My recent post regarding an idea for pedestrianization of the Magnificent Mile portion of Michigan Avenue (from the Chicago River to roughly Oak St) received some feedback. I do want to make the clarification that ideas, as opposed to plans, are not entirely specific in nature – the planning process is what irons out the details, identifies all stakeholders that would be affected by the plan, et cetera…
In a nutshell: Dream big, anticipate compromise.
I did want to show that I crunched some of the recent ACS 5-year estimate figures from the Census for ZIP code 60611, which entirely encompasses the Mag Mile and the Streeterville neighborhood to the east:
While many commuters in Streeterville drive alone to work, even more walk to work, which is somewhat beneficial when talking about pedestrianization.
More encouraging is that even though some housing units gained access to vehicles (net change +158), 1,300 “lost” access to a vehicle and therefore do not drive. There are only about 5,600 housing units that drive in a car to get to work. This is not really a “loss,” it’s more of a benefit since fewer cars mean less traffic – and it’s in line with declining vehicles miles traveled. A commenter maintains that the number was much higher.
Finally, a combined 54% of commuters walked or took nearby public transportation to get to work. That is your snapshot of how people get to work here – it isn’t just tourists and Chicagoans from other neighborhoods that walk in this area. Most Streeterville residents walk or walk to transit to get to work.
Furthermore, there have been many collisions in which drivers hit a pedestrian, where the pedestrian was the first point of impact. This data is from the Chicago Crash Browser from 2005-2011:
There are also 4 hospitals in the area which would absolutely need to be accommodated in some form. As for the existing private car traffic: Carmageddon does not ensue. Car traffic is not static and changes based on the conditions of the surrounding roadway. People will not drive if they do not receive a marked benefit from it, especially in neighborhoods like Streeterville with good access to transit and “daily needs” amenities like gyms, grocery stores, and the like. However, I do think a good compromise in keeping capacity for moving vehicular traffic of some form on Michigan Avenue could be achieved. If the street were split into five 20-feet sections, one side could be 60 feet wide, acting as a promenade of sorts with seating, restaurants/cafés, performance areas, etc.; the following 20 feet would be for vehicular traffic of some sort (perhaps buses and taxis), and the remaining 20 feet for a wide sidewalk. These are the kind of things that result from ideas.
Updated 8:20 PM to add pedestrian crash data.