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Lincoln Square, North Center, Irving Park

City Stops Shared Streets Program For The Winter, Asks Residents If They Want Them Back Next Year

Neighbors can give the city feedback on the shared streets pilot program through Monday.

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 — The city’s shared streets program has packed up for the winter.

City crews removed cones, barriers and signs restricting vehicle access to neighborhood streets over the weekend, reopening them to regular traffic due to predicted snow forecasts, according to Michael Claffey, a spokesman for the city’s transportation department.

The pilot program launched in May, limiting car traffic on a section of Leland Avenue in Ravenswood and opening the street to pedestrians and cyclists. It was designed to give cooped-up neighbors a safe, socially distant space to enjoy the summer weather during the coronavirus pandemic.

More shared streets were rolled out to other neighborhoods across the city throughout the summer and fall, while the Leland Avenue shared street was extended twice.

Ald. Matt Martin (47th) long has been outspoken in wanting to expand access to and create infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians on the city’s streets. The first shared street on Leland was in Martin’s ward.

“It was a really fun opportunity and a really fun exercise,” said Josh Mark, Martin’s director of development and infrastructure. “You know, some streets that were rolled out were more successful than others. But we’re really thrilled that Leland had the success that it did.” 

Mark said city officials may consider rolling out the program again next year, depending on where things stand with the pandemic.

He pointed to their added benefits, such as providing safe spaces for parents to teach their kids how to ride a bike on without worrying about cars speeding by.

“This is something that people have now had the opportunity to try. There’s a possibility we can revisit this so it’s worth letting your elected officials know if you liked it,” Mark said.

To that end, Claffey said the city is welcoming comments from neighbors about the program in an online survey.

“We have gotten a lot of positive feedback about the shared streets that were installed this year,” Claffey said. “And we are encouraging the public to continue to send feedback over the next week by Dec. 7 about their experience with Shared Streets to help evaluate the program.”

Block Club’s Joe Ward contributed

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