UPTOWN — A key stretch of Clark Street in Uptown is set for a major redesign, including protected bike lanes and reduced speed limits.
City officials on Tuesday unveiled a road design for Clark Street between Irving Park Road and Montrose Avenue that includes concrete-protected bike lanes, a new speed limit of 20 mph, bus loading pads and reduced parking.
Currently, bicyclists share a lane with drivers and often have to pass idling CTA buses parked next to Graceland Cemetery. The speed limit is 30 mph.
The changes would make it so there would be no parking on the east side of Clark Street, Chicago Department of Transportation officials announced. Parking will remain on the west side of the street, with the bike lane between the curb and parking lane.
Charter bus parking would be restricted on Clark Street, and there would be a defined standing zone for CTA buses, said David Smith, bicycle and pedestrian program manager for the city’s transportation agency.
Bus boarding islands will be installed at Cullom and Belle Plaine avenues, which will allow buses to idle in the driving lane and not disturb the bike lane while stopping.
Curb extensions will also be added to make crossing the street easier, officials said.
The plan would boost biking and public transportation along the route and seek to make pedestrians safer, Smith said.
“We want to slow down speeds on the street, make it more comfortable for everyone,” Smith said at a community meeting Tuesday. “This is something that will be beneficial to everybody.”
The improvements to Clark Street between Irving Park Road and Montrose Avenue come as the city is seeking to expand protections to bicyclists and amid other corridor-improvement plans on the North Side.
City officials announced Wednesday all protected bike lanes in Chicago will be equipped with concrete barriers by 2023. The city will add concrete barriers to 15 miles of bikes lanes by the end of this year.
The Clark Street bike lane and other improvements will be added by the end of this year, officials said. Final design plans will be presented to the community after further neighbor input.
Neighbors at the community meeting Tuesday were overwhelmingly in favor of the proposal, saying it will address issues such as speeding and dangerous conditions for bicyclists.
“We’ve been advocating for changes like this for years, and I’m so excited to see them come to fruition,” a Graceland West resident said.
Some neighbors asked why the improvements couldn’t come to Clark Street south of Irving Park Road and north of Montrose Avenue.
“It is frustrating to see great infrastructure that will save lives relegated to a small stretch of street because expanding it will be a bit more complex,” one neighbor said.
Smith said Clark Street south of Irving Park Road faces different “dynamics” thanks to Wrigley Field and its entertainment district.
Clark Street north of Montrose Avenue to Foster Avenue is being studied by the Department of Planning and Development, with improvements to that corridor’s bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure likely.
Broadway in Edgewater could also get a protected bike lane and new speed limits in a plan proposed by Ald. Harry Osterman (48th).
Alds. James Cappleman (46th) and Matt Martin (47th), whose wards border Clark Street, are in support of the improvements.
“We’re not stopping here when it comes to building out our bike and pedestrian infrastructure,” Martin said. “We want to make sure we have a true bike grid with concrete-protected bike lanes.”
Cappleman said recent deaths of bicyclists provide an urgency to move on these improvements.
“My office has been working the [the city’s transportation agency] to ensure we are making our safes as safe as possible for all users,” Cappleman said. “There is still so much for us to do.”
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