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Lincoln Square, North Center, Irving Park

Leland Avenue’s Shared Street Plan Could Extend West To Chicago River

If approved, the shared street would extend through Lincoln Square west to the Chicago River. Right now, Leland is open for pedestrians and cyclists between Lincoln Avenue and Clark Street.

Children play on Leland Avenue as some streets begin to open in Chicago to let pedestrians and cyclists social distance more easily in the Ravenswood neighborhood on Friday, May 29, 2020.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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LINCOLN SQUARE — After a successful launch in Ravenswood, city officials are considering extending the “shared street” designation on Leland Avenue west to the North Branch of the Chicago River in Lincoln Square.

Leland, between Lincoln Avenue and Clark Street, became the city’s first designated shared street at the end of May. 

Now the Chicago Department of Transportation is evaluating if opening the street between Western and and Virginia avenues would also make sense as a shared street, said Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th).

The designation is aimed at allowing pedestrians and cyclists across the entire right-of-way via barricades that narrow but do not block the entrance to street. Curbside parking would remain and local traffic would still be allowed on the street but at reduced speeds, Vasquez said.

Vasquez spoke last week with department officials about expanding Leland’s shared street and potentially opening parts of Balmoral, Catalpa, and Berwyn avenues to pedestrian traffic in the 40th Ward.

Once he gets more concrete details from CDOT, Vasquez said he wants to present them to neighbors in a town hall meeting.

“I want to be really mindful that we have the community buy-in on this but also that we can move quickly to implement it,” Vasquez said.

Shared streets have been implemented in other cities including New York and Oakland as a way to promote outside activities while maintaining social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Efforts to bring such programs to Chicago have been gaining steam with Ald. Matt Martin (47th) being a vocal advocate. Martin’s ward was the first to have a shared street in the city.

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