Accommodating more bike traffic in Andersonville

August 27, 2013 at 7:16 am

Chicago’s DOT doesn’t do bike counts very far outside downtown. It should.

I walk into Andersonville on a daily basis and I always see people riding bikes on Clark St. Right now, Clark St is too narrow and has only sharrows. At times, I see what I believe to be at least half as many people riding bikes as riding in cars – yet bikes are given no real infrastructure. Imagine how many people would be riding bikes if there were proper infrastructure. I wish we had real data to back up my assumptions (perhaps I will nerd out with a clipboard and do my own sometime).

The bikes in the photo above carried more people to the block than the entire block’s worth of parking spaces – in the space of just 3 or 4 parking spaces.

Without getting into a terrible amount of detail or analysis, I believe that Clark St should be better balanced in favor of people riding bikes. This should start in Wrigleyville where the Clark St buffered bike lane ends and extend all the way through Andersonville – providing a long north-south route through lively neighborhoods not currently well-connected by bike infrastructure, and also free from IDOT influence.

The problem? Parking. That will be a problem in Chicago for the foreseeable future (70 years if we’re unlucky!), but it doesn’t mean we can’t dream. I used Streetmix to create my own Clark St, complete with a truly protected bike lane (the ones that get most people out using bikes on the street) and a 50% reduction in parking. If our parking woes did not exist, this could work. Since they do exist – I don’t have a solution. Is there really any plausible solution right now? A parking garage somewhere out-of-sight? Pushing meter parking off onto side streets?

Clark St in Andersonville. Thank you Streetmix.

Clark St in Andersonville. Thank you Streetmix.

Streetmix does not enable me to show you how the stretch looks along the entire street, accommodating the people spots and sidewalk cafés that make a walking and patronizing Andersonville pleasant. But you can assume that, where necessary, the bike lane could move into (and replace) the parking lane to make room for the people spot/seating, or very temporarily mix with the street traffic. Ditto for bus stops: even though the city does not like bumped-out bus stops, there are few other practical ways to harmonize all street uses.

Permanent bike parking (see the right side of the street) replaces car parking to make room for a bike lane. The permanent bike parking acts as a buffer between the bike lane and traffic.

I don’t have all of the answers and this is just my interpretation of what a safer, friendlier Clark St in Andersonville would look like. I encourage you to use Streetmix to imagine the street yourself and share your ideas for this or any other street. I use Google Maps (the classic version) to measure street widths.