for planning purposes, the Chicago Department of Transportation considers that rack as only fitting 2. This area could easily be sheltered. I think it’s something the store should look into. It provides sheltered car parking, which costs proportionally more than sheltered bike racks!

In the future, I expect better from Whole Foods.

For now, Target takes home the cake for providing consistently “good” bike parking. (Great’s the best a store can achieve.) So far, the rating system isn’t fully formed or automated. It’s a work in progress!

Sidenote: Access to Whole Foods via bicycle really sucks. There’s a 5-way intersection controlled by stop signs; then there’s the old railroad track and potholes. It might be better if you come in from the south, but then you have more RR track to deal with.

Photo montage showing how to access Whole Foods from Sheffield by bicycle.

Park wins while parking fails neighborhood

This post on the removal of car parking at a park inspired me to write this post about the addition of car parking at a park.

Palmisano (Stearns Quarry) Park was created out of a dolomite limestone quarry and landfill in Bridgeport. The park is well designed and has a variety of landscape features. It’s quite popular, especially with elderly Asian residents.

Now, after a year of it being open, many diagonal parking spaces were installed on 27th Street. Space was removed from the parkway to create additional parking spaces where only parallel spaces existed.

Access to the park is not an issue. There are hundreds of households and thousands of residents within half a mile. There’re bike lanes and bus stops. There is a signalized intersection that makes it safer for people to cross the street to the park. Lastly, there are many unused parallel parking spaces lining two sides of the park.

So why was parking added? Did the neighbors ask for it? Did the Chicago Park District feel new parking was needed?

In a nutshell, my complaints against this are:

  1. It removed parkway – this should be sacred space. Perhaps we can institute a “tit-for-tat” policy (modeled after a parking meter agreement*) where if parkway is removed in one place, parkway has to be expanded or improved in another place.
  2. Potentially increases traffic in area by encouraging more driving by offering free parking. All parking surrounding the park is free.
  3. Parking space for drivers with handicap badges does not have a ramp. This is the most perplexing part – you may have to open the photo to its full size to notice this.
  4. Bumpout is not a bioswale. I highly doubt anyone will maintain the grass and soil. This landscaping will die.
  5. Bumpout’s large radius will not calm traffic (I watch it every day).

I would like to see the bumpout “island” transformed into a proper curb extension at a stop sign where drivers typically pause in the crosswalk and quickly turn right into southbound Halsted without stopping. I would like to see a bioswale collect the water from the street at this curb and divert it to the park’s wetlands.

*As I understand it, if parking meter spaces are removed and converted to another use (like a curb extension or on-street bicycle parking), a non-metered space must be converted to the equivalent metered spaces removed.

Typical Bean behavior

When you visited the Chicago Bean (er, Cloud Gate), did you do this?

How else did you see your own reflection?

Would you believe me if I told you this was the singular most popular attraction in the Second City?

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