LOGAN SQUARE — The city has shortened the shared street that runs parallel to The 606’s Bloomingdale Trail after Logan Square neighbors said speeding drivers, inadequate signs and general confusion made the stretch unsafe.
The changes come about two and a half months after the city opened up parts of Cortland Street and Wabansia Avenue to give pedestrians, joggers and cyclists more room to practice social distancing. The same treatment was given to other streets across the city.
The Cortland/Wabansia shared street originally ran through neighboring sections of Wabansia Avenue: between Rockwell and Western, Western and Milwaukee and Milwaukee and Ashland. Through traffic also was prohibited on Cortland Street between Rockwell and Central Park.
But over the last several weeks more than two dozen Logan Square neighbors called or emailed with complaints about the section between Humboldt Boulevard and Lawndale Avenue, said Allison Carvalho, chief of staff for Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st).
On Friday, the Chicago Department of Transportation removed the barricades and bollards on Cortland Street between Humboldt and Lawndale, the westernmost portion of the Cortland/Wabansia shared street. That portion of Cortland has reopened to through traffic.
The city rerouted the shared street to the area between Humboldt Boulevard and Milwaukee Avenue, where “usage levels are higher and increased traffic control is needed,” according La Spata’s office.
Neighbors said the stretch was unsafe because the bollards and barricades — the only things signaling it was a shared street — kept getting moved and drivers weren’t slowing down when pedestrians and cyclists were in the road, Carvalho said.
Karl Ostroski, who lives nearby, said he used it a few times with his kids but stopped after a woman almost hit his son while he was riding his bike.
“Personally, I’d love a bike-only street and would be open to Cortland being one. Just want a good process to make that happen,” Ostroski said.
Karen Shea, who was out walking dogs in the area Tuesday afternoon, said she used the shared street when The 606 trail got too crowded, but she felt the speeding drivers created a dangerous situation.
“It wasn’t a solid shared space,” Shea said.
Several neighbors said they would have preferred the city eliminate all traffic — not just through traffic — and only allow cyclists and pedestrians in the road.
“The setup was confusing, so no one really used it. The hybrid made no sense,” said neighbor Thomas Polk.
Ostroski said the city’s decision to shorten the shared street makes sense given The 606 trail is back open.
Many used the shared street to exercise when The 606, a popular jogging and biking path, was closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now that the trail has reopened, there isn’t as much of a need for a shared street that runs parallel, Ostroski said.
But others said the shared street was a good alternative, especially because the trail is often packed and not everyone wears masks, despite multiple signs requiring masks throughout the trail.
Neighbor Zach Dickstein said he continued to use the shared street even after the trail reopened because it’s “more open, more shaded and quieter,” a sentiment others expressed on Twitter.
Moving forward, the shared street will remain in effect — just not between Humboldt and Lawndale.
Carvalho said the eastern portion of the shared street has largely been a success. She said neighbors over there like the shared street, but want to see better enforcement, based on the feedback they’ve received.
“West of Humboldt didn’t want it, and east of Humboldt wanted it, but they needed to see changes,” Carvalho said. “The [shared] street can’t be effective if there isn’t enough community buy-in.”
Neighbors who wish to provide feedback on shared streets are encouraged to take the city’s online survey.
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