The Chicago Department of Transportation’s complete streets project on Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park, including a fairly dramatic makeover of the North/Damen/Milwaukee intersection, is nearly finished. (See a full rundown of planned improvements here.) The six-way junction recently got four bike boxes and an extra-wide crosswalk, and tan paint and flexible posts were used to shorten pedestrian crossing distances and close the slip lane at the southeast corner.
The bike boxes, which provide a place for cyclists to wait at stoplights in front of motor vehicles, were installed on the northwest, north, southeast, and south legs, which involved the removal of two somewhat redundant CTA bus stops. In the near future CDOT will install bike symbols on the green boxes to make their purpose more obvious.
The department has used the paint and posts to remove the slip lane, which previously facilitated dangerously fast right turns by motorists, and shorten crossing distances at the southeast and north intersection legs. The changes to the north leg also included the banning of right turns by southbound drivers on Damen.
On the south leg of the intersection, CDOT has moved the stop bar for motorists several feet south, which makes room for the bike box, as well as greatly expanding the crosswalk into a large, triangular pedestrian zone, a rarity in Chicago. This better accommodates the heavy pedestrian traffic at the intersection, and provides a shortcut for people walking to the Blue Line station just south of the intersection.
Overall, the changes make this hectic six-way safer, better organized, and more pleasant for the many people who pass through on foot and bike each day, without causing any undue inconvenience for drivers. The intersection will get even more people-friendly next year, when CDOT plans to add two new crosswalks between the Flat Iron Building and Flash Taco, and between Starbucks and Walgreens.
Elsewhere along the Milwaukee corridor, the plastic posts have been added to complete the slip lane removal at the northwest corner of the Division/Ashland/Milwaukee junction. Several other paint-and-post bumpouts have been completed between Division and North.
How do you think the latest changes are working out? Let us know in the comments.
Correction and update 9/13/17 10:45 AM:
The installation of the bike box at the north leg of North/Damen/Milwaukeee did not involve the banning of right turns for southbound motorists but only the removal of the right turn lane for drivers. The post has been edited accordingly — sorry for the error. As was the case before the redesign, rights on red by motorists are prohibited.
Readers have commented that, with the removal of the slip lane at the intersection, right turns for drivers from northbound Damen on southeast-bound Milwaukee look dangerously sharp. According to CDOT transportation planner Mike Amsden, signage will be added shortly to indicate that this move is now banned, but right turns onto North are still legal (which is why the right-turn lane will remain in place.)
Amsden added that all the tan paint in the new paint-and-post sidewalk bumpouts along the Milwaukee has been installed, bike symbols will be added to the N/D/M bike boxes today.
This post is made possible by a grant from Freeman Kevenides, a Chicago, Illinois personal injury law firm representing and advocating for bicyclists, pedestrians and vulnerable road users. The content belongs to Streetsblog Chicago, and Freeman Kevenides Law Firm neither endorses nor exercises editorial control over the content.