What this means for the Chicago Department of Transportation, which unveiled its Chicago Forward master plan last week: an emphasis on increased safety and efficiency to better serve Chicagoans and fuel economic growth. The 100-page document, which we waded through so you don’t have to, contains a number of initiatives likely to have an effect on residents living in RVJ territory, from large-scale public works projects to small shifts in behavior.
Under the category of “Rebuild and Renew,” CDOT reaffirmed its commitment to removing the Western Avenue overpass at Belmont (page 32), characterized as “obsolete and costly to maintain,” and vowed to replace it with an “attractive, modernized intersection that meets Complete Street standards.” Complete Street is CDOT lingo for thoroughfares that encourage walking, biking and transit. Chicago Forward being the urban planning equivalent of a commencement speech — “Reach for the stars!” — no specific timetable was provided.
Protected bikeways, including a new buffered lane on Roscoe Street, are simultaneously aimed at addressing congestion (fewer cars on the roads) and safety (fewer automobile-cyclist collisions). Similarly, CDOT’s plan to install 300 pedestrian countdown signals at intersections should knock Chicago down a peg or two in the hit-and-run rankings, what with pedestrians typically struck while playing a game of “I have no idea when the ‘don’t walk’ started flashing, but I’m gonna make a break for it anyway.”
A parklet planned for Lincoln Avenue, outside of Heritage Bicycles, 2959 N. Lincoln Ave., is part of CDOT’s Make Way for People program, built around the notion that neighborhoods are more liveable when people have greater access to open space.