RAVENSWOOD — Early feedback on the city’s shared street pilot program is positive, an encouraging sign for those seeking to broaden the initiative, officials said.
Signs indicating the street was closed to traffic and operating as a pedestrian zone went up Friday, and the street has been well used since, said Josh Mark, director of development and infrastructure for Ald. Matt Martin (47th).
The early success of the open street has Martin’s office seeking to expand the program in the ward, but it isn’t clear how quickly that will happen.
“We’re absolutely interested in expanding,” Mark said. “The main question is [the Chicago Department of Transportation’s] ability to do so.”
Last week, city officials announced they were considering opening a number of side streets for more pedestrian use, including walking and biking.
No additional plans for shared streets have been shared since that announcement. One that was being touted for Glenwood Avenue in Edgewater is being shelved while the city deals with mass protests and unrest, Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) said.
“Now with the city’s priorities and attention focused on safety, I am not going to consider the ‘shared street’ at this time,” Osterman wrote Monday in a letter to constituents.
City transit officials are working with neighborhood stakeholders and expect to announce more about the program soon, said Michael Claffey, Department of Transportation spokesman.
The city also announced plans for six pilot corridors that will see expanded outdoor seating for restaurants. That program is still moving forward, as the city is working with businesses and chambers of commerce on expanding outdoor dining “quickly and safely,” Claffey said.
As for Leland, the response from neighbors has been overwhelmingly positive, Mark said. That includes those who live on Leland, where car traffic was reduced to residents, emergency services and delivery drivers.
The ward office fielded some complaints about children using the street, which is a concern since cars still have access, Mark said. Martin’s office has requested more signs along the route to alert drivers to the pedestrian traffic.
Residents of Martin’s ward have indicated a number of streets they’d also like to see used more by pedestrians. The ward office is planning to discuss next week how to expand the program locally, though Mark said the city may look to increase the program elsewhere before returning to Ravenswood.
Expanding the program throughout the city will benefit all residents and put to rest concerns about overcrowding on Leland, he said.
“They understand that this needs to happen on a large scale to avoid misuse,” Mark said.
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