Transit Web home. Accessibility Hot Topics. Bicycling and Running and Bike Trail plan and maps. Parking Woes/hopes. Lake Park Avenue/Metra Viaducts Initiative. People with Disabilities Task Force. Quality of Life page. Quality of Life Hot Topics.

Walkable and Safe Walking and Safe Traffic Communities

A service of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Transit and Parking Committee and the HPKCC website,
Help support our work: Join the Conference!

Join the Transit Task Force-contact chairman James Withrow.

See a report on Snow and Ice and related safety issues from the Older Women's League Hyde Park's Access and Transportation Committee, including what CDOT is doing.
See June 16 2012 "Walk and Roll: Sidewalk Survey of 55th Street, From the Lake dfron to Ellis Avenues."
Read the Report in pdf.
George Rumsey (comments: writes:
If anyone would like to be involved in "Walk and Roll 2," we're beginning to plan our second survey for late September. We're thinking of covering Lake Park, Cornell, and Hyde Park Blvd. between 53rd and 57th Streets. If you'd like to be involved or kept informed, drop me a note.

December 2016. Thanks to a $12M gift from Ken Griffin arranged by mayor Emanuel, the remaining sections of the Lakefront Trail, including by Promontory, Jackson and South Shore Cultural Center, will be refurbished, with where possible separation of bike and pedestrian traffic. Standard widths for th e 18 miles of Lakefront trail will be 12" asphalt for bikes and for pedestrians 14' asphalt plus 6' soft-mix on each side. Note that it will not be easy or perhaps possible to meet these standards in all sectors from Jackson south.

April 13, 2015. Monday, 6 pm. Community meeting convened by Ald. Hairston and South East Chicago Commission on 57th St. Streetscape Priority. University Church, 5655 S. Woodlawn. The issue at hand will be to review best way to spend some funds now available. There may also be discussion of whether, at some point, to open 57th to two-way traffic Lake Park to Stony I-- but discussions with CDOT etc. have not yet opened on that matter. THE SURVEY ON STREETSCAPE PRIORITIES FROM SECC HAS BEEN EXTENDED AT LEAST PAST THE APRIL 13 MEETING- visit for link.

55th Streetscape Masterplan advances with visualizations at 2nd meeting

As at the Feb. 2015 HPKCC board meeting. 55th Street Streetscape Master Plan. CDOT (Chicago Department of Transportation) held a well-attended January 29 public meeting. Trish Morse reported on details of problems and provisionally-offered fixes for this near mile and a half stretch. The CDOT presentation is online at Comments can be submitted to, 312-744-3100. Morse pointed out that while many innovative improvements are offered with emphasis on making the experience for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists more safe and calme, others that would seem obvious cannot be made because of space and other limits. Also, there is no budget or funding for any work at present.


This page is in progress. We suggest you also consult the pages listed above and browse the list of Transit pages in this website in Transit home, particularly related to non-auto use saving lives and health and CATS /Soles and Spokes News in Regional and Beyond, the Development Policy page, and pages in Zoning home related to livable, business-viable neighborhoods, and the Green Hyde Park page. Our local officials and business leaders, the 53rd St. TIF Advisory Council, and the HPKCC Transit Task Force have proclaimed Walkability a Neighborhood Goal. In addition, the Department of Planning strongly recommended a zoning mapping guideline for 53rd St. Lake Park to Dorchester being a Pedestrian Friendly and Transit-Linked-Development Corridor. Shortcut to links outside this website.

There is a new walking group on Sundays from Elm Park 10:30 am. Group in Museum of Science and Industry continues.

Note: For CATS/Regional Planning Board either the old or can be used as well as Soles and Spokes addresses.

December 2012 a new "State Law Pedestrian Crossing" sign was installed at the intersection of Hyde Park Blvd and Harper Ave. acc. to Ald. Burns, to help facilitate the safe passage of Kenwood Academy High School students at that busy intersection. The sign reminds drivers that if a pedestrian is present, that they must stop until they have safely crossed the street.

A group is seeking a stop sign at 55th and Kenwood, a poor visibility intersection. Ald. Hairston introduced an ordinance for such June 27 2012. However, CDOT and Ald. Burns oppose, at least until there is time to assess the re-laning (including for bikes) on 55th. Noted is the potential for accidents and rear ending west-bound around the University Apartments and back-ups. Noted also is that stop signs increasingly give a false sense of security. Signs advising to stop for pedestrians crossing (a relatively new law) will be installed. No action on a stop sign is likely before fall 2012. Nothing is known of a possible compromise such as stop on the eastbound side. Work on the 55th St. reconfiguration was about half done by mid July 2012.

It could cost you now $500 for failing to STOP (not just yield) for a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

Construction starts incl. removal of c 50 parking spaces late week of June 18 or week of June 25. New bike lanes are planned for 55th in HP, King, Ellsworth, and 31st. A combination of buffered and protected lanes would be used. The one has the bike lanes on the next outside the parking lane and with wide striping, the other has the bike lanes on the far outside with a parking lane between the bike lane and car traffic. 55th will be protected from Cottage to Dorchester (Univ. apartments) and buffered where it's narrower east to Lake Park. Several at a public meeting in February 2012 expressed concerns about accidents, especially during rush hour and about lack of enforcement and regard for the law and others, by all parties but especially bike riders.

A bike center opened in May 2012 under the viaduct at 53rd St. It's sponsore by the University of Chicago (for alternative transportation and sustainability) and bicycle-sharing Bike and Roll. It would operate tours, offer rentals, repair bikes, and offer day-use parking spces for bikes. Neighbors would bpay a reduced rate. Oddly, it is not on one of the new bike trails.

Having closed the UC main quad to automobiles and turned the Midway crossings into mode-separated light bridges, the next step by the university is to turn 58th St. from University to Woodlawn Ave. into a pedestrian mall-like extension of the main quad. Parking loss (29 spaces) and how to accomodate bikes and whether there should be full privatization of another street (and part of an alley) are some of the questions of residents at community meeting March 28, 2012. It's part of a 101 million dolar renovation of the former CTS.

E.M. Christian seconds needs for safety on Hyde Park Streets in March 7 2012 Herald letter

I am writing in support of the letter from Yael Hoffman, Kelly King-O'Brien, Anne Renna and Adi Rom dated 2/16/2016. Parents are not the only ones concerned with a lack of safety crossing the main streets in Hyde Park. Senior citizens, the disabled, folks with personal shopping carts. I would say that a majority of pedestrians have long been concerned, and have despaired of anyone with authority taking the situation seriously.

For decades, I have been frustrated by the fact that crossing 55th Street in Hyde Park is dangerous despite pedestrian cross walks, signs requesting slow driving, and publicly acknowledged blind turns on this road through a Hyde Park residential section leading to major shopping areas and community services. Vehicles race down the street and around the bends as if this were the Indy 500. Many pedestrians take inconvenient detours in order to cross where there is at least a stop sign. A stop sign, however is only an illusion of pedestrian safety along 55th street in Hyde Park.

However, if Mayor Emanuel wants to rake in the bucks, installing speed cameras along this route wil also increase ticketing for funning through stops as well. I think this is an excellent idea. I gave up complaining to local officials long ago. My alderman sent me an impersonal note suggesting that I speak with her staff. I did so, and was mocked for even suggesting that pedestrians had rights, and legitimate concerns about safety. Only the CTA took my concerns seriously, and claimed in writing they would remind their drivers to follow the speed limits and appropriate signage. I'm still waiting for those results.

At the south intersection of Dorchester Avenues an 55th Street, I can look west and see a string of traffic safety signs alerting drivers, and those signs, ironically, are almost always bent or broken due to being hit by vehicles driving unsafely. There have been trees, up on the lawns, damaged by reckless drivers. It is devastating to think that one of those signs, one of those trees, might have been a human being.

Ending on a more positive note, I was glad to read that Ald. Will Burns (4th) is being pro-active regarding this community safety issue now that it has been brought to is attention....

The 3x / week walking (MWF) and 2x / week fitness class (MW) are still going strong. The free program is sponsored by University of Chicago Medical Center Community Affairs. Registration is required to get your badge that gains you entrance into the Museum and free parking in the garage. Here is the web site to visit for details and the contact information.

The Lakefront Bike Trail

In 2012, Friends of the Parks, Active Transportation Alliance, and Chicago Area Runners Association began a study of the Lakefront Bike Trail. A preliminary survey was done, series of public meetings which reported and sought input were hosted by the conveners, including in Jackson Park fieldhouse, and an online survey conducted. At the meetings, people not only submitted comments but paced dots and comments on large maps setting forth problem locations and types, opportunities for improvements, and principles for the trail, its use, and interactions with other modes. The survey had 1,569 responses according to a preliminary report in Friends of the Parks Advocate. The trail is used weekly by over 75,000, including cyclists, runners walkers, and skateboarders, rollerbladers, dog walkers, and bird watchers. Bikers were the largest users, followed by running, and walking.

User's issues/solutions:
1. Separate spaces for walking, biking, running incl. soft surfaces, boardwalks
2. Reduce congestion and conflicts
3. Educate on safety and etiquette
4. Maintain including surface materials
5 & 6. Make bathroom and fountains etc. accessible including year round
7. Improve lighting and personal safety
8. Fill the gaps
9. Improve safety along the feeder streets

10. Reduce street/trail crossings.

Focus was on eliminating congestion, safety-etiquette, especially along conflict/crunch points
Friends has launched a "Share the Shore" etiquette campaign with GolinHarris, according to the Advocate.

There was strong support for widening the path and separating different uses; completing the Last Four Miles; introducing "adopt a path;"move concessions away from the Trail; enforce rules and ordinance including with police and bike ambassadors;, more signage, lighting, and police presence.

People form come park councils and organizations walked the trail and reported specific points of deterioration, hazard, or conflicts. The final report should be out at the end of 2012. GMO.

[There is concern about difficulty of access at various points such as obsolete overpasses on south Lakeshore Drive and Metra-- scheduled to be replaced, in parks, and at the new 31st harbor.]


A group of Hyde Park residents (possibly parents of Akiba and other schools who got a new stop sign at Cornell?) (Yael Hoffman, Kelly King-O'Brien, Anne Renna, and Adi Rom) have been exploring with Ald. Burns options for improved pedestrian crosswalk safety. One device likely to be tried on 51st is spring-loaded signs in crosswalks. The group (not the alderman) is reluctant on red-light speed cameras, but remarked in a letter to the Herald that if drivers don't shape up and start following the new law or various devices work, the cameras are what the neighborhood is going to get. Cornell-E. Hyde Park now have stop signs thanks to intervention of Ald. Burns and many parents and teachers.

BUT Re the debate over speed cameras, there were two posts by Chicago Magazine analyzing the matter and citing strong evidence that the cameras do lead to reduction in the behaviors that cause traffic and pedestrian accidents and are also correlated with crime in general. The cameras, if known and location-stationary, are also considered by most to be more fare than "hidden car" and random stops. Many still think the main purpose is to increase revenue.

Statistics show that children are more likely to be struck in the roadway (between crosswalks) while seniors are more likely to be struck at crosswalks- many times from turning cars.

Hyde Park Owl held a seminar in January 2012 on seniors pedestrian and transit access and safety led by Marcia Trawinski, chair of its transportation committee and sitting on many city committees on the issues.

The watchword now is "Complete Streets." Any changes and planning must now take into account everything from property line to property line including walks, striping, signage, proper accommodation for all modes and needs of less-abled and elderly. See below

Specifically, The HPKCC Transit Task Force sees Walkability as part of a suite of intertwined amenities. It wants to see that some of the most attractive advantages of this community are maintained and enhanced. The ability of people to walk or bike to work, the store, events- or to move about recreationally- are increasingly pressed upon by both traffic congestion and its opposite: fast moving traffic on Lake Park, 55th, and other "auto oriented" arterials. The parking crunch and dilemma (add more and more traffic comes) add to the problem. Some of our intersections including along Lake Park are not well designed the handle this multiple challenge. Recently, studies and recommendations have been made for Lake Park. Little funding is yet available, but there is funding to start rehabilitation of the dreadfully off-putting (and in significant ways unsafe) Metra viaducts. Also, to rehabilitate the Metra embankments and retaining walls (largely done, at Metra expense).

Some streetscape improvements have been made on parts of 53rd and 55th Streets (although few work to keep the trees alive). It is proposed in the Zoning Reform Ordinance to concentrate on keeping 53rd Street pedestrian friendly and taking advantage of enhancements for transit-oriented development. (New bus routes including on Lake Park at the commercial center and advocated-upgrades to Metra service may help- Hyde Park is at an ideal distance from downtown and termini along major road and rail corridors. But the many new bus routes in the neighborhood ply frequently narrow and at times of day congested streets. And the routes circle/intersect the perimeter of the main shopping district. And why does the pedestrian-friendly zone for 53rd not extend west of Kenwood?)

The following material comes from our converge of 2001 walkability meetings and walkabouts that were outgrowths of the start of a Department of Planning initiative for the Lake Park Avenue/Metra viaducts redevelopment, in turn an out growth of the 2000 Planning Now document that led into establishment of the 53rd St. TIF District.

Upcoming events, info on developing walkable/safety action programs

Watch for meetings of the Disabilities Task Force and of the TIF neighborhood and business environment committee. Both are working to upgrade walkability in our community. Also the 53rd TIF "parking" committee is now the "accessibility" committee, under Ilene Jo Reizner. Also, OWL Senior Friendly Committee- see Complete Streets in Seniors Perspectives.

Resources: From the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center: How
to Develop a Pedestrian Safety Action Plan

The FHWA Office of Highway Safety is sponsoring a project on “How to
Develop a Pedestrian Safety Action Plan.” The project involves working
with 13 states and 5 cities in the U.S., and includes offering technical
assistance to the state and local agencies in the form of pedestrian
safety workshops. The project team has already produced a “How-to-Guide”
that explains the steps that an agency needs to take to reduce
pedestrian crashes. See the guide at

The project team helped to organize two half-day sessions related to
this project at the APBP Professional Development Seminar, which was held
on October 10 and 11, 2005 in Chicago, Illinois. State, local, and
federal officials were asked to share information on many of their own
successful programs and activities which have been used to improve
pedestrian safety. The sessions were video-taped and the powerpoint
presentations were also obtained.

The presentations were intended to lead participants through the steps
of an action plan, the goal of which would be to change the way the
agency approaches pedestrian safety, and/or train their engineers and
designers to provide pedestrian safety in their roadway design. Both
sessions were chaired by Charlie Zegeer, UNC Pedestrian and Bicycle
Information Center (PBIC).

These presentations and presentation video, covering issues from crash
data collection and analysis through countermeasures, case studies, and
funding, are all posted at

Thanks for your interest in pedestrian and bicycle transportation

Tom Murtha
Chief Transportation Planner
Chicago Area Transportation Study
Voice: 312-386-8790
Fax: 312-258-0012
Post: 233 S Wacker Dr Suite 800
Chicago IL 60606


CDOT dreams up ways to make things safer for pedestrians (or, beyond speed cameras, humps, and bump outs)

CDOT in May 2012 is putting forth its 2-year plan--ideas that could be implemented in a couple of years such as 20 mph limits or residential streets and an extra 3 seconds of walk signal before cars could start through. They want to eliminae ped-bike-car crashes within 10 years. There will be 300 more countdown signal intersection in 2012, and 100 more the next yar depending on funding.
100 intersections with the extra 3 seconds in 2012 and 2013.
They also want to step up annual bridge maintenance- and eliminate every pothole before the following season, and patching done within 72 hours. Project updates will be offered at the end of each year. The city seeks a higher return of the transportation dollars going to the state and federal governments.


Walkable communities and Walk/Bike to School

Walk and Bike to School Day is coming in October. The City of Chicago has packets and other information online at Or contact Beth Gutelius, CDOT, at 312-744-3019 or at

Walk/Bike to School Days. Contact and your local school.

Ray School parents lead the way. Herald, October 11, 2006. By Kalari Girtley

Ray Elementary School, 631 S. Kimbark Ave. parents walked their children to school Oct. 4 o protest vehicle traffic in Hyde Park. More than 5o parents participated in the walked, sponsored by Mayor Daley's Safe Route Ambassadors. Children who walked to school received a sticker and a certificate.

Principal Cydney Fields was happy with the number of parents participating. She said encouraging parents to walk instead of driving their children to school helps keep traffic down around the school. It also allows children to exercise, she said. "The day is really a way to call attention to get children to walk or bike to school," Fields said.

Fields said the school's Parent Teacher Association created "walking school buses" in which parents volunteer to walk a group of children to school. Brandy Keller, an area coordinator of the walk and a Ray parent, said she participated because she wanted to create momentum in her neighborhood to cut down air pollution around the school. She said the children who did not participate are excited for next year's event. "This is raising awareness of alternative ways of getting to school," Keller said.

Hannah Hayes, a volunteer coordinator and Ray parent, said in addition to cutting down traffic and air pollution, walking in big groups can also promote neighborhood safety. "Kids walking together are safer than walking alone," Hayes said. She said the event will occur next year and organizers hope more people will participate.


From the Older Women's League Summer Fest 2009

Principal speaker Maurine Schenburger of the City of Chicago pedestrian program described the many services and protections/rights of seeing impaired persons, including those (and other-impaired) with service animals.

She then dealt with the vexing problem of snow removal in sidewalks, crosswalks and curb and to-door access, and the responsibilities of both residents an business owners/operators. She read from printouts of the City ordinance on the same (available from the city) and a doorknob hanger that is also available including through the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce. (The latter, Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, OWL, and likely the Disabilities Task Force are gearing up to distribute these, get out the word on calling 311 (which has a code on snow removal) to get snow and clearance where access is blocked on public way, and police removal. A community meeting is also being considered.)

Ms. Schenburger also gave information and led discussion on bicycle safety- for bicyclists and for those they encounter, including on approved safety and warning gear. This is also likely to be a major focus in conjunction with University orientation et al of the named organizations this fall. At the August HPKCC board meeting, all emphasized that the approach has to be comprehensive- safety and thoughtfulness for all using the public way.

OWL Transportatation and Safety/Senior Friendly Committee. From the April 2010 Newsletter- By Joan Staples

Accessibility and Transportation Committee
The Accessibility and Transportation Committee of Hyde Park OWL is continuing its work on Snow and Ice, Bicycle Safety, and Transportation. Its current members
are Joan Staples, chair, Susan Alittto, Gary Ossewaarde, and Marcia Trawinski. Judith Hochberg and others have participated from time to time.

Our research into who handles snow and ice removal in our area and how this is done, revealed Chicago ordinances requiring removal by residential and business
properties. Contact was made with the Ward offices and the University of Chicago personnel involved, as well as City of Chicago staff. Hyde Park OWL had two
programs on our findings: January (previously reported on) and February. On February 6, Kiersten Grove and Jerad Weiner of the Chicago Department of Transportation, Pedestrian Program, Division of Project Development, spoke to us, describing their and the city's work to increase pedestrian safety and to tackle concerns about snow and ice removal. One of the concerns that people have is finding help to shovel snow and ice. The Ward offices can help seniors (and others?) who are disabled, etc. or find it hard to shovel themselves. However, Ellie Hall contacted the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, and found that teens and adults who go there were interested in doing snow shoveling. I believe the contact there was Abby Hymen.
In any event, next winter we will follow through on this. It is also possible that other community organizations (in Woodlawn and Grand Crossing) and other aldermen, i.e., the 20th Ward's Willie Cochran, could also help.

In addition to already existing programs to educate the public, review policies, enforce those policies, and engineer streets and sidewalks to conform to policies, we
were told about the first meeting (January 7) of a new Snow Removal Task Force, that will review existing ordinances and policies and make recommendations for
improvement. Kiersten's office is particularly aware of safety for Seniors, and reviewed some of the programs already in existence and contemplated to educate both Seniors and the public about street safety. In addition, others in the City departments are conducting enforcement and educational programs to improve
vehicular safety at intersections and crossings that impacts us all. Our Committee plans to keep in touch with Kiersten and Jerad, and hopes that Hyde Park OWL
can host a meeting (with co-sponsors) for seniors in Hyde Park/Kenwood in the future.

We are planning to follow through on concerns about bicycle safety with Rebekah Broussard, who works on these issues. We will let you know soon about this. We
are thinking of having an event or series of events on bicycle safety with the Bicycling Ambassadors sometime in the fall. These events would target community riders as well as students (who were involved in events that happened last summer and fall).

Finally, Gary and I met with Rodney Morris, now the head of Transportation and parking for the University. We are urging this Department to increase opportunities for community members, who are not part of the University, to ride buses partially sponsored by the University, especially at night. Maybe community residents could register and contribute to these evening b uses or University-only buses. As new developments
occur, such as Harper Court and the Village Shopping Center, there will need to be transportation improvements for everyone, not just University staff and students.

Our last Committee meeting was on March 9. We will continue to communicate our work and findings to the chapter. Join us! Marcia is on several City of Chicago
Committees, and has knowledge of the constructive work being done on many of our issues. Many of these committees welcome observers. Let us know if you are
interested. Reported by Joan Staples



Complete Street: The regional planning agency's Soles and Spokes division sent out notice of the following City of Chicago notification of policy on total accommodation on the public way:
(To report on The Mayor's Pedestrian Task Force Nov. 2009 mtg.)

The City of Chicago released a landmark Complete Streets Policy Oct. 10, 2008? mandating for the first time that all transportation users must be accommodated in all transportation projects. According to a multi-agency document issued by the city, the policy is expected to be implemented in a variety of ways advocated by Chicagoland Bicycle Federation and its Healthy Streets Campaign. The policy calls for pedestrian improvements like bulb-out curb extensions for crosswalks, countdown crossing signals, median refuges, and re-timing signals to minimize pedestrian delay and conflicts. To read more, visit And visit the AARP website.

Note that while the Task Force plans to address problems of bikes on sidewalks, rushing turns or through at intersections and without safety and warning gear, bike groups seem more interested in their interactions with cars and seek more bike trails along streets. See in Bike and City Bike Plan page.

From the mayor's Pedestrian Advisory Council presentation April 23, 2009. (T.Y. Lin, CDOT)

What: Designed, operated, maintained so they are safe, comfortable and convenient for all users- pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users and motorists of all ages and abilities. Too many streets are built without the minimum accommodations, signing, or striping. Americans want to walk and bike more--55% prefer; 33% don't drive. 30% don't own a car; 21% are over 65; there are the children and Americans who cannot afford autos or choose not to have them. Yet many streets are not complete: sidewalks and crosswalks are nonexistent, out of code or in disrepair, streets uninviting to bicyclists, difficult to t cross on foot, or even inaccessible, have construction zones that don't take into account pedestrian challenges.

Policies. Design, operate and maintain the entire right of way to ensure safety and accessibility for all users.
"The safety and convenience of all users of the transportation system, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, and motor vehicle drivers, shall be accommodated and balanced in all types of transportation and development projects and through all phases of a project, so that even the most vulnerable - children, elderly, and persons with disabilities - can travel safety within the public right-of-way."

Why a policy? To update practices, integrating the needs of all street users into all phases of a project. To ensure every project becomes an opportunity to help create a complete street; to bring an overarching vision and consistency to disparate departmental approaches; To improve departmental efficiency and streamlining. Scope of Work:
Input from a steering committee (CDOT divisions, OEMC Operations, Community Development, Zoning and Land Use).
Interviews with key stakeholders (CTA, MOPD, D of Envir, Mayor's Bicycle Advisory, CMAP, Police, IDOT bureaus).
Prepare Preliminary Report of practices and recommendations on improving city processes, design manuals, education and training:
Prepare Final Implementation Process Report (issue-obstacles-opportunities, incorporate feedback and project audits, a checklist to be use in all projects all phases, recommend changes to standards-policies-practices-education.
Conduct audits of recent projects-- were all user's needs accommodated?, review of preliminary planning documents, field visits, field reviews.


November 2009 Mayors Pedestrian Access (MPAC) meeting. By Gary Ossewaarde

Joanne Trotter of Metr. Plg. Council's Reconnecting Neighborhoods-Technical Assistance. This program is to find ways to reduce isolation and increase connectivity through transportation, increased retail, jobs and affordability. They and the city have chosen to concentrate on 3 areas, including greater Bronzeville. (When a city planner was asked about other south side areas like Englewood, he dismissed them as "never coming back-- too far from transp. and the Lakefront.) Mentioned was a Reconnecting America program by a number of federal agencies which are interested in rebuilding streets so they serve well all the users, whether car, pedestrian, or bicyclist, from the street's center to the start of private property on each side. The South Side particularly lacks good, adequate and safe streets, Lake access via bridges including for bikes and pedestrians, safe transit (and enough east-west bus service, retail and streetscaping. In particular, it takes longer to go equivalent distances from the southeast side, esp. west and north of Hyde Park, downtown and elsewhere than equivalent distances for other parts of the city. King and Cottage Grove were considered esp. problematic. (I brought up that re both travel times and e-w routes, CTA is cutting X55, X3 and X4. I Got a dismissive reply from the CTA rep.).

Next steps for Reconnecting Communities are what they called a "sustainable communities initiative" and the RTA's South Lakefront Corridor Study (being funded and conducted by RTA at $450,000: scope is Metra service, feeder lines, potential light rail on Cottage Grove and King Dr.). An intergovernmental advisory committee has been set up. Also being looked at is where retail can be grown at transportation nodes to tie economic development, linkages including to downtown, and infrastructure together as mutually supportive. They think that if this is done, the land in between including vacant will become growing and useful assets.

The Police Dept reported on its initiative under an IDOT grant to stake out intersections without stop lights or signs to catch and teach/ticket people who are speeding past intersection endangering pedestrians--in short accident-prone intersections. There were 62 missions, 2 in every district. There were 1203 citations and lots of leafleting. They said neighbors were grateful. They are investigating characteristics of the most accident prone or found-to-have-lots-of-violations intersections. They have applied for funds to do more.

Complete Streets. The object is to create a planning and public way "culture" in which the needs and safety of all users are taken into account, the most vulnerable are protected, and streets are attractive and contributing to a neighborhood's "sense of place." In short, find design for each spot that makes the street "comfortable:" CONTEXT-SENSITIVE SOLUTIONS. Standards should mandate taking into account the adjoining land’s uses and a full public evaluation process, it was said. One problem has been that CDOT's (local) GUIDELINES are more advanced in these regards while IDOT's (the state's) STANDARDS (which are REQUIREMENTS, not just guidance) are not advanced, and its scopes do not include Complete Streets federal recommendations, including in the certification of “purpose and need” for each project. There is currently no street design manual with a Complete Streets checklist that also has to be used also by granters of permits (including for curb cuts) and a website that designers and contractors can access. The state standards are to be updated, and new procedures put in place meanwhile whereby cities can get design exceptions that advance the new principles. What these principles involve are street, lanes, parking space, and walks width, marked shared lanes, driveway widths, corner curb radii—which the city says should be tighter. CDOT estimated that about half of all street projects in Chicago involve state or federal funds and so are subject to state standards. Two specific ideas were to start implementing the new “reverse angle parking”—so parkers back into spaces and drive out of them instead of backing out into traffic (bike, ped, and car) causing accidents—there’s only one place with reverse angle now in the city and having signal light and crosswalk signals timed.

Also noted was that Chicago is up for money (not clear if stimulus or the states capital budget or both) to help reduce crosswalk accidents. Accident and crash statistics are already being crunched. Part is for what they called the (undecipherable- Americans? Maybe Transportation for America?) Campaign.

Snow removal. Door cards are supposed to go out to Ward offices November 15—so CALL YOUR ALDERMAN OR OFFICE BY END OF NOVEMBER TO SEE IF THEY HAVE THEM AND KNOW WHAT THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THEM. They are also supposed to be the offices of Special Tax Districts. (Ald. Hairston’s aide told me separately that SHE WANTS A LIST FROM ORGS. SUCH AS OWL OF PLACES THAT HAVE BEEN REMISS ON SNOW REMOVAL IN THE PAST.) The spokesperson made it clear that removal is the law. There will be “PUBLIC WAY INSPECTORS” and the city site has a webpage on this and the cards. The door cards are to be used for routinely noncompliant properties. Active Transportation Alliance has a program that nominates and gives awards to businesses that do a good job. Asked about in front of closed businesses and vacant properties—the Department of General Services has been asked to provide guidelines to other departments. Do complain to 311, they now have a code to track these service requests including number of complaints for each location. The ward offices should be called to get out people esp. disabled who are homebound by a snow or can’t cross an intersection—the ward offices have to take action. A problem noted: lot-cleaners that dump or push the snow into the handicap parking.

Transportation for America Act: funds for improvements for non-motorized modes of transportation and access, in a federal act that as of that time had passed the House. Part is to mobilize health professionals to (what? Tie in to anti-obesity?). It includes in National Transportation Objectives a “Cap and Trade” credits provision in 5?% for every project that has design provision for non-motorized, pedestrian and alternative transportation. It was alleged that there is still not modern national transportation vision.

Brought up by Marcia: the new so-called quiet cars will be a real problem, for pedestrians and persons with disabilities. And more will be walking with the PACE fare hikes.

Next meeting January 21 in room 2003 of 25 W. Jackson.

Walkable Communities Workshop

Thanks to the diligence of Irene Sherr, then Business Area Coordinator with South East Chicago Commission, now business area community consultant with SECC and the TIF Advisory council, and others, Hyde Park in 2001 received a generous grant from the federal government for Walkable Communities, through northeast Illinois' Metropolitan Planning Organization CATS (Chicago Area Transportation Study).

As part of this grant, Hyde Park held a Walkable Communities Workshop on October 5, 2001. A walkabout of the Lake Park Avenue sector was included (one of several).

The SECC also may still have copies of a "pithy and useful book", "City Comforts. How to Build An Urban Village." This book discusses basic urban design and planning principles. Contact Irene Sherr. Cost is $13.50. Top


Workshops to make Chicagoland a better place for pedestrians, and therefore a better place to live, work and play!

A community's "walkability" is a strong indicator of its livability. More and more people are expressing a desire to live in places where their children can safely walk or bike to school, where they don't have to hop in a car for a short trip to the grocery store and where they can take an after-dinner stroll along pleasant, neighborly streets.

Many street design and land use strategies can be used to improve a community's walkability. In order to spread the work about theses best practices, the Federal Highway Administration has developed the pilot Walkable Communities Program. This program provides training for metropolitan planning organization (MPO) staff and technical assistance for conducting pedestrian planning workshops in local communities. The Chicago Area Transportation Study (CATS) is one of six MPO's from around the country that has been selected to participate in the pilot.

CATS is pleased to announce that Hyde Park is one of ten communities in northeastern Illinois that have been selected to host a half-day Walkable Communities workshop during the first week of October, 2001. In putting together the slate of communities, CATS strove to reflect this region's diversity and array of challenges that exist for accommodating and encouraging walking-whether for transportation, pleasure, fitness or all of the above.

CATS expects to use the insights gained in this first round of workshops to provide pedestrian planning assistance for other interested communities in the future.


Peter Lagerwey, Seattle's Pedestrian and bicycle Coordinator, and Charles Gandy, of Livable Communities Consulting, will conduct a four-hour workshop in each community. These workshops will include:

In order for these workshops to be a success, they should involve people representing a range of perspectives and expertise, including but not limited to: elected officials, planners, traffic engineers, parents, students, advocates, business people, police officers, public health professionals and people with disabilities.

Mr. Lagerwey reports that, as a result of these workshops, communities have redesigned main streets and state highways, initiated traffic calming projects and built better sidewalks and crosswalks. In some case, projects were on the ground after just a couple of years. Top


Sidewalks alone are not enough. Many factors can invite foot traffic:

Architecture and storefronts that please the eye
Trees that provide shade in summer.
Streets that are easy to cross.
Bus stops that offer shelter from rain, snow and wind.
Sidewalks that are continuous and wide enough for at least two people.
Buildings that provide easy pedestrian access by having entrances on the sidewalk and parking lots in back or on the side.
Small parks and plazas that allow for gathering, people watching, playing and relaxing.


Additional resources (a few more are in the bicycling page)

Chicago Area Transportation Study

Walkable Communities, Inc.
Center for Livable Communities
Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center and
Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals
STPP's Mean Streets Reports
America Walks
Institute of Transportation Engineers
Walk to School Day http://www.walktoscThe SECC also has 20 copies of a "pithy and useful book", "City Comforts. How to Build An Urban Village." This book discusses basic urban design and planning principles. Contact Irene Sherr. Cost is $
Current Chicago website: http:/
City Comforts
Safety tips
National Highway Transp Safety Admin (including /bicycles
Sierra Club's Community Transportation Examples


What are the facts on traffic congestion and pedestrian safety in Hyde Park?

The following article deals with issues around the University campus and the neighborhoods. What do you think? PS, the Conference has not recently taken a particular stand on speed bumps, including on Kimbark, but is always concerned about safety, especially around schools (and with Jackson Park Advisory Council supported efforts of Bret Harte principal Michael Keno to gain sanity over speed and congestion there; Ray Reavis,and Murray schools have also said they have problems, although each set is unique). Jackson Park Advisory Council is well aware of the conflict between speed humps (as is now preferred over potentially accident-causing bumps) and snow removal, and wrestled with the issue re" the Golden Lady Circle at Hayes and Richards. University Police seem to think there are few accidents and little congestion on streets in the area. See also Walkable Community.

New Speed bumps highlight pedestrian safety concerns

Chicago Maroon, January 28, 2005. By Hassan S. Ali

With the newest additions of the Comer Children's Hospital and the Graduate School of Business, and the commercial developments in surrounding neighborhoods, Hyde Park's growth has led to concerns over traffic safety. The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference (HPKCC)--a neighborhood organization--has voiced concern over traffic safety in the past, especially for local elementary and high schools. In coordination with Fifth Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston, parents and school administrators have pressure the city to ensure safer roads for children, resulting in the installation of stop signs, speed bumps, and police presence in many areas.

In response to the heightened security concerns, a number of speed bumps were installed on Kimbark Avenue in the parking lot shared by the GSB and the Lab school. The installations were initiated by Lab School Facilities Director Tony Wilson, in coordination with the Parents' Association, after months of talks with the city. This past week, however, the speed bumps--which are rubber--were removed to prevent interference with snow plowing.

The speed bumps reflect a more general concern for traffic safety in Hyde Park, especially after a serious hit-and-run accident that happened last quarter in front of the Social Services Administration building on the Midway Plaisance. With plans for a new resident hall south of the Midway and the administration's commitment to "breaking the Hyde Park bubble," residents view safe transit from central campus to across the Midway as a priority.

Safety in school zones is just one part of the ongoing traffic issue in Hyde Park. Along with traffic of residents, the neighborhood must cope with traffic for hospital patients and staff, construction vehicles, commercial trucks, and public transportation buses.

According to the University's website, traffic volumes on the main streets adjacent to campus reach from 10,000 to 20,000 vehicles per day, which are not considered unreasonable for four-lane streets. [Ed. But how many streets near campus, except 55th, Cottage, and the Plaisance, are four-lane?] The website also mentions major delays at the intersection of 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive, while short-term congestion frequently occurs at 55th Street and Lake Park Avenue [Ed. even more at 53rd and Lake Park.], 59th Street at the Lab Schools, and 57th Street at Hyde Park Boulevard.

The University is primarily bounded by Cottage Grove Avenue on the west, Woodlawn Avenue on the East, 55th Street on the North, and Midway Plaisance on the south. With the exception of Woodlawn, these are multi-lane-streets that tolerate large traffic loads and high-turning volumes, according to University sources.

Jeff Collier, the assistant director of the University Police Department (UCPD), observed that pedestrians were a large part of the problem. "People come from areas where, if they step off the curb, the cars have to stop. So they come here [to Chicago] and expect the same, but the cars here won't stop," he said.

Collier noted several case of pedestrians who cross streets without looking [Ed. or deliberately in front, or lollygaging] for oncoming vehicles. "Pedestrians often feel they had the right of way, even when outside of crosswalks and on a 'do not walk' sign," he added.

Despite wanton pedestrians, Collier has remained optimistic about the general traffic situation. "Things have been normal in terms of incidents," he said. "Other than the one major incident, there hasn't been much to report."

With winter in full swing and driving conditions at their worst, pedestrians and motorists share the challenge of getting around safely. Despite more stop signs and speed bumps around schools, Collier emphasized the importance of the community's cooperation. "Of course, people always have to be careful, and that goes for both pedestrians and motorists together," he said. "It's everyone's responsibility to be safe."

District 21 Sergeant Scott Oberg of the Chicago Police department has been closely involved with St. Thomas and Ray Elementary Schools, noting the legitimate concerns of parents. "By far, the biggest traffic problems are the areas around elementary schools, where children are present," Oberg said. "Parents are the biggest traffic-blockers, especially during pick-up and drop-off times."

As part of the Community Policing department, Oberg said he oversees "limited enforcement missions," where officers control school traffic for two or three days at a time. "Does it work all the time? Of course not," Oberg said."But I think it has definitely helped in the big picture."

Oberg's Community Policing team said speeding and stop sign infractions are the highest cause of complaints by parents.


More dispute over bikes on sidewalks and safe movement on walks and streets

In the October 19 2005 Herald, two writers wrestle with making things safe on sidewalks and streets.

Sharon Bowen writes that on such streets as 53rd drivers disregard safety for bicyclists and cut them off. Most streets here are too narrow for bike lanes and traffic too fast. She says most who take to the walks in self defense try to be careful and considerate of pedestrians, although some don't. If we want the bikes off the walks, start by making streets safe.

Kathie Newhouse says we need signs to tell the bicyclists to stay off the walks, then start ticketing them.


Chicagoland Bicycle Federation is joining for streets usable to all, safe routes to school/walk and bike to school, safer drivers, and completing the lakefront with accommodation.

The Federation has a major push on to make drivers more aware of what they can do to be saver for bicyclists--some drastic ways of getting on some drivers' radar may be tried.

The Federation is working with national organizations and boards to push a Compete streets agenda. Chicago endorsed it- all streets are to be able to accommodate all modes, including cyclists and those crossing on foot. The National Center for Bicycling Walking is pushing this and has a newsletter called Centerline.

Friends of the Parks, the Architecture Foundation and others will have a display up January 25-March 10 on completing and making accessible the last 4 miles of t he lakefront at t he Archicenter, 224 S. Michigan.

The federation is working with the National Safe Routes to School Task Force.

Tell us where it's NOT walkable. Some places pointed out....

Kathie Newhouse also pointed to problems at the corner of 47th and Lake Park--one of the oddest and most inconvenient corners, along with 51st Cornell, 55th Lake Park, and 56th Lake Park. She says signs that say to watch for seniors trivialize big dangers to all--including allowing right on red (not enforced anyway) at such corners as 47th and Lake Park, and really short walk cycles at that corner.

And the letters come in about 56th along Jackson Park. Alderman Hairston says there are higher priorities, but neighbors, disabled disagree. Now new walk with ADA patches installed.

Herald Nov. 8 2006. Karen Cashen

I'm writing to protest the unsafe and unsightly sidewalk on 56th Street between Lake Shore Drive and Stony Island Avenue. The situation is a lawsuit waiting to happen and should be fixed immediately. I know. I live across the street and use this sidewalk constantly. I can't say how many times I've slipped, had to step around dirt and water, or been force to walk along the curb.

While the very eastern end of the sidewalk was redone recently as part of the lake shore rehab, the rest remains cracked and parts are in pieces due to age and tree roots. Water has eroded the park land onto the sidewalk resulting in dirt and debris. The cracks and upheavals fill with water and ice making it nearly impossible to navigate in bad weather.

The sidewalk is a main neighborhood thoroughfare ford runners and walkers accessing the lake, families going to the Museum of Science and Industry, and parents and kids going to and from Bret Harte Elementary School and the two Jackson Park playgrounds. It's especially hazardous for Montgomery Place seniors, some of whom are in wheelchairs.

Chicago is "the city that works." So c'mon Chicago, let's get the 56th Street sidewalk in working order! Complaints to our alderman have been ignored, so now it's time for citizens to protest to find a way to have this local eyesore and hazard resurfaced.


Alderman Hairston says she working to get these sidewalks done in 2007. And they are See in Safe Concerns.


Yael Hoffman called in August 22 letter to Herald for improvements to slow Woodlawn Avenue north of 55th: crosswalks at 54th place; chokers or speed humps?


But are we encouraging lack of safety and making other mistakes by cocooning students in buses-- "Bus disservice" as Maroon (January 9 2009) writer Arieh Smith asserts- "by decreasing foot traffic in the neighborhood, students hurt community, selves"

Why does Hyde Park scare you? You might think it doesn't scare you in the first place, but if you aren't willing to walk to Walgreens at 3 a.m. alone, I would guess that it probably does, at least on some level. the crucial question, then, is why. It think that there are two important factors here.

The first is race. The lengths to which some people will go to avoid discussing this incredibly obvious phenomenon are pretty remarkable. We cannot skirt the obvious. Some students are afraid of black people. In an article published in the Maroon in October, Angela Bailey, a student at the University's School of Social Administration, is reported as saying that she wanted to begin a campaign to create a safer hyde Park. She received several responses from people "basically saying they're afraid of people of color." But that's their problem: Black people aren't going anywhere anytime soon. If we are to make students feel safer, we'll have to look elsewhere.

Race is, I think, a lesser issue. Mostly, it's the lack of foot traffic. Hyde Park seem desolate nearly all the time. I regularly walk back and forth between Broadview and the University; though I vary my route, there are often few or no people within a block of me. Why is there so little foot traffic in Hyde Park?

Brian Shaw, the University's director of transportation and parking, told me that foot traffic is "primarily a condition oft he [population] density in the neighborhood," and that Hyde Park is "far less" dense than the rest of Chicago*. And Bob Mason of the University Police seems to agree. he says that m any of Hyde Park's streets are "nearly deserted" at night, and while he concedes that more people "keep the street safer," he argues that providing free buses and shuttles is the best way to help students. (Mason also adds that violent crime decreased in 2008. However, because so many other policies designed to improve safety have been implemented, and because total violent crime has been steadily decreasing in Hyde Park-South Kenwood since 1996, it is exceedingly difficult to say anything about the effect of busing on crime in Hyde Park without very careful statistical analysis.) [*statistical backing not shown-- low relative density more likely true of Lakefront from the Loop north than the city as a whole.]

He's absolutely right, of course. But it's important to realize something here" Buses and shuttles are, in Bailey's words, only "Band-Aids" and do not address the principal concern. They make students safer but they certainly do not make the neighborhood safer. In fact, I'd like to suggest that they do the reverse. Buses and shuttle serve to lower the foot traffic in Hyde Park. When a bus packed like a can of sardines departs from the University for the Shoreland with dozens of people onboard, it removes these people from the streets. Ask yourselves why campus feels so safe. The answer is that it's flooded with people-- only very rarely are you alone. If those people were patrolling the entire Hyde Park area, then things would undoubtedly feel much nicer. Hyde Park is indeed less densely populated than other neighborhoods, but because there are students being force to walk around, campus normally feels quite safe.

the University likes to talk about expanding bus service, but doing so only partially exempts students from a genuine problem. It induces a terrible sort of apathy. To us, the University is a safe, idealized plane of existence isolated from some nightmarishly chthonic neighborhood--the less we have to walk, the better. We really couldn't care less about how the neighborhood's faring because we're not in the neighborhood.

This is no way to live. Here's what I suggest: Improve the safety fo the neighborhood by getting rid of the daytime shuttles and making people pay for the 171. If people had to walk from campus to their dorms, there would be more foot traffic and consequently more neighborhood safety. (I don't enjoy using the work "had" here; we have a "choice" only because of handsome CTA subsidies. No one would be "forced" to walk--this kind of "have" is the "have"of having to work for a living, of having to make real choices and confront real trade-offs) Student will also be forced to confront the issue of neighborhood safety. In effect, they will be force to care.

"Oh, come on," you cry. "The only thing that"ll lead to is more students being mugged." Maybe, but the increase will be commensurate with an increase in foot traffic; i.e. it could be that for every additional student mugged, one potential mugger will be scared away by passersby. Crime is not as severe in Hyde Park as it is in other neighborhoods, but increasing foot traffic will always perceptibly increase safety.

But what if my ratio's incorrect? What if the ratio of muggings cause to muggings prevented is actually 2:1? Understand that the University would surely save a bundle of money, which is could spend on giving financial incentives to businesses to stay open late. This would improve safety stilt further--it would reinforce the desire of students to walk, and walking would reinforce the desire of businesses to stay open late. Hopefully, the incentives would induce a cascading wave of safety that would ultimately result in an ability to venture out to Walgreens at night. (It'd make students fitter and the 171 significantly less crowded, too.) Busing only insulates students from the problem while making it worse. Top