LOGAN SQUARE — Cones, barriers and signs went up along Logan and Kedzie Boulevards this week, restricting car traffic on the service drives and encouraging pedestrians and bicyclists to use the narrow roadways instead.
Logan Boulevard from the monument to Western Avenue and Kedzie Boulevard from the monument to Palmer Street were added to the city’s “shared streets” program, which launched last year to give people more room to walk, jog and bike.
For years, neighbors have complained of speeding drivers who use the service drives as “cut-throughs,” said Paul Sajovec, chief of staff for Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), whose ward includes the project.
By designating the boulevards shared streets, the city’s Department of Transportation aims to make the roads safer and more pedestrian- and bicyclist-friendly, Sajovec said. The cones, barriers and signs are expected to stay up through November while CDOT collects traffic data, city spokesman Mike Claffey said.
So far, the shared streets are drawing mixed reactions from neighbors on social media, with some saying they’re unnecessary and unsightly, and others saying they’re bringing much-needed safety upgrades to the busy roads.
Logan Square resident Brad Mitchell said the move is a step in the right direction. Mitchell said more needs to be done to make the traffic-heavy boulevards safer, but the shared streets designation is “a start.”
“It feels like the perfect opportunity to give the streets back to pedestrians and cyclists,” Mitchell said.
On the opposite side of the spectrum are residents like Andy Sarlug. Sarlug said he doesn’t believe the cones and signs will make the boulevards safer; all they’ll do, he said, is redirect traffic to nearby streets and alleys.
“This is another ‘we are doing something’ that’s designed to cater to the minor but vocal bike community without actually making anything safer and inconveniencing many other commuters in the process,” Sarlug said.
Some have taken to social media to criticize the look of the project. The bright orange bollards and large city signs disrupt the leafy, park-like feel of the boulevards, residents said.
A longtime resident of Logan Boulevard who declined to be named said the boulevard “looks horrible” as a shared street. She also said she’s frustrated with Waguespack and the city for not giving residents any notice.
“Do I think that more safety is necessary? Absolutely, but not like this,” she said. “They could’ve done something a bit better. We pay enough taxes to get a little more respect and say so in this.”
Sajovec said his office was planning to notify constituents of the project on Friday through the 32nd Ward email newsletter, but the newsletter didn’t go out as planned. The 32nd Ward office didn’t hold any community meetings on the matter in the lead-up to the installation, but officials discussed ways to improve safety along the boulevards with leaders of neighborhood group Logan Square Preservation, Sajovec said.
Sajovec said the shared streets program is an extension of CDOT’s complete streets effort, which is designed to improve safety for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists so everyone can enjoy the city’s streets in harmony.
Like other shared streets across the city, the Logan Square setup is only temporary. It’s being used as a stepping stone to make more permanent safety improvements down the road, Sajovec said.
“If aspects are problematic or troublesome, they can be adjusted or the whole thing can be removed,” he said.
The city launched the shared streets program last year to help people stay socially distant while enjoying the outdoors. The program is back this year in neighborhoods across the city including Rogers Park, Hyde Park and Grand Crossing.
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