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Crossing Clark Street Like Playing 'Frogger,' Group Says

By Paul Biasco | August 15, 2013 8:36am
 Ald. Michele Smith (43rd), the Active Transportation Alliance and Bike Walk Lincoln Park are heading up an effort to make a stretch of Clark Street safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Clark Street
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LINCOLN PARK — Crossing a busy stretch of Clark Street to get to Green City Market, or eventually to Lincoln Park Zoo, is like "playing the game of Frogger," according to a community group seeking to make the street safer.

The four-lane, five-block long roadway in question lies between Armitage and North avenues.

Cars zoom down the 30-mph roadway, and few stop when pedestrians attempt to cross Clark, even at the designated pedestrian crossing.

"We've heard from residents and local businesses that this section of Clark Street has really been a problem," said Brenna Conway, a transit campaign coordinator for the Active Transportation Alliance.

Conway's non-profit advocacy organization is teaming up with Ald. Michele Smith's office (43rd) and the community activist group Bike Walk Lincoln Park to fix the street.

"It's kind of a wide-open highway," said Michelle Stenzel, who runs Bike Walk Lincoln Park.

On Aug. 20 the combined groups are hosting a street-side community workshop for area residents, businesses and stakeholders to take a collective look at the roadway and brainstorm recommendations for the Chicago Department of Transportation.

The roadway is listed as a "spoke route" in the city's Streets for Cycling 2020 plan, but does not have a bike lane.

"It's amazing how many people ride on Clark Street with no help," Stenzel said. "A lot of people chose to go onto the sidewalk, but that makes it scary for pedestrians."

Some of the ideas that Bike Walk Lincoln Park has proposed include reducing lanes for motorized vehicles from four lanes to two and installing protected bike lanes along the roadway.

The group also proposed widening the east sidewalk and installing well-marked pedestrian crossings.

Stenzel said CDOT has slated spring or next summer for improvements along Clark Street, and she hopes providing the department with community input ahead of time will better the street.

"Traffic moves really fast in an unsafe way. It's hard to cross to get to the park," Conway said. "Nothing has been planned for this part of the street, which makes it a great time to get out and do this recommendation."

The street-side community workshop will meet at the Green City Market site, 1791 N. Clark St., at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 20 and will start with a walk down Clark Street. The group will then meet inside Hotel Lincoln to recap the observations and prioritize their findings and recommendations for the Chicago Department of Transportation.

"[CDOT] has been really great to work with," Conway said. "The goal is to show that vision of what the community is hoping for in the street."