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Permanent Car Ban On Andersonville’s Clark Street, Edgewater’s Bryn Mawr?

brynmawr.1Chicago’s Active Transportation Alliance (ATA), a city-funded organization that calls for continued plans of car-free streets, spaces and plazas, has released a list of 20 streets throughout the city they deem worthy of street closures. These closures would ban parking spaces and/or lanes of traffic to accommodate pedestrians and bikes. The ATA cites the popular success of areas such as Navy Pier and Times Square as reasons for these type of permanent street closures. On the ATA’s website, Executive Director Ron Burke explains, “We believe a Complete Streets strategy that accommodates all modes of travel, including cars, should be the standard approach to street design. But we should also look for those unique opportunities where converting street space into car-free zones really works to improve communities.”

Many residents in Edgewater are rightly concerned at the idea of Bryn Mawr (between Broadway and Sheridan) and segments of Clark Street in bustling Andersonville, being closed permanently to traffic. According to an ASCO (Assn. of Sheridan Road Condo/Co-op Owners) e-blast, Alderman Harry Osterman flat out says “NO! Bryn Mawr will not be closed to traffic between Broadway and Sheridan.” ASCO president Sheli Lulkin adds in the e-blast ,”With all the work and investment put into Bryn Mawr and its businesses, why would anyone come up with such a ridiculous idea?”

These street closure plans, in fact, are haunted by such failed previous attempts such as the State Street car ban which was reopened to traffic in 1996. The closing of State street threw the area’s businesses into a further economic slump. In addition the crime shot up tremendously. With Edgewater’s Bryn Mawr Avenue and Andersonvilles’s Clark Street experiencing  incredible booms in business over the last decade, businesses should have strong concern over such drastic plans. They Have nestled their businesses into properties that may change significantly if the ATA gets their way. That is a gamble they may not want to take after so much investment.

Here is a list of the Active Transportation Alliance’s top streets recommendations:

Downtown

  • Dearborn and/or Clark, River North to South Loop. Example concept: convert a travel lane on Clark St. to a protected bike lane with a landscaped seating area next to it.
  • Monroe Ave. between Michigan Ave and Lake Shore Drive. Example concept: make the entire street segment car-free and extend the existing park space. Wide, well-lit underpasses would replace difficult crossings at Michigan and Lake Shore Drive.
  • Segments of Oak Street in the Gold Coast.
  • Segments of Rush Street in the Gold Coast.
  • Michigan Avenue Magnificent Mile. More information at Transitized.Com

North

  • One or more streets near Wrigley Field
  • Segments of Broadway Ave. in Lakeview. Example concept. From Diversey to Belmont, make the entire street a car-free greenway with landscaping, seating, restaurant patio space and more. Use diverters to prevent local cut-through traffic, Clark and Halsted absorb traffic.
  • Segments of Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park
  • Simmonds Dr. between Lawrence and Foster through the lake front park.
  • Segments of Clark St. in Andersonville
  • Milwaukee Ave. through the square of Logan’s Square
  • Bryn Mawr between Broadway and Sheridan
  • Segments of Webster Ave. in Lincoln Park

South

  • Segments of 47th Street in Bronzeville.
  • Segments of E. 53rd Street in Hyde Park
  • Segments of 18th St. in Pilsen. Example concept: dead end Carpenter, Miller and/or Morgan streets on the north side of 18th St. to create a pedestrian plaza. These streets already have limited through traffic because they extend just two blocks to the north before dead-ending at train tracks, and each street is offset on either side of 18th .
  • Ellsworth and/or Payne Drives in Washington Park

West

  • Taylor Street in University Village between Racine and Ashland.
  • Segments of 26th street in Little Village
  • Humboldt Dr. and/or Luis Munoz Marin Dr. in Humboldt Park. Example concept. Close these streets to car traffic during the summer to effectively expand park space and give people a safe place to walk and bike. This is common in other cities but not in Chicago.

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