Tagtraffic calming

Comment about traffic calming

“Speed bumps are never the answer when chicanes and choking a street to one lane briefly with curb extensions get the same job done more safely. There’s literally no application where speed bumps are more appropriate than a chicane or chokers in any location they’ve been used by PBOT [Portland Bureau of Transportation] so far.”

From Paul Johnson on BikePortland.org.

Photo of drivers straddling the streetcar tracks and impeding the bike lane, in Lovejoy Street in Portland, Oregon. 

The blizzard’s calming effect

Last Wednesday night, after the blizzard had stopped and the city had plowed arterial roads, I took two buses to Pilsen in 36 minutes. Transit buses have an average speed lower than bicycling and I don’t think I could have biked there in 36 minutes. (I didn’t want to bike because I didn’t know the condition of roads from my new place in Avondale to dinner in Pilsen.)

I credit the speedy journey to the complete lack of cars on the road and the few people wanting to go out on Wednesday, as well as ride the bus.

The blizzard gave Chicagoans a break. Hundreds of thousands of workers stayed home on Wednesday. Thousands more got the day off on Thursday. Car traffic remained light through Friday and the Chicago Transit Authority trains and buses were packed on Thursday (partially because of mechanical problems on the Blue Line but also because of new riders who couldn’t drive or carpool).

Chicagoans enjoy strolling through Humboldt Park. Photo by Joshua Koonce.

Many people took walking tours around their parks and neighborhoods, or went to see the calamity of Lake Shore Drive. Flickr is loaded with the explorers’ photos. Check out 2,000+ labeled “snomg chicago.”

The blizzard’s effect on traffic and roads

The snow plows inadvertently created a curb extension at the main intersection in Wicker Park, often used as part of a traffic calming project. This was gone on Saturday, but in addition to its removal, the entire corner sidewalk was cleared.

A lot of bike lanes are buried right now and people riding bikes are riding in the middle shared lanes, further calming traffic. I’m not sure how long the civility I noticed between drivers and bicyclists last week will last, even as bike lanes remain “closed” or have been illegally co-opted into backup parking lanes. See next photo.

These drivers have illegally parked their cars in the bike lane. The municipal code does not offer any relevant (i.e. snow-related) exemptions for parking or standing in bike lanes.

Riding and driving through town has been interesting. There’s no room for people riding bikes to share the lane with drivers side by side, so they must share it front to back.

Humboldt Park “do over”

Read the story below and the final paragraph to fully understand this drawing.

If you, like Alderman Roberto Maldonado (26th Ward), received complaints about speeding traffic and difficulty crossing Humboldt Drive, how would you respond?

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) responded by temporarily changing “the four-lane street into two travel lanes with a center lane used as a combination left-turn lane and pedestrian refuge area, using orange traffic barrels to keep moving cars out of the center lane.” (All quotes from Vote With Your Feet / Time Out Chicago, by John Greenfield.)

Narrowing the lane could reduce automobile speed and the refuge island should make it easier to cross the street, even if it has to be done in two movements. “After CDOT analyzes the effects on traffic speed and behavior, [CDOT spokesperson Brian] Steele says, the changes may become permanent next year.”

But bicyclists are not considered in this installation. That seems to be by design.

“He [Alderman Maldonado] told me that he has no intention of adding a bicycle lane or any other accouterments on that stretch because ‘the road is too dangerous for pedestrians,’” she says. Lottes recently posted on the local bike website thechainlink.org, asking members to lobby Maldonado for bike lanes on Humboldt. “To me the road seems too dangerous for pedestrians because there are no sidewalks, crosswalks or bike lanes.”

A local resident, Gin, asked me if I could draw up something for Humboldt Drive and I drew what you saw above. I based it on a bike lane design I saw in New York City: two-way, barrier protected (see photo below). The intersections between the bike lane and the other lanes will need special care – I don’t have any expertise there, but I know some people in Portland and New York City who do.

What else might you propose? Here’s a map of the park (centered on where I drew the bike lane), and a street view of the location.

© 2017 Steven Can Plan

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